Can There be Too Much of a Good Thing?

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Can There be Too Much of a Good Thing?

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I have a good friend, Ryan Ripley, who is an excellent Scrum trainer with (PST). I just attended a workshop with him and it contained lots of Liberating Structures or LS. 

And when I say lots, I mean LOTS!

And he was clearly excited about them and about stringing structures together. In our debriefs, it was almost as if LS was a pattern language for teaching. In other words, how to teach specific, complex topics and how to communicate to a diverse group of students.

Now I’m not an expert on LS, but it seemed as if Liberating Structures was his new favorite technique when it came to teaching.

But was that good?

I’ve seen this same enthusiasm with Sharon Bowman’s Training from the Back of the Room techniques. So many agile trainers proudly declared “a PowerPoint free zone” in their classes. As if, showing 1-slide would destroy collaborative learning.

I wrote a piece questioning the extremeness of this a year or so ago. And my class with Ryan reminded me of my thinking at the time.

On a related note, I recently saw a post on LinkedIn advertising a CSM certification class in the UK by Tobias Mayer. One sentence stood out to me –

A fully immersive, dialog-centric, somatic experience. No slides, no lecture, no documents. Just humans, interacting in a Lego-free zone 😉

And I found myself chuckling at this.

You see, I find that so many Scrum instructors now have some sort of Lego-based game weaved into their classes. Now, it’s not that Lego’s are inherently bad. But does +50% of the class need to be Lego focused? And is that the only way to teach some of the core values and lessons of Scrum.

In other words, is that good?

As I ranted about in my No PowerPoints post, I’m even more concerned about Liberating Structures. Now, perhaps this might be mitigated by my lack of experience with them. I have some, but I’m not an expert.

It also might be because I’m a bit of a generational dinosaur, curmudgeon, and late-adopter when it comes to newer learning techniques. But I do think that too much of something (anything) can undermine its effectiveness. And I think that Liberating Structures can be overdone.

For example, the class I attended with Ryan was the Professional Agile Leadership Essentials (PAL-E) class from Ryan is one of the course stewards for the class. And he happens to have ~6 years of solid senior leadership experience across several companies.

In this sort of class, I wanted to hear more from Ryan. I wanted him to share his experience in personally transforming from a traditional to an agile leader. What were his challenges and epiphanies? His successes and failures? What was his “personal Why” behind agility? And what were the techniques that he thought were most important to be an effective agile leader?

While the class covered much of that, there was way too much class collaboration, personal discovery, and Liberating Structures.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a GREAT class. Really great! But, I’m thinking that too much of anything might not be a good thing…

Stay agile my friends,


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