How to help the PO be involved with the Scrum team, even if the PO does not have time

The Product Owner (PO) is a tough role to fill. Product Owners are torn between users, senior management, team and other stakeholders that they need to attend to.
While the team is working on completing the backlog items, the PO is probably meeting with the Director of Product to agree on a roadmap; with the CEO to hear about the latest ideas he got from visiting a client; trying to meet with the user research group to understand better the customer; reporting status to the head of Project Management; and still needs to visit the Sprint Planning, Backlog Grooming, Demo and the occasional daily meeting to answer questions from the team. And let’s not forget the email backlog!
With all of these tasks one has to ask: do we believe a single person can do this all alone? What I describe here is not even rare! We seem to collectively think that the Product Owner is a super-hero!

Given all of these tasks, it is little wonder that the PO’s end up struggling to even manage the JIRA tickets the teams ask them to review, give feedback on, and prioritize.

The feeling of overwhelm is common in Product Owners. They ask themselves if they are spending their time on the right things. Wouldn’t you, if you got constantly interrupted by questions and requests from others? How do we solve this, increase collaboration between Team and Product Owner, and improve our work place at the same time? Read on for more…
Continue reading How to help the PO be involved with the Scrum team, even if the PO does not have time

20 TOP Agile Blogs for Scrum Masters that you will not (easily) find on google searches (2017 edition)

Before reading the post, I wanted to share with you a great interview about how we, as Scrum Masters are always starting from Scratch (just like new year! 🙂 Here’s a Podcast episode as a new year gift from the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast archive built over the last 3 years interviewing Scrum Masters from all over the world.

Podcast Topic: We start a new with every team  (interview with Lucian Stroie)

Now for the list! 🙂

Here in the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, we share insights and inspiring stories from Scrum Masters every day of the week because we believe we need inspiration and ideas every day. Therefore we also visit sites and blogs for the same reasons. To end the year with a bang, I wanted to create a list of Top blogs / Sites for Scrum Masters. Was I in for a disappointment… read on to know why…

Continue reading 20 TOP Agile Blogs for Scrum Masters that you will not (easily) find on google searches (2017 edition)

Product Owner Anti-Patterns, and how Scrum Masters can help overcome those

Product Owners have an impossible job! I know, I’ve been a Product Owner. And even worse, a Product Manager transitioning to Product Owner! And even worse! I was also the Project Manager. Geeez! When I look back I am amazed I survived that phase of my career.

Here’s the kicker, that was the best time of my Agile adoption journey. I got to see my ideas come to life so quickly! And have a concrete business impact (the product we delivered went on to generate 10 Million Eur in sales a little over 3 years).

My Product Owner journey towards Agile was not easy! Let me tell you how I survived that stressful time, and lived on to learn a lot from the experience.

Continue reading Product Owner Anti-Patterns, and how Scrum Masters can help overcome those

Jiri Sitina on how retrospectives can save teams from self-destruction

Retrospectives are one of the key ceremonies for teams. Well prepared and executed retrospectives can take a team from ordinary to extraordinary and can help teams avoid the anti-patterns that so often lead to difficult problems down the line.
One of the resources that Jiri uses when preparing his retrospectives is Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives.

About Jiri Sitina

Jiri works at GoodData. He is currently based in Prague and helps GoodData’s engineering teams to work better, cooperate more, keep on improving and enjoy what they are doing.
You can connect with Jiri Sitina on LinkedIn and link with Jiri Sitina on Twitter.

Jiri Sitina on how critical the Product Owner role really is

The Product Owner role can enable to make the work of the team very difficult. In this episode Jiri talks about how important the Product Owner role really is and how to help teams align. We also talk about aligning remote teams discussing some of the techniques that Jiri uses to have remote teams collaborate effectively.

About Jiri Sitina

Jiri works at GoodData. He is currently based in Prague and helps GoodData’s engineering teams to work better, cooperate more, keep on improving and enjoy what they are doing.
You can connect with Jiri Sitina on LinkedIn and link with Jiri Sitina on Twitter.

Angel Diaz-Maroto on empathy and the critical role of the Product Owner

Scrum has a foundational story that many of us know. The Pig and the Chicken story. Through that story we learn that in Scrum there are “insiders” (the Pigs, who are committed), and outsiders (the Chickens, who are merely involved). The role of the Product Owner is often looked at as a “chicken”, however Angel relates a different perspective. He talks about the critical role of the Product Owner in a Scrum team as well as the approach he used to bring the Product Owner role back into the team.

About Angel Diaz-Maroto

Angel is a seasoned and very energetic Agile coach and a frequent speaker at international conferences and Agile events in Europe and America. He is Certified Scrum Coach. Currently he is member of Agilar, one of the leading Agile coaching firms in Europe and Latin-America.
He is now at Agilar, but before he was the leader at one of the biggest Agile transformations in europe, including business and IT at the Spanish branch of a multinational bank (ING). He lead the transformation from the trenches and starting from scratch. He as more than 15 years of experience in many different roles and is a professor at ESNE (University School of design, innovation & technology).
You can link up with Angel Diaz-Maroto on LinkedIn and connect with Angel Diaz-Maroto on Twitter.

Niko Kortelainen on how to get to sustainable pace

There are many pressures on the development teams, especially when the business has clear needs, and short term deadlines. Niko explains how they were able to achieve sustainable pace despite all the pressures to deliver more.

About Niko Kortelainen

Niko Kortelainen is a Scrum Master at Digia, which among other things commercializes the cross-platform Open Source framework Qt. In his journey he discovered that the most challenging problems in software industry are not technical problems and ever since then, he has been focusing on how to make everyday work more fun.
You can link up with Niko Kortelainen on LinkedIn and connect with Niko Kortelainen on Twitter.
You can read Niko Kortelainen blog, where he wrote about his experience with adopting Scrum.

Matthias Seul on a simple framework for User Story Maturity

User Stories needs to have certain characteristics before they can be interpreted and transformed into running-tested-code by the team. What are those characteristics? Matthias explains how he helped a team rein-in a planning process out of control with a very simple User Story maturity framework. A few simple steps to make sure your Stories are high quality.

About Matthias Seul

Matthias worked 10+ years as software developer and gravitated towards coaching in recent years. He is a tech enthusiast, board gamer, inventor and wild duck. Matthias believes in intrinsic motivation – thus he believes in Agile. He says that “together we can make projects a more fulfilling and successful work environment for all involved”.
You can link up with Matthias Seul on LinkedIn, and reach Matthias Seul on twitter. Matthias is interested in your questions and feedback, and you can reach him via email as well.

Emilia Breton-Lake on the importance of conversations for successful scrum masters

How do you measure your success as a Scrum Master? Emilia shares her definition of success, and her main tasks in the search for that successful outcome. The tool that she uses the most is 1-on-1 conversations that help her focus on the right topics and discover possible blockers. As she puts it: “whenever you have a question: ask the team!”.

About Emilia Breton-Lake

Emilia is a natural-born Agile thinker who managed to swim out of the PMI waterfall almost a decade ago. As the head of the PMO at a major non profit she is constantly looking for new ways to build better software and make the world a better place.
She has also been working on 2 major innovations, On going retrospectives, and #NoNumbers where they have eliminated sizing of stories. They still groom and plan, but don’t assign sizes to stories.
Emilia has worked hard to introduce Scrum and Agile to a non-profit that is very resistant to change.
You can link up with Emilia Breton-Lake on LinkedIn. Or follow Emilia Breton-Lake’s articles at the Scrum Alliance website.

Marc Löffler: A happy customer is the ultimate success metric for Scrum Masters

Involving the customer is one of the key aspects of building the path towards an agile product development environment. There are many types of customers, and we discuss how to involve some of the most common types of customers. Marc also suggests some tools, like Story Mapping, that you can use to work directly with customers and create a shared understanding of the ultimate goal.

About Marc Löffler

Marc’s passion is to help teams implementing agile frameworks like Scrum and XP and to transform our world of work. Marc loves to help teams, that are struggling with agile transitions, to overcome dysfunctional behaviour. He loves to generate new insights by approaching common problems from the other side and trying to deliberately make havoc of the process.
You can connect with Marc Löffler on Twitter, and link with Marc Löffler on LinkedIn.
He hosts a Blog in English and another blog in German.