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Scrum is a framework for empirical process control

An overview of the Scrum framework, for people new to Scrum and those who’d like to refresh their understanding.

This post is an online appendix to our book, the ‘Zombie Scrum Survival Guide’, that we — Christiaan Verwijs, Johannes Schartau, and Barry Overeem — have published. You can also listen to this post as a podcast. Or download it as a nicely formatted and richly illustrated whitepaper.

“We don’t care about Scrum”, is what we sometimes tell people. That certainly raises eyebrows. It’s our way of saying that it’s not about the Scrum framework, but about what it makes possible. When you take this perspective, many theoretical questions become obvious or even pointless. …


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A reflection on four key changes in the 2020 Scrum Guide, why they were made, and why that is a big deal

You can also listen to this post in our ongoing podcast.

Are you excited about the new Scrum Guide? We certainly are, if only because every version makes it more clear what Scrum is really about — which is also our mission.

The Scrum framework itself is subject to empiricism too, as evidenced by the new version of the Scrum Guide that was released on November 18. …


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Liberating Structures are a collection of interaction patterns that allow you to unleash and involve everyone in a group — from extroverted to introverted and from leaders to followers. In this series of posts, we show how Liberating Structures can be used with Scrum.

How often do you find yourself facing chronic challenges in your work? Perhaps certain skills are missing in your team? Or the work you are doing is impeded by another team or group that you depend on? Or it's hard to involve stakeholders who don’t show any interest in your work.

We often face these kinds of chronic challenges in our work. Sometimes, they are so persistent that we’re about to give up. Or blame others. Or simply don’t see how to possibly overcome it and resign to the situation. This is where “Discovery & Action Dialogue” is at its best. …


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Start a new community, meetup, or initiative by investigating what makes teams successful and build psychological safety along the way

We can tell you from experience how rewarding it is to start communities. Whether it is a regional Liberator Meetup or a community in your organization, it is such a great way to give people a place where they can give and get help from peers on the challenges they face. But how do you start?

In this series, we share our most successful strings for starting meetups, initiatives, and communities. …


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Four clear benefits that Agile offers to your customers that traditional methods do not

This post is a substantial rewrite of an old post. As one of the most-read posts I’ve written, I felt that its message could be clearer. You can also listen to a podcast of this post too. So here goes :)

A substantial part of my learning experience with Scrum originates from small- and medium-sized businesses, in particular web design agencies. Compared to many large corporates, I’ve always enjoyed how close Scrum Teams can work with actual stakeholders here. In many cases, these teams would interact directly with the customers who pay their bills.

This close proximity to the customers is wonderful in many ways and highly challenging at the same time. Because it puts to the forefront just how difficult it is to sell Agile. This post is about that challenge, and how I think we overcame it - to some extent. …


A simple strategy to encourage a developer culture

Without skilled developers, the Scrum Framework is no more than lipstick on a pig. Having to create — and hopefully deploy — new versions of your product every Sprint is a tall order. But it’s also necessary if you want to reduce the inherent risk of the complex work that is product development. And that requires a culture of innovation and creativity among developers.

In this series of posts, I’m sharing some simple strategies that have helped me and others in the past. They are based on the outcomes of a session with 30 participants at the XP Days Benelux that I did with William Water in 2019. …


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How to tell if Scrum fits your work and what to do when it doesn’t

You can also listen to this blogpost in this episode of our on-going podcast (55 episodes and counting!).

If you work as a Scrum Master or Agile Coach, you have probably run into teams where Scrum just doesn’t take off. The various Scrum Events feel like a chore, motivation is low and people complain about Scrum.

I’ve certainly had my share of teams like this. While I’ve also been fortunate for the many excellent Scrum Teams that I’ve worked with (both employed and as a freelancer), for some teams it felt like I was “flogging a dead horse”.

It took me a while — longer than it should have — to discover that this often happens when the Scrum Framework is not a good fit for the work that a group of people does. And then it quickly becomes a burden. …


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“Never Waste A Good Crisis”. Artwork by Wim Wouters from Fonkel.io

And the many things we’ll be saying ‘No’ to from now on

This year has been challenging for all of us. It wasn’t any different for our company, The Liberators. At the same time, seemingly insurmountable challenges are also drivers of innovation. And a lot of that is needed, as we’ve seen some of the pillars our company was built on crumble due to COVID-19. In this post, we clarify how we intend to turn the ship around. Time will tell if we succeed. Or fail.

Our business model, pre-COVID

When we started The Liberators, we did so from a shared passion for what great teams make possible for organizations and individuals. Because we have experienced how powerful and fulfilling it is to be part of a (Scrum) team, we felt compelled to share these possibilities with others. We did so through our writing, workshops, and the tools that we created individually (e.g. Team Metrics by Christiaan, the Scrum Master stances by Barry). When we started The Liberators and formulated our mission to “unleash organizational superpowers”, we hoped to find more time to share more of these “tools”, more writing and useful workshops, and to build communities around them at the same time. …


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An overview of scientific research and how it puts people — rather than structures and processes — at the center

In this series of ‘In-depth’-posts, we take time to consider the bigger picture. This series is not about easy answers or practical tips, but to develop a more complete understanding of what may be going on. If you prefer to listen to a long post like this, you can also check out this podcast.

If you take the time to fully read and digest this post, you will:

  • Understand how a social systems perspective gives you a better way to understand change, how it happens, and what you can do to facilitate it.
  • Recognize how much of your thinking is still subtly influenced by a mechanical perspective in organizations. …


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A long-read about 8 cognitive and social biases, their underlying research and how to (hopefully) reduce their impact

In this series of ‘In-depth’-posts, we take time to consider the bigger picture. This series is not about easy answers or practical tips, but to develop a more complete understanding of what may be going on.

If you take the time to fully read and digest this post, you will (hopefully):

  • Understand how easily your thinking and the thinking in groups is biased, tainted or distorted by a eight very common cognitive and social biases. The less susceptible you think you are the time, the more you usually are.
  • Learn how the impact of eight common biases — like False Causality, Confirmation Bias and the Anchoring Bias — can be reduced by simply becoming aware of them. …

About

Christiaan Verwijs

I liberate teams & organizations from de-humanizing, ineffective ways of organizing work. Passionate developer, organizational psychologist, and Scrum Master.

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