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The Liberators Network

Author: The Liberators

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If you're excited about unleashing organizational 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 of 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 publish a new episode every first Friday of the month.
92 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
The first thing people tend to see when they look at the Scrum framework are the roles, the artifacts, and the events. But that is only structure. There is much more going on in Scrum teams that we can understand better from other perspectives.One such perspective is motivation. Scrum is deeply rooted in insights from academic research into what motivates people and teams to become high-performing. And while those roots are strong, they are also mostly invisible and unknown to practitioners.In this podcast, we take a scientific perspective on how Scrum can create motivating environments for teams and individuals. We also translate these insights into practical tips that you can use to make the work for your team more motivating.Read the full post behind this episode, including all the links, here our show at: how well things are going with your Scrum Team with the Scrum Team Survey:https://scrumteamsurvey.orgSupport the show
“We consistently observe that teams struggle with continuous improvement. Instead of keeping it small, simple, and practical, teams go for ambitious — but vague and unclear — improvements.”The improvement actions that come out of Sprint Retrospectives and other reflective practices are weak when there is no sense of scope, no sense of timeline, and no sense of who is involved. Interestingly, this creates a clear connection with something else that good Agile teams spend a lot of time on: refinement.In this episode, we explore how to refine your improvement actions to make them more actionable and thus easier to accomplish. We also offer a lot of practical tips for how to create better improvement actions.Read the transcript here: can try the Scrum Team Survey with your team at:https://scrumteamsurvey.orgOr get our "Unleash Scrum In Your Organization"-kit which contains - among many other cool things - a deck with 100 Improvement Actions categorized into different areas. These are a good source of inspiration for your own improvements. Or you can use them verbatim: the show
What makes a good Product Owner? How much time should they spend with their team or with stakeholders? Or writing items for the Product Backlog? Do Product Owners require a full mandate in order to be effective? What strategies make them more - or less - effective?In this episode, we explore scientific research that investigated Product Owners. We also share some of our own research. Read the transcript here: the Scrum Team Survey for free with your team at:https://scrumteamsurvey.orgOr download do-it-yourself workshops to encourage shared product ownership: the show
"SAFe destroys autonomy", "estimation is a waste of time" and "Scrum Masters can't also be Product Owners" are just a few of the strong claims that are often made in our professional community.But where is the evidence to support these bold claims? We sampled 50 posts with similar bold claims and found that only 3 offered *any* kind of evidence. Two of those were purely personal experiences. We also explored some actual research into these questions and found more nuanced results.We wonder: why doesn't our community - that is all about empiricism - apply empiricism to itself and its claims? Why don't we gather actual objective evidence? Why do we allow each other to make bold claims that either lack evidence or aren't proportional to that evidence? Are we not harming our profession with this low bar?In this episode, we discuss a professional crisis in our field. We also offer five things we can do to improve our profession. Ultimately, if we rely more on objective evidence we make a much stronger case for what we believe to be true. Or we may discover that our beliefs aren't actually true - which is a good thing too.Read the transcript here: the show
"It slowly started to dawn on me that something else was happening during these gatherings. Something I hadn’t seen before so clearly in my previous work with groups. I saw so many happy faces around me. I saw so many people intently listening to each other as each shared a personal story. And I saw so many people touched by the awareness that others were really listening to them as they shared those stories."This  episode is about the psychological power of Liberating Structures. They are like a language for how people interact. Once you learn to speak and recognize its symbols and its grammar, you see its potential everywhere people interact. I know how weird that sounds — especially when you’ve never experienced them before. This potential affirms my belief that we should use Liberating Structures everywhere people interact.Unfortunately, even experienced practitioners tended to limit their use to the more obvious settings, like workshops, classes, and training, but not to other settings, like recurring meetings, social settings, and other informal settings. And that includes us too. And that's a waste, as we explore in this post.Read the transcript for this episode here (along with pictures) an upcoming Immersion Workshop via:https://liberatingstructures.nlOr https://liberatingstructures.comSupport the show
Are Scrum Masters perhaps too focused on the process, and too little on whether or not that process actually delivers valuable outcomes? How is that for you, as a Scrum Master?This is a hunch based on countless conversations we've had with Scrum Masters, including our own practice as a Scrum Master. But what do the facts say? So we read relevant scientific studies and collected data through a large poll (500+ participants) and data from almost 2.000 Scrum teams. We were also fortunate to use data from a research study by McKinsey and data suggest that Scrum Masters are more effective when they balance a process-based perspective with a value-based perspective. This means that Scrum Masters lead in designing effective Sprint Reviews, drawing in stakeholders, and emphasizing the need for this. I expect that Scrum Masters that stake a strong stance here are more likely to see effective Scrum teams over time. I offer tips on how to do this.Read the transcript here: Diagnose your team with the Scrum Team Survey:https://scrumteamsurvey.orgSupport the show
We are creating the Scrum Team Survey to help Scrum teams and Agile teams to diagnose their process. We also give tons of evidence-based feedback. One of the cool things about developing a product ourselves, and with our own money, is that we get to learn (or reaffirm) a lot of valuable lessons about Agile software development. In this episode, we share our 10 biggest lessons. Be prepared for some technical stuff though, as several of these lessons involve architecture, design, and code quality.Read the blog post for this episode here: the Scrum Team Survey here (it's free for individual teams)https://scrumteamsurvey.orgTry the Team Dashboard here: the show
Do your Daily Scrums feel like a pointless ritual where everyone just lists what they’ve done yesterday, and what they do will do today? Does Sprint Planning feel like a waste of time because everyone only wants to know what they have to do? And does your Sprint Review consist of team members listing their individual accomplishments? If so, you are probably dealing with a complete lack of coherence and cohesion.This episode is an exploration of scientific insights that help us understand what coherence and cohesion are, and why they are so important. We also explore how these insights create a strong foundation for the Scrum framework. We also translate scientific insights into practical applications, ready for use with your team.Read the transcript here: many do-it-yourself workshops to help your team: the show: the show
Do you start a new Scrum team by explaining the roles, artifacts, and events? Do you rarely consider how to build coalitions and persuade people in power to support your work with Scrum? Are you thinking about the psychological needs of people and how to motivate them to work with Scrum? You may be engaging in a bit too much blueprint thinking.In this episode, we explore how blue-print thinking is too dominant in our profession. There are exceptions. But much of the professional discourse is focused on frameworks, processes, and structure — independent of the messy sociological, political, and psychological realities of organizations. We explore how this bias leads to blind spots. It also explains why so many framework implementations fail. This episode is based on the “Color Theory of Change”, and we think its quite eye-opening if you've never reflected on this before.Find the transcript here: our show at Patreon: the show
Recently, the concept of “fluid teams”, “dynamic reteaming” or “ad-hoc teaming” has gained traction in the Agile community. Although the concept has many different definitions, a characteristic they share is that members move in and out of a team during its lifetime.However, decades of academic research into teams and workgroups have underscored the importance of team stability as a requirement for high performance. Although these studies did not compare stable teams versus fluid teams specifically, the most reliable theories we currently have to understand team development also seem to favor stability over fluidity.In this episode, I explore the research in this area. Considering just how popular the notion of fluid teams has become, I think it is important to weigh the evidence that supports it or contradicts it.Read the transcript of the episode here (including all references): an in-depth post about team cognition: an in-depth post about social cohesion: the show at: the show
Do high-performing teams communicate more than low-performing teams? 🤔If you think "Yes!", you may want to reconsider. Scientific studies often find the reverse. When researchers compare high-performing teams with low-performing teams, they consistently find that high-performing teams communicate less. This has been observed with flight crews, nuclear plant control crews, and work teams.These teams have not developed telepathy, but they've learned so well what is expected of each other that they don’t need to communicate explicitly for day-to-day coordination. This effectively keeps a lot of their bandwidth open for problem-solving, critical communication, and maintaining focus - and that makes them more effective.There is so much to unpack here. It tells us much about cross-functionality, team cognition, and what it takes to grow high-performing teams. In a very practical sense, I think it shows us how important it is to develop work agreements and mental team models about how to:- Coordinate work- Coordinate the use and application of skills- Coordinate the navigation of conflict- Coordinate psychologically safety (the proper kind)- Coordinate dealing with work pressure and stressRead the transcript of the episode here (including all references): the show at: the show
Why is code quality so often an issue? Why do software teams — despite their best initial intentions — often end up fighting a codebase that is hard to test, resistant to change, and prone to strange bugs?We have many intuitions about this. But we’ve learned the hard way that my intuitions are often wrong. So in this episode, we explore insights from scientific studies that have investigated technical and code smells. We also share evidence-based recommendations on how to write better code. This episode is interesting both for developers and non-developers.And yes, it turns out that several of our intuitions are indeed wrong :DRead the transcript of this episode (it includes the reference)Try the Scrum Team Survey with your teamSupport the show on the show
There is a growing trend in our industry to distinguish between “Agility” and “Business Agility”. The idea here is that Agile is limited only to teams and to software and that more is needed. Many consultancy firms are now jumping into that gap with additional frameworks and models.This makes no sense to me. I think that this distinction reveals a glaring misunderstanding of the purpose of Agile. More importantly, I think that the distinction between Agility and Business Agility only muddies the waters and distracts leaders away from what it is they should be doing.We take a history tour to visit some of the precursors of Agile and learn what made them different from what came before, and why. With this historical understanding, we then revisit the distinction between business agility and agility to see if it makes sense. We also explore the notion that "Agile is only for teams" and "Agile is only for software".This episode is an opinion piece. You may agree or you may not. Either way, we hope you learn something from it.A transcript is available here (an account for Medium is necessary)Support the show
"Professionals don't need psychological safety" is what someone recently told us. Perhaps you are on the fence about the need for psychological safety too. Or you get the point, but always struggle to make it practical. In this podcast, we explore psychological safety from a scientific perspective. And we offer many practical recommendations for what psychological safety looks like in teams and how to develop it. You can also hear some great ideas and suggestions that were generated by our growing community of patrons. Read the transcript here (includes references): many free do-it-yourself workshops to improve psychological safety (among other things): our work too at: the show
Does refinement in your team feel like a slog? Do developers go there with lead in their shoes? Many Scrum Teams struggle with refinement, and understandably so. Yet, in many ways, this is where some of the most important work happens. And some of the hardest work. In this episode, we offer a reflection on the purpose of refinement. And we offer recommendations to make the process more enjoyable and effective — many of which originate from a discussion we had with experienced Scrum Masters on the Discord server that is accessible to our patrons.Check out the transcript here: paper we wrote with Daniel Russo is available here: the free cheatsheet with 10 breakdown strategies here: try this fully prepared do-it-yourself workshop for refinement: the show
The biggest challenge in Product Development is to distinguish between what the product can become one day, and what it should incrementally become first to validate critical assumptions that clear the way towards that future. This presents a major struggle for Product Owners, customers, users, and developers as they are all inclined to spend most of their time thinking about the “Largest Potential Product” instead of the “Smallest Valuable Product”. In this podcast, Christiaan talks about product discovery, minimum valuable (or viable) products and offers many ideas on how to engage in product discovery.Diagnose (free) how well your Scrum team is discovering their product:https://scrumteamsurvey.orgFind a transcript here (requires a Medium-account): our work: the show
How does "team cognition" make some Scrum teams more effective than others? In this podcast, we explore scientific research into team cognition and mental models. And we translate it into actionable improvements you can make to make your Scrum teams more effective.By the end of the episode, you will have learned:How team cognition is essentially the "mind of a team", with its own memory and perception of the world.What team cognition is and how substantial its influence is on the effectiveness of teams according to large-scale research effortsHow team cognition helps us understand what cross-functionality should look like for Scrum teams.What team cognition looks like for Scrum teams, and what signs tell you whether it's there or not. And if it isn't, what you can do about that.What research in this area tells us about how you can design, support, and encourage teams to develop team cognition and become high-performing.Why frequent changes to team composition are not a good idea if you want to maintain effectiveness, no matter how they are initiated.More resourcesSupport this podcast by becoming a patronRead the transcript here (a medium account is, unfortunately, necessary until it is published)Try the Scrum Team SurveyBarry Overeem and I created three do-it-yourself workshops (#1, #2, and #3) to help your team create shared goals.ReferencesButler, A. C., Chapman, J. E., Forman, E. M., & Beck, A. T. (2006). The empirical status of cognitive-behavioral therapy: a review of meta-analyses. Clinical psychology review, 26(1), 17–31.Cannon‐Bowers, J. A., & Salas, E. (2001). Reflections on shared cognition. Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior, 22(2), 195–202.DeChurch, L. A., & Mesmer-Magnus, J. R. (2010). The cognitive underpinnings of effective teamwork: a meta-analysis. Journal of applied psychology, 95(1), 32.Kearney, E., Gebert, D., & Voelpel, S. C. (2009). When and how diversity benefits teams: The importance of team members’ need for cognition. Academy of Management journal, 52(3), 581–598.Kozlowski, S. W., & Ilgen, D. R. (2006). Enhancing the effectiveness of work groups and teams. Psychological science in the public interest, 7(3), 77–124.Mathieu, J. E., Heffner, T. S., Goodwin, G. F., Salas, E., & Cannon-Bowers, J. A. (2000). The influence of shared mental models on team process and performance. Journal of applied psychology, 85(2), 273.Stout, R. J., Cannon-Bowers, J. A., & Salas, E. (2017). The role of shared mental models in developing team situational awareness: Implications for training. Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division.Tolin, D.Support the show
When we started as #ScrumMaster, the thing that scared us the most was how to translate those lofty ideals into actual down-to-earth behavior. While it sounded great that #Scrum is about #empiricism”, we had no idea what that should look like with our teams, how we should behave to support that and how flexible we could be with the framework of Scrum.In this episode of our #podcast, we collected five practical insights that we think every starting Scrum Master should know, and that are inspired by mistakes I made over the years. If anything, we wish we would’ve realized these when we started. For this episode, we also asked our growing community of experienced Scrum practitioners on Discord for help.A transcript for this episode is available here (Medium account required, unfortunately):Here are some helpful exercise materials for starting Scrum TeamsWe designed a bunch of do-it-yourself workshops to start Scrum Master communities in your own area or organizationEnjoy!Support the show
Even when we don't want to admit it, the Covid-19 pandemic changed how we work. Even after the pandemic ends, it is likely that many Scrum Teams will continue to work from home. Or at least, more often than before the pandemic hit.What is the impact of working from home on productivity and personal well-being? How can organizations support it well? And what can Scrum Masters do? We invited Daniel Russo, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science from the University of Aalborg to talk about his research that was funded by the Carlsberg foundation. During the pandemic, he and three colleagues had a unique opportunity to follow a group of developers during the early months of the pandemic. Their research gives us compelling insights into how working from home impacts productivity and well-being - often in surprising ways. It also gives us a handle on what we can do to support developers that work from home during pandemics, and hopefully also outside of pandemics.Read the entire study online here: the show
Comments (1)

Sarah Gruneisen

Loved this! Thanks :-)

Jan 2nd
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