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

Nikoletta Tatár: Kudo cards and appreciation as Scrum team success techniques

Do you have a culture of appreciation in the Scrum team? That’s one of the signs of a team that is jelling and on its way to success. We also discuss tips on how to help the team spend more time and effort highlighting the best things that happen, with the goal of building energy and achieving a more positive work atmosphere. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Mad/Sad/Glad, with a Kudos card section

We’ve discussed the Mad/Sad/Glad Agile Retrospective format before, but in this episode, we talk about adding a Kudos card section to that format. The Kudo card section adds higher energy to the retrospective and helps motivate 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 experiences: 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 Nikoletta Tatár

Nikoletta is an Agile Coach who is passionate about creating an environment where teams and individuals have the space to grow, deliver awesome products to customers, and have fun doing so. She is also a Collaboration Superpowers facilitator holding workshops online about remote working and collaboration. 

You can link with Nikoletta Tatár on LinkedIn and connect with Nikoletta Tatár on Twitter. 

Nikoletta Tatár: Tips on how make change thrive and overcome change resistance

Change management is primarily an exercise in managing expectations among all stakeholders. In this episode, we talk about the role that “small changes” have in that process. We also discuss how to find the motivation / needed changes by working with the teams we support. Nikoletta shares many tips on how make change thrive and overcome change resistance.

About Nikoletta Tatár

Nikoletta is an Agile Coach who is passionate about creating an environment where teams and individuals have the space to grow, deliver awesome products to customers, and have fun doing so. She is also a Collaboration Superpowers facilitator holding workshops online about remote working and collaboration. 

You can link with Nikoletta Tatár on LinkedIn and connect with Nikoletta Tatár on Twitter.

Scrum Masters are the future CEO’s, and a podcast by the Lean Enterprise Institute

I’ve been working on a collection of great blog posts about the Scrum Master role. If you have a favorite article on the Scrum Master role, or it’s goals and responsibilities, let me know by submitting it here: https://bit.ly/TheBestScrumMasterBlogPosts2020

I believe that one of the most well-kept secrets of the Agile community is that the Scrum Master role is the role where the future CEO’s are born.

I know, I know. This sounds like an exaggeration. True. But I do have some good arguments for this below, so read on!

Scrum Masters are about building organizations that work together

I was listening to this podcast by the Lean Enterprise Insititute (a non-profit that tries to advance Lean practice) with heard Alan Mulally, the ex-CEO of Boeing and Ford.

In that podcast, Alan explains how he implemented the “people first” model he learned about at Boeing (being involved in all of the plane projects at Boeing) and later implemented also at Ford.

His perspective is refreshing. But especially it is very much in line with what we think the Scrum Master role is. Take this quote for example: “Pull everyone together around the Vision for the Product, and around the Strategy for achieving that Vision”

“Pull everyone together around the Vision for the Product, and around the Strategy for achieving that Vision”
– Alan Mulally, ex-CEO of Boeing and Ford

For me, that’s a great description of what the role of the Scrum Master is about: pulling people together around the Vision for the product that the Product team has put together with their stakeholders, and pulling people together around the strategy to achieve that Vision!

Scrum Masters are about building organizations that put “people first”

The podcast goes on and talks about something that is incredibly important: how do we build high-performance teams. The lessons Alan shares are also crucial, and we’ve talked about this here on the Scrum Master Toolbox podcast: when a team member does not want to play by the rules the team has setup (low “working together skills, as Alan puts it), that’s poison for the team.

(On Working together and peer accountability) “Everyone who does not operate this way is poison”
– Alan Mulally, ex-CEO of Boeing and Ford

As Scrum Masters, one of our greatest responsibilities is to make sure that the team comes together and agrees on how to work together, and keep themselves accountable! Just like a CEO as Alan explains!

Alan shares his approach to bringing people together on the execution aspect of the work: be clear about the rules (work with the team to define those), and define a method for self and peer accountability!

“Most of the time, when you are clear about the process, and the rules of working together, people will come together and become great team contributors”
– Alan Mulally, ex-CEO of Boeing and Ford

As Scrum Masters, we are responsible for making sure everyone on the team understands (and contributes) to the rules of the work! Just like a CEO as Alan explains!

This was a great podcast with Jim Morgan (Lean Enterprise Institute) and Alan Mulally (ex-CEO at Boeing and Ford), and is filled with insights for Scrum Masters, who are the future of the CEO role!

One more quote to finish (from the podcast, at around minute 29)

“My biggest contribution, was holding myself and the team accountable for following the process and acceptable behaviours”
– Alan Mulally, ex-CEO of Boeing and Ford

That’s a quote from a CEO, not a #ScrumMaster. But it could be from a Scrum Master!

Help us grow as a Scrum Master community, share your best 2020 articles below.

Nikoletta Tatár: Holding the Space and growing a Scrum team

This particular team acted more like a set of independent individuals. While trying to figure out why Nikoletta found out that they were missing a common goal and purpose. On top of that, their individual goals were set up in a way that led to conflict. Nikoletta set about working with the team to understand why that was the case and to help them overcome the lack of shared goals with the aim of helping them collaborate better. 

In this episode, we refer to the concept of “holding the space” and the “Personal Maps” tool that helped Nikoletta understand better the team members and their motivation.

Featured Book of the Week: Coaching Agile Teams, by Lyssa Adkins

Nikoletta was recommended Coaching Agile Teams by her mentor, and the book helped her understand the role of the coach and how Scrum Masters must evolve towards a coaching role as they help the teams.

About Nikoletta Tatár

Nikoletta is an Agile Coach who is passionate about creating an environment where teams and individuals have the space to grow, deliver awesome products to customers, and have fun doing so. She is also a Collaboration Superpowers facilitator holding workshops online about remote working and collaboration. 

You can link with Nikoletta Tatár on LinkedIn and connect with Nikoletta Tatár on Twitter.

Developing Teams the Scrum (and Lean) way! by Lean.Org’s The Lean Post

I’ve been working on a collection of great blog posts about the Scrum Master role. If you have a favorite article on the Scrum Master role, or it’s goals and responsibilities, let me know by submitting it here: https://bit.ly/TheBestScrumMasterBlogPosts2020

Scrum Masters are key participants in the teams, and key contributors to the improvement of productivity in the organizations they work in. Even if the Scrum approach and Agile, in general, are very new (from late1990’s, early 2000s), there are other approaches that have been with us for nearly more than a century now.

One such approach is “Taylorism”. In that approach, the main premise is that “some people” know “what needs to be done and how” (the planner/thinker), and other people “do it” (the doers).

“Take it to the team”: a Scrum Master Mantra

Unfortunately, that Tayloristic approach has become prevalent thanks to the work of some early consultancies.

In Scrum, one of the most important changes to the world of work is that the “doers” are also the “thinkers”. This is one of the reasons why here on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, we often say: “take it to the team”. In other words, anyone can raise an idea of improvement, but only the team knows what can/should be done to achieve the goal. Sometimes that team is the development team, sometimes it is the development team + stakeholders, but it’s “the team” that owns and develops the process of work.

This perspective is revolutionary for many, including many consultancies that still push “process improvement” à lá Taylor (you know which ones).

What’s better than Taylorism for developing our teams and organizations? 

That’s why I want to highlight this post in Lean.Org’s Lean Post blog: “Develop Your People Patiently Rather Than Rely on Super Taylorism”

As the article puts it: while the “west” was focused on separating the thinking from the doing, and using “Super Taylorism”,  “in Japan, Toyota was developing a different approach to strategy, one based on technical learning on the gemba through trial and error–a process that aimed to serve all customers with a broad product line of high quality and at the right price.”

Does that sound familiar? Scrum is exactly that kind of approach: “based on technical learning on the Gemba through trial and error”

Check out the post, and learn about the roots of Scrum and Agile. Don’t get stuck in a Tayloristic approach that leads to frustration, dis-enfranchising the team, and long term problems.

Help us grow as a Scrum Master community, share your best 2020 articles below.

Nikoletta Tatár: What drives an Agile transformation? 

An Agile transformation is not an easy target state to achieve. In this episode with Nikoletta, we discuss what are some of the “must-have” conditions for the Agile transformation to have a chance to succeed. We also talk about how Scrum Masters can help organizations find the right reason for change while working with both leadership and the “doers”.

About Nikoletta Tatár

Nikoletta is an Agile Coach who is passionate about creating an environment where teams and individuals have the space to grow, deliver awesome products to customers, and have fun doing so. She is also a Collaboration Superpowers facilitator holding workshops online about remote working and collaboration. 

You can link with Nikoletta Tatár on LinkedIn and connect with Nikoletta Tatár on Twitter.

BONUS: Platform teams, how structural changes improve outcomes in Agile organizations, with Jeff Campbell and Simone Sciarrati 

In this episode, we discuss how the way we organize teams can impact the effectiveness of an organization. Jeff and Simone share the journey of a team, how it changed, and how that team structure change affected not only the team itself but also the organization around them. 

Simone shares that, at Meltwater, they try to focus on “empowered product teams”, and how that differs from most team setups. 

We refer to the book Inspired by Marty Cagan, and how that book influenced their view on how to organize and structure product development teams. 

The first problem they tackled was the Product Owner being an outsider to the team. 

Making the Product Owner, a first-order citizen in an Agile team

Continue reading BONUS: Platform teams, how structural changes improve outcomes in Agile organizations, with Jeff Campbell and Simone Sciarrati 

Becoming a better Scrum Master by Manuel MĂĽller

I’ve been working on a collection of great blog posts about the Scrum Master role. If you have a favorite article on the Scrum Master role, or it’s goals and responsibilities, let me know by submitting it here: https://bit.ly/TheBestScrumMasterBlogPosts2020

Manuel MĂĽller is the author of Scrum Master that Matters – You

Manuel Müller wrote an article back in 2017 that reminded me of how important it is to keep tabs on our own personal development. He named the article “You”, which I think is a great title for what’s coming next. Are you puzzled by how you can be a better Scrum Master? How you can have more impact on your team and organization? Read on!

A Scrum Master That Matters

The Scrum Master role is not an easy role to take. After all, you’ve got a lot of responsibility, and none of the authority! (At least most Scrum Masters are in that situation.) So, how do you help your organization and your team in that situation? The answer is simple, but not easy: “you” have to focus on developing yourself!

Every team is new, and sometimes, even the old teams you thought you knew change! A new member comes in, and a team member goes out and everything changes!

10 Aspects For A Great Scrum Master

In this article, Manuel focuses on how we can develop ourselves as Scrum Masters, and be ready for that change. For any change. If you are interested, go on and read the whole article. For me, the most important highlights are:

  • Practice what you preach. Build your personal, Scrum Master role-related feedback loops, and keep on learning
  • Use conversations, not only as a way to advocate Agile and Scrum but as a deliberate tool to understand other people’s perspectives. Remember, you are there to help teams, and individuals succeed on their own!
  • Constantly reflect and learn about yourself. To be a better Scrum Master, knowing yourself is the most important asset you have. When you understand yourself, you learn to think before acting, and you are able to act deliberately, with a goal in mind, and the serenity to collect feedback, learn, and adjust. Never stop learning about yourself!

Manuel’s article is from 2017 but it is as relevant today as it was back then! What are the articles you read in 2020 that influenced you? Share those with me, and I’ll share those with the community here on the blog!

Help us grow as a Scrum Master community, share your best 2020 articles below.

Lakshmi Ramaseshan: 4 critical aspects that great Product Owners bring to the team

In this episode, we talk about the consequences of having overly-detailed Product Owners, and we discuss 4 critical aspects that great Product Owners bring to the team.

The Great Product Owner: The 4 key aspects of great Product Owners.

A new PO joined the team that Lakshmi was working with, and brought a different perspective. One that helped the team feel their views were listened to and respected. This PO was excellent at four different aspects necessary for the PO role: being a Product Manager, a Project Manager, a Business Analyst, and a leader for the team. 

The Bad Product Owner: From prescriptive to collaborative, a PO transformation

“The Product Owner is the toughest role in the team” Lakshmi starts when introducing this story, in which we explore the anti-pattern of a PO that was super detail-oriented, and prescriptive. The team was feeling demoralized by that attitude, and here is where Lakshmi introduced a different perspective. She introduced the idea of running an experiment on the way the team and PO collaborated. Listen in to learn what that experiment was, and how it can help PO’s learn to trust and listen to the team.

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Lakshmi Ramaseshan

Lakshmi considers Agile Coaching her true calling! With 20+ years in the software industry, her journey started as a developer on an agile team. After which she quickly realized good product development is all about having the right conversations, building happy teams, and being aligned with your customer. 

Lakshmi is passionate about growing people, fostering trust amongst the team members, and building high-performance teams. She also believes in giving back to the community & paying it forward to help inspire others on their Journey!

You can link with Lakshmi Ramaseshan on LinkedIn and connect with Lakshmi Ramaseshan on Twitter.

Bootstrapping an working agreement with a Scrum team by Jimmy Jalén

I’ve been working on a collection of great blog posts about the Scrum Master role. If you have a favorite article on the Scrum Master role, or it’s goals and responsibilities, let me know by submitting it here: https://bit.ly/TheBestScrumMasterBlogPosts2020

Jimmy JanlĂ©n’s post on setting up working agreements with your Scrum team

What’s a “working agreement”, Vasco? Good question! As a Scrum Master, one of the things I worry about is if the team members are aware of the (often implicit) agreements they have with each other.

Not having a clear picture of what we have agreed to, may lead to conflict as an outcome of missed expectations. Most commonly, it leads to bugs in the software, and delays in delivery.

So, how can working agreements help reduce bugs and eliminate delays? A simple example of this might be a working agreement like: “share bad news early, even before there are any indications of delays or other consequences”

This agreement, will help the team keep in mind the need to discuss and solve problems early, before they escalate. But, as a single agreement, this would not be enough for a team to work with.

Take It To The Team: The WorkingAgreements Workshop

As a Scrum Master, I also know that the team itself will have a more complete view of the agreements they need to work well together.

I have a few ideas, and will bring those up in our “working agreements workshop”, but it’s up to the team to define and ultimately put into practice those agreements!

In 2017, Jimmy Janlén published an article that helps you prepare a working agreements workshop. In this article, he describes what has worked for him when defining working agreements with teams. Jimmy also shares tips and guides for each of the sections of the workshop.

Jimmy defines the working agreement as capturing “the expectations we have on each other within the team when we collaborate and communicate. I’ve seen teams call it “Code of Conduct” or “Ways of Working”. I call it Working Agreement. You call it whatever makes sense for you.”

Check out the Working Agreements Workshop blogpost by Jimmy to learn more about working agreements, and to get a facilitation guide for his approach to this critical workshop.

Have you had working agreements workshops with your teams? Share below your insights and questions!