Meet Andra: a professional scrum master and workshop facilitator. In her role as scrum master at a large corporation, Andra was struggling to foster a collaborative, agile culture. She took the Workshopper programs with the goal of improving her scrum master practice and taking the next step in her career. Now, she’s a certified Workshopper with a happier, more productive team—and she’s started her own business as a facilitator. Here’s her story.
Andra has been in the corporate world for 15 years, working at Petrom OMV and now Erste Digital. For most of her career, she’s managed large teams of up to 10 or 11 people.
If you’ve ever been a people manager—or worked in a cross-functional team—you’ll know that collaboration is crucial. It’s also a very tricky thing to master.
Even as an experienced scrum master, Andra was struggling to get people aligned. She could see that collaboration in her team was drastically out of sync, and felt her colleagues’ mounting frustration at not being able to quickly reach tangible outcomes.
“As a manager in a large corporation, I was constantly facing the same challenge: How can I help my team to collaborate better?”
She describes an environment we’re probably all familiar with: slow decision-making, constant back-and-forths, complex logistics, and excessive production times.
“At one point, we were struggling with endless discussion around a project that we were running as a group. People were coming to me at all different times to talk about the same thing. We had meeting after meeting, and everybody was just so frustrated. Something had to change. I sat down and thought: Right. I need to figure out how to solve this.”
At that point, Andra didn’t know that facilitation was an actual skill she could learn to design better meetings. All she knew was that, in her role as a leader and scrum master, she urgently needed to rethink her practice and guide her team towards a more effective, rewarding way of collaborating.
In the end, it was a Facebook ad that led Andra to the wonderful world of facilitation. Intrigued, she signed up for AJ&Smart’s free training webinar.
“When I saw an ad for a free facilitation training session, I finally had a name for the solution I’d been looking for. I watched the free webinar, which was really interesting. Then I read The Workshopper Playbook [written by AJ&Smart founder Jonathan Courtney] and I knew I had to give it a go. I convinced my manager to sign me up for the Design Sprint Masterclass.”
It wasn’t long before Andra was able to put her newfound skills to the test. On one particular Friday, tensions were running high. In Andra’s own words, “Everyone was pretty pissed off after another 2 hours of discussing the same thing, with no solution in sight.”
She recalls how this felt like the perfect opportunity to introduce the Design Sprint.
“Spirits were low. We needed something to pull us out of our rut. I mentioned the Design Sprint, and basically promised my team that if they gave me one week, Monday to Friday, we’d have a solution by the end of it. I’m not sure they were convinced, but they were open to anything at that point. So we gave it a go.”
That first Design Sprint marked a major turning point. Suddenly, fruitless discussions were transformed into something productive—and her colleagues were absolutely here for it.
“That first Design Sprint was a huge success. My colleagues were super impressed that we reached a solution together in just one week, cutting out maybe three or four months of work.”
Since then, Andra has been adapting what she learned in the Masterclass to suit a variety of contexts. She’s run sprints across different departments, intensive back-to-back sessions, and online workshops—a critical skill in today’s increasingly remote workplace.
I can’t help but smile as Andra tells me how, since the Masterclass, she’s been able to “address the major frustrations my team felt around communication and collaboration.”
So what is it that makes workshop facilitation so successful? Andra explains:
“I think it’s the simple things like really visualizing what you’re doing and the problem you’re solving, taking it in turns to speak, having a structure for discussions, time-boxing intentionally, and really focusing on solutions. We’re no longer going round in circles.”
The impact of Andra’s work has been felt company-wide. As her colleagues saw the benefits of workshopping first-hand, they wanted to learn this skill for themselves. As a result, Andra started her own in-house Design Sprint bootcamp.
The skills Andra learned on the Workshoper Master and Design Sprint Masterclass didn’t only address a major problem in her company; they also brought a much-needed fresh perspective to her work as a manager and scrum master.
“I’ve been working as a scrum master for many years, but the programs have made me completely reevaluate my approach. Previously, I’d just been doing the same things over and over. People were getting bored, and so was I. Workshopper Master taught me how to add variety to my practice, and how to continuously innovate. It’s enabled me to keep myself and my team motivated.”
Andra believes this has had a direct impact on her team’s retention rate:
“In a corporate environment like ours, it’s usually very hard to keep a team for more than a year. We’ve all been on this team for more than four years now. I believe that improving collaboration and keeping the team motivated has played a huge part in that. ”
Since taking Workshopper Master, Andra has been able to apply and share the benefits of expert facilitation and professionally designed workshops. In fact, she’s seen such a huge demand for these skills that she’s now started her own freelance business as a facilitator.
At present, she’s enjoying the best of both worlds: working as a scrum master at Erste Digital on a part-time basis while building out her freelance facilitation business. Thanks to Erste Digital’s flexibility, she is growing both within her role and as a freelancer. You can learn more about her freelance work over on her website.
The Workshopper Master program evidently had quite an immediate and tangible impact on Andra’s work—but how did she enjoy the program itself?
“Workshopper Master really was amazing. I loved the videos, and really enjoyed experimenting with the Workshopper builder canvas (which is explained in one of the modules). I was even able to attend coaching calls where I could ask questions and share my screen to check out the design of specific workshops at that time—that was extremely valuable. The program community is also great. We were always helping each other.”
Andra’s success following the Workshopper programs is testament to her commitment to learning and growth. Oftentimes, it’s not about learning an entirely new skill. Rather, it’s about bringing new perspectives into your work—building on your existing skillset and rethinking your current approach. It’s about asking yourself: How can I be even better at my job?
Facilitation is one of the most important skills in the modern workplace. And, with the boom in remote work, the challenge of fostering collaborative, agile environments has become even more pertinent.
How could becoming a certified facilitator advance your career? Watch our FREE training video and learn the 5 things you can do to become a top 1% facilitator, and earn 6 figures while doing it.