How you can keep Scrum positive

Roland Flemm
Jan 3 · 5 min read
Appreciative Inquiry

The problem-focus

“Scrum makes clear the relative efficacy of your product management and work techniques so that you can continuously improve the product, the team, and the working environment.” (the scrum guide)

In other words, Scrum will surface what problems we need to fix. To improve our value delivery, we identify problems, seek underlying causes and formulate solutions that might result in improving the situation. This approach is also known as the “deficit-based” approach to problem solving. By repeating this mantra over and over again, we unconsciously start to think that improving equals problem solving. We get tired of solving problems and we fail to appreciate or exploit the good things we have achieved as well.

What is the Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was created by David Cooperrider. To engage in change, he proposes to formulate an approach based on a vision of a perfect future state for the given situation created from collective positive past experiences.

Appreciative Inquiry
  1. Social systems move in the direction of the questions they most persistently and passionately discuss.
  2. Organizational life is expressed in the stories people tell each other every day and is constantly being co-authored.
  3. What we do today is guided by our image of the future.
  4. Momentum and sustainable change require positive affect and social bonding.

Using Appreciative Interviews for team formation

Appreciative Interviews are interviews that are constructed on the Appreciative Inquiry principles. Applying the Appreciative Interview technique takes a bit of preparation (to prepare and test interview questions) and a well facilitated execution.


Appreciative Inquiry can deliver great value to Scrum because it triggers people to think creatively about issues and it releases them from the singularity of improving through problem solving. People share stories about their personal positive experiences and share their personal perfection vision. This is incredibly valuable and contagiously inspiring.

If you like what you read and you want more, join one of my trainings in Utrecht:

Serious Scrum

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Thanks to Willem-Jan Ageling.

Roland Flemm

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Serious Scrum

Content by and for serious scrum practitioners.