What you need to learn about being a Scrum Master, but will never get from a CSM course

No matter how many courses you attend, there are things that, as a Scrum Masters, you only really learn the important lessons on the field. Doing the work.

One of the reasons I don’t think certification courses are enough for Scrum Masters that certifications courses very often focus on the rules and regulations of the job, but not on the problems, the hardships and the obstacles we face, day-in, day-out when we try to do a good work as a Scrum Master.

So, what can we do when courses aren’t enough?

Continue reading What you need to learn about being a Scrum Master, but will never get from a CSM course

Lucia Alarcon: Great Product Owners consistently create conversations with stakeholders and Agile teams

The Great Product Owner: Consistently creating positive conversations with stakeholders and Agile teams

A great Product Owner is consistent in their approach. Lucia shares with us how this particular PO was able to be consistent in their communication and support for the team, but also in looking outside, getting ideas and inspiration from competitors and the market at large. As the PO consistently communicated with the team and stakeholders, they were creating regular and productive invitations for a conversation with stakeholders and team members. 

The Bad Product Owner: How to help your PO shine even when they are super-busy!

When the Product Owner is overloaded, they lose focus, and are unable to serve the teams at the right time, and in the right amount. In this segment, we hear the story of the PO that was so busy that they could only be a scatter-shot PO. Randomly giving ideas and demands to the team, who was lost with the lack of support from the PO. In this segment, we talk about how important it is to help the PO focus, and work within the limited time they might have to help the team. As Scrum Master, this is one of our major tasks: help the PO shine, even when they are super busy! 

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Lucia Alarcon

Lucia is a Delivery Lead and a coach working in Wellington NZ, leading an amazing development squad to achieve the delivery of multiple digital initiatives using Agile, creating a culture of empowerment, collaboration and communication. With 15+ years of experience, her professional (and personal!) journey has taken her through a variety of organizations and halfway around the world from Argentina. Lucia loves all things Agile, facilitation and coaching. 

You can link with Lucia Alarcon on LinkedIn and connect with Lucia Alarcon on Instagram

Lucia Alarcon: Lean Coffee, the swiss army knife of Agile Retrospectives

When it comes to assessing her own success as a Scrum Master, Lucia uses the “health” metaphor to identify and measure critical aspects of a healthy team. In this episode, we talk about The Squad Health Check. The Squad Health Check was also described in these episodes. We also mention Radical Candor, as a feedback framework as well as Clean Language.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Lean Coffee, the swiss army knife of Agile Retrospectives

Lucia likes to try many formats, but there’s one format she often comes back to thanks to its power to spark creative, and insightful conversations. That format is the Lean Coffee Retrospective format, which focuses the team’s conversations instead of trying to cover too many things in a retrospective. In this segment, we also refer to the game Cards Against Humanity, which you can learn more about (and download) by listening to this episode with Ellen Santamaria.

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Lucia Alarcon

Lucia is a Delivery Lead and a coach working in Wellington NZ, leading an amazing development squad to achieve the delivery of multiple digital initiatives using Agile, creating a culture of empowerment, collaboration and communication. With 15+ years of experience, her professional (and personal!) journey has taken her through a variety of organizations and halfway around the world from Argentina. Lucia loves all things Agile, facilitation and coaching. 

You can link with Lucia Alarcon on LinkedIn and connect with Lucia Alarcon on Instagram

Lucia Alarcon: Introducing the Kanban method to Agile teams in a complex project

This company was working with several vendors, which meant that for any deliverable there were a lot of parties involved. To manage their work, they were using Trello, a tool that helps teams manage tasks. However, the way they were using that tool was creating problems for the teams and team members. Lucia worked with them to change how they applied the tool to their work, and to learn more about Kanban. In the process, she implemented an effective, stepwise process for introducing change in any organization. Listen in to learn about the key steps she took in this process. 

In this segment, we refer to the Kanban method, an Agile method that is used by many teams all over the world. 

About Lucia Alarcon

Lucia is a Delivery Lead and a coach working in Wellington NZ, leading an amazing development squad to achieve the delivery of multiple digital initiatives using Agile, creating a culture of empowerment, collaboration and communication. With 15+ years of experience, her professional (and personal!) journey has taken her through a variety of organizations and halfway around the world from Argentina. Lucia loves all things Agile, facilitation and coaching. 

You can link with Lucia Alarcon on LinkedIn and connect with Lucia Alarcon on Instagram.

Lucia Alarcon: The management antipattern that destroys Agile teams, and how to fix it

Lucia was part of a great team, with motivated and talented team members who were clearly committed to the work they had. But as time went by, Lucia started noting that the team was starting to develop some anti-patterns, with team members working in silos and not sharing with each other what was going on. As Lucia investigated the situation, she found that the manager of that team had started to develop a specific behavior that over time can destroy teams. Listen in to learn what that behavior was, and how to work around it with managers in the teams you work with.

Featured Book of the Week: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Lucia found insights and the theory behind getting to a state of optimal experience, the state of Flow as described in the book. 

In this segment, we also refer to the book Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins, a book we’ve covered several times here on the podcast.

How can Angela (the Agile Coach) quickly build healthy relationships with the teams she’s supposed to help? What were the steps she followed to help the Breeze App team fight off the competition? Find out how Angela helped Naomi and the team go from “behind” to being ahead of Intuition Bank, by focusing on the people! Download the first 4 chapters of the BOOK for FREE while it is in Beta!

About Lucia Alarcon

Lucia is a Delivery Lead and a coach working in Wellington NZ, leading an amazing development squad to achieve the delivery of multiple digital initiatives using Agile, creating a culture of empowerment, collaboration and communication. With 15+ years of experience, her professional (and personal!) journey has taken her through a variety of organizations and halfway around the world from Argentina. Lucia loves all things Agile, facilitation and coaching. 

You can link with Lucia Alarcon on LinkedIn and connect with Lucia Alarcon on Instagram.

Lucia Alarcon: How to help a busy, and absent Product Owner, work better with their Agile team

Lucia started her career on the project management path, and she had success with it. However, unlike many project managers that find Scrum by chance, Lucia was on a deliberate quest to find a better way of delivering software projects. It was not by chance that she, after searching for a while, found Scrum, and the Scrum Master role. 

This newfound career took her into a new company that was starting a new project, with a Product Owner that did not have time for the team. In this episode, we explore how Scrum Masters can develop their relationship with the PO, to be able to help the team. 

In this episode, we also refer to the Coach Your PO course, a course by the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast to help Scrum Masters develop their PO skills, and be able to help the PO’s they work with. We also refer to the Product Owner Sprint Checklist, a tool we developed to help you have that important conversation about the PO’s availability to the team, because when they are not available, we know, the team suffers!

About Lucia Alarcon

Lucia is a Delivery Lead and a coach working in Wellington NZ, leading an amazing development squad to achieve the delivery of multiple digital initiatives using Agile, creating a culture of empowerment, collaboration and communication. With 15+ years of experience, her professional (and personal!) journey has taken her through a variety of organizations and halfway around the world from Argentina. Lucia loves all things Agile, facilitation and coaching. 

You can link with Lucia Alarcon on LinkedIn and connect with Lucia Alarcon on Instagram.

BONUS: Changing industries and breaking into the Scrum Master role with Ben Mills

In this episode, we cover how Ben found his vocation for the Scrum Master role, and the techniques he applied to break into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role. 

Changing industries is never easy, but changing from non-tech to tech and to a completely new role, like the Scrum Master role is even harder. 

For many of our guests, the Scrum Master role has been a calling, a sort of vocation that becomes obvious once you start. For our guest in this episode, Ben Mills, the vocation to be a servant leader and to help others overcome struggles was already there. And that vocation was what attracted him to the Scrum Master role.

People before anything else

When Ben started to learn more about the Scrum Master role, and eventually after taking the Scrum Master certification course, he understood that the role called for a mindset that put people before anything else. Their relationships, the collaboration, their ability to solve conflict, etc. 

At this point Ben, at the time a Pastor, started to apply what he had learned in his own team. Ben had been a project manager before, so organizing and following up was not new, but the role of the Scrum Master and the process of Scrum called for something else. 

In this segment, we refer to the episode with Alioscha Chaplits, Rachel Macasek and Daniel Lenhart about starting as a Scrum Master when you don’t have any tech industry experience.

Breaking into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role 

For aspiring Scrum Masters, it may not always be easy to first break into the tech industry, and later into the Scrum Master role. Ben shares with us some of the tips that helped him, and still help him to grow his network, and find the right people to ask questions. 

In the end, the perspective that people are the critical link in the success of teams can bring insights and prepare you for the role. 

In this segment, we talk about the book Shift From Product To People, published by Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast. 

Resources for aspiring Scrum Masters

Some of the books that inspired Ben Mills in his quest to understand the Scrum Master role: 

But perhaps, one of the stories that influenced Ben the most, was one story of his own. When he was starting out as a project manager, and learned an important lesson about transparency. Listen in to find out what that story was, and how it can transform your work as a Scrum Master.

About Ben Mills

Ben is a scrum master, a project manager and a Pastor. That’s a very unique journey that he is sharing with us. 

He’s starting his career as a scrum master and is sharing his journey with us on this BONUS episode.

You can link with Ben Mills on LinkedIn.

 

 

Madhuri Korapati: The PO as a manager anti-pattern and its impact on Agile teams

The Great Product Owner: PO as the great motivator, a simple approach to motivating Agile teams

Great PO’s are able to share the vision they have for the product. But how do they do it? In this segment, we talk about the approaches that help great Product Owners be clear about, and share the vision of the product in a way that motivates the team!

The Bad Product Owner: The PO as a manager anti-pattern and its impact on Agile teams

When PO’s take control and start acting like a manager, the team needs to stand back. This creates a series of anti-patterns that we explore in this segment. From the team being silent, to the PO starting to assign tasks to individual team members. Listen in to learn how Madhuri was able to help the PO and the team get out of this PO-as-a-manager anti-pattern.

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Madhuri Korapati

Madhuri a self-motivated servant leader with 14 years of software industry experience across Payments and Banking sectors. She is a Scrum Master at Mastercard, and enjoys helping teams in their agile transformation and showcasing their improvements. 

You can link with Madhuri Korapati on LinkedIn and connect with Madhuri Korapati on Twitter.

Madhuri Korapati: Team building exercises for Agile Retrospectives

Madhuri starts by sharing her vision for a great Agile team, and then lists some of the questions she asks herself, as well as the team to help gage her own success as a Scrum Master. We also talk about how “work in progress limits” can help teams move quickly towards self-organization.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Great team building retrospectives

Madhuri starts by sharing with us that she prefers to use a different format every time, however, she also shares some of the formats she uses when starting off with a new team. We talk about the “Two truths and a lie” exercise, that helps team members know more about each other, and the “Candy Love” Agile retrospective format which helps create a positive atmosphere in the team. 

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Madhuri Korapati

Madhuri a self-motivated servant leader with 14 years of software industry experience across Payments and Banking sectors. She is a Scrum Master at Mastercard, and enjoys helping teams in their agile transformation and showcasing their improvements. 

You can link with Madhuri Korapati on LinkedIn and connect with Madhuri Korapati on Twitter.

Madhuri Korapati: The change curve model for Agile teams, and team members

Madhuri was an active part of an Agile transformation at a department. They started by focusing on one team, and as she worked with that team, she noticed that things were moving slow. This helped her understand that, even if the team adopts practices and processes, there’s a deeper change that is needed, and each team member experiences the change in a different way, and at a different pace. Listen in to learn what is that deeper change, and learn more about the change curve model.

About Madhuri Korapati

Madhuri a self-motivated servant leader with 14 years of software industry experience across Payments and Banking sectors. She is a Scrum Master at Mastercard, and enjoys helping teams in their agile transformation and showcasing their improvements. 

You can link with Madhuri Korapati on LinkedIn and connect with Madhuri Korapati on Twitter.

Madhuri Korapati: A slow developing, high-impact anti-pattern in Agile teams, and how to fix it

The team we talk about in this episode was an example of a great team. They collaborated well, were able to tackle the challenges that came their way. However, after they were put on a bigger, higher pressure project, things started to change. Over time, in this new project, the team started to forget how to retrospect and improve as a team, and this started to affect their performance. Listen in to learn how Madhuri solved this slow developing, but high-impact anti-pattern.

Featured Book of the Week: Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey

Madhuri starts by introducing The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Lencioni, to show how important it is for Scrum Masters to focus on building trust with their team members and other stakeholders. But how do you do that in practice? That’s what the book Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey comes in. This book, which Madhuri acknowledges has changed her own way of acting, helps explain what trust is in practice, and how to build that in your Scrum team.

How can Angela (the Agile Coach) quickly build healthy relationships with the teams she’s supposed to help? What were the steps she followed to help the Breeze App team fight off the competition? Find out how Angela helped Naomi and the team go from “behind” to being ahead of Intuition Bank, by focusing on the people! Download the first 4 chapters of the BOOK for FREE while it is in Beta!

About Madhuri Korapati

Madhuri a self-motivated servant leader with 14 years of software industry experience across Payments and Banking sectors. She is a Scrum Master at Mastercard, and enjoys helping teams in their agile transformation and showcasing their improvements. 

You can link with Madhuri Korapati on LinkedIn and connect with Madhuri Korapati on Twitter.