Shifting & Sharing the Teaching Responsibility

Barry Overeem
Oct 1, 2018 · 5 min read

Shift & Share is a Liberating Structure that helps spread novelty across groups and functions. Innovators showcase their ideas or products and gather meaningful feedback in short cycles. In one hour or less it’s possible to include everyone in a large group and make every voice heard in a structured, constructive way.

In an earlier blog post we described how you can use Shift & Share for…

If you want to learn more about the basics of Shift & Share, please read the original article. This blog post will describe how we’ve experimented with a twist in this exercise during a recent PSM II class. As a facilitator and/or Scrum Master, you can use this exercise during your Scrum events as well: use your creativity and imagination!

Discover the essential with ‘Min Specs’

The PSM II class contains an exercise which is about identifying what a Product Owner should do to successfully deliver a product with Scrum and what Scrum Masters can do to support that success. To determine the absolute essential the Liberating Structure ‘Min Specs’ is being used.

In the first part of the exercise the participants generate a list of all must-do and must-not-do activities. These are the ‘Max Specs’. After combining their lists expanding them to make it as complete-as-possible list, each item on the list it tested against the purpose.

If a Product Owner can still be successful without doing this, drop it! This requires an ‘aggressively minimalistic’ mindset. The resulting list is a ‘Min Specs’-list. Afterwards the different groups present their drastically minimized lists, which in our case only contained about 3 topics in total.

This group might have been a bit too ‘aggressively minimalistic’ :)

The Usual Shift & Share Steps

The result of the ‘Min Specs’ exercise are a few absolute essential topics that the Product Owner should take into account to successfully deliver a product with Scrum. With ‘Shift & Share’ every team can present their ideas and gather feedback in short rounds. The usual steps in ‘Shift & Share’ are:

How We’ve Twisted Shift & Share

The 3 topics the teams defined we’re ‘Metrics’, ‘Managing Stakeholders’, and ‘Managing the Product Backlog’. Below we’ve described the Shift & Share experiment we conducted in the PSM II class.

The Result

The result was lot’s of laughter and an atmosphere of energetic chaos. Not knowing who would become the ‘teacher’ in the next round encouraged continuous engagement from every participant. Every topic was explored in detail and resulted in some valuable insights and tangible next steps.

Uses in Scrum

Now you might wonder ‘why are you explaining a class exercise in a public blog post?’ The short answer is: because this class is by Scrum Masters for Scrum Masters. Every exercise is designed so you can use it within your own organization and team as well.

“The PSM II is a class by Scrum Masters for Scrum Masters.”

The twist we’ve made with this exercise might be very cool to use during a well-visited Sprint Review. Determine the ‘hot topics’ that need to be addressed in order to successfully deliver a product. Invite all the stakeholders to form small teams and start the ‘Shift & Share’. Every stakeholder can become the teacher that explains the topic to other teachers. I’m pretty sure that all the stakeholders will pay close attention to what is being said :)


This blog post describes the experiment we’ve done with the Liberating Structure ‘Shift & Share’ during our PSM II class. By shifting the ‘teacher-role’ in each round we added an element of surprise and ensured even more engagement from all the participants. Based on all the feedback it was a successful experiment!

We’re always happy to hear your experiences or suggestions. Good luck using it within your Scrum team!

If you’d like to experience the all-new Professional Scrum Master II-class, go to to find a class in your area. If you’d like to participate in one of our classes, check out our Eventbrite-page for more information or inquire for an in-house class.

If you’d like to know more about Liberating Structures or experience a large number of them first-hand, make sure to join our Immersion Workshop in Amsterdam (December 10 & 11) or one of the others taking place in Europe in that month.

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

Barry Overeem

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Unleashing Organisational Superpowers

The Liberators

The Liberators: Unleashing Organisational Superpowers