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Experiment: Give The Stakeholder A Desk Close To The Scrum Team

May 20, 2023




Being distant from the stakeholder is a great excuse to not involve them. This experiment removes that excuse by bringing the stakeholder so close that there’s no escaping them. It’s like “Encounter Therapy”, really, and it’s one of the most effective ways to make progress.

Required skill

Setting up the desk and inviting stakeholders is easy. Having the stakeholder use the desk might take more effort.

Impact on survival

For a tiny experiment, this is bound to have a huge impact.


To try this experiment, do the following:

  • Create a desk close to your Scrum team where one or more stakeholders can comfortably do their own work. Candy helps!
  • Invite one or more stakeholders to make use of this desk whenever they can be available for the Scrum team. Invite stakeholders that actively use the product or are significantly investing in it. Organize a short event to get to know each other and to clarify the purpose of this experiment.
  • If helpful, create a schedule together of when the stakeholder(s) will be there and put it somewhere clearly visible for the Scrum team. Working arrangements also help to balance focus and interaction.
  • Observe what happens next.


Create a desk close to your Scrum Team where one or more stakeholders can comfortably do their own work.

When stakeholders and teams are not used to this kind of close proximity, some awkwardness is natural. Gently connect the team and the stakeholders wherever relevant if it doesn’t happen on its own. Encourage the team to test assumptions with the stakeholder, such as a new design or a feature under development. Or invite them to work together on refining work for the next Sprint.

This is a great experiment to help people understand what makes product development complex. During Sprints, you’re bound to run into many unforeseen issues. Having the stakeholders present allows you to more quickly resolve those. It also allows stakeholders to better appreciate the value they add by being present.

Our findings

  • Some stakeholders assume they have little to contribute while the Scrum team is doing their work. Having delivered their requirements, they may prefer to wait until the product is done. In that case, invite stakeholders to be present for one or two Sprints and decide afterward how useful their presence was and whether to continue being present.
  • This is a great opportunity to celebrate small successes together. Keep an eye out for those opportunities. Simply going for lunch together is already a great help.
  • This experiment can easily be flipped around by giving the Scrum team desks close to the stakeholders. Two of the authors of this book, in separate instances, arranged with their Scrum teams to work on a customer site for a while. Aside from easier access to stakeholders, simply sharing the same coffee machine, celebrating the same birthdays, and having lunch together created a productive working environment.

Looking for more experiments?

Aside from a deep exploration of what causes Zombie Scrum, our book contains over 40 other experiments (like this one) to try with your Scrum team. Each of them is geared towards a particular area where Zombie Scrum often pops up. If you’re looking for more experiments, or if these posts are helpful to you, please consider buying a copy.

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