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

Shoaib Naik: Making the impossible happen as a Scrum Masters, lessons from mountaineering

The team had finished their first 3 sprints, but failed to deliver on the sprint goal for any of those sprints. The team believed that the lack of understanding of their velocity (aka capacity), was the reason for their failure. However, the problem lied somewhere else! Listen in, to learn what Shoaib helped the team understand, and ultimately overcome. A very common anti-pattern in Agile teams!

Featured Book of the Week: Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks ― My Life In The Death Zone by Nimsdai Purja

In Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks by Nimsdai Purja, Shoaib found a reminder that what seems impossible for some, is very possible for others. In that book, he learned about Nismdai’s approach to put together a mountaineering project that seemed impossible for others. But he thought otherwise, starting with naming the project: Project Possible! We, as Scrum Masters, also face situations that others might think are impossible, but we need to make them happen!

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 Shoaib Naik

Shoaib is a Scrum Master with over 11 years in Software development with experience in different roles, from IT Account Manager, Product Manager to Project Manager in product as well services-based companies.

You can link with Shoaib Naik on LinkedIn, and follow Shoaib Naik’s blog.

Shoaib Naik: The steps young Scrum Masters take when learning the role, and which ones to avoid!

Failures help us stay grounded, they are reminders that reality isn’t always as we expect it to be. And these failures make us better Scrum Masters. In this episode, we talk about the learning journey for a young Scrum Master, and how Shoaib slowly climbed the learning curve, and what were the steps he took. Learning from other’s stories is a shortcut we can take in our own learning journey, and Shoaib’s story is a great example of that.

About Shoaib Naik

Shoaib is a Scrum Master with over 11 years in Software development with experience in different roles, from IT Account Manager, Product Manager to Project Manager in product as well services-based companies.

You can link with Shoaib Naik on LinkedIn, and follow Shoaib Naik’s blog.

Mher Nalbandyan: Coaching a Product Owner on their availability to the Scrum team!

The Great Product Owner: The PO that spoke the team’s language

This Product Owner was able to write stories with acceptance criteria, and descriptions the team members considered understandable. The PO was also able to write descriptive bugs and even did some testing. The PO also had enough technical background to help answer some more detailed questions by the team members. However, most importantly, the PO knew their limits and where to stop providing information.

The Bad Product Owner: Coaching a PO on their availability to the Scrum team!

This PO was not always available, which led to a slow feedback loop. This slow feedback loop, and lack of availability can cause problems and demotivates the team. Mher describes how he raised the topic with the PO to be able to address the needs of the team. In this episode, we talk about the Sprint Checklist, a coaching tool we designed here at the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast to help you discuss the availability topic with the PO.

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 Mher Nalbandyan

Mher works at Mbition in Berlin, where they develop the next generation of information systems for Mercedes-Benz.

You can link with Mher Nalbandyan on LinkedIn and connect with Mher Nalbandyan on Twitter.

Mher Nalbandyan: Reflecting on Scrum Master success with the team, and the Product Owner

Mher likes to focus on his presence in the team when evaluating and reflecting on his own success. As tools for that reflection, he uses the 1-on-1 meetings with the team members, and regularly collects feedback, and includes discussions with the PO in that process.

In this episode, we refer to Curling, a winter olympics discipline. 

Featured Retrospectives Format for the Week: The 4L’s retrospective

Mher suggests the 4L’s format as a way to enable discussion on a big spectrum of topics, and focusing on open ended questions. In this episode, we also refer to the Mad/Sad/Glad, Start/Stop/Continue and other related formats. In this episode, we refer to the website teleretro.com, a remote retrospective tool.

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 Mher Nalbandyan

Mher works at Mbition in Berlin, where they develop the next generation of information systems for Mercedes-Benz.

You can link with Mher Nalbandyan on LinkedIn and connect with Mher Nalbandyan on Twitter.

Mher Nalbandyan: Reducing estimation arguments, and focusing on better refinement for Scrum teams

When Mher joined the team, he noticed that the team was going through the refinement meetings in a way that made the estimation the core aspect of the meeting. It took too long, and led to some team members to just sit there without participating. In this episode, we explore how to get over this estimation-centric refinement meeting anti-pattern!

About Mher Nalbandyan

Mher works at Mbition in Berlin, where they develop the next generation of information systems for Mercedes-Benz.

You can link with Mher Nalbandyan on LinkedIn and connect with Mher Nalbandyan on Twitter.

Mher Nalbandyan: Overcoming the “only the senior team members are allowed to speak” Scrum anti-pattern

Sometimes we face teams where team members start, and then get used to making decisions on their own without involving the rest of the team, or communicating those decisions to their colleagues. In this team, the people were changing, and the new team members were not “given” the right to speak, which led to the oldest team members making all of the decisions on their own. Mher noticed that this was causing a motivation problem in the team, and started to work with the team to overcome this anti-pattern.

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum, the art of doing twice the work in half the time by Sutherland

In Scrum, the art of doing twice the work in half the time by Sutherland, Mher found a book that was easy to read and understand, which reminded him of what Agile, Scrum, and Extreme Programming are all about. The book includes stories and the “why” behind Scrum’s impact.

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 Mher Nalbandyan

Mher works at Mbition in Berlin, where they develop the next generation of information systems for Mercedes-Benz.

You can link with Mher Nalbandyan on LinkedIn and connect with Mher Nalbandyan on Twitter.

Mher Nalbandyan: When team members skip the retrospective, a communication problem in the Scrum team

Mher prepared a retrospective for his team, but 5 minutes past the starting time, there were only a few team members in the room. He looked around and saw that the team members that were present, were not fully engaged. “Something is wrong here, he thought… In this episode, we explore why sometimes team members don’t communicate and discuss what might be the reasons, and how to avoid it.

In this episode, we refer to the book Agile Retrospectives by Larsen and Derby.

About Mher Nalbandyan

Mher works at Mbition in Berlin, where they develop the next generation of information systems for Mercedes-Benz.

You can link with Mher Nalbandyan on LinkedIn and connect with Mher Nalbandyan on Twitter.

Catherine Kraus: Helping the Product Owner understand why interruptions are disruptive for the team

The Great Product Owner: The PO as a key role in customer involvement, and understanding

A good PO has a good understanding of the product, and is also able to communicate the Vision they have for the product. This particular PO was also able to delegate to the team many of the decisions that were needed, and invested their time into building and maintaining relationships with the customers of that product. Because of that, he was able to set up user testing sessions, where the team was invited, to collect direct feedback and help the team understand the product, and the customer better!

The Bad Product Owner: Helping the PO understand why interruptions are disruptive for the team

This PO was amazingly organized, and great at following up with the team. This was the PO’s superpower. However, in some cases, this superpower also had a negative effect. This team, which was working remotely, was being constantly interrupted by the PO, in their attempt to follow-up on the progress by the team. The team went to Catherine, and shared what was going on. This started a process of changing how the PO worked, so that the team could be given the time and focus to finish their work.

In this segment, we talk about the concept of “maker time”, popularized in this article by Paul Graham.

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 Catherine Kraus

As a Scrum Master & Team Coach, Catherine Kraus inspires and galvanizes others into action with her playful and pragmatic approach. She works with organizations to build happier, healthier teams with purpose. She has over 15 years experience leading various transformation and change management projects in IT, Finance, HR & Marketing.

You can link with Catherine Kraus on LinkedIn.

Catherine Kraus: Effective improvement – helping teams accept what can’t be changed, and focus on what can!

Catherine likes to use a metaphor to picture what success looks like for a Scrum Master. She describes the Scrum Master work, as that of a look-out on a ship. A person who is constantly paying attention to what is happening on, and around the ship. In that position, Scrum Masters are perfectly placed to understand what is emerging, but rely on others to tackle the challenges the team faces.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Control / Influence / Accept circles, helping teams accept what can’t be changed, and focus on what can!

When a team is playing the victim, complaining, but not taking action, this format helps them understand what they can influence. But it also helps them understand what they need to accept, and move on! The Control / Influence / Accept retrospective is similar to the Circles and Soup retrospective that we’ve presented on the podcast before.

In this segment, we refer to the book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Covey.

 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 Catherine Kraus

As a Scrum Master & Team Coach, Catherine Kraus inspires and galvanizes others into action with her playful and pragmatic approach. She works with organizations to build happier, healthier teams with purpose. She has over 15 years experience leading various transformation and change management projects in IT, Finance, HR & Marketing.

You can link with Catherine Kraus on LinkedIn.

Catherine Kraus: How to setup an Agile team working remote and hybrid

Catherine was in the process of helping set up a team with on-shore and off-shore team members, which was being setup as a hybrid work team. As she discussed with the team members, and stakeholders, she quickly understood the team setup would have to be thought through, and followed-up carefully. In this episode, she describes the process she used, and how she involved the stakeholders in the process of setting up that team.

About Catherine Kraus

As a Scrum Master & Team Coach, Catherine Kraus inspires and galvanizes others into action with her playful and pragmatic approach. She works with organizations to build happier, healthier teams with purpose. She has over 15 years experience leading various transformation and change management projects in IT, Finance, HR & Marketing.

You can link with Catherine Kraus on LinkedIn.

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This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
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This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
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This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
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Internal Conference
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Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Motivate your team with the right metrics, and the right way to visualize and track them. Marcus presents a detailed How-To document based on his experience at The Bungsu Hospital
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
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Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works

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