How I experienced #GSGLIS22 as a “Magical Human”

Why you shouldn’t hesitate to volunteer at a Global Scrum Gathering!


Being a Scrum Squad volunteer at a Global Scrum Gathering is a great experience and I think that others should apply for future Gatherings so they can experience the magic for themselves. You make meaningful connections with an incredible amount of new people, get insights into how such a huge event is run, and you get the chance to give something back to this great community! There is literally no downside… or is there? 

Who Are Those “Magical Human” People?

In 2017, I visited my first Global Scrum Gathering. Quite early during the event I noticed some people wearing matching event shirts. They were the volunteers on the aptly titled Scrum Squad that helped the Scrum Alliance staff make sure that everyone had a great Gathering experience. 

At the end of the event, I connected with one of them in person and over the years we became friends. She always recommended volunteering so, in 2022 for the Lisbon Gathering,  I decided to listen to her advice and apply to be a Scrum Squad member. My application went out on August 11 and  20 days later, the email I had been waiting for was finally in my inbox. I was selected as a member of the “Scrum Squad!”

Starting to Understand What Lay Ahead

It wouldn’t be until six weeks later that we would meet face-to-face in Lisbon, but the team already started to connect and plan the experience right away. We met over a Zoom call to find out more about our fellow teammates and the upcoming tasks at hand. Blair, our scrum master, did a great job getting us all up to speed and helping us understand what our tasks would be in Lisbon. Before we all left for Portugal, we already had the chance to assign ourselves to duties that had to be covered by our team.

The Journey Begins

The official start of the Lisbon Gathering was Monday, October 17. Most of us planned to arrive a day earlier, so we could connect and support on Sunday with registration and packing swag bags for each conference visitor. 

Due to some impediments completely out of our control, the swag and some of the registration table items weren’t quite ready on schedule. But as agilists we inspected and adapted, and were able to get some tasks accomplished regardless. Plus we got to meet each other and got a first glimpse of the conference atmosphere. 

It had been two long years of waiting since the last Gathering that I attended and I could not wait to see everyone I knew was coming, in person again. I was curious to find out who would arrive as a stranger and leave as a new connection or even friend.

On Your Marks, Set, GO!

Monday morning, the Scrum Squad met at 7:30 AM for the daily scrum (ok… maybe the only downside for the non-early birds ☺ ). The task board had already been prepared on Sunday, based on the tasks we assigned ourselves to. New information was shared, plans got adapted, and we started our journey as incognito Magical Humans.. One of the first big impediments we faced was that the conference t-shirts hadn’t been delivered. Our squad of Magical Humans had to make ourselves known in other ways until our t-shirts could be delivered.

My first task was to welcome people near the entrance and help them to find their way. A great opportunity to connect with plenty of new people.

Before the first keynote I also oriented a speaker who wanted to check out the room she would be presenting in, before the opening keynote. Another connection that most likely would not have happened without volunteering.

Jan Neudecker and one of the Global Scrum Gathering SpeakersDuring the opening keynote, some of the volunteers made sure that attendees were equally distributed throughout the room and that all entry points remained accessible. Afterwards it was an ongoing task to guide people, answer questions, supply materials where needed, and act as room monitors to assist the speakers. 

I was on room duty on Monday and Wednesday for six sessions. As I already said, we had the opportunity to  assign ourselves to tasks and rooms, so it was possible to visit sessions that were personally interesting to me. Even though I was late signing up and a lot of rooms had already been picked, this played out really well and I was excited to see the sessions in the rooms I would serve in. 

I was so excited when I got my room assignments. These were sessions I would have chosen if I had been an attendee at the event. This is probably also due to the high quality of the speakers at Global Gatherings in general.

Day one ended with a retrospective so we could all share what we had learned and could adapt the next day.

Serving the Speakers

Right after the keynote on Monday, it was time to make my way to the breakout room I assigned myself to for the first slot on my schedule. Still incognito as a magical human as our volunteer shirts were still missing in action.

As a scrum master, one of the roles we play is being a facilitator. Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®) Björn Jensen once taught me the origin of the word facilitate. In Latin, facilis stands for easy, simple. And that’s how he wanted his CSM students to make their team’s life: easy and simple. “As scrum masters we serve the team and make it easy for them to collaborate and create value,” which are maybe not Jensen’s exact words but close. 

On room duty this was the stance I wanted to take: Make it easy for the speakers to focus on their talk, workshop, and presentations while taking all the organizational duties away. I clarified if the speakers were okay with late joiners, at what times they wanted me to hold up a sign with the remaining minutes left in the session (so they would know to wrap up), and I made sure people in the audience received a microphone when they interacted with the speakers so the attendees who joined virtually would also hear them.

The Sessions Start

My first session was with Brock Argue and Erkan Kadir about “The Stages of Scrum Master Maturity.” In that session, different stages of dealing with feedback were been discussed. It was so good to see that the process we are all in is natural. Acknowledging that the early stages of maturity exist and we all go through them is something I am thankful for. It was my first session, so I also learned how to assist with timing and handing out the microphone to people that had questions and how to improve that.

Swag Time

Swag Time

After this session, at 12:02 Blair sent out the message the Scrum Squad had been waiting for: our conference swag had finally been delivered. Nothing shows our excitement better than a Slack screenshot!


Not only could all attendees get their swag bag soon, but we would finally be recognizable as volunteers - I mean Magical Humans ;) - with matching t-shirts, which made it a lot easier for attendees to identify us. 


More Sessions


After lunch I had the honor to assist Cherie Silas during her session. I knew her from the coaching classes that are available on the Scrum Alliance website and was excited to meet her in person. “Group Reflective Supervision for Agile Coaches” was also a topic that sounded interesting. And it was. For us as coaches it is not always easy to make the right decisions and from time to time we might have tough ethical decisions to make. Cherie shared with us how we can tackle these situations with Group Reflective Supervision. Thank you Cherie for bringing new concepts into our community and being an ambassador of professional coaching.


The last session of the day was with Zac Meziane, “Be the Catalyst for an Agile Friendly Culture.” He introduced the Catalyst Canvas, which all attendees had time to work on during the session. I enjoyed the stories he used to make the topic of organizational culture tangible and easy to understand. And no other Q&A session will stay in my memory better than this one. I thank you Darren for reminding not only Zac, but also everyone else in the room, to have fun in life and at work as well. That comment changed the Gathering for the better a few people, and probably not only the Gathering.

We did act on the fun advice during Monday Mingle! But before that started, the Scrum Squad made sure everyone knew where to go and how to get there.

The Universe is Endless, it’s an Open Space

Never have I ever seen a bigger Open Space venue! What an experience to walk into this space. “Oh WOW” were my exact words. And Blair who stood next to me said, “Right! And that’s what we want everyone to experience.”

Open Space on Tuesday was all about making your own agenda and contributing where you wanted. We volunteers made sure that everyone found the Open Space location, as it was only used that day, and to make sure supplies were available where needed. Some sessions were also held in the usual rooms as well but I was only on Open Space duty on Tuesday. This also gave me the time to visit the Trainer Approval Community Session to get some new information for my CST application.

All Good Things Come to an End: Day 3

The last day was the shortest day of the Gathering. For me it was mostly room duty again. The first session was with Rafael Sabbagh. I was excited to see him in person and thank him for inventing the Birdy Birdy exercise, which I used frequently before COVID. In Lisbon his Session was called “Boosting High-Performing Agile Teams with EVDnC.” He shared his experience of using a concept based on super fast feedback cycles with clients for one week. The attendees then experienced this in the session with a simulation of that concept.

Next up was a session with Pete Behrens. When I joined him in the session room, I asked how I could help him. He wanted to know if Zoom would run on the computer that was in the room. What a challenge for me; we had no clue about those laptops as volunteers but together with the on-site room technicians (those guys did an amazing job by the way!) it worked in the end. I was already wondering who he would integrate into his talk and didn’t know the woman I saw during the setup. 

Little did I know how emotional and inspiring that experience would be. 

During this talk, Pete shared several stories and connected them to leadership. At the end it became personal. He told us about the Colorado wildfires in winter 2021 and showed us videos he took from his house. Almost his entire neighborhood was turned into ashes. The decisions of some brave men and women at the water treatment station and the firefighters helped save his house.

He then told us about a fireman that was looking at all the damage the next day, never having seen anything like it. This inspired a woman from his neighborhood to look up all the fire stations that served the community that night and saved what they could. She started raising funds and visiting multiple fire stations to express her gratitude. 

I cannot imagine how it feels to lose everything or to even stand this close to losing everything I own. It was inspiring to hear how that woman did something no one asked her to do. How she impacted the lives of those firemen.

At that point I was so captivated by the story that I had forgotten the Zoom hassle in the beginning. Suddenly Pete revealed that this woman was his wife and that as a surprise she had been here live with us the whole time. 

She got on screen, and while typing this it feels like sitting in the room again. My watch was reminding me of the “15 min left” timebox, but I could not stand up and hold that sign towards Pete in that moment. It was so intense when she appeared on screen, I did not want to disturb that moment, and besides that, I needed all my energy to hold back tears. 

Thank you, Pete, for sharing that story with us. We take too much for granted in life. It inspired me to be more mindful about who should be thanked more often. But also, that leadership does not need a title or a mandate to be lived, it is about acting when you think it is the right thing to do!


The last session I served at was with Bent Myllerup and Mette Bjerrekaer. Both had been working together at Mette’s employer, Grundfos. Their talk was titled, “To Become a Leader is to Become Yourself (It’s Easy and Challenging at the same time).” They shared how they worked with a leadership cohort so everyone in it would find their own leadership style. This was great to hear as many of my clients face the same issues. Coming from classical approaches and transitioning to agile ways of working requires new leadership styles. I could take away a lot of inspiration which I already could use the first day after the Gathering during a call with a client. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

After this session there was a last closing session and I could not believe that the Gathering was almost over. I stayed quite some time after the closing to say “until next time” to old friends and new connections that had been created during the Gathering. This is what a Global Gathering is all about to me, connecting with the  community  and growing each other as agilists!

Why All Those Pictures?

Yes, this article contains a lot of pictures, let me explain why.

I knew who all of these speakers were before coming to Lisbon. Some of them had been on my radar for quite some time. Would I have approached all of them if I would not have volunteered? Certainly not! My limiting beliefs would have held me back. I would not have the courage to talk to that many people from whom I have consumed articles on LinkedIn, training materials on the Scrum Alliance website, used exercises from in my trainings or seen videos featuring them. 

Being a volunteer lowered the bar to interact and connect with them. These pictures show beautiful and welcoming human beings that did not hesitate for a bit when I asked for a picture and engaged in exchange. Not only are the pictures memories of a great experience, they are also reminders for myself, that my limiting beliefs were wrong. I share this with you, to encourage you to question your limiting beliefs, to show you that being a volunteer can and will change you as well. 

No matter if you are new to this community or already a seasoned guide - go for it! It was a wonderful experience. I am happy someone shared her story with me and gave me the nudge I needed to apply.

Last but certainly not least, THANK YOU SCRUM SQUAD! 

Blair, Frederik, Sean, Giancarlo, Khurram, Marissa, Socotra, Victoria, Agnieszka, Miguel and Sara

For making it easy for me to be a volunteer

For providing support when I needed it 

For giving and taking feedback

And for all the FUN!

I know we have created a closer connection because of volunteering. 

I am looking forward to meeting you all again somewhere.

You are truly Magical Humans.






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