Help Development Teams advance their technical practices with Ecocycle Planning

Christiaan Verwijs
Nov 18 · 4 min read

Scrum doesn’t work if Development Teams don’t have access to the technical practices, skills, and technologies they need to deliver high-quality software as often as possible. Without a developer culture, delivering a Done increment every Sprint will be very difficult indeed. In this post, we share a string of Liberating Structures to make progress on this.

How can a Scrum Master help?

Scrum Masters can create transparency around where the Development Team stands in terms of skills, practices, and techniques. And based on that, the Development Team can decide what to invest in and where help is needed.

The Liberating Structure Ecocycle Planning is an excellent approach to structure the conversation in such a way that every member of the team has equal input. It is a part of a growing repertoire of 33 Liberating Structures, collected, invented and curated by Keith McCandless & Henri Lipmanowicz with a large community of practitioners.

An example of an Ecocycle on the floor, using color-coded stickies to identify the skills and practices of a group and where they are on the Ecocycle

How to facilitate Ecocycle Planning (60–90 mins)

Prepare by creating a large Ecocycle on the floor or on a wall. You can use this PDF or draw your own. To allow people to create the individual copy of the Ecocycle — which we’ll be doing at one point — you can either print the PDF on a smaller size or invite people to draw their own. Make sure you have sufficient stickies, markers, and space for people to move around without obstructions (e.g. avoid meeting tables);

How can I do this with remote teams?

We’ve found that this format can be used with remote teams as well. You will need a platform that allows break-out rooms, such as Zoom, for descaling the interactions. You can use a shared presentation in Google Drive (or another platform that allows people to simultaneously edit an Ecocycle) to collect responses on an Ecocycle.

An example of how we’ve used Ecocycle Planning remotely. In this case, we used a shared Google Presentation where participants could drag skills (in this case the proficiency with certain Liberating Structures) across the Ecocycle. Each participant worked in their own sheet. We combined them to identify patterns.

Closing

The string of Liberating Structures in this post is an excellent way to create transparency around where the Development Team stands in their ability to deliver a “Done” increment every Sprint. The resulting Ecocycle can be kept around in the team room and refined periodically to re-orient and strategize on whats next.

We would love to learn from your experience using this Retrospective format. Give it a try, and feel free to share the results!

If you’re looking for more strategies (and Liberating Structures) to help your Development Teams, make sure to join our upcoming workshop on building a Developer Culture. We’ll explore many more. Or join our upcoming 2-day Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop to learn many more patterns like this.

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

Christiaan Verwijs

Written by

I aim to liberate teams & organizations from de-humanizing and ineffective ways of organizing work. Professional Scrum Trainer & Steward @ Scrum.org

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

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