My story with Kudos cards

feedback culture

As a Scrum Master working on the further development of teams, you quickly realize that an open feedback culture is a prerequisite for effective Inspect and Adapt-cycles.

For a long time I wondered why people don’t give each other feedback even though the use and meaning on the meta-level are completely transparent. At first, this gap between knowledge and behaviour could not be explained to me.

In the meantime I have found some answers for myself, but I think they deserve a blog post. In short, the key for me lies in the vulnerability-based trust (cf.”5 dysfunctions of a team” by Patrick Lencioni) and psychological security (

I wouldn’t say that Kudo’s cards have the goal of creating this trust in the team. In my opinion, however, they help to experience the mechanics of feedback and the associated motivation in a positive way.

Our way

But what are Kudo’s cards? Basically, they are cards with which team members can reward each other for positive behavior. For this purpose, we have taken the Kudos card set from, printed it out and made it available to the team.

However, so that these cards are not simply passed on underhand, we have given them space and established a ceremony. In concrete terms, this means that we hang all the cards that have been exchanged in the room on our “Kudos Wall”, so that we are always reminded of them and visitors can discover what our team values.

So that the cards don’t appear accidentally and unnoticed on the wall, we made a kudos box. Basically, a shoe box that is painted and has a slot in the lid. It fulfils the function of a letterbox. If you want to praise a colleague for his or her behaviour, write a card and throw it in.

Now all we had to do was make sure everyone knew that there were new cards. To do this, we open the box at the beginning of a retrospective, read the cards in it aloud and then hang them on the wall. It was important for us that the cards do not come from anonymously. That’s why the lauder writes his name on the card.

However, so that we can also reward especially valuable behavior, I have agreed with our management a reward that the employees can distribute among each other. Each team member can now add a free selectable gift up to 10€ in addition to the card.

What next?

In itself, it all sounds really very nice and simple. The implementation leaves nothing to be desired and the story could be over here. But in the sense of Inspect and Adapt, there must be even more to come.

We introduced Kudo’s cards just under 10 months ago. Unfortunately, the number of new cards has been declining lately and I never expected it, there was never a present given away.

I assumed that we only had a short hype and now everyone has returned to the old behavior. That’s why I talked to the team about it. We were able to find out that the cards are still important to us, we just don’t need them as intensive as at the beginning. We have observed that feedback is now being given directly.

That is the point I mentioned at the beginning. Kudos cards have enabled us to give rewards and positive feedback directly without writing a card every time. For this reason, the cards have also become a bit secondary.

The question of the present was then quite easy to answer, no one needed to reinforce the intrinsic motivation of an extrinsic motivator. Acknowledging other colleagues’ own behaviour is worth much more than that.

My conclusion

To sum up, I can say the following. I would put kudo’s cards on every team she doesn’t have. They practice feedback, let the team deal with the question of what the team wants to do and motivate the team. I wouldn’t give up the present in a new team, maybe another team can do more with it.

All in all, Kudo’s cards are for me a good building block on the way to a good feedback culture.

Translated with

2 years ago

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