Ranjith Tharayil - Can creative constraint enable teams to discover & unlock their hidden agility ?

What is the background situation/context for your probe?

Constrains literally translates to “a limitation or restriction”. Often, we see constraints in a bad light. But are constraints always bad? Does it have a positive side to it? Can we see a constraint as an opportunity to think out of the box, does a constrain force us to innovate?


“Constraints drive innovation and force focus. Instead of trying to remove them, use them to your advantage.” - 37Signals


What is (or has been) your hypothesis?

So, if constrains can unleash creativity can we engineer a productive constraint that can improve the overall agility of teams? The line of thought here is that, when such creative constraints are carefully injected into a team in a controlled environment, the team could start thinking out of the box and reinvent themselves as a better mature agile team. Can they , can we as coaches use such constraints as a tool for coaching.  

What is the experiment you would like to run (or you have run) and how can this experiment validate or invalidate your hypothesis?

In our experiments we exploring one such constraint called 2.5 days hyper sprints. In this experiment, we requested teams to volunteer to adopt the 2.5-day sprint challenge as a constructive constraint. The first thing that became visible when teams embraced the 2.5 days of hyper sprints was a never-ending stream of impediments. These impediments which were surfacing up most of them were new to the team. The impediments that were surfaced by each team were different and were very specific to their work context. A few examples of impediments were “our avg review cycle it’s too long more than 1 day”, “We need at least 2 days to test our story”, “our story is too big”, “Our PO is not available enough” ,..etc.. In due time some of the teams succeeded in resolving their impediments and some did not. We did such experiments across 20 + teams and hence had a lot of learning both bitter and sweet. The learning also pushed us to discover a few new practices to make hyper sprinting work.


We would want to run the same experiments in a different context to understand if the above results are consistent across different work contexts and generalized.


How to measure?

Measure the below data before the experiment and 3 months after the experiment



Measure dimensions like cost, quality, speed, predictability

Conduct surveys to measure aspects like team engagement, work-life balance, Happiness etc 


Is there a specific skill/technique you would like to learn/explore at this coach camp?

any other experiments in similar lines, need to explore if there were any other creative constraints  we could explore and  experiment

Call for Papers CLOSED
Ended on Jan 25 '20 05:29 AM IST

Interested in attending the Agile Coach Camp on Oct 11th in Bengaluru? Read on...

It's been 12 Years and almost 110 viral Agile Coach Camps since our very first coach camp experiment. This year, Coach Camp co-creator Naresh Jain along with Jutta Eckstein and John Buck will lead participants in this Coach Camp in Bangalore, organized as part of the Agile India 2020 Conference.

Coach Camp Theme

As a coach, you're often the one who needs to drive and sustain change. Yet, how do you do this? What has helped and hindered you doing so and how can you best pass your experience on to other coaches or how can you best learn from other coaches?

This is the theme for this year's coach camp. To tackle this challenge, we invite you to try something new:

  • Currently, we face the following situation: Constantly driving change is getting more and more important for companies to survive in this VUCA world. At the same time, it is (or should be) the core skill of every coach – no matter if you coach individuals, teams, or organisations. However, sometimes it seems every coach has to come up with her own experience on how to drive change successfully.
  • Our hypothesis is that for driving change, every coach uses so-called probes, that are defined by small, safe-to-fail experiments based on hypotheses derived from reflection on the current situation as well as on theory. So, probing allows discovering (based on the hypothesis) what's working and what is not through one or several experiments. This allows to make sense of both the current situation but even more important of the situation we are aiming for. And if we create a knowledge base of our collective wisdom on probes we used (or intend to use) we can learn from each other.
  • Therefore, as an experiment we want to invite this year's coach camp participants to jointly discover, share, create, improve, and finally publish probes that help(ed) driving and sustaining change. As in a typical coach camp, we will use the Open Space format to explore different topics for driving change and we invite you to use probes to focus the discussions on these different topics. We anticipate as a result that the discovered and created probes will provide a foundation for such a knowledge base.

Registering for the Coach Camp

The coach camp is free of charge (financially) yet, for registration we ask you for the following:

  • Please click on the Add Paper button and submit your position paper. In your position paper, you will be asked to share an idea for a probe, consisting of a background situation (context), a hypothesis, and an experiment. This can be a probe you've implemented before, one you've discovered/heard of others implementing it, or you intend to implement. The probe should focus on the coach camp's theme: Driving Change.
  • The discussed probes provide a basis for a free and publicly accessible knowledge base.

Final Note

Please note, we want to invite you to use probes for the discussion and recording of the Open Space sessions. This is by no means an enforcement. We are well aware that there might be situations where probes are not the right means for discussing or/and recording a particular topic - and that is of course fine. After all, using probes for this coach camp is a probe in itself (and we are open to possibly invalidate our hypothesis.)