Clear Vision – Responsibility Process


The primary aim of our team is to find out ways how to experience and transport the Responsibility Process, described by Christopher Avery, to agile coaches.


Quick summary about results

We elaborated a sequence of steps how the responsibility process and key concepts can be explained by a frequently seen use case in the life of agile coaches:

A manager is inviting an agile coach and is complaining about the Scrum team which is constantly not delivering what is promised during sprint planning.

One option is that the coach uses the responsibility process derived from social field studies as mental model to create primarily awareness on management and on team side about human behaviors in denying or taking over responsibility. But awareness is not in enough!


That is the reason, why key concepts like the staged mental model of the “responsibility process”, the “bridge from responsibility to accountability” and the “power/control cycle” were elaborated and explained in a sequence of  steps along this use case. The explanation process was depicted in the animated picture above.

In that way the theory was connected with the real life coaching problem and augmented with the practical application of exercises like the “catch you sooner” game.

Sprint 1: proposals how to transport the process

Sprint was used to get to know the basic concepts of the Responsibility Process within the team. We started with the key problems which are made aware by investigating it:

  • missing ownership
  • missing trust
  • lack of feedback
  • fear of conflict

After that we elaborated the responsibility process along a flip chart


In a second step we proposed a list of ways, how we could explain it to coaches:


  • Explaining it at the flip chart along the not performing Scrum team usecase or use real life examples about all day responsibility problems in your private environment e.g. teenager driving  the parent crazy with
  • As exercise you could also lay out the stages of the responsibility process and let the participating coaches map sketches about the Scrum team situation on to the different stages.
  • Another option is to run a role play with different real life scenarios in a typical ABC-setup (interviewer, interviewed person and observer) and let the observer guess in which stage of the mental model the interviewer and the interviewed person at the time being is.
    This might be useful to practice interview techniques in which the coach is guiding  the coachee to create awareness and trigger self reflection.

Sprint 2: Explore and elaborate techniques to explain RP

The following practices to explain RP were identified and practiced also in the team to elaborate the theory:

1.) Sub-groups and teach back

  • Divide the group into sub groups and give them theoretical material e.g about “catch sooner game”, “bridge from responsibility”
  • Let the sub groups elaborate the details of the topic and teach them back e.g.

2.) Elaborate the topics along a board


  • Start with a plain flip chart containing a skeleton of the responsibility process e.g. post it in pink
  • Explain the different situations in which the manager of the Scrum team might find him/herself during the coaching session.
  • As next step introduce the bridge from responsibility to accountability with the cycle depicted on the right upper edge:
    • Know what you want!
    • Ask for it e.g. from the team!
    • Create agreement with the team
  • In order to act from responsibility explain the Catch-you-sooner approach as possible counter measure. It can be seen as kind of express elevator which lifts the manager from the lowest stage up into responsibility stage within seconds.

Sprint 3: Power versus Control Cycle

We were elaborating first the control and power cycle:


And in a second step we were continuing the story about the manager and map it on the power and control cycle


Sprint 4: The keys of responsibility and the path to trust

Starting from the responsibility process as being a predictable behaviour pattern there are three keys to support you in acting as fully responsible person.

  • Intention to operate from responsibility when things go wrong
  • Awareness where am I in the process and which options do I have to improve
  • Confront yourself and your upset directly

Additionally we were discussing the approach to build up trust.