I often hear the same complaint about Agile Retrospectives: They are not held at the right level in the organization! Or, at least, that is the conclusion that people draw from one fact: Many issues brought up in the Retrospective need resolution at a much higher level in the organization. There is no one in the room who can address or resolve them.
Today, I found an article that really caught my eye . Menzies et al take a look at extracting lessons learned (with SBSE) from software code at three levels: local, cluster and global. Their conclusion was that the best lessons learned are to be found at the cluster level. If that holds true for agile retrospectives as well, then the implication would be that retrospectives should be held between teams rather than within teams.
As I was looking for research to support or refute my hypothesis above, I ran across another article where Brewer et al show a heavy bias from any feedback on performance received immediately before (an individual) performs retrospective introspection . If that’s applicable to agile retrospectives, then we should never perform them immediately after the demo!