Some lessons learned from coaching practice

Last August, I started a diploma in business coaching, and I’m really enjoying the learning journey so far.

Before, my pre-conceived ideas about coaching were inaccurate.

In particular, I believed one myth around ‘asking a powerful question’.

I believed coaching conversations had a fulcrum, with client insight unlocked at exactly the right moment by a coach asking a powerful question.

I thought coaches had lists of powerful questions like these, written to generate insight and to amaze their clients.

I have learned that these ideas are just not true.

For a moment and for fun, just imagine what that would…

Get out of there!!!

With more awareness of obstacles, it becomes easier to navigate complexity. Like turning a dimmer switch up in a dark room, we start to see more clearly.

For example, when we name a mysterious obstacle, we demystify it. Forward movement suddenly becomes possible.

I experienced that awareness recently. A new phrase pinged from the edge of my radar screen, and I wondered what it meant. Now I wonder how I ever lived without it. That phrase is ‘bike-shedding.’

At work one day, I was on a call, time was crawling.

The call concerned a difficult process change, and we had…

How obstacles to collaboration can unconsciously get in our way

Edited Photo by Interactive Sports on Unsplash

Obstacles to Progress

A confession: I sometimes procrastinate work when I need to collaborate with others. It’s not a habit that I am particularly proud of, and if you know me, it might surprise you to hear it.

What about you? Have you ever put something off without really thinking about why? Have you ever struggled to describe an obstacle to getting something started or to get something done, when collaboration is needed?

In complex environments, subtle obstacles to progress can remain just outside of our conscious awareness. I’m a coach, so one of my goals is to raise awareness of unconscious obstacles…

A Facilitator’s guide to one approach that worked for us at Serious Scrum

Original Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash


Here at Serious Scrum, there are all sorts of things that bring us together. One thing above all, we are here to support professionals who use Scrum.

Serious Scrum articulated and wrote a purpose for the community some time ago. Here is an extract:

“Serious Scrum recognizes that Scrum is by and for us all. We empower people to think boldly, embrace diversity, act intentionally, share knowledge, and experience collectively, not exclusively.”

Source: About Serious Scrum

Event-Driven Learning

Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland have updated the Scrum Guide this year, on the 25th anniversary of the framework. …

Liberating Structures Poland Tag Team with Serious Scrum

Image Source:

Hold Tight!

Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland released a new version of the Scrum Guide on November 18th this year. I bet you heard already!

Here at Serious Scrum, we organised an event to help us discover changes to the guide and to learn about the changes together.

We scheduled our event for the day after the guide update was released. Willem-Jan Ageling, Maciej Jarosz and Paddy Corry organised and hosted together, and we had some really great chats and discussions.

At the time, we may have underestimated how truly international the event was, so I would like to show appreciation to…

Scrum Master stances vary and only make sense in context: do not assume this is simple

“The role of a Scrum Master is one of many stances and great diversity.

A great Scrum Master is aware of them and knows when and how to apply them, depending on situation and context.”

“The 8 Stances of a Scrum Master” — Barry Overeem

In his widely shared 2016 whitepaper, Barry Overeem explained how there are 16 possible stances of a Scrum Master, and some are more valuable than others.

I wrote some time ago about how Scrum is an abstract class, implemented to make sense in each unique context. The stances emphasize how Scrum Masters embody this…

Conference calls. Cameras on. Sharing screens. Breakout rooms.

Distributed working in times of COVID has made these practices more ‘normal’ now than ever before.

Technology like Zoom keeps us going and keeps us connected. I am massively grateful for the ability to stay productive using these platforms.

We’re still allowed to think about how to make it better! Empiricism, or the ability to look closely at something and consider how to improve it, is a foundation of the ways of working of Scrum Teams.

I invite your Scrum Team to consider their listening skills on platforms like Zoom. (If you…

Helping your team to build unconscious competence

Conscious and Unconscious Learning

Did you ever take an important exam?

Preparing for a big test demands learning and learning takes real cognitive effort. We take unknown concepts, make them familiar, and rely on our minds to store and recall this learned information.

I sometimes have a dream about an important exam. The dream is the same each time and it happens maybe once a year. I wake up very suddenly, with a palpable feeling of threat. In that moment, I am fully convinced I’m either late, under-prepared or mixed up about details of an important exam, about to happen right now!

Except the…

Avoid 100% Utilisation and enable Flow in and around teams

Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash

“Operating a product development process near full utilization is an economic disaster.”

Don Reinertsen

Introduction: The Disaster of 100% Utilisation

Here is a question for Scrum Teams out there: when you plan your Sprints, what percentage of capacity do you load into your iteration backlog: is it ‘the full monty’? If the answer is yes, I strongly encourage you to think again.

Planning Sprints fully loaded at 100% utilisation prevents flexibility in two important ways.

First, it hinders the ability to collaborate inside a team. Simply put: team members are too busy to help each other out.

How can we do better?

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Feedback. It’s marvellous, isn’t it? Let me illustrate with an example:

Hey, you’re looking well!

Feels good, right?

Well, not all feedback does! As Scrum Teams, we need to watch out for the other stuff too: the ‘what could go better’ column at the retrospective.

Scrum Masters can reframe negative feedback of course: we take it all and recycle it into ‘actions for improvement,’ hooray!

What about feedback that is both positive and negative on the same issue though? I call it ‘room too hot / room too cold’ feedback: when the action for improvement is… do nothing? Continue raising…

Paddy Corry

#coaching #facilitation #training #learning #collaboration

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