November 25, 2019

Agile Transformation with Liberating Structures

Liberating Structures are a very popular toolkit for Scrum Masters these days. Conferences, trainings and meetings make heavy use of them. Of course Liberating Structures also find their way into the Scrum events, for very good reasons.

You will instantly notice something very positive when you start using Liberating Structures when working with a group of people. The engagement level among the attendees increases almost instantly. Facial expressions and body language adapts as well to a more inviting and collaborative style of working. Once groups get a taste of Liberating Structures, it will be very hard to go back to old-school, pre-planned agenda-driven meeting formats when working on complex problems. 

Agile Transformations are complex in nature. To change an element or the entire eco-system to a new way of working requires tools and practices. The Agile Transformation Kata is such a practice with a focus to increase agility in an organization. Using a top-down, plan-driven approach for an agile transformation effort is in my opinion fatal.


Agile Transformation Team

How can leaders reach agile team members and set the right tone if their own approach for an agile transformation show low levels of engagement and agility? How can leaders expect agile teams take the buzzword Agile Transformation seriously when these words are used but the proper actions are lacking?  

My preferred way of talking about agile transformations is the Agile Transformation Kata (ATK). The ATK is a practice to increase agility but can be combined with different techniques and tools. One of them being for example Liberating Structures.

When you read through the Kata white paper, you will notice that Open Space is an integral technique in Organize & Plan. Of course this technique could be swapped with something that achieves similar outcomes, but Open Space is just a powerful tool that has been proven over and over in these kind of situations.  Alternatively to an Open Space, a 25/10 could be used for establishing a goal for the Kata, especially if your Kata is done during a very short time-box.  Min-Spec could be used to reduce the focus on a number of agile principles and WINFY (What I need from You) could be a powerful instrument for employees from different departments to gain a better appreciation about the complexity of the agile transformation.  What all this Liberating Structures have in common is that groups and crowds work effectively together, even on large scale. As town halls meeting styles are possibly a good way of addressing a large group and relay information, they are not good formats for working through agile transformations. If you like to find out more about how these Liberating Structures connect with the Kata, join me here. If you like more information about the ATK, you can download the white paper or poster