My Future Memories Of 2019

Good things I want to remember many decades from now and things I want to leave behind

Christiaan Verwijs
Dec 30, 2019 · 6 min read

The end of a year is always a natural moment for me to reflect on what that year brought. I do this not with the purpose of identifying what to improve in the new year, but more to appreciate what happened and to be thankful for that.

I find it helpful to do this in the form of “Future Memories” — the things I hope to remember many years from now. This post collects those, as well as some things I want to let go of in the new year. So here goes …

Some of the many cool things that happened this year. There’s many more I’d like to add, but I only had 8 panels :)

A Year Of Global Connection

  1. This year featured many awesome international collaborations. With Daniel Vacanti, we made further progress on making the Professional Scrum Master with Kanban-class even more interactive. We played with Karen Dawson, Julie Huffaker, and Daniel Steinhofer during our first workshop on navigating conflict in teams. Together with Anna Jackson and Fisher Qua, we hosted our first (and hugely fun) workshop on Strategy Knotworking with Liberating Structures. We co-organized the first Liberating Structures Learning Gathering in Hamburg with the wonderful people from Holisticon. And doing a Professional Scrum Master II-class at Scrum.org near Boston with Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller was hugely fun. I’m very happy knowing that all of these will be repeated in the new year;
  2. In March, I visited the Liberating Structures Global Gathering in Seattle, together with my wife Lisanne Lentink who was there as photographer. Being surrounded by hundreds of passionate Liberating Structures practitioners for a couple of days, as well as many familiar faces from the community, was a huge learning opportunity. It allowed me to co-facilitate sessions with people I hold in high regard, like Henri Lipmanowicz, Nancy White, Amanda Bowman, and Julie Huffaker;
  3. Our public events — which are still mostly based in Amsterdam — are increasingly drawing an international crowd. For example, our most recent Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop was attended by people from over 17 countries. Some people even traveled to Amsterdam all the way from Australia, New Zealand, India, the United States, Canada, Turkey, and Russia. Not only is this humbling on many levels, but it also resulted in a lot of personal and engaging conversations about perspectives on the world, cultural differences, worries and the narratives we tell ourselves. These conversations leave me optimistic and hopeful — despite our differences, as humans, we seem to have more in common than is different;

A Sharpened Focus

  1. It was a lot of fun to find my way into recording a returning podcast called The Liberators Network. Listening to podcasts is something I do on a very regular basis, with personal favorites ranging from Radiolab to Hardcore History as well as several Dutch podcasts. It was a lot of fun to find the right equipment, to figure out how to do editing and to see that people were actually listening to our admittedly amateurish attempts. In the new year, we want to start featuring more interviews with Scrum Masters and conversations between Barry and me;
  2. Similarly, it was fun to set up a webshop and figure out how to simplify the administration and logistics to the point that packing and shipping orders was something relaxing for me to do in the evenings. To date, we’ve shipped over 300 orders to over 90 countries;
  3. Although we purposefully limited our in-house work to focus more on our public offerings, we made several exceptions that I look back on fondly. The first was an in-house Scrum Master Learning Journey in Denmark, with Carsten Gronbjerg-Lutzen being the most gracious host imaginable. We also happily supported our friends at the KNAW with their initiatives with Scrum and Liberating Structures. And we also hosted several in-house Immersion Workshops that resulted in some pretty awesome experiments by participants. I’m happy that we have a bit more time in 2020 to spend with exciting clients with interesting questions on how to use Liberating Structures and/or Scrum;
  4. This year marked the start of a concerted effort by Barry Overeem, myself and Johannes Schartau to get our book on Zombie Scrum published. With support from Scrum.org, we managed to land a deal with Pearson / Addison-Wesley. It’s good to be able to publish our experiences and our thinking in a format that allows us to go deeper and further;
  5. And related to our book, I had a lot of fun developing the Zombie Scrum Survey and making it available freely to support Scrum Teams all over the world. I’m eager to dive into the data we’re gathering with it and seeing what comes out of that;

Not all was good

  • I lost my grandmother and uncle. My uncle was fortunate to reach the age he did, despite having Down Syndrome combined with severe diabetes. My grandmother, who cared for him for most of her life, went soon after. Both were old and done with life, but that didn’t make their departures any less sad;
  • This year was the third in an ongoing conflict in my family that severely damaged nearly all the bonds that make it up. It was a reminder that unresolved conflicts are black holes that suck up and destroy everything, growing ever bigger and swallowing ever more. It also showed how the deepest conflicts emerge out of good intentions by people that love each other very much. I’m happy in the knowledge that we’re involving professional help to find a path forward — something I long for very much. Needless to say, this ongoing conflict has been a significant source of tension and distraction;
  • This year saw plenty of mistakes. Many come to mind, but three in particular that all involved disappointing others. The first was in not finding the time to clarify mutual expectations before one of our workshops, which resulted in a (very understandable) pinch with someone we worked with. Although we navigated it well afterward, I could’ve easily prevented that by validating our assumptions earlier. The second was in my collaboration with Barry, and struggling with how to both make the other shine as well as keeping your own space when working together. I certainly failed in that area in several instances. We work together so closely that some friction is inevitable and I’m happy we take time to talk about that frequently. Finally, I felt that I disappointed several people that expressed an eagerness to collaborate, have conversations or spend more time together;

Looking forward

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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