This is the first post in a series of about 30, each with a video conversation about a leadership topic. This time we talk about  – Engagement – and add some context and links for your further information. All these videos are part of the learning material of our Certified Agile Leadership (CAL1) offerings and for everybody interested.

Next Dates:

September 05-06 in London

September 07/08 Cologne, Germany

November 9/10, Berlin, Germany


The ScrumAlliance has defined a list of learning objectives for the Certified Agile Leadership credentials guiding trainers and participants in their offerings and learnings. For the CAL1 classes that we are currently offering these objectives are organized in five content groups:

  1. The Context for Agile
  2. Agile Overview
  3. Leadership in an Agile Context
  4. The Agile Organization
  5. Agile Approaches to Change

You can download the full document from the ScrumAlliance website here. The learning objectives (LOs) are phrased using “Bloom’s Taxonomy” – they describe what the student will be able to do after successfully completing the course. “These LOs are
not intended to be prescriptive of activities or exercises; rather, they are a guide for both the educator and the student for measuring depth of knowledge and understanding.”

In this spirit, we provide before our CAL courses a survey with the LOs where participants can analyse their current state of knowledge, as well as journaling material and further self-studying material like this video series. Your learning journey is ultimately self-directed and your individual responsibility as a learner. Our expectation is that all participants will be able to meet all the learning objectives (subject to your own effort and engagement) through a combination of the course experience, watching and or reading the online material we provide, and your own independent (and maybe previous) experiences, investigations and reflections.  Each of the learning objectives is open-ended so you can go as deep as your inclination leads you to go.

We are looking forward to your feedback as to how well these videos help you meet the objectives, and what additional help they might need. You might find them useful and entertaining without being interested in the course, of course 🙂

Learning Objectives Explained – in Videos?

There are few “right” or “wrong” solutions to these objectives. Our whole course is aimed at you building the awareness of what you want and how you achieve that. Offering our thinking as a video, that you can enjoy before or after the course at your leisure and review as often as you like at your own pace, ensures that you have the knowledge available if and when you need it, not when we think you should “get it”.

There are some other advantages why we think this makes your course experience more valuable for you. We want to minimise “telling” (as in us telling you something) in our courses for a few reasons:

  • We want to maximise human interaction, co-creative exploration, collective experiential learning and relationship building while we are together. These spaces are where we believe the greatest value of this training lies.
  • We want to minimise the time in which you lean back and consume (“download”) knowledge
  • Many of you come into our courses with a lot of knowledge about these topics. We realise there is a power difference between trainers and students in the course, and we want that to influence your thinking as little as possible towards our opinion. So while we are together, we give you more room to share what you know than we take ourselves.

Context – The Context for Agile

The first group of LOs asks the student to be able to describe, identify or explain a few economic or market factors leading to the rise of Agile approaches, some management trends and their historical fit, factors that increase employee engagement and a couple of benefits of becoming a more effective Agile leader. In addition, students will be able to illustrate and explain how complexity and uncertainty relate to the fitness of an Agile approach and how focus on delighting the customer relates to improved outcomes.

Today’s video contains our conversation on learning objective

1.5 Explain at least three factors that increase the level of employee engagement, and how that relates to better outcomes. For example:

  • Clear purpose
  • Autonomy
  • Opportunity to develop mastery
  • Strong social connection
  • Daily small wins

Edited Transcript

…Factors that influence the engagement of an employee…

Looking at myself, freedom or autonomy is important to me. I want to have a sense of I can decide what to do next, I can decide how to do stuff… There are certain things that I’m told but I need a level of freedom that is okay with what I want to do.

  • Autonomy is part of Daniel Pink’s Drive (book and video) He talks about employee motivation and its three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
  • Purpose: I have a strong sense of why I’m doing what I do,
  • Mastery: I have a sense of I can learn something that’s useful to me, I can develop myself, I get stretched a little bit…
  • Autonomy.

…I need somebody who’s working with me who just says, “okay, this is where we want to go, this is the target – please find out how to get there” and I have total freedom to experiment what’s best to reach that target.

…You just gave a good definition of Agile! We define the outcomes and then we experiment our way towards these outcomes. Isn’t that what Agile is all about?

…Yes, that’s true! That’s a really Agile way of being and I think that’s why I connected so much to these Agile ideas. That’s how I like it and that’s how life is meant to be for me. So I really connected very strongly.

…Great. I can see the engagement rising while we are talking. I’m thinking about what is happening between us as we’re talking about this topic and I realise that apart from autonomy, mastery and purpose one thing that’s really important for me is social connection, that I feel seen and recognized as a human being, that I feel appreciated for who I am and what I deliver and that we create something together.

I am independent, I am a freelancer, but I do not like working alone. And I really appreciate us creating stuff together, which is part of our specific way of delivering a CAL training, that we do it together and that we demonstrate leading together in the space of the training. So social connection is really important to me to be engaged.

…When I listen to you I realize that this is maybe the most beautiful thing, the most precious gift we can give to humans. We want to have that space of trust and social connection, and be there for each other. That creates the freedom for everybody to develop to their best. Nobody wants to control what we’re doing exactly, but everybody has got a real interest in you developing to the best you can.

…This freedom to develop to our best, this is what relates engagement to outcomes. People feel free to actually bring all of their ideas to work. People engage and really give their best into  every single thing they do at work. When we have strong social connections which create safety, people can point out mistakes without it sounding like blame. People can come up with new ideas without being afraid of being ridiculed. That’s what leads to great outcomes. We have people giving their best instead of holding back and just doing what they are asked for or what they’re told.

…Here is where purpose comes in, which I really need for my life. That’s my driving force. If I’ve got this surrounding that I’m connected and if I’ve got the freedom that I know I can find the way to the target, then I really need to make one step, I need a goal which makes sense to me and that really drives me through my life. I need this purpose in every business project – just like for our collaboration as well.