Rafał Witaszek: Leading change bottom-up and top-down at the same time!

When Rafał joined this organization, he realized the IT department was being blamed as the bottleneck for the speed of the organization. Together with his colleagues, they sent an email to the CEO explaining what they saw, and how they started to understand that the IT department could be more efficient (they had already done some changes), but their backlogs were empty, and not enough work was being added to the teams’ backlogs.

This started a whole change process, where the CEO took the lead and helped them work with the rest of the organization to improve the situation.

About Rafał Witaszek

Rafał believes the best things are done together. As a Scrum Master, his focus is on enabling communication within an organization. As he is also a passionate sailor, he’s learned that we need to adjust our sails to make the best use of the wind. Focus on what we can affect, and leave other things out.

You can link with Rafał Witaszek on LinkedIn.

Rafał Witaszek: Helping a Scrum team that was drowning in “invisible” work

Rafał joined a large organization that was moving to Agile. Even if the team Rafał joined claimed to have been practicing Scrum, when he observed the team, it looked like they were organized around components, and the team also had a large amount of “hidden” work. There was not enough transparency on what was going on. This is when Rafał understood that a lot of work was needed to help this team understand the situation, and act on it.

In this segment, we refer to the episode with Jeff Campbell and János Csorvási, where they also describe a similar situation, and how they got out of it. We also refer to the idea of using the Iceberg visualization to help teams understand that there’s a lot of “invisible” work that needs to be surfaced for the team to be able to take action.

Featured Book of the Week: Atomic Habits by James Clear

In Atomic Habits An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear, Rafał found many ideas, and practices that helped him change how he operates both in his professional and personal life. In this segment, we also refer to the book The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded by Watknis.

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 Rafał Witaszek

Rafał believes the best things are done together. As a Scrum Master, his focus is on enabling communication within an organization. As he is also a passionate sailor, he’s learned that we need to adjust our sails to make the best use of the wind. Focus on what we can affect, and leave other things out.

You can link with Rafał Witaszek on LinkedIn.

Rafał Witaszek: What is often missing when an Agile adoption process starts to fail

When Rafał joined this organization, he had a conversation with some of the Agile Coaches and Product Owners. In that process, he presented some ideas, and they came to an agreement of how to introduce Agile. However, that was not enough. Quickly, Rafał discovered that some critical stakeholders had not been listened to, which caused adoption problems. Rafał learned a key lesson in creating alignment between stakeholders before starting an engagement.

About Rafał Witaszek

Rafał believes the best things are done together. As a Scrum Master, his focus is on enabling communication within an organization. As he is also a passionate sailor, he’s learned that we need to adjust our sails to make the best use of the wind. Focus on what we can affect, and leave other things out.

You can link with Rafał Witaszek on LinkedIn.

Thomas van Zuijlen: Helping Product Owners get out of the “weeds”, by focusing them on the future, and the “why” question

The Great Product Owner: The PO that could survive even the most embarrassing of situations, and help everyone move on

This PO was able to be involved with the team, but also let the team make their own decisions. But that was not the only superpower. This PO was also able to recover from the most awkward situations, and give everybody a sense of progress. Listen in to learn about a specific, and potentially embarrassing situation that the PO handled perfectly.

The Bad Product Owner: Helping PO’s get out of the “weeds”, by focusing them on the future, and the “why” question

When PO’s get involved with making technical decisions with the team (getting involved with the “how”), they tend to interfere more than help. The setup is so that the team usually then follows whatever the PO thinks they should do (as PO’s often have a technical background, or at least authority), and then the team loses the ownership of their own decisions. In this case, we also hear the the PO was so busy with the “how”, they didn’t have time to think about the future and the “why”. This is a self-perpetuating pattern that we need to help PO’s get out of.

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 Thomas van Zuijlen

Thomas is an independent Scrum Master and workshop facilitator from the Netherlands. He believes self-organization, empiricism and facilitation will save the world (of work). A former developer and occasional quiz master with 15 years of experience, Thomas operates in the Netherlands and Lithuania. His weekly newsletter on practical agility can be found at TheBacklog.cc.

You can link with Thomas van Zuijlen on LinkedIn.

Thomas van Zuijlen: The double-diamond visualization to guide Scrum teams in their retrospectives

Thomas’ approach to being a successful Scrum Master includes “making waves”, or has he describes it: “getting angry emails”. We talk about how important it is to look at the reactions people show when discussing the ways of working, and how important emotions are in showing us – the Scrum Masters – if we are having an impact!

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The double-diamond visualization to guide Scrum teams in their retrospectives

Thomas likes to use many different formats with the teams he works with. However, he strives to make the process of the retrospective explicit for the teams as they get started. He uses the Double-diamond visualization for the process of the workshop. After a few times of using that visualization, the teams know how the retrospectives go, and start being more natural and taking on the normal flow of 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 Thomas van Zuijlen

Thomas is an independent Scrum Master and workshop facilitator from the Netherlands. He believes self-organization, empiricism and facilitation will save the world (of work). A former developer and occasional quiz master with 15 years of experience, Thomas operates in the Netherlands and Lithuania. His weekly newsletter on practical agility can be found at TheBacklog.cc.

You can link with Thomas van Zuijlen on LinkedIn.

Thomas van Zuijlen: Setting up a Scrum team for success when working as a contractor

Thomas was part of a team that had to replace a whole application. They decided to go with the StranglerFig pattern described by Martin Fowler. But, in this case, the pattern was being applied not only to the software, but also to the team, and interaction with the client. Thomas set-up a kick-off for the relationship, and based it on the key aspects we need to take into account as a Scrum Master: team agreement, expectations, vision for the product, and much more! Listen in to learn how Thomas used the first meeting with the client to set up the team’s agile ways of working, and get the customer involved in giving feedback and guidance to the team from day one!

About Thomas van Zuijlen

Thomas is an independent Scrum Master and workshop facilitator from the Netherlands. He believes self-organization, empiricism and facilitation will save the world (of work). A former developer and occasional quiz master with 15 years of experience, Thomas operates in the Netherlands and Lithuania. His weekly newsletter on practical agility can be found at TheBacklog.cc.

You can link with Thomas van Zuijlen on LinkedIn.

Thomas van Zuijlen: How to help a Scrum team of experts that had started to work alone in their silos

This team was full of passionate people, and experts in their field. However, they had the sense that they were “busy”, and this led them to retreat to their own tasks, and forget about talking to each other. As they were “busy” with their own tasks, they didn’t dare ask for help either, which made the situation even worse, and pushed them further into their personal silos. How can a Scrum Master help a team in this situation? We discuss with Thomas the possible angles we can take to help such a team.

Featured Book of the Week: Good Talk: How to Design Conversations that Matter by Stillman

For Thomas, Good Talk: How to Design Conversations that Matter by Stillman, was a reminder that conversations don’t happen by chance, and that our job as Scrum Masters is to prepare and facilitate many conversations. The book gives some tools, and advice on how to prepare those conversations.

In this segment, we talk about Thomas’ newsletter, which you can follow at TheBacklog.cc

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 Thomas van Zuijlen

Thomas is an independent Scrum Master and workshop facilitator from the Netherlands. He believes self-organization, empiricism and facilitation will save the world (of work). A former developer and occasional quiz master with 15 years of experience, Thomas operates in the Netherlands and Lithuania. His weekly newsletter on practical agility can be found at TheBacklog.cc.

You can link with Thomas van Zuijlen on LinkedIn.

Thomas van Zuijlen: A key lesson for Scrum Masters when taking on a new team!

Thomas was working with a scale up. The organization had grown quickly and the management felt that it was slowing down too much, so they wanted to work on their processes, and get the teams to collaborate better, and speed up the rate of delivery. After 6 months of trying, Thomas left. He felt that he had not had an impact on the organization, and needed to move on. Listen in to learn about what happened, and why that organization was not ready to improve. There’s a key lesson for all Scrum Masters starting to work with a new team or organization.

About Thomas van Zuijlen

Thomas is an independent Scrum Master and workshop facilitator from the Netherlands. He believes self-organization, empiricism and facilitation will save the world (of work). A former developer and occasional quiz master with 15 years of experience, Thomas operates in the Netherlands and Lithuania. His weekly newsletter on practical agility can be found at TheBacklog.cc.

You can link with Thomas van Zuijlen on LinkedIn.

Erik de Bos: The Product Owner that stepped back so much, the team had no choice but to take ownership!

The Great Product Owner: The PO that stepped back so much, the team had no choice but to take ownership!

This PO was “annoyingly laissez-faire”, which at first irked Erik, but ultimately proved to be an asset for Erik and the team. The PO empowered the team in practice, by stepping back, and letting the team write their own User Stories, while at the same time being available to answer their questions.

In this segment, we talk about the movie “Master and Commander”.

The Bad Product Owner: The PO that wanted to control everything about the team

This PO thought they knew better than anyone else. Even if Erik would be able to have a good conversation about Agile with the PO, when the time came, the PO would revert back to “controlling” everything the team was doing. Erik setup a retrospective with the PO about the issue they were facing, and tried to help the PO step back. They found a new way to organize the Backlog Refinement so that the PO would not be tempted to control the team. Listen in to learn about the tough conversations Erik had with the PO, and how he tried to help the team and 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 Erik de Bos

Erik is what you get when you take a trained scientist, who mastered Agile as a programmer and is now a Scrum Master. A pragmatic, analytic, systemic and critical personality who is completely focused on understanding the problem. Because once you understand the problem, the solution is easy.

You can link with Erik de Bos on LinkedIn and read Erik de Bos’ articles in Medium.

Erik de Bos: The difficulty of defining a metric for Scrum Master success

“We adopt Agile because the world is complex” is Erik’s statement, as he starts to define success for Scrum Masters. He describes for us the challenges of “assessing” or measuring success and suggests that we start with defining our own goals, and make small experiments that we evaluate for impact. In the end, measurement is just a tool, and we need to pay attention to the teams and to ourselves possibly “gaming” the metric we choose.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Liberating Structures and the movie retrospective

Although Erik does not have a single format he prefers, he often looks into Liberating Structures for inspiration, and uses some “fun” formats (like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly movie retrospective) to help the team relax and start the conversation. He also favors the use of a simple ice breaker (e.g. what’s your favorite movie?) to get the retrospective started.

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 Erik de Bos

Erik is what you get when you take a trained scientist, who mastered Agile as a programmer and is now a Scrum Master. A pragmatic, analytic, systemic and critical personality who is completely focused on understanding the problem. Because once you understand the problem, the solution is easy.

You can link with Erik de Bos on LinkedIn and read Erik de Bos’ articles in Medium.

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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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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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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
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Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
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Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works