Announcing the Scrum Master Summit by the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

Every year, we travel to a conference and make new friends. As Scrum Masters, talking to our peers and learning from their experience is something we must constantly do because there’s no Scrum Master University (yet…). So talking to, and learning from our peers is a critical aspect of our personal and professional growth.

We can join communities online, but nothing beats meeting other professionals face-to-face. Here at the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, we strive to bring the Scrum Master community to you, every week. But that’s not the same as meeting and talking with people “live”!

That’s why we’ve decided to organize and promote the Scrum Master Summit, an event thought and designed for you, the Scrum Master! And we will be focusing on featuring your experience in the talks and presentations that we will record. However, the key aspect of this Summit is that we will be hosting live events throughout the week of the conference (May 17th, save the date!). 

Submit your session, and share your experience with your peers. You will get immense feedback from the community, and develop your ideas. Ultimately our goal is to create a thriving community around the Scrum Master role because we believe that the Scrum Master role is critical for a world that needs a new culture of work, a culture of collaboration and achieving together.

Submit your session proposal now, and be an active part of the community. You will learn so much!

Ravi Jay: Building great Scrum teams

This team was full of “rock-stars”, but something was not working as expected. The architects were seen by the team as someone to look up to, and that affected how they estimated their work. Aiming to please, the team was getting into trouble. This helped Ravi understand an important lesson: building a rock-star team is always better than building a team of rock stars!

Featured Book of the Week: The Phoenix Project, by Gene Kim

In The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim was a book that helped Ravi understand some of the problems he had faced in his own work. It was a book that opened his eyes to some of the common problems that he later would face as a Scrum Master.

 

 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 Ravi Jay

Ravi started his career as a Mainframes developer in 2004 and was introduced to agility in 2007. He went from hating Scrum Masters to loving Kanban very quickly but became a believer in agile methods after learning by losing money implementing SAFe in his London-based startup in 2011. Over 16 years, Ravi has specialized in driving value out of complex software, hardware, firmware and organizational change programs using various large-scale agile and traditional methods across industries. He enjoys spending time coaching and building teams that create products, people love to use.

You can link with Ravi Jay on LinkedIn and connect with Ravi Jay on Twitter

Ravi Jay: Helping Scrum teams in high-pressure situations

When working with a new team, he understood that something was off. The team was new to Agile, and the project was already late. The transition was too much for that team. Listen in to learn what Ravi did to help that team in a high-pressure situation. 

About Ravi Jay

Ravi started his career as a Mainframes developer in 2004 and was introduced to agility in 2007. He went from hating Scrum Masters to loving Kanban very quickly but became a believer in agile methods after learning by losing money implementing SAFe in his London-based startup in 2011. Over 16 years, Ravi has specialized in driving value out of complex software, hardware, firmware and organizational change programs using various large-scale agile and traditional methods across industries. He enjoys spending time coaching and building teams that create products, people love to use.

You can link with Ravi Jay on LinkedIn and connect with Ravi Jay on Twitter

Helen Garcia: The PO that could listen and learn from the Scrum team

In this episode, we talk about one of the key skills for successful Product Owners: the ability to listen to, and learn from the team.

The Great Product Owner: The PO that could listen and learn from the team

The ability to listen to the team and take advantage of that is one of the key characteristics of great Product Owners. After all, the team are the experts on the “how to deliver” question. In this segment, we share some tips that can help Product Owners become great listeners. 

The Bad Product Owner: The PO that was not able to listen

The opposite PO is the PO that can’t listen. Maybe they have too much going on, or it is just not how they work. In these cases, Scrum Masters must learn how to help Product Owners learn to listen. We discuss tips and tools to help PO’s that are too impatient to 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 Helen Garcia

Helen’s been in projects for over 10 years, everything from construction to pharma to more recently gaming. Not only does she want to bring an Agile mindset to organizations that are ready for change but she also strongly believes that Agile can be just as effective at home. Bringing value sooner, safer and happier thanks to Jon Smart it’s a quote Helen take most places!

You can link with Helen Garcia on LinkedIn and connect with Helen Garcia on Twitter

You can also visit Helen Garcia’s website to learn more about her work.

Helen Garcia: Helping Scrum teams improve, but not too fast!

Teams go through their own learning journey. During that process, they experience different learning perspectives, from following the rules to going beyond the rules of Scrum (the Shu-Ha-Ri model). However, we must help them reflect on when they are ready to go beyond the “rules of the game”. We discuss how we can best help our teams go through the learning journey at their own pace, without jumping over important steps!

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Strengths and Weaknesses for Remote teams

The format that Helen shares with us is tailored for remote teams and focuses on helping all team members share their perspectives on the team and its progress. Helen also shares a cool tip on how to keep the engagement throughout the retrospective. 

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 Helen Garcia

Helen’s been in projects for over 10 years, everything from construction to pharma to more recently gaming. Not only does she want to bring an Agile mindset to organizations that are ready for change but she also strongly believes that Agile can be just as effective at home. Bringing value sooner, safer and happier thanks to Jon Smart it’s a quote Helen take most places!

You can link with Helen Garcia on LinkedIn and connect with Helen Garcia on Twitter

You can also visit Helen Garcia’s website to learn more about her work.

Helen Garcia: Incremental change for Agile organizations – the Agile alternative to change management!

When it comes to software development, every Scrum Master knows about how the “incremental” approach is the way to go. That’s why it is so critical to learn from why that works and apply it to other changes, like organization or team changes. In this episode, we talk about the incremental approach to change leadership!

About Helen Garcia

Helen’s been in projects for over 10 years, everything from construction to pharma to more recently gaming. Not only does she want to bring an Agile mindset to organizations that are ready for change but she also strongly believes that Agile can be just as effective at home. Bringing value sooner, safer and happier thanks to Jon Smart it’s a quote Helen take most places!

You can link with Helen Garcia on LinkedIn and connect with Helen Garcia on Twitter

You can also visit Helen Garcia’s website to learn more about her work.

The untold, science based, truth about motivating and engaging Scrum teams

This is a guest blog post by Christian Heidemeyer, the developer of Echometer, a tool for Scrum Masters to run retrospectives, and collect data that helps reflect and develop  team’s performance

Why employee mindset is overrated

After interviewing hundreds of Scrum Masters, one of the most common challenges we at Echometer get is: “People don’t have the right, agile mindset.” 

As a psychologist, I think these Scrum Masters do not understand one of the key ideas of agile methods and Scrum. These people are overrating the importance of employee mindset over other – critical – aspects, which leads them down the wrong path. I will try to explain it with a simple story.

The story of Felix

Imagine Felix, an amazing software engineer who mostly works on his own. He created some creative free products thousands of people use. People celebrate him on Twitter.

But Felix wants a change. More and more of his IT friends, especially Sarah, talked about the magic of working in a great team. Where people inspire each other, or as they say: where ideas have sex.

Felix applies to a few jobs and ends up with two offers that seem to fit his needs. The two potential teams he could join are totally different.

The Performers

Team one, let us call them, “Performers”, seem to be a team of overperformers. Every single one of the team members is a legend in their area of expertise. Felix was able to talk to two of the team members. They seemed to be highly motivated and skilled. They are young and bold. But at the same time, Felix feels like something is wrong in that team after talking to the team members. They did not seem to be totally honest with him.

And then there is the way they organize: There is no clear structure. Everybody is supposed to have maximum freedom – because after all, they are all skilled professionals who know what to do. 

On the one hand, Felix likes this high-profile companionship. On the other hand, he is not sure how the team benefits from each other’s knowledge with so little communication and structure.

The Teamy-Team

In team two, we will call “Teamy”, Felix did not know a single one of the developers. None of them seemed to be specifically good at their job. Some of the developers in the team seemed to be relatively old and clumsy on first impression.

But at the same time, they are the team everybody talked about on Social Media. The challenge they worked on was the challenge everybody worked on – but they seemed to be the team with the solution: A simple, smart, and creative game-changer.

When he talked to one of the older team members, Robin, he saw the glowing enthusiasm in his eyes. That is nothing he saw in the “Performers” Team. So which team should Felix go for?

The system and the mindset

Let me tell you something about the two teams Felix does not know: Team 1 is not performing. Individually they are good and they are motivated, but they don’t work as a team. 

Colleagues of the “Performers” team know of their bad performance. And they also think they know the reason: “They just don’t have the right mindset”. 

Now imagine Felix would join the Performers team. I am pretty sure, Felix – a motivated and bright software engineer – would not have performed well over the long run. His colleagues would also say “he also does not have the right mindset, just like the others”. They would think there is something wrong with Felix as a person.

We are at the core of the problem here. These colleagues blame it on the mindset. But as you may have guessed, it is not the mindset.

Jeff Sutherland says it, too

The majority of people have what people think of as the “right” mindset. They are motivated and want to perform. But it is the situation, surroundings, or system they are in – the culture and structure of their team, company, or maybe private family – that affects their performance. 

This is the case for the “Performers” team. Individually they have good ideas and skills. But they are lacking the right structure and communication system. Therefore, these ideas go in different directions, tasks are not aligned, making progress really hard. 

Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum, puts it this way here: “We are all creatures of the system we find ourselves embedded in. Instead of seeking someone to blame, try to examine the system that produced the failure and fix the system.”

We tend to overrate the importance of personal character when explaining the behavior of others. Interestingly, we do not do so when explaining our own behavior, or did you ever hear someone say “I don’t have the right mindset”? No, that person could give a good – situational – reason why they are not performing.

In psychology, this is called “fundamental attribution error”. It is a natural, widely spread bias in western cultures that you can obverse everywhere in daily life.

Working on the root cause

Given the fundamental attribution error, people often think they can solve their problems if they could “fix” one or two persons in their team. Instead, they should work on their team and their surrounding as a whole.

Therefore, like many others, I believe the retrospective is the most important event in Scrum. There you can make your team aware of the root causes of the problems they face, which often lie in the situation, not the persons. This is the reason why I, as a psychologist and agile evangelist, decided to develop a tool for agile retrospectives in teams, Echometer – and not, e.g., a digital coach for the individual. 

If you really want to work on the psychological input triggers of team performance, I recommend having a look at the “team flow” model of dutch scientist Dr. Jef van den Hout. He developed a model that is a roadmap to bring the individual feeling of flow to a whole team.

You can find more about the model and get additional 12 practical workshops to bring it into your team – for example in your agile retro – in my free eBook. You can download it here.

Ah, by the way. Felix chose the right team, “Teamy”. He is really happy with his choice. Learning more than ever – and adding more value than ever!

About Christian Heidemeyer

Christian is a psychologist by training and a retrospective tool developer for Scrum Masters and Scrum Teams. His tool Echometer takes advantage of the latest science-based findings of team motivation and performance to help Scrum Masters run impactful retrospectives.

You can link with Christian Heidemeyer on LinkedIn.

Helen Garcia: Helping Scrum teams speak up and take responsibility for their success

This team would not speak up. That puzzled Helen. We explore the anti-pattern of the silent team that would not speak their mind, and what happened. Through this story, we discuss how we, as Scrum Masters, can help teams grow and be confident of their ideas, and take responsibility for their success.

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

In Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins, Helen found inspiring stories that changed her perspective on the Scrum Master role. Through this book, she started her learning journey, and explored how to coach teams, and become a better coach herself.

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 Helen Garcia

Helen’s been in projects for over 10 years, everything from construction to pharma to more recently gaming. Not only does she want to bring an Agile mindset to organizations that are ready for change but she also strongly believes that Agile can be just as effective at home. Bringing value sooner, safer and happier thanks to Jon Smart it’s a quote Helen take most places!

You can link with Helen Garcia on LinkedIn and connect with Helen Garcia on Twitter

You can also visit Helen Garcia’s website to learn more about her work.

Helen Garcia: Meeting our team members where they are, a key lesson for Scrum Masters

Helen was a Project Manager before changing to the Scrum Master role. That transition was not an easy one, and she shares her struggles and lessons learned. 

The story we explore in this episode is about how sometimes we fail to take into account that our team members may be at a different step of the journey than we are. We talk about what that means in practice, how it affects our performance, and discuss some tips to make sure that we always meet our team members where they are, in their own learning journey. 

About Helen Garcia

Helen’s been in projects for over 10 years, everything from construction to pharma to more recently gaming. Not only does she want to bring an Agile mindset to organizations that are ready for change but she also strongly believes that Agile can be just as effective at home. Bringing value sooner, safer and happier thanks to Jon Smart it’s a quote Helen take most places!

You can link with Helen Garcia on LinkedIn and connect with Helen Garcia on Twitter

You can also visit Helen Garcia’s website to learn more about her work.

BONUS: Modern Management trilogy by Johanna Rothman

In this episode, we talk with Johanna about some key insights and tips from her latest book series: Modern Management.

In this episode, we talk about the latest books from Johanna Rothman, which she collectively called “Modern Management” trilogy. 

The trilogy comprises three parts: a) Practical Ways To Manage Yourself, b) Practical Ways to Serve and Lead (Manage) Others, c) Practical Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization.

We start this episode, by talking about one critical transition for Scrum Masters: from expert to coach. When we start our Scrum Master journey, the focus of our work changes from delivery to helping others succeed with delivery. In that transition, we need to learn to manage ourselves and our work differently. Johanna shares insights from her book “Practical Ways to Manage Yourself”, which includes many stories and tips that Scrum Masters can take advantage of. 

How to overcome the “I’ll do it, I’ll be faster” Anti-Pattern 

Continue reading BONUS: Modern Management trilogy by Johanna Rothman

Chris Foley: Growing the Product Development community as a Scrum Product Owner 

The relationship between PO, team and stakeholders is critical. We talk about some of the anti-patterns, as well as what would a great community-building PO look like.

The Great Product Owner: Growing the Product Development community as a PO

Product Owners that can take advantage of the team’s ingenuity and creativity are more likely to succeed in their role! This PO would listen to the team’s ideas on what to demo, and act as the bridge between the team and the business stakeholders, effectively creating a “wider” product development team that included not only the team, but the PO and the stakeholders as well! 

The Bad Product Owner: The “over-engineer all the things” PO

When Product Owners try to “control” the team by dictating how they should be working on the stories, and ignoring their ideas they prevent the team from bringing in their creative input and augmenting the PO’s ideas. In this segment, we also talk about the “not enough detail” and the “over-engineer all the things” PO, who does not understand the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) mindset. 

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 Chris Foley

Chris is a Principal Systems Design Engineer at Red Hat working in the area of Engineering Improvement. He has over 20 years of experience in software and has filled PO and ScrumMaster roles. The team, to Chris, is the essence of the whole process and the Scrum Masters role is to help optimize that. He uses his experience from the sporting world to draw parallels around how successful teams function.

You can link with Chris Foley on LinkedIn and connect with Chris Foley on Twitter.