Liberating Structures Poland Tag Team with Serious Scrum

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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 everyone who overcame timezone challenges to attend: thank you! …

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

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“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. …

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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 use other tools, the ideas here will still be relevant). I hope the practical advice shared here will help your Scrum Team listen to each other more intently, and that this will help you have more effective interactions. …

Helping your team to build unconscious competence

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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 exam isn’t real of course. My unconscious mind is choosing to mess with me for reasons best known to itself! The feeling evaporates quickly too. …

Avoid 100% Utilisation and enable Flow in and around teams

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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.

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Secondly, the full load puts up barriers around our Sprint, preventing opportunities to collaborate with other teams. When other teams have to wait until the next Sprint every time, then we create tension and lose flexibility. …

How can we do better?

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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? …

How commitment and courage are shown in our reactions

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Source: Gary Larson, The Far Side

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Sometimes the change you want is not the one you get.

Have you ever contemplated how to react in a situation like that?

Take Jimmy’s example. Jimmy is experienced with Scrum and really believes LeSS is right for his organisation. Bad news though: he has just heard that his organisation is going to adopt Scrum@Scale, nooo!

Jimmy’s upset and is thinking about an appropriate reaction. …

A SAFe Implementation requires a Scrum Master’s mindset

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Source: Faye Cornish on Unsplash

This article is a response to my friend Willem-Jan Ageling’s on the same topic. I believe his post missed some important similarities between the Scrum Master role from the Scrum Guide and the role in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). I’d like to respond to Willem-Jan’s post here.

I’m a Scrum Master, and I’ve worked in Scrum Teams since 2007. I’m also gaining experience in a SAFe context. Currently, I’m a coach in a Lean-Agile Centre of Excellence (LACE) team. Among other things, my role involves coaching Scrum Masters, working alongside Release Train Engineers (RTEs) delivering SAFe training and facilitating program level events. …

How the Comfort Zone prevents you and your Scrum Team from reaching higher performance

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The Ultimate in Comfort: the Lazy Boy Recliner. Source:

The Lazy Boy recliner is a metaphor for the comfort zone. We all recognise that inviting chair as a refuge where we can switch off and relax. Spend too long in the comfort zone and we risk developing a ‘Lazy Boy’ mindset, set in our ways and out of the habits of learning and growth.

As a coach and as a Scrum Master, I am often guilty of something called ruinous empathy: that is my comfort zone. In the excellent book ‘Radical Candor’, Kim Scott¹ described ruinous empathy as caring too much and not challenging enough. …

These 5 similarities will leave you shaken, not stirred (ahem)

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James Bond opening credits, Source:

Bond. James Bond. It’s one of the most iconic lines of dialogue in movie history and the British secret agent is one of cinema’s most enduring characters.

Recently I decided to watch all the Bond movies. I’m not a Bond super-fan by any means: the motivation was just to find a distracting, entertaining pandemic-ready project.

I think I’m now qualified to say that a comparison to James Bond isn’t always favourable. Earlier versions have not aged well at all. (I’m looking at you, Sean Connery in Japan).

However, in many cases, it struck me that Bond’s antics have a lot in common with Scrum. If nothing else, the comparison is a little bit of fun… Shall we? …


Paddy Corry

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