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

Rachel Macasek: Building trust between Product Owner and the rest of the Scrum team

The difference between a passionate and committed team might be as simple as the attitude the PO brings to work. Which of these describes your PO right now? 

The Great Product Owner: Sparking passion and commitment as a Product Owner

When PO’s are able to explain the problem that they want to solve, they enable the designers, developers, and testers to contribute their perspective and help the PO improve their possible solution ideas. When the PO focuses on the problems to solve, rather than the solutions they may also help spark passion and commitment in the team!

The Bad Product Owner: Building trust between PO and the rest of the Scrum team

When the PO does not have faith in the team’s ability to work on the problems they want to solve, they often rely on micro-management, and solutioneering (describing solutions instead of customer problems). This, in turn, prevents the team from being creative, bringing their best thinking to the product, and ultimately leads to demotivation and resignation in the team. Rachel asks us to work with the Product Owner and find ways to focus on understanding the problems and enabling the team to bring their creativity to the work. 

In this episode, we refer to the Coach your PO e-course that we’ve created at the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, to help you work with the Product Owners directly and bring about the right focus to their work. 

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 Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

Rachel Macasek: How to “work yourself out of a job” as a Scrum Master

The advice “work yourself out of a job” may be true, but it is too broad to act on. Rachel breaks that down into a set of simple ideas that she uses in her works as a Scrum Master. We talk about the importance of modeling the right behavior and being a good observer. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Start/Stop/Continue with a twist

In this segment, Rachel starts by describing the Start/Stop/Continue format, and then takes a different perspective on the “end” of that retrospective format by asking the team “how might we…” questions designed to help the team uncover breakthrough improvements. 

 

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 Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

Rachel Macasek: Helping Scrum organizations grow quickly, collaboratively

When companies grow very fast, the teams don’t have the time to adjust and grow their inter-team collaboration. Scrum Master must then learn to detect those anti-patterns and help the teams build their collaboration strategies deliberately, and quickly to keep up with the company’s growth. 

About Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

Rachel Macasek: Detecting toxic cultural anti-patterns in Agile organizations

That there are projects where teams feel under pressure is no news. In fact, stress-related to pressure is a very common problem in software teams. However, sometimes the situation goes too far and turns into a toxic culture. In this episode, we explore what are the signs that the normal “pressure” teams feel is turning into a much more impactful and negative set of patterns.

Featured Book of the Week: Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House et al.

As Rachel grew in the coaching role, she felt frustrated by the reactive mindset she saw in leadership. That led her to explore other approaches to help executives understand and benefit from Agile Values and principles.

In Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives, Rachel found a good guide to help her focus her work on helping the individual team members and executives she worked with. 

About Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

Rachel Macasek: Dealing with self-doubt when starting as a Scrum Master

Rachel started with a manufacturing background, which naturally left her with questions about how to apply her craft to a different industry. However, as she started in her Scrum Master role, she learned how to ask questions in order to enable the team to understand and solve their own obstacles. 

In this episode, we refer to the Imposter Syndrome and the book Agile Retrospectives by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby

About Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

BONUS: Module 2, Retrospectives Master Class with David Horowitz

This is the second of a multi-part series on Agile Retrospectives with David Horowitz who’s the CEO of Retrium, a company that builds tools to help you facilitate remote retrospectives. The links to Retrium’s Retrospectives Academy below are affiliate links, if you prefer to follow a link that takes you to Retrium’s site, but does not give anything back to the podcast, you can. Just follow this link: Retrium.com. On the other hand, if you want to help us grow this podcast, you can follow the links below or this link to Retrium’s Retrospective’s Academy.

In the second instalment of the Agile Retrospectives Masterclass with David Horowitz, we talk about the 5 phases of a successful retrospective, and share tips and ideas for each of those phases to ensure you are prepared and get the team to find and act on breakthrough improvements. 

You can find Module 1 of the Retrospectives Master Class here

It all starts with a simple check-in: “Set the Stage”, Phase 1 of a successful retrospective

When we start a retrospective, usually at the end of a Sprint, the team member’s minds might be on that last bug they just closed, or the story that didn’t get delivered, or the feedback they just got from stakeholders. The Check-in phase of the retrospectives helps all the team members, and the facilitator to get into the retrospective mood. To forget the open threads that will need to be picked up later, and focus on the question: “How can we do even better in the next Sprint?”

In this segment, we talk about the Constellations exercise that helps everyone visualize agreement and disagreement with a specific statement in a way that raises engagement, and increases the energy level of the retrospective. You can find here a detailed description of the Constellation exercise for Agile Retrospectives

We also discuss the “one-word check-in” exercise and the “Mad/Sad/Glad” check-in for Agile retrospectives.  

For retrospectives that try to focus on improving collaboration between team members, David suggests The Circle Of Appreciation exercise

In this segment, we also refer to the classic book: Agile Retrospectives by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby

Gathering Data and Generating Insights, the core of an Agile Retrospective

If we want to enable deeper conversations, we need to be aware that the information that is shared will directly affect the quality of the conversations. Therefore, Agile Retrospectives require special attention to the “gathering data” phase. There are many ways to gather data, and some might even happen during the Sprint, instead of during the retrospective. 

During the retrospective, however, we will visualize that data and help the team make sense of it. 

In this segment, we talk about the timeline exercise, and how to use emotional-queues to help uncover important pieces of information. 

Soft or qualitative data can also be used to augment the use of other data in the timeline exercise. One such way is to use the “journey lines” exercise.

When the data is visible and understandable, then the team focuses on finding insights by analyzing the data and generating possible connections and causal links. Here the challenge for a Scrum Master is to prevent the team from jumping too early into solutions before they deeply understand the problem they are trying to solve. 

David shares some tips to help prevent the team from discussing solutions before they have a shared understanding of the problem. We talk about The 5 Why’s technique, but there are many more. 

Making Retrospectives Impactful: Deciding what to do

Many teams fail in Phase 4, Deciding what to do. But they might fail in quite different ways. For example, some teams might want to commit to too many items at once, while other teams might not commit to any improvement. And finally, the worst problem: those teams that commit to improvements, but work on none of them. 

Great teams, understand well how many improvements they can take from a retrospective, and are clear on the commitment, maybe even including the improvement ideas as items on their Sprint backlog. 

In this segment, we talk about the ICE method for prioritizing improvement ideas and the importance of brainstorming several solutions before deciding what to do. It’s also important to use methods of consensus generation when there are several options that seem equally valuable. The commitment of each team member to the solution to be tried will directly impact their commitment to the work to be done for that solution. 

In this segment, we talk about experiments and the use of such templates as the Hypothesis-Driven Development template by Barry O’Reilly

Phase 5: Close the retrospective

At the end of the retrospective, our goals are to provide closure, a sense of achievement, and energy for the work ahead. 

How can we do that? In this segment, we talk about the “retro on the retro” and the “gif check-out”. Two simple approaches that help the team feel a sense of accomplishment, and also get better at doing future retrospectives. 

Which closing exercises have you used? Share those with us on Twitter or LinkedIn

About David Horowitz

David Horowitz is the CEO of Retrium, a platform for agile retrospectives that has powered over 100,000 retrospectives from thousands of companies across the world.

Prior to co-founding Retrium, David spent a decade at The World Bank as an engineer turned Agile coach.

He has degrees in Computer Science and Economics from The University of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Technology Management from The Wharton School of Business.

Learn more about Better Retrospectives with David Horowitz by accessing the FREE Retrospective’s Academy by Retrium: http://bit.ly/retromasterclass

You can link with David Horowitz on LinkedIn and connect with David Horowitz on Twitter

Simon Flossmann: The Proxy PO that worked for a team of Product Owners

In this episode, we talk about collaboration with customers, and how that can help the team and PO to work well together. And we discuss what happens when the PO is only a proxy to multiple other PO’s.

The Great Product Owner: The Great Collaborator 

Great Product Owners are able to collaborate closely with the stakeholders and customers. In this segment, we talk about the PO that was able to communicate with the customers in a way that helped him bring insights and knowl3edgte to the team so that the team could understand better the problems the customers were facing, and come up with innovative solutions.

The Bad Product Owner: The Proxy PO that worked for a team of Product Owners

When the PO is nothing but a proxy for another decision-maker, the team will suffer. In this segment, we talk about a PO proxy that had several big obstacles in their way: there were multiple PO’s to work with (a team of PO’s), and on top of that a “chief PO”. How can a PO succeed when they are unable to make decisions? How can the Scrum Master help that PO? Listen in to learn about Simon’s approach in that situation.

 

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 Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

Simon Flossmann: Defining success from Scrum Masters with the customer in mind

Many of our guests start by defining their success in relation to the work they do with the team. Simon takes a different approach. In this episode, we talk about the success aspects for Scrum Masters that are not linked only to the work with the team, but focus more on the value delivered to the end customers.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Simplifying the Retrospective format

Sometimes, the topics to discuss are so clear that the format can get in the way. For those times, Simon describes his approach based on a simple format that focuses on the conversation and enables self-organization at the team level.

 

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 Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

Simon Flossmann: Scaling Scrum while adopting it, a cautionary tale

When Simon started in this department, the order was simple: make the department adopt and practice Scrum. In that process, Simon learned some critical lessons about the difference between introducing Scrum to a team, or a group of teams. In the process, he learned about how critical clear goals can ben when adopting Agile and Scrum. 

About Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

Simon Flossmann: Teams, the secret sauce of Scrum

Sometimes, the quickest way to get a product out the door is to create a team of contractors and focus on building a product quickly. Or is it? In this episode, we talk about the consequences that can come from building a team of contractors, focusing mostly on speed, but forgetting that a team is much more than a group of individuals. And teams, are really the secret sauce of Scrum

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen

In Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen (who’s been a guest on the podcast), Simon found a good guide for his journey to improve and professionalize his role as a Scrum Master. In this segment, we also talk about Lean Startup by Eric Ries, a book that helped Simon improve his focus on empiricism as a tool to help teams. 

About Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.