Use ‘Min Specs’ to help groups discover what is absolutely essential

Christiaan Verwijs
Jan 19, 2018 · 4 min read

Liberating Structures are facilitation techniques that allow you to unleash and involve everyone in a group — from extroverted to introverted and from leaders to followers. In this series of posts, we show how Liberating Structures can be used with Scrum. If you’d like to experience Liberating Structures first-hand, make sure to join our Immersion Workshop in Amsterdam (December 10 & 11) or one of the other ones taking place in Europe in December.

Ever struggled to come up with a Definition of Done that captured the essential characteristics of a “Done”-increment rather than what everyone hoped it would be? Or define a minimal version of a product (MVP) where stakeholders keep adding features to the list? In this post, we show how to use a Liberating Structure called Min Specs to facilitate this process of first brainstorming the options, and then narrowing down to what is absolutely necessary for achieving a purpose.

Min Specs offers a nice balance between first exploring the entire field of do’s and must-not-do’s, and then aggressively narrowing down to what is absolutely essential. It does so in a way that allows everyone to be actively involved, from the extroverted to the introverted members, from leaders to followers.

Uses in Scrum and workshops

We’ve used ‘Min Specs’ in Scrum for the following purposes:

  • Have Scrum Teams define a Team Manifest by identifying the values and principles that are essential to the success of the team;

Steps

  1. Have people organize in groups of 4 to 7 and provide them with pens, post-its and preferably a surface to write on (like a table);

Combinations

Liberating Structures can be easily combined to create programs for entire workshops or training. The options are endless:

  • Use 1–2–4-ALL or 25/10 Crowd Sourcing beforehand to clearly define the challenge;

Tips

  • Include as many people and stakeholders as possible. By getting as many ‘brains in the room’ as possible, you can tap into the full potential of the group;

Closing

In this post we’ve described how you can use ‘Min Specs’ to help groups discover what is essential to achieve their purpose. Give it a try! We’re always happy to hear your experiences or hear your suggestions.

Interested in learning many different Liberating Structures in an intense 2-day workshop? Check out our agenda for upcoming Immersion Workshops. If you’re aiming to join, book early — they are exceptionally popular. And join the Dutch User Group to learn more about Liberating Structures.

You can support us by purchasing from our webshop, by joining one of our events or by becoming a patreon.

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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