A Guide On How To Improve Your Team With Columinity

A getting started guide on how to use the free version to drive continuous improvement in and around your team

The Liberators
Published in
9 min readDec 4, 2023

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It's hard to improve as a team, right? You first need to build consensus in your team about what needs to improve in the first place. There are often a thousand possible things you could improve together, but time is always precious. How do you know what areas and kinds of improvements offer the highest return on investment? I haven’t even talked about how difficult it can be to find simple, actionable improvements that you can make within the constraints of your organization.

This is why

and I have incrementally built Columinity (previously known as “Scrum Team Survey”) over the past years. We want to make it easier for teams to become awesome, high-performing, and more enjoyable for members to be a part of. We have poured our experience with and as part of many Agile/Scrum teams into this tool. It also relies extensively on scientific research to give you evidence-based recommendations, tips, and suggestions.

In this post, we want to help you get started with Columinity quickly. It's both a quick tour of the core features as well as a facilitation guide for how to make your first experience with it enjoyable, fun, and productive.

If you tried Columinity (or the Scrum Team Survey) before, but haven’t done so in recent months, we highly recommend doing it again. The tool has greatly matured over the past years. It offers more feedback, provides more perspectives on your team and

So what is Columinity?

Columinity is a pioneering tool to help teams improve collaboratively by illuminating the quality of their teamwork continuously based on scientific insights. You can diagnose one or many teams, receive extensive feedback, and resolve broader organizational issues.

  • Suitable for nearly all types of Agile teams. In addition to our model for Agile/Scrum team effectiveness, we also offer a teamwork quality model that works for non-Agile teams.
  • Strong privacy protections ensure that only team-level results are reported. We never share individual answers with HR, management, or anyone else in your organization.
  • Invite all members of your team to participate in a scientific diagnostic survey to assess your team on 5 core factors and 20+ subfactors. This includes autonomy, safety, release frequency, value focus, stakeholder collaboration, and so on.
  • Invite stakeholders of your team to provide their perspectives. How satisfied are they with the value you deliver as a team, as well as your responsiveness and release frequency?
  • Use the Team Report to identify areas in need of improvement. Compare to all sorts of industry benchmarks, or a previous baseline.
  • Use our evidence-based feedback to drive improvement. This includes super-simple quick actions, practical strategies, and more expansive do-it-yourself workshops with facilitation guides to dive in deeper.
  • Scale up your improvement efforts from one team to many teams with the Teams Dashboard. Work on impediments together with other teams and management.
  • With our coaching center, you can even track the improvements of teams in many different organizations (or branches). You can also brand the entire environment with your company logo and name.

Step 1: Make it a team effort

Columinity is great at illuminating what works well in your team and what doesn't work so well. At least, this is what teams are telling us. This transparency requires trust and honesty. We can’t emphasize enough that you should never force teams to participate. Otherwise, you’ll get fake answers, create resistance and it will all be a colossal waste of time.

10 principles for how to make the best out of Columinity and the continuous improvement it will drive. Illustration by

To make it a team effort, make sure to cover these bases:

  • Set a clear purpose together. What value do you collectively see in taking a diagnostic survey and then diagnosing the results together?
  • Clarify how the platform protects privacy and anonymity. Nobody has to worry that their answers will end up being visible to someone else.
  • We highly recommend providing a short presentation (no more than 10 minutes) where you provide sufficient background on the scientific model behind the Columinity for teams to recognize that it's grounded in evidence. This post provides a non-technical explanation, and this is the peer-reviewed academic paper we published about our model. You can also share this video instead.
  • Before you all participate in the survey, schedule a workshop (1 or 2 hours) for when you will make sense of the results together. We offer several facilitation guides on how to run such a workshop, like this one.
  • You can decide as a team to share the Team Report more broadly. If you do, make sure that everyone whom you share it with understands that they shouldn’t use the report to 1) compare teams, 2) reward teams based on their results, or 3) direct teams to make certain changes. Autonomy should always remain with teams.

Step 2: Set a baseline with your first team snapshot

Once your team is on board to try Columinity, go to https://questionnaire.columinity.com.

Select the model you’d like to use; the Agile/Scrum Team Effectiveness model is ideal to optimize your Agility. Pick the Teamwork Quality model if you want to improve teamwork for any kind of team.

Then, pick a name for your team and provide the type of team so we can tailor the questionnaire. The e-mail address is optional. When you enter it we will send you the Team Report by email and it will be possible for you to change your answers later. Your email is automatically removed after a few months.

You will then be presented with the questionnaire. If you are the first participant, we will ask you a few more questions about your team and organization that we won’t ask again for the remainder of your team. Try to answer all questions as honestly as possible. Skip questions that you can’t answer, but try to answer as many as possible (a score of 1 indicates: “We’re not doing this”).

After you complete the survey, you are redirected to your personal Team Report in the browser (and also by e-mail if you provided your address). This report is based only on your view, so it will be based. Next, invite other team members, stakeholders, and/or supporters (like management) by sharing the appropriate sharing links you find in the box “Participants”.

Now all you need is to wait until enough people have participated. We recommend reminding your team after a few days if you’re still awaiting participants, and then once more. But don’t force it onto people. When you provide your e-mail address, we will notify you when someone participates.

The above can also be done with the Teams Dashboard that comes with a subscription. You can create the team there, add a new snapshot, and invite participants by email.

Step 3: Make sense of the results & identify improvements together

We report the results of your team in the Team Report. You can access it from the Teams Dashboard that comes with a subscription, or you can access it from the Personal Report by clicking on “Share” and locating the link. The Team Report is mostly similar to the Personal Report, except that the latter shows your individual answers.

The best way to make sense of the results together is through a collaborative workshop with your team. We offer a detailed facilitation guide for this here. However, an even simpler approach is this one:

Facilitation Guide for a simple diagnostic session (45–60 min)

Invite the team and — if everyone’s up for it — also relevant stakeholders and supporters. Project the results on the wall. Even better, print the results and put them on the wall or hand them out to everyone. Then, run a 1–2–4-ALL:

  1. Ask everyone to first silently and individually reflect on the question for 2–3 minutes: “What do these results tell you about our team? Which areas are surprising, most in need of work, or confirm a hunch you already had?”
  2. Then, ask people to form pairs (or one group of three) and share their thoughts for 5–6 minutes. Encourage them to notice more.
  3. Bring everyone together. Take 10–15 minutes to allow each pair to share their biggest insights and identify big patterns as a team. What area seems most in need of improvement?

Now that you have identified an area of improvement, take a few minutes to look at the evidence-based feedback, the quick actions, and the potential do-it-yourself workshops together. Then, run an Impromptu Networking:

  1. Ask everyone to stand up and pair up with someone else on the team. If you have an uneven number, one group of three is fine.
  2. Ask all pairs to take 2 minutes to share their thoughts and build on them. Ask: “What kind of concrete improvement makes the most sense to you if we want to improve in this area? How can we strengthen it further?”
  3. Repeat the previous step twice with new pairs, but let the pairs consider the same question and develop their ideas further. Even in a team of 4 people, you can do three such rounds.
  4. Bring everyone together. Take 10 minutes to capture the most actionable ideas that were identified in the rotating pairs. You can immediately add such actions to the “Actions” page.

If you have the time, you can follow up the Impromptu Networking with a 15% Solutions to shift towards how each member plans to contribute to the improvements you identified.

Step 4: Repeat often (not once per year or less)

Now that you’ve taken your first snapshot as a team and identified your first set of improvements, it's a great idea to schedule another snapshot several months from now. Many teams like a cadence of once per two or three months. Do keep in mind that structural change takes effort and is often slow. Although they can occur, don’t expect radical improvement between snapshots. The conversation that you can have as a team every time is the purpose of all this, and the data is just there to ground it.

Ultimately, this is what continuous improvement is all about; you want to do this frequently instead of once per year as an “annual scan”. You want to build a habit in teams to frequently use data from a variety of sources to drive improvement. We can see in our data that those teams that commit to frequent measurement also improve our time.

To retake the survey, go to your Team Report and click “Re-take”. You can schedule a reminder or retake the survey right now:

You can either take the full survey every time. You can also pick one of the “Focus Diagnostics”. These are shorter surveys that focus on specific areas of the model and are easier to fill out:

Alternatively, you can alternate between the Agile/Scrum Team effectiveness model and the Teamwork Quality model.

Step 5: Include more teams & expand

All of the above is available for free. So there’s little keeping you from trying this out with your team right now.

It is also possible to do the above with many teams in the same organization. We developed the Teams Dashboard for this purpose. It provides one area to manage teams, start snapshots, and analyze the results across teams or clusters of teams. It's a great way to drive improvement across many teams, with stakeholders and with proactive support from management. A subscription is needed for this.

You can also extend further to entire business units, branches, or even separate organizations (i.e. if you’re a coaching agency). The Coaching Center allows an organization-level grouping of data. Learn about it in this quick tour:

Closing Words: What's Keeping You?

We know from experience just how hard it can be to drive continuous improvement in your team. There are often a thousand things to improve, but what will be most impactful? We are building Columinity to make this easier for you and your team. It's free for individual teams. So give it a try and expand from there!

Check out patreon.com/liberators to support us.

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Christiaan Verwijs
The Liberators

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