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

Alex Gbaguidi: Overcoming the skill silos in backend Scrum teams

When you are the Scrum Master in the backend team, and you understand that your team cannot deliver anything without other teams, what do you do? In this episode, we explore Alex’s story, and learn what he applied to align different teams that were organized around skill silos. 

Featured Book of the Week: The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Lencioni

Alex shares with us a new edition of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Lencioni, this is the Manga version of the book. As Alex puts it: the perfect edition for the visual learners among us. 

In this segment, we also refer to the Fixing Your Scrum by Ryan Ripley et al.

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 Alex Gbaguidi

Alex is an experienced agile practitioner, coach and trainer with twenty years of experience in IT consulting. He is passionate about helping teams discover the best ways of working adapted to their context. He’s worked in many different types of industries (Telecoms, Energy, Finance or Aeronautics) and provides training on many agile frameworks and practices all around the world in French & English.

You can link with Alex Gbaguidi on LinkedIn and connect with Alex Gbaguidi on Twitter. 

You can join Alex Gbaguidi’s Agile Africa community.

Alex Gbaguidi: When preparing for the Scrum daily goes overboard

Getting a good, collaborative conversation in the daily standup is key to help teams deliver. However, when we put too much emphasis on preparing for the daily standup we may be creating more problems for the team. In this episode, we hear the story of a super well prepared daily standup that was actually worse for the team. 

About Alex Gbaguidi

Alex is an experienced agile practitioner, coach and trainer with twenty years of experience in IT consulting. He is passionate about helping teams discover the best ways of working adapted to their context. He’s worked in many different types of industries (Telecoms, Energy, Finance or Aeronautics) and provides training on many agile frameworks and practices all around the world in French & English.

You can link with Alex Gbaguidi on LinkedIn and connect with Alex Gbaguidi on Twitter. 

You can join Alex Gbaguidi’s Agile Africa community. 

Gonçalo Valverde: The “doer” Scrum Product Owner and its anti-patterns

The Great Product Owner: Key behaviors great PO’s exhibit

Great Product Owners are able to help the teams focus on the impact (and outcomes) of their work. Gonçalo shares a tip to define outcomes in a way that is easy to understand for the team and the stakeholders. We also talk about some specific behaviors that great PO’s have in relation to the team.

The Bad Product Owner: The “doer” PO and its anti-patterns

This particular PO had a background as a Project Manager. That led him to focus on controlling the team’s work and tasks, rather than the evolution and impact of the product. When PO’s focus more on “delivering” and less on “impact”, this may lead to the team losing sight of the customer and their needs. 

Are you having trouble helping the teamwork 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 Gonçalo Valverde

Gonçalo is an Agile Coach from Portugal working with teams and organizations in their continuous improvement journey. As a keen amateur photographer, he learned that less is more and how constraints help one focus on the outcomes. He’s also a co-organizer of Agile Coach Camp Portugal. 

You can link with Gonçalo Valverde on LinkedIn and connect with Gonçalo Valverde on Twitter. 

Gonçalo Valverde: A list of questions for Scrum Master self-evaluation

What are some of the questions we can ask ourselves to evaluate our work? Gonçalo shares some of the questions he asks himself, and we discuss how critical it is to evaluate the relationship between the team and the Product Owner.

In this segment, we refer to #NoEstimates, a topic we’ve covered before here on the podcast. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The small add-ons that make retrospectives awesome

There are many ways to facilitate great retrospectives. The format of the retro will influence the success of the retro, but so will the small exercises we use for check-in or check-out. In this segment, we introduce shared visual board like Jamboard or Mural, the use of breakout rooms, Liberating Structures, Kudos, the Core Protocols (which have been featured on the podcast before) and small add-ons that make retrospectives awesome for the team!

In this segment, we also refer to the episodes recorded with Dov Tsal. 

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 Gonçalo Valverde

Gonçalo is an Agile Coach from Portugal working with teams and organizations in their continuous improvement journey. As a keen amateur photographer, he learned that less is more and how constraints help one focus on the outcomes. He’s also a co-organizer of Agile Coach Camp Portugal. 

You can link with Gonçalo Valverde on LinkedIn and connect with Gonçalo Valverde on Twitter.

Gonçalo Valverde: Turning Agile all the way up to 11, when the deadline is fixed

This story starts with the CEO saying “we are going agile”. As it usually happens, that transformation was not coming alone. Gonçalo was put on a project that had a very hard deadline: A Christmas release that would have a big impact on the company’s sales. 

When the project started, the requirements were not yet fully understood, yet the deadline was already known, and unmovable. How can a Scrum Master help a project like this successfully deliver? Listen in to learn what techniques and tools Gonçalo introduced, and used to help this super-critical, and super-time-sensitive project succeed.

About Gonçalo Valverde

Gonçalo is an Agile Coach from Portugal working with teams and organizations in their continuous improvement journey. As a keen amateur photographer, he learned that less is more and how constraints help one focus on the outcomes. He’s also a co-organizer of Agile Coach Camp Portugal. 

You can link with Gonçalo Valverde on LinkedIn and connect with Gonçalo Valverde on Twitter. 

Gonçalo Valverde: How to deal with a disruptive team member (before it is too late)

Gonçalo was working with two teams that were busy migrating to a new system. However, in one of these teams there was a disruptive team member. The management tried to put this team member aside by pushing him into test management. But this only made the situation worse. Listen in to learn what Gonçalo tried to help this team member, and what he learned from this story that he carries with him ever since.

Featured Book of the Week: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Stone et al.

While reading Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Stone et al., Gonçalo realized that it’s possible and there’s a method to having conversations on very difficult topics, yet be constructive. This book shares some critical tools that all Scrum Masters should be aware of. 

In this segment, we also refer to the book User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton, and to the Oikosofy’s User Story Mapping facilitator’s guide, available for free. 

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 Gonçalo Valverde

Gonçalo is an Agile Coach from Portugal working with teams and organizations in their continuous improvement journey. As a keen amateur photographer, he learned that less is more and how constraints help one focus on the outcomes. He’s also a co-organizer of Agile Coach Camp Portugal. 

You can link with Gonçalo Valverde on LinkedIn and connect with Gonçalo Valverde on Twitter. 

Gonçalo Valverde: How (not) to deliver bad news as a Scrum Master!

Sometimes things go wrong. And it is at that time that we need our senses to be sharp, and our communication to be on point. In this episode, we learn the story of a project that was about to go bad, but no one was willing to deliver the bad news. When should the Scrum Master be the messenger? Listen in to learn how Gonçalo handled this situation and what he learned for the future. 

In this episode, we refer to Monte Carlo simulation and Troy Magennis’ work. 

About Gonçalo Valverde

Gonçalo is an Agile Coach from Portugal working with teams and organizations in their continuous improvement journey. As a keen amateur photographer, he learned that less is more and how constraints help one focus on the outcomes. He’s also a co-organizer of Agile Coach Camp Portugal. 

You can link with Gonçalo Valverde on LinkedIn and connect with Gonçalo Valverde on Twitter.

Kim Hinsch: How to help a PO step down from the “clouds”, and help the Scrum team make decisions

The Great Product Owner: Trust your Scrum team

Great Product Owners are able to trust the teams they work with. They help the team establish, and gain self-confidence in their actions and decisions. This does not mean the PO resigns, but rather that they first trust the team, and pull rank only rarely – even if they are very experienced in the product. Great PO’s often say “go ahead, I trust you”, even if they have another idea of what the solution could be. 

The Bad Product Owner: The “in the clouds” PO 

There are several PO anti-patterns that detract from the PO’s performance. One such anti-pattern is when the PO is constantly in “the clouds”, and is unable to bring their vision to the reality of everyday decision making. The PO isn’t invested in the “now”, but the team can only make immediate decisions, and they need the PO to help them make those decisions. 

Are you having trouble helping the teamwork 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 Kim Hinsch

Kim is an agile enthusiast, that has been stung by the power of games, communication, and psychology. Kim practices every day the fine art of making magic happen the agile way. And what makes her heart beat faster is supporting teams and organizations on their magical journey across the hills of excellence and effectiveness.

You can link with Kim Hinsch on LinkedIn.

Kim Hinsch: Measure all the things, to assess team and Scrum Master success

Kim likes to use metrics to assess her work and the evolution of the team. This helps the team reflect about their performance, but also about their motivation and engagement (when using team morale metrics, for example). Kim also mentions that your metrics should include a measure of value delivered to the customer.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Simple formats to get started with

As Kim puts it, the best format for the Retrospective is “one that works”. Of course, that means the Scrum Master must pay special attention to what is going on with the team at the time, and learn to read the signs on which method is the most appropriate for the team. 

Kim shares with us her process to define what is the format “that works” for every sprint and every team. She also shares a few formats to get you started with a new team: The Agile Battleships (online version of Battleships retrospective) and Name Game Agile Retrospective formats.

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 Kim Hinsch

Kim is an agile enthusiast, that has been stung by the power of games, communication, and psychology. Kim practices every day the fine art of making magic happen the agile way. And what makes her heart beat faster is supporting teams and organizations on their magical journey across the hills of excellence and effectiveness.

You can link with Kim Hinsch on LinkedIn.

Kim Hinsch: Helping a Scrum team come together to overcome huge challenges

Kim was working with a company in the middle of an Agile transformation. The team Kim was working mostly with was struggling with understanding what was required from them. They were working with a new product, for which the expectations and requirements were unclear. The Product Owner was also new to the job, and the team. Kim understood she needed the team to come together if they were to overcome the challenges they were facing. So, she took on the mission of making the team jell. 

In this episode, we talk about The 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team by Lencioni, a book that has been mentioned several times here on the podcast. 

About Kim Hinsch

Kim is an agile enthusiast, that has been stung by the power of games, communication, and psychology. Kim practices every day the fine art of making magic happen the agile way. And what makes her heart beat faster is supporting teams and organizations on their magical journey across the hills of excellence and effectiveness.

You can link with Kim Hinsch on LinkedIn.