#36 – Powerful Questions

Authors comment:

In order to be successful in working with Scrum and agile principles, coaching of teams, management and stakeholders is most probably needed in order to help tune their mindset into focusing on value-add, empowering teams, embracing change, etc It simply isn’t enough to take courses or just learning by doing; consistent coaching my experienced agile coaches is a necessity in the beginning of any successful agile journey. 

As part of this coaching, or as a tool in the Scrum Master’s toolbox, we have Powerful Questions. Made famous in the agile space by Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayd, among others, these questions direct the person or team towards discovery, not to a specific destination, and invite for introspection. Examples of Powerful Questions are: What is important about this? In which other ways can you do this? What is it we are not seeing? How can you contribute more?

We must remember that, for Powerful Questions to work in a team plenum setting, we need a certain level of trust and openness to exist in the team. Therefore, don’t use this early in the life of a new team, so you risk giving the team and yourself a bad experience using this approach. Wait until you sense they are ready for this, somewhat, deeper level of questioning, reflection, discovery and improvements, and then slowly start including the questions at, e.g., Retrospectives and problem-solving sessions.