Running Excellent Retrospectives: Talking for Humans

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 4:00 pm5:30 pm

Courtney Eckhardt, Heroku, a Salesforce company; Lex Neva, Fastly


How many awful meetings have you been to in your life, where people are talking forever and saying nothing, or where people are talking at cross purposes and not listening, or where they're saying things that make everyone feel bad? Have you been in retrospectives like that? (Did it make you never want to attend a retrospective again?)

Let's do better! Come learn practical techniques for facilitating pleasant, productive, welcoming retrospectives (which will improve any meeting you need to run). We will talk about the structure of welcoming language and discuss when it's necessary to interrupt someone. We'll examine what it means for language to include blame and how to reframe blaming conversations. We'll practice the mental work of understanding things that seem contrafactual but are actually just confusing (especially helpful for discussing complex systems). When you leave, you'll be ready to make any meeting or retrospective you're in more comfortable and effective, as a leader or an attendee.

Courtney Eckhardt, Heroku, a Salesforce company

Courtney Eckhardt first got into retrospectives when she signed up for comp.risks as an undergrad (and since then, not as much has changed as we'd like to think). Her perspectives on engineering process improvement are strongly informed by the work of Kathy Sierra and Don Norman (among others).

Lex Neva, Fastly

Lex has six years of experience keeping large services running, including Linden Lab's Second Life,, Heroku, and his current position at Fastly. While originally trained in computer science, he's found that he most enjoys applying his software engineering skills to operations. A veteran of many large incidents, he has strong opinions on incident response, on-call sustainability, and the intersection of culture and SRE, and he currently runs the SRE Weekly newsletter.

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@conference {229597,
author = {Courtney Eckhardt and Lex Neva},
title = {Running Excellent Retrospectives: Talking for Humans},
year = {2019},
address = {Brooklyn, NY},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = mar

Presentation Video