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

Mandy Sunner: 3 books to understand Agile beyond Scrum

When multiple teams work on high-impact or high-visibility programs or projects, it is critical that they align how they work, and that certain processes are in place to support the teams. In this episode, we talk about what problems arise when teams are working separately, not aligned, and the supporting processes are missing. A key realization for Scrum Masters: the supporting processes can have a big impact on the performance of the team

Featured Book for the Week: Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow, Kahneman et. al

Mandy mentions several books: Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow, by Kahneman et. al; The Bottleneck Rules, by Clarke Ching; Making Work Visible by Dominica DeGrandis

These books helped Mandy understand many different aspects of Agile beyond the work with the team. 

About Mandy Sunner

Mandy calls herself the Angel of Agile as she guards her team and stakeholders from attacks and compromises which are forthcoming in an era of uncertainty. Her Agile approaches are thought through by virtue of being a systematic thinker and keeping the customers at the forefront of development. A problem solver with many years of practical experience.

You can link with Mandy Sunner on LinkedIn and connect with Mandy Sunner on Twitter.

Mandy Sunner: How to handle the loss of a great Product Owner in a Scrum team

Teams need a great Product Owner to be able to exploit their potential. When Scrum Masters work with teams that have a great PO, they learn the impact that the PO role can have. However, when a great PO leaves the team, what should the Scrum Master do? In this episode, we learn about Mandy’s attempt to help the team by replacing the PO, and why it is so critical to avoid that anti-pattern. Listen in to learn what to do when a great PO leaves.

About Mandy Sunner

Mandy calls herself the Angel of Agile as she guards her team and stakeholders from attacks and compromises which are forthcoming in an era of uncertainty. Her Agile approaches are thought through by virtue of being a systematic thinker and keeping the customers at the forefront of development. A problem solver with many years of practical experience.

You can link with Mandy Sunner on LinkedIn and connect with Mandy Sunner on Twitter.

Tony Richards: From “distant” to “team member”, a Scrum PO transformation story

From a distant PO to the PO that makes everybody feel part of the same team. A great transformation, and a great PO pattern to share with your favorite PO!

The Great Product Owner: The Great Facilitator

Great Product Owners focus on the Sprint Review as a ceremony that can help them, as well as the team and stakeholders understand the product better. In this segment, we talk about how great PO’s focus on their facilitation and approaches to get the most out of the Sprint Review sessions.

The Bad Product Owner: The Corner-office PO

You know that something is wrong when the PO actually has to say out loud that they have an “open-door policy”. There’s an implicit message that they are different, even superior to the team. In this “corner-office anti-pattern” segment we discuss how PO’s may alienate their teams, and what we – Scrum Masters – can do to help team members and PO learn to collaborate without the negative impact of hierarchy. Learn how to help the corner-office PO become a great, and productive team member!

 

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 Tony Richards

Tony coaches Agile teams across the UK and currently serves as program advisor to the Scrum Alliance. His most recent client is applying Scrum and Kanban in the engineering and production of physical goods. 

Tony is also in the organizer team for the Scrum Gathering in sunny Lisbon this year, and he’s busy working with a great team of volunteers to review and build a program of great talks and workshops.

You can link with Tony Richards on LinkedIn and connect with Tony Richards on Twitter.

SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A with Lisette Sutherland, #Remote meetings don’t need to suck!

#Remote meetings have been a topic that affects Agile teams for a long time. As many more teams go #Remote without previous experience, they become an even bigger topic for Scrum Masters who now need to facilitate online meetings almost every day.

In this episode, Lisette Sutherland (creator of the Work Together Anywhere Workshop) joins us to share her insights on how to make those remote meetings rock!

When going #Remote, it is harder to get the life/work balance right

Continue reading SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A with Lisette Sutherland, #Remote meetings don’t need to suck!

Tony Richards: Helping Scrum teams be aware of their anti-patterns (and patterns)

When Scrum Masters start working with a team, they might feel the need to intervene often. It might be just to get the team to start talking, or for the team members to respect each other’s turn to speak. However, when we evolve our practice and start seeing some success is when we are able to step back and use “mirroring” to let the team understand their own behavior. Just like us, team members are also often blind to their own behavior patterns, a successful Scrum Masters will help team members be less blind to their own behavior patterns.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Powerful Questions Walk

Tony found an approach that helps teams dive deeper into their experience and find improvement opportunities they would otherwise ignore. In this episode, he describes the Powerful Questions Walk exercise and how it improves the team’s ability to learn and reflect.

In this episode, we refer to the Coaching Cards by Deborah Preuss (PDF Download).

About Tony Richards

Tony coaches Agile teams across the UK and currently serves as program advisor to the Scrum Alliance. His most recent client is applying Scrum and Kanban in the engineering and production of physical goods. 

Tony is also in the organizer team for the Scrum Gathering in sunny Lisbon this year, and he’s busy working with a great team of volunteers to review and build a program of great talks and workshops.

You can link with Tony Richards on LinkedIn and connect with Tony Richards on Twitter.

SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A on #Remote work with Katja Zorina

Katja is an Agile Coach in an organization that had to organize a distributed/#Remote Big Room Planning session in less than 24 hours! Listen in to learn how they pulled it off.

One of the key learnings from that effort was that a #Remote event will take a longer time (maybe 3-4 days) than a locally organize Big Room planning event. But there are many more insights that Katja shares on this LIVE Q&A

What have been the biggest challenges for you and for the teams that you support?

Continue reading SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A on #Remote work with Katja Zorina

Tony Richards: Learning Sets, an approach to support large organization change 

When Tony joined this organization, the mandate was to help the organization change. There were about 4000 people involved in that change. There’s no Scrum Master/Agile Coach team big enough to take on that responsibility, so they took a different approach.

The organization invested in a way to scale up their ability to coach teams, using a “Learning Sets” approach and the “Challenging Coaching” approach to coaching. 

In this episode, we refer to the whitepaper by Scrum.org on the 8 stances of a Scrum Master, and the pain-relief cycle as a way to improve performance in teams.

About Tony Richards

Tony coaches Agile teams across the UK and currently serves as program advisor to the Scrum Alliance. His most recent client is applying Scrum and Kanban in the engineering and production of physical goods. 

Tony is also in the organizer team for the Scrum Gathering in sunny Lisbon this year, and he’s busy working with a great team of volunteers to review and build a program of great talks and workshops.

You can link with Tony Richards on LinkedIn and connect with Tony Richards on Twitter.

SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A with Molood Ceccarelli on #Remote work

Molood joins us in the special LIVE Q&A episode to talk about Distributed Agile software development and many tools, tips, tricks, and techniques for teams that just recently moved to a #Remote-first work setting.

The POWER framework for successful #Remote meetings

Continue reading SUPER SPECIAL: LIVE Q&A with Molood Ceccarelli on #Remote work

Your cultural anti-patterns are AMPLIFIED by remote work. Are you ready? (Tips for Scrum Masters)

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Scrum Masters often have to face cultural anti-patterns when working with teams, and the organizations they are part of. Those cultural anti-patterns are being amplified by the move to #Remote work due to the #covid19 situation.

What can we do? How can we get ready?

Here are some tips to get you started or to help you further adapt to this new reality.

Lack of transparency is even worse when #Remote

There are many Scrum Masters that come on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast and share stories that relate to a culturally-engrained lack of transparency. This lack of transparency takes many forms:

  • Team members don’t share their struggles in the Daily Standup because they perceive that as a sign of weakness (for example)
  • Product Owners don’t share the reasons why certain changes are brought into the Sprint, perhaps because they themselves don’t know
  • Other teams we collaborate with don’t share changes to a dependency we have on them

Whatever symptoms of lack of transparency you experienced when working in the same office, those symptoms will only get worse when our organization moves to #Remote work. Some of the reasons are:

  • Individuals are less engaged and motivated due to the stress, or being distracted by the presence of children while they work, or because they don’t see (and therefore don’t take into account) their colleagues during the day
  • Sudden tasks or priority shifts are communicated to individuals, and the rest of the team isn’t physically present to witness that change
  • Now that we’re distributed we miss out on all the spontaneous collaboration that used to happen.
  • etc.

Tips for Scrum Masters to increase transparency and foster collaboration

As Scrum Masters, we must be deliberate about improving transparency and collaboration in #Remote teams. Our domain of expertise is collaboration, and we must keep adapting to enable collaboration at all times. Here are some tips, that may help you improve transparency, information sharing, and collaboration between team members and with other teams: 

  • Have a collective retrospective with the teams on which your team has regular dependencies
  • Discuss with the Product Owner how to share changes to the Sprint so that all team members are aware and can share their possible impact on the work they have to finish
  • Move to a shorter Sprint. Agile is about creating more, and faster, feedback loops. As we go #Remote those feedback loops are even more important. Shorter sprints provide more transparency (problems are found faster), makes the amount of work smaller which helps with clarity (shorter stories), and with identifying and solving process problems in the team, and across teams
  • Have 2 daily check-ins

  • Integrate more often. If you are integrating with dependant teams at the end of the Sprint, consider bringing their work into your daily build pipeline, or assign specific team members on both teams to work on integration from the start of the sprint
  • Track dependencies on other teams just like you would a User Story. Understanding of dependencies will grow during the Sprint. Make sure you are covering that dependency on the Daily Standup if nothing else to learn that “everything is proceeding according to plan”
  • Create an URGENT Slack/Teams channel, so that team members can always explicitly ask for help to solve a problem they are facing. When #Remote, even waiting one more day can make the problem harder to find.

When we are #Remote, collaboration and cooperation are harder to achieve, and transparency can be a critical trigger for that collaboration to flourish. Consider what you can do as a Scrum Master to improve collaboration. Every day.
Stay Safe, #StayHome

More tips, and more insights from the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

We have started a page to help you deal with the reality of #Remote work. Bookmark this page to easily access all the tips we share related to #Remote work. In this page you will find blog posts, as well as links to the YouTube videos of our LIVE Q&A sessions with #Remote work experts!

Tony Richards: Metrics for Agile teams, and how to avoid the velocity metric trap

Stop me if you have heard this before. There was once upon a time a company that was working well, and leadership, wanting to make it even better started following up team velocity… Already? Well, that’s expected, this is a very common anti-pattern (the velocity tunnel vision). But this episode goes into a deeper discussion of what anti-pattern, and most importantly, what Scrum Masters can do to get out of that. We discuss metrics, their impact, and which to use when working with Agile teams.

Featured Book for the Week: An Everyone Culture by Kegan et al.

In An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization by Kegan et al., Tony found an insightful description of a leadership model that focuses on the potential of an organization, on how to improve the chances for success in any organization.

About Tony Richards

Tony coaches Agile teams across the UK and currently serves as program advisor to the Scrum Alliance. His most recent client is applying Scrum and Kanban in the engineering and production of physical goods. 

Tony is also in the organizer team for the Scrum Gathering in sunny Lisbon this year, and he’s busy working with a great team of volunteers to review and build a program of great talks and workshops.

You can link with Tony Richards on LinkedIn and connect with Tony Richards on Twitter.