Spice Up Your Inspect & Adapt with Liberating Structures

Why this workshop?

SAFe includes relentless improvement as one of the four pillars of the SAFe House of Lean. The importance of this philosophy is emphasized through the continuous creation of opportunities to improve: for the team with the Iteration retrospectives which are sprint-based. Also for the train as a whole (cross-teams) with the Inspect & Adapt which are PI-based.

The Inspect and Adapt (I&A) is a significant event, held at the end of each Program Increment (PI), where the current state of the Solution is demonstrated and evaluated by the train. Teams then reflect and identify improvement backlog items via a structured, problem-solving workshop.

But over time, teams start to feel bored as if every session is the same. I was discussing with some folks playing the role of RTEs, and they shared with me some other pain points they encounter while organizing Inspect and adapt events:

  • Participants are not fully engaged in the problem solving by-the-book workshop
  • Teams are not fully attending the problem-solving workshop
  • Gathering the impediments and setting the agenda for the problem-solving workshop becomes a bureaucratic process.
  • No equal opportunities for train members to express themselves
  • Lack of impediments reflecting cross-trains and global problems issues

As a facilitator for collaborative learning events, and RTE coach, I found an opportunity to help my folks in their mission by transforming the way they are running the problem-solving workshop. This is how this workshop was born.

Expected Outcomes

  • 3 to 5 impediments from the top 10 revealed impediments are collectively understood. 
  • Continuous improvement actions are defined and owned for each of these impediments.
  • Ensure an equal opportunity for all participants to express themselves.
  • Ensure all participants contribute to the knowledge generation. 


  • Print DOA template for as many Impediments you want to Analyze (3 to 5)
  • Print the 25-10 Cards (front and back in recto-verso) one for each participant 


  • Facilitator to take photos of the different DOA posters and post them on a shared repository for the event (e.g. wiki page).
  • Facilitator (RTE) to ensure the actions for the different impediments are logged in the ART Continuous Improvement Board (e.g. JIRA board)
  • Facilitator to log the other revealed impediments in the funnel for continuous improvement board.

Step by Step Description

A full-resolution version of the below agenda could be found in the material below, enjoy it!

Reveal Impediments

Personal Reflection to Raise an Impediment

  1. Distribute Cards one for each participant
  2. Invite participants to write each an impediment on the card
The frontal page for the Index Card to write Impediment

Scoring Iterations to Reveal the Top 10 Impediments

The BAck page for the Index Card to write the Scores for the five iterations
  1. Run the 25-10 scoring iterations (five iterations)
  2. Run five Iterations as follow:
    1. People mill around and cards are passed from person to person.
    2. Mill and Pass only. No Reading!
    3. When the bell rings: stop passing the cards
    4. Then participants individually rate the impediment (on the back of the card) from 1 to 5 (5 being a highly valuable impediment to work on)
    5. This is called Read and score
    6. At the end of the fifth iteration, the participant adds the five scores on the back of the card they are holding which has five scores. The total is reported on the front of the card.
  3. Select the top 10 revealed impediments (then group if there are similarities)
    1. The facilitator (RTE) finds the best-scoring ideas with the whole group by conducting a countdown.
    2. Ask who has a 25? invite each participant, to read out the impediment. Continue with Who has 24? and so on until getting the first 10 Impediments.

Analyze and Define Actions

  1. Form groups for the top 3-5 revealed impediments
    1. The first person in the group is the participant who raised the impediment
    2. The second person is a program member (PM, BO, Architect)
    3. Then participants to self organize to volunteer for the groups
  2. In the Group define roles:
    1. Timekeeper
    2. Recorder in charge of logging the discussions in the DOA template
    3. The Client is the person who revealed the impediment
    4. The Consultants are the other participants in the group
  3. The Consultants question the client and try to help him better understanding:
    1. The problem statement: what are the current observed pain points, and negative impact, what are we losing as opportunities…
    2. Definition of Awesome Situation: What is the Positive Impact one the impediment is removed
    3. The root cause analysis: use system thinking reflects on people, processes, tools, organization.
    4. The Suggested roadmap as a list of actions on the horizon of short term (MVP) and mid-term.
    5. Actions should be owned and with ETAs.
  4. The Group review together with the DOA poster ready for sharing with other groups 

Share and Get Feedback

  1. Invite group representatives to share 7 min presentation of their DOAs
  2. Divide the participants into 4 learning groups (1, 2, 3, 4 as needed)
  3. Assign each presenter a letter (A, B, C, D as needed)
  4. Each presenter repeats their presentation to each group
  5. Start round I
    1. presenters have 7 minutes with each group. This includes any questions and comments.
    2. (RTE) Ding Time to shift
    3. Group 1, go to station B
    4. Group 2, go to station C
    5. Group 3, go to station D
    6. Group 4, go to Station A
  6. And so on for 4 rounds 

Refine Actions

  1. The group participants stand again together and refine the actions or other DOA elements taking into consideration the gathered feedback.
  2. The group will set the 15% Solution which is the short term actions to execute and which doesn’t require any additional resources. Action owner can execute with the existing resources in hand.



Liberating Structures developed by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless.

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