Track: MASTER: (Pride in the Craft)

Duration: 90 minute interactive workshop

Talk Level: Intermediate


Teams are complex adaptive systems, greater than the sum of their parts: effective retrospectives are key to unlocking their inherent wisdom

A team is more than the sum of it’s parts. Team effectiveness emerges from the various interactions between members, the environment, processes and systems – the same group of people under certain circumstances can become a highly effective team; under different circumstances, toxic behaviour and disfuntion can emerge from the same group of people. A team therefore needs to be seen as a complex adaptive system, able to adapt to it’s environment and with an emergent wisdom that will emerge in the right enabling environment. The most important role of the Scrum Master is to create the enabling environment for the best possible teamwork to emerge. To do this, there are some fundamental beliefs that needs to be cultivated: – wisdom resides in the system – if you can show the system to itself it will solve its own problems (it doesn’t have to be fixed) – people aren’t problems to solve, but key knowledge holders to understand – continuous learning and feedback is the life-blood of a complex adaptive system – and in every interaction, learning needs to happen both ways

In this session, we will explore some of the theory that underpin these beliefs, exploring what a complex adaptive system is and how a Scrum Master can best seek to create the enabling conditions for teams to thrive.

We will focus specifically on a South African case study of the journey of a team that underwent significant upheavals while having to deliver on a very high profile project. Throughout this process, the Scrum Master focused on showing the system to itself, specifically in retrospectives to ensure that the system could learn and self-regulate.

We will also introduce you to one or two of the methods we use to facilitate this learning process in teams.

Bio of Sonja Blignaut:

sonja_blignautSonja Blignaut has been working in the fields of narrative and complexity for over 12 years. Before founding More Beyond, she worked as a consultant for PWC and IBM. She left the formal consulting world in 2004 to focus on doing more of what she loved, which is working with individuals, teams and organisations to become more agile and adaptive and to shift complex intractable problems through thinking and acting differently. She is also a certified Strengths and Systems Coach, and uses a strengths-based approach to help teams become more effective. Sonja has consulted locally and internationally with clients that include Barclays Africa, MMI, Gautrain, PWC, Sasol Group, Sasol Inzalo Foundation, Anglo American, Nedbank, Standard Bank, FNB, PWC, IBM North America, Eskom, Vodacom and many others. Sonja is the exclusive South African partner for Cognitive Edge, a company founded by Prof Dave Snowden, a global thought-leader in the field of narrative and complexity and author of the HBR acclaimed Cynefin Sense-making framework.

Bio of Wessel Blignaut:
WesselWessel has experience in various project management methodologies, including Agile (Scrum), Waterfall (Prince II) and AIM. He is a certified Scrum Master as well as SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) Practitioner.

Wessel has been involved in several national and international projects including some with a primary focus on ERP implementations in industries including manufacturing, logistics, telecoms and pharmaceutical, following the traditional project management methodology (Waterfall approach).

As a SCRUM Master, he has overseen several Web and Mobile Application Software development projects including a strategic high visibility proof of concept project in a global financial services company.

He has successfully completed a Master’s Degree (MComm) in Project Management with Agile Project Management and the role of the Project Manager in the Agile Project environment as focus for his studies.