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Echomat – what's behind it and why we built it

Learnings from the agile community as the igniting spark

In 2019, when we started working on Echometer (our agile retrospective tool), we conducted more than 100 interviews with Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches (summarized hereafter as “Agilists”) in the agile community. The pain points we discovered during those interviews have been the basis for Echometer which focuses on making progress transparent and measuring team development.

Besides those challenges, there were other popular pain points that we didn’t fully address with Echometer. In particular, Agilists invested a lot of time to understand the root causes of their team’s challenges and come up with workshops that specifically target the team’s needs.

As a Scrum Master, it’s really tough to find the right triggers to initiate a reflection process within the team – especially when coming from a rather technical background with little coaching experience.

While Echometer is great to identify the team’s pain points and bring them up in the retrospective, we wanted to go even further. This is why we came up with Echomat:

Echomat leverages scientific research to help Agilists understand their team’s challenges and discover the right team workshops to make progress on those challenges.

Agilists used to rely on gut feeling and randomness

As we conducted our interviews with Agilists, we paid close attention to how they solved their problems at the time being. More often than not, Agilists named various blogs, websites and books that they used to get inspiration when it comes to workshop facilitation.

What surprised us: Agilists relied heavily on "random" retro formats like they can be found on other tools. While it’s cool that the "randomness" brings a lot of diversity, it is at the same time very inefficient given that they’d usually want to address very specific problems of their teams.

This contradiction led Agilists to spend many hours each week researching "random workshops" and trying to adapt those to their team’s needs.

Helping Agilists to leverage the science on team psychology

With Echomat, Agilists don’t rely on randomness anymore. As an Agilist, you just need to select the challenge you observe in your team and Echomat provides a quick summary of the science behind it as well as workshop formats that address the preconditions to solve the challenge.

Let’s do an example.

  • Amy is the Agile Coach responsible for the software development team in her department. In the past weeks, she experienced that team members didn’t really engage in the routines like they used to: When there were conflicts or inefficiencies, no one really bothered to bring them up.
  • Amy pulls up Echomat in her browser and quickly finds the challenge that pretty much describes what she observed: “Personal Initiative”. The background explanation shows her the preconditions that are needed to foster personal initiative in a team.
  • Based on the research summary, she decides that the workshop “Question team routines” addresses just the right impulses for her team. She uses the workshop instructions to prepare the workshop for her team.
  • In the workshop, the team initially shows some objections and is struggling to get into the mindset needed for the workshop. No problem for Amy because the “first aid” section of the workshop instructions in Echomat already contains hints about how to deal with those situations and bring the team right back on track.
  • During the checkout round of the workshop, she already feels that the energy has changed. The workshop brought both awareness within the team and specific improvement ideas that the team wasn’t able to articulate before.

This is exactly how we believe Echomat will be of immediate value to Agilists around the world. Echomat’s Public Beta already covers 10 challenges with about two workshops for each topic and we’ll add more challenges, background information and workshops in the next months.

Echomat’s vision: The most powerful digital coaching support

But that’s obviously just the beginning. In our mind, Echomat is a long-term project with far more ambitious goals for the future: Our vision is to make Echomat (as the "workshop brain") in combination with Echometer (the "retro facilitation & team health check") the most powerful team coaching support you can have:

  • Echometer fosters continuous improvement through team retrospectives. The team health check component thereby monitors the team development.
  • Based on the team development data, Echometer will automatically recommend Echomat workshops that suit your team’s needs and have proven successful in the past.

We hope this scenario illustrates the huge opportunities when combining technology, agile working methods and psychology. We are also excited to make the first iteration publicly available today already and let the early adopters within the agile community benefit.

Join Echomat’s Public Beta for free now

Therefore we’re really excited for the next iterations ahead and we’d love you to join us on this way. Sooo…

… if you want to develop your team using the latest psychological know-how, join our community of Agilists and check out Echomat’s Beta for free here!

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