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Reconnect the Experience of Leaders and Experts with People Closest to the Challenge at Hand

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.

What happens when your Product Owner takes the stage to click through a huge PowerPoint presentation about the product strategy? Or when you’re at a conference and are listening to a scientist talk about their research for an hour? No matter how interesting the topic is, and how well it is presented, your attention is likely to drop off. …


Create a Stakeholder Map to identify your stakeholders and how you involve them to create valuable products

You can download this exercise as a free and nicely formatted PDF here.

Scrum Teams exist to deliver value to their stakeholders. It's a bit of platitude, right? What is value? And who are the stakeholders? In this post, we share a practice called a “Stakeholder Map”. It's designed to create transparency around who your stakeholders are, and how to most effectively involve them to determine what is valuable.

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Without stakeholders, it’s hard to know what is valuable. The best Sprint Reviews have many stakeholders present.

Who are your stakeholders?

In a previous post, we explored the difference between a stakeholder and someone who only has an opinion about your product. A useful stakeholder is someone who has at least some “skin in the game”. When your product succeeds, they benefit from it. …


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How to develop helping behaviors with large groups and generate more idea flow.

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.

It sounds appealing to tap into the “wisdom of the crowds”, right? But what happens when you ask a crowd for help without any further structure? …


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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. Like “Should all items on the Sprint Backlog relate to the Sprint Goal?”, “Should a bug be on the Product Backlog?” or “Should I stop the Daily Scrum exactly at 15 minutes?”. …


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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. Its creators, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, use each increment to improve how the Scrum framework is described and what teams and organizations should be focusing on. As stewards for Scrum.org, …


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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. We know from experience that they work, are fun to facilitate, and put a smile on people’s faces. …


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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. In this post: create a build & deployment monitor.


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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. …

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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