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Workshop Anti-patterns

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Facilitating Effective Agile Workshops
Note Taking

The course is part of this learning path

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Course Description 

This final module focuses on the positive action you can take to keep improving as a workshop facilitator.  

Learning Objectives 

The objectives of this course are to provide you with and understanding of: 

  • What grouping is 
  • Why grouping is such an effective workshop technique 
  • Grouping techniques 
  • The importance of consistent note taking 
  • How to coach note takers 
  • Workshop anti-patterns you need to avoid 

Intended Audience 

This course is aimed at Scrum Masters who want to improve their individual knowledge of facilitating workshops in service to their Scrum team and their wider organization 

Prerequisites of the Certifications 

There are no specific pre-requisites to study this course 


We welcome all feedback and suggestions - please contact us at qa.elearningadmin@qa.com to let us know what you think. 


Creating a culture of excellent workshops within an organization should always be your goal as a facilitator. But with just a few consistent mistakes, you can do the opposite and create anti-patterns. Anti-patterns do what they say on the box. They create negative ways of working and stop you and your team from being productive. But what do some of these anti-patterns look like and what can you do to stop them from happening? In this video, we'll go through five common anti-patterns to help you understand what they look like and how to avoid them. The first anti-pattern is setting unSMART objectives. This one's a little obvious, but if you find yourself in a situation where you're consistently creating either complex, unmeasurable, unachievable, unrealistic, or time consuming objectives, the time spent in workshops will become a drain of your organization's resources. Any one of these can derail the workshop, so always make sure that you set simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely objectives instead. Next, failure to document the workshop. While Agile always values working products or services over comprehensive documentation, this doesn't mean that comprehensive documentation, when appropriate, doesn't have value. It is extremely important that you, as the facilitator, coach your note takers to create consistent notes and minutes. These can help the team take action after the workshop and show the value it created to the larger organization. Not taking notes is unproductive, but workshops with no psychological safety can be extremely damaging to the team. If workshops break down and become a cycle of finger pointing and blame, you've failed to facilitate effectively. You need to make sure that everyone feels safe to express themselves and collaborate. Watch for signs that things are getting heated. And if they do, you need to intervene immediately. If required, pause the workshop for a tea and coffee break and speak with the people who are upset to calm the situation. Another damaging anti-pattern is passivity. When everyone is present but aren't participating, of course this means that ultimately they aren't being productive. To make sure this doesn't happen, ban mobile devices. Play a quick and fun game to get people laughing and talking, then use breakout groups to get everyone focused on tasks. Keep the workshop activities varied throughout the day and take breaks when you need to to keep everyone active. Last up, a lack of commitment from the organization to support workshops. This can manifest in no suitable venues ever being available. If this happens, you need to escalate to more senior management and engage with them. Make sure they understand the value the workshops bring to team and organization and therefore the importance of being able to run them when you need to. Make sure you aren't part of the problem and book the venue as far in advance as possible. And that's it for this video. Workshop anti-patterns can be disruptive and even destructive. Avoid them by setting SMART objectives, using well-coached note takers, promoting psychological safety, keeping your workshops active, and getting your organization's buy-in and support.

About the Author
Learning Paths

Tony has over 20 years’ experience in Business Development, Business Change, Consulting, and Project/Program Management working with public, private, and third sector organizations.

He has helped organizations to design and create processes and procedures to align ways of working with corporate strategy. A highly motivated and detailed solution provider, utilizing a wide range of methods and frameworks to provide structure whilst promoting creativity and innovation.

As a confident and self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills, Tony is able to bring people together and get them working as a team quickly.

Tony is an Agile and Scrum trainer with a vast knowledge spanning IT Systems, Business Change, Program and Project Management. With excellent presentation skills and a solid background, he ensures that all clients gain maximum benefit from his training. He has successfully guided those new to the industry through their initial training, helped experienced staff as they progress in their careers, and worked at the director level advising on best use and practice, as well as tailoring courses to fulfil the exact needs of clients.