A Reading Guide To The Liberators
Or how to get the most out of the mountain of articles we’ve written over the years
Welcome to The Liberators! Our mission is to unleash (Scrum/Agile) teams all over the world. As experienced Scrum Masters, facilitators, trainers, and team members, we’ve seen how powerful teams are. Our hope is that we can help you experience this too. We do this through our online tools, our webshop, our podcast, our private workshops and consulting, and particularly through our writing. We’ve published 250+ weekly articles since we started in 2018. That’s a lot! So it’s no surprise that we often receive questions like “Where do I start as a beginning Scrum Master?”, or “What are your best articles about Liberating Structures?”
In this reading guide, we offer a top 10 for various topics. It’s a great starting point if you’re entirely new to our writing, or a great way to pick out the “creme of the crops” if you’re already following our work.
“[This] is great starting point if you’re entirely new to our writing, or a great way to pick out the ‘creme of the crops’ if you’re already following our work.”
A note about our writing
Ever since we started, Barry Overeem and I strive for three criteria in our writing. The first is that we ground our writing in our day-to-day experience with Agile teams. You won’t see us writing about things we have no deep personal experience with. The second is that we want to make it easy to put the content of a post into practice. Even in the most philosophical posts, we always work hard to add practical tips and hands-on strategies. Finally, we believe in the power of nuance over black-and-whiteness and open-mindedness over dogmatism. We are not dogmatically in favor of any Agile methodology or framework. We also work hard to build on and refer to, scientific evidence where we can find it.
All our writing is available for free. We have no paywall and don’t add annoying advertisements. However, we are proudly supported by over 700 patrons who enjoy our content so much that they’re donating on a monthly basis. Find out more at patreon.com/liberators. We appreciate your support!
“All our writing is available for free. We have no paywall and don’t add annoying advertisements.”
For starting Scrum Masters
Barry and I have been Scrum Masters for most of our careers. So in many of our articles, we try to share our experiences and lessons so that you can avoid our mistakes. Of the many articles, we picked five that are probably most relevant for you.
- The Six Stances Of A Scrum Master is one of our most popular posts. Barry wrote it from his own experience as a Scrum Master, and many have found its stances highly relatable.
- In My Journey as a Scrum Master, Barry describes his path as a Scrum Master. It’s one of our most popular articles, probably because many of the challenges that Barry describes are very relatable.
- A particularly useful series of posts is our Scrum Mythbusters series. We wrote each article to challenge ourselves and our understanding of Scrum. One of the most popular articles in this series is The Scrum Master Must Resolve Every Problem.
- In The Rise Of Zombie Scrum, Christiaan introduces the metaphor of Zombie Scrum. Many readers appreciated the humor. But it also provides a way to talk about the dysfunctional Scrum that many of us see in our organizations. If you like this article, you can find more help in the Zombie Scrum Survival Guide that we published with Scrum.org a few years after this article.
- As a new Scrum Master, it’s always a good idea to kickstart your team afresh. In one of our most popular articles, How To Kickstart A Great Scrum Team, we draw from our own experience to take you through the process of forming a Great Scrum Team.
- As a new Scrum Master, it isn’t always easy to know what’s the most important. Our article In-Depth: Are Scrum Masters Sufficiently Focused On Value, is a good example of a post where we bring a scientific perspective to this question, while also offering a lot of super practical tips. If you like these scientific articles, we have many more here.
For starting Liberating Structures users
We love Liberating Structures! One of our biggest joys is that we were able to bring Liberating Structures to the Agile community. Created by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless, Liberating Structures are a breath of fresh air for how we design interactions with groups of any size. The following articles are a great starting point to learn more about this wonderful body of work:
- The article Engage Everyone Simultaneously in Generating Questions, Ideas, and Suggestions with 1–2–4-ALL is a great introduction to a simple Liberating Structure that is also very versatile and can be used pretty much anywhere. We also offer practical examples. This article is part of a larger series where we describe each of the 33 Liberating Structures in detail, along with very practical applications in and outside of Scrum teams.
- In Liberating Structures Are Skills To Be Learned By Users, Not Facilitators, we explain clearly what the purpose of Liberating Structures is. They are meant for, and to be used by, anyone who interacts with others in groups of any size — not just facilitators. A useful read to get started!
- The 5 Design Elements of Liberating Structures is a good introduction to the design elements that all Liberating Structures have. This post is also accompanied by many examples on how to arrange space, configure groups, make an invitation, distribute participation, and allocate time & steps.
- How can Scrum Masters leverage the power of Liberating Structures? Barry answers this in the article The Value of Liberating Structures for Scrum Masters. It's filled with tons of practical examples and is very useful as a starting point for Scrum Masters looking for better interactions.
- If you’re still struggling to use Liberating Structures with Scrum teams, the article Create A More Engaging Sprint Retrospective With Liberating Structures is a great start.
- The article 20+ Tiny Tweaks That Help You Use Liberating Structures More Effectively, gives an overview of personal insights we gained from using Liberating Structures.
For Agilists looking for more scientific evidence
An important part of being a professional is that you try to base your beliefs on scientific evidence where you can. While not at all easy, this allows us to challenge our beliefs with actual data, and correct our beliefs when they are not supported. We’ve written a series of articles under the “In-Depth” moniker that are all about connecting scientific insights to our work with Scrum and Agile teams.
- Who says that an article about science and teams is boring? In In-Depth: How To Create Better Work Agreements For Your Team, we bring a scientific perspective to offer clear and practical recommendations for how to create better work agreements. This article is very actionable, provides clear guidance, and grounds it in existing scientific knowledge.
- We also engage with the scientific community to advance scientific knowledge directly. The article In-Depth: What Makes Scrum Teams Effective chronicles our large-scale scientific investigation of data from over 2.000 Scrum teams that we analyzed with Professor Daniel Russo from the University of Aalborg. The article summarizes the findings and makes tons of practical recommendations. A great starting point if you’d like to understand what you can do to make Scrum teams more effective.
- The article In-Depth: Stable Or Fluid Teams? What Does The Science Say? is a good example of an article that applies a scientific perspective to a question that many practitioners face; should we keep teams as stable as possible or design for flexibility?
- Particularly for people involved in change initiatives, the article In-Depth: What A Social Systems Perspective Teaches Us About Change provides a broad perspective on how we can understand change in organizations. It offers thought-provoking ideas and challenges your beliefs about change.
- Data and scientific evidence can challenge your beliefs. A good example is our article In-Depth: Is SAFe Really That Bad? In this article, we explore empirical data and scientific evidence to test the belief that SAFe is worse than other scaling approaches the Scrum. The results are surprising!
It was hard to pick the articles to put into this reading guide. But we did our best to pick the most relevant articles for three types of readers. These should give a good sense of our writing style, approach, and general philosophy. If you liked these articles, there’s much more to read. We’re publishing a new article every week. If you find value in our writing, please consider supporting us via Patreon at patreon.com/liberators.