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The Liberators Network

Author: The Liberators

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If you're excited about unleashing organisational superpowers, then this is the podcast for you. We talk about Scrum, Liberating Structures and creating better workplaces. This podcast is created by Christiaan Verwijs and Barry Overeem. Both are Professional Scrum Trainers for and stewards for the Professional Scrum Master II class they created. Aside from their extensive background and experience with Scrum, they are very excited about Liberating Structures and are active members of this worldwide community. We aim to release a new episode every Friday.
62 Episodes
Last year, we brought together 30 Scrum Masters to talk about what made their success possible. We used a string of Liberating Structures to include everyone's voice. In this episode we share the 5 most important contributors that the group identified. How are you investing in those contributors yourself?We offer many strings to explore similar questions with your team, your meetup or your community of Scrum Masters.This episode is based on this blog-post: a patron to support and participate in our work: the show (
Are you excited about the new Scrum Guide? We certainly are, if only because every version makes it more clear what Scrum is really about — which is also our mission.In this episode, we take a look at the four most significant changes and why they were made. While it is tempting to talk about all the nitty-gritty linguistic changes, we believe it is more helpful to understand the underlying patterns and how they reinforce what Scrum has always been about.You can find a transcript of this episode here: new Scrum Guide is available (as always) at:https://scrumguides.orgYou can download our updated Scrum Framework poster here: the show (
It is easy to start new initiatives. And much harder to make them endure. Whether or it is a new team, a new community, or a new product, how do you create a foundation to build on?Thankfully, the Liberating Structure "Purpose to Practice" is of great help here as it gives groups five essential elements to focus on: purpose, principles, participants, structure, and practices.We've frequently used Purpose to Practice (P2P) to start new teams, communities of Scrum Masters, change initiatives, and even entire organizations. In this episode, we share how we've used P2P in our work, specifically for our growing community of patrons, and how you can use it in your own work.Read a blog post we wrote about Purpose to Practice here: try this prepared string for a Purpose-to-Practice with your team.Or download a free PDF canvas for Purpose to Practice.And we happily invite you to join our growing community of patrons and work with us to refine our Purpose to Practice together: the show (
"How is it a good idea to mirror this complexity in the product with complexity in the group of people that develop this product?"Scaling Scrum is seriously hard, right? How do you work with many teams on one product? How many Product Owners should you have for one large product? How can many teams deliver a "Done" Increment every Sprint? How do you manage the increasing number of dependencies between teams? Honestly, we believe that -  in most cases -  scaling Scrum is tantamount to solving the wrong problem. And we say that irrespective of the framework you use, Nexus, LeSS, or SAFe: Scaling Scrum is a contradiction.In this episode of our podcast, we explain why. And we offer you five strategies to avoid scaling.Support the show (
Few teams start from a position where the Scrum Framework works like a charm from the start. Scrum is radically different from the way that teams have built products and worked with stakeholders in the past. Scrum Teams usually need to improve in many different areas, and overcome many barriers, in order to reach their goals of higher customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, we’ve found that many Scrum Teams struggle to improve at all. And that easily leads to Zombie Scrum: something that may look like Scrum from a distance but lacks the beating heart. In this episode, we address one common reason for this: a lack of tangible improvements.Read a transcript of this episode here: about 15% Solutions can be found here: can pre-order the Zombie Scrum Survival Guide here:https://zombiescrum.orgSupport the show (
How do you sell Agile to your customer?"One of our biggest customers preferred the traditional way of doing projects. This boiled down to writing a massive requirement document, estimating the hours the work, and translating that to a fixed budget. We would then set a deadline and get to work."And this is understandable. From the perspective of the customer, this gives them the guarantees on budget, date, and scope they need to sell the work internally and to their own management, who in turn demand similar guarantees.The irony of course is that, despite these guarantees, the scope inevitably changed during the work anyways. After all, those new ideas emerged if we wanted to or not. And in many cases, we simply made incorrect assumptions in the requirement document that we based our estimates on. So we had to move deadlines, request additional budget, and frequently covered overly optimistic hour estimates on our part with our own money.As a wise person once told me after a feverish attempt to sell Scrum to them: “don’t sell me the hammer, sell me its benefits”. This was an important learning moment for me as I realized that I was explaining how it benefitted us, but not necessarily the customer. So what benefits does Agile offer to the customer?A transcript is available here: a patron to support and participate in our work: the show (
What if Scrum doesn't fit? If you work as a Scrum Master or Agile Coach, you have probably run into teams where Scrum just doesn’t take off. The various Scrum Events feel like a chore, motivation is low and people complain about Scrum.One of the downsides of the popularity of the Scrum Framework is that organizations, teams, consultants, and coaches sometimes try to force Scrum onto problems it isn’t designed for. And the resulting tension is often experienced by the teams, making their perceived “resistance” very understandable.In this episode of our podcast, we explore indicators of "bad fit". We also explore how "coherence" is central to the Scrum Framework. Without it, Scrum can easily feel artificial and forced. Even when that coherence isn't there now, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be there. In fact, you may find that creating more coherence makes your team many times more effective. Or you may conclude that it isn't feasible, and Scrum isn't going to fit.This episode is based on this blog-post: a patron to support and participate in our work: us on Medium: the show (
This episode is about how unreliable, nonobjective, and biased your and my thinking is. As sociologists and psychologists have long pointed out, we should develop a more skeptical and nuanced view of our own opinions.In this episode, we explore eight biases and explore how they influence our beliefs in the workplace. A bias called "regression to the mean" can easily lead management to conclude that punishment for mistakes is more effective at producing desired behavior than rewards for achievements. The "survival bias" can lead people to conclude that certain methodologies or best-practices are successful purely because they only see the successes, but never the failures. Or "illusory superiority" leads to frustration and resentment because people feel that they are contributing more than others - as we all tend to do.This episode is part of our "In-Depth" series. This means that we don't offer easy answers, but instead invite you to build a deeper understanding of how things work. Furthermore, we made an effort to dig deep into on-going scientific research. With this episode in mind, I'm sure you understand why we like Liberating Structures and Scrum so much. Or why we distrust "best practices". This extra-long episode is based on this blog-post (all references are there): to support our work: us on Medium: the show (
This year has been challenging for all of us. It wasn't any different for our company, The Liberators. At the same time, seemingly insurmountable challenges are also drivers of innovation.In this personal episode, we share how we are turning the ship around. Our purpose is to liberate teams from dehumanizing and ineffective ways of organizing work by putting them in control of shaping their future.This change in direction also means saying goodbye to things that are dear to us, including the Professional Scrum Master II class, training in general, and our stewardship at But we take our mission too seriously to work on it with anything less than 100% focus.Yes, this is super scary for both of us, and cause for some sleepless nights. At the same time, we believe in our mission and our community to make this work. We may fail. We may succeed - the experience will be worth it.This episode is based on this blog post: to support our work: us on Medium: the show (
"Teams make people more than people make teams."It may be a bold statement, but there is a surprising amount of scientific evidence that shows the overwhelming effect of our social environment on our behavior and performance. By understanding why it is easier to understand what makes change so difficult.In this episode of our podcast, we explore a different way to understand organizations. Rather than the dominant perspective today - to understand them as "machines" - we look at organizations as social systems. We draw from five domains of scientific research to show just how useful this perspective is, what it teaches us about change and how we can do better.This episode is part of our "In-depth"-series; a series that doesn't offer easy answers but aims to create deeper understanding. Our hope is this makes it easier to come up with your own answers, rather than having to rely on experts and consultants to tell you.This episode is based on this blog post (which includes all the references too): to support our work: us on Medium: the show (
Liberating Structures are easy-to-learn, easy-to-facilitate techniques that build real engagement and involvement in groups of any size. We’ve been using them for a while now. One thing we’ve learned is that coming up with good ‘invitations’ is 90% of the work. In this episode we share some of the lessons we’ve learned and are still learning.This episode is based on this blogpost. In the episode, we also mention this document with helpful starting stems for your invitations. We also have many examples available of strings (and invitations) we've used with the Dutch LS User Group. Donate to support our work: us on Medium: the show (
There is a problem with traditional learning models where experts tell people what they need to know: it doesn't work. Scientific research tells us that people don't learn from being told what they need to learn. In this episode, we explore an alternative approach called Visual Thinking Strategies. Although only one piece of the puzzle, it creates engaging learning environments by guiding groups in their own learning. And VTS is super simple; only 3 questions.When you've listened to this episode, give it a try with your own team. We're eager to learn what happened!This episode is based on this blogpost: to support our work: us on Medium: the show (
What creates Zombie Scrum? One clear theme we — and many others — have found is that people use the Scrum Framework for the wrong reasons. When you ask people in a Zombie Scrum organization what they are hoping to get out of Scrum, you’ll hear things like “more speed”, “more brains”, “more output” and “more efficiency”. That’s very different from the actual meaning of the word “agile”. It’s also very different from what the Scrum Framework is designed for. Where does this contradiction come from?In this episode, which is an excerpt from our book "The Zombie Scrum Survival Guide", we explore how the "Efficiency Mindset" that is prevalent in so many organizations can easy mess-up your work with the Scrum Framework.The blog-version is available here: up to be notified when the book becomes available: us on Medium: the show (
"That doesn't work in the real world", "Our product is too complex" and "That works only for hip startups" are some of the reasons that people offer when we ask them why they don't ship faster.In environments with Zombie Scrum, people don't understand why it's important to ship fast. When you ask them, they respond with a shrug. Or with a dismissive smile, because "that can't possibly work for a product or organization as complex as ours". For them, shipping fast is only possible for small and inconsequential products or for huge tech companies like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Etsy. Even if they'd want to, the investment would simply be too large. It's more convenient to keep batching many updates into large, infrequent releases. Honestly, this is not very different from seeing the appeal in a healthy lifestyle but refusing to do the frequent workouts to get there.But ironically, the more complex the product or its environment is, the more important it is to use release small increments to reduce the risks that are inherent to that. The reasons that people often give why they can't ship faster are ironically *exactly* the reasons why they should.In this episode, which is an excerpt from our book "The Zombie Scrum Survival Guide", we share one of the reasons why teams that suffer from Zombie Scrum often can't release as fast as they want.The blog-version is available here: up to be notified when the book becomes available: us on Medium: the show (
In this episode, we take a birds-eye view of what is happening in and around us. Technological innovations are emerging rapidly and our work is increasingly globalized, inter-connected and dependent on technology. And it seems to be accelerating: welcome to the technological Supernova! In this episode we capture two complementary perspectives on this supernova and how to survive it. We also connect it to the Scrum Framework, and how it helps us survive - and even thrive on - all this growing complexity.The transcript for this episode is available here as a blogpost: to support our work: us on Medium: the show (
“Self-organization is the process by which spontaneous order arises from something that is initially disorganized.”That sounds very deep, but what does it mean in practice? For such a popular topic as "self-organization", its often remarkably unclear what it means or how to make it happen. In this episode, we explore how Liberating Structures are effectively instruments for self-organization in teams and organizations. We also offer five tips that worked for us.The transcript for this episode is available here as a blogpost: next 2-day Immersion Workshop takes place on November 18 & 19 (Amsterdam): to support our work: us on Medium: the show (
“Stakeholders are less satisfied, less value is delivered and team morale is markedly lower when management hardly interacts with the teams”This is one finding from the 2.000+ teams that have participated to date in our Zombie Scrum Survey. In this episode, we explore the improvements we made to the survey based on the data we collected to data. We also shared other preliminary findings.This episode is based on this blogpost: to support our work: us on Medium: the show (
Does your Scrum Team use Sprint Goals? If not, why? Perhaps your team finds it hard to identify a goal for the Sprint out of the patchwork of items on the Sprint Backlog? Or perhaps your Product Owner doesn’t know how to balance the requests from many different groups of stakeholders?In this episode, we bust one of the most persistent myths in Scrum; the notion that Sprint Goals are optional in Scrum. That they are nice-to-have, but hardly ever practically possible. We will show that the reverse is true. It is very hard, maybe even impossible, to do Scrum well when you don’t have Sprint Goals.This episode is based on this blog-post (where you can find the other things we reference): to support our work us on Medium: the show (
A simple way to understand Scrum would be to emphasize that its all about releasing faster and sooner. But what if everything that is released isn't valuable or useful? How beneficial is Scrum then? In this episode, we explore the curious case of the missing customer in Scrum. It's a case we often see in the Scrum Teams we work with. Even the Scrum Guide itself makes no direct mention of 'users' and 'customers'. What might be going on here?This episode is based on this blogpost: to support our work us on Medium: the show (
A good start for a new Scrum Team is really half the work. This is where you can start building the psychological safety and self-organizing skills that are so vital to the further success.In this episode we share our approach to starting new Scrum Teams. And we offer 10 practical things you can do with a new team. Or even with teams that have been going on for a while, but can use a refresher.This episode is based on this blog-post (where you can find the posters and examples): to support our work us on Medium: the show (
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