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What is Agile Coaching, what do Scrum Masters need to know? Interview with Bob Galen

Are you an Agile Coach? If you are, you want to watch this video. If you are not yet, but want to start your journey, this video is perfect for you!

Bob Galen is and Agile Coach and the author of Extraordinarly Badass Agile Coaching, a book that defines the competences as well as pragmatic ways to develop our coaching approach and practice.

Bob joined Vasco Duarte for an interview on the Agile Online Summit YouTube channel, where they discussed Agile Coaching, and how Scrum Masters can develop their coaching practice!

You can see the full interview below. And if you like it, press that like button and subscribe to the channel! More content will be coming your way in that channel!

Critical questions for an Agile Coach

During this interview, we explore what Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches need to consider when working with teams and organizations.

We share the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel, and how that helps us define the skills we need to learn more about, and develop in our profession.

Coaching relationship and the necessary aspects to consider for Scrum Masters

Bob helps us by describing and giving examples for the necessary aspects that we need to consider when coaching teams, individuals and organizations. We discuss the coaching relationship, and the role of the coach.

As Scrum Masters, we are often focused on help teams adopting, and learning about Scrum, but that’s not a coaching stance. We discuss what are the different stances that we can take on when working with our coaching clients, and what coaching asks us to do: help people with their own goals, and their own agenda.

There are many aspects we need to consider that don’t show up in the usual certification courses (like CSM or PSM), but are a critical step in our journey towards becoming coaches.


Do you have questions about coaching, and growing as a SCRUM MASTER? Leave your questions in the comments, and we will bring Bob back on to answer some of those questions!

Lead the change! The Challenge we face as Scrum Masters – Scrum Master Summit 2022

Copyright by the owner –

As Scrum Masters we are constantly dealing with change. That’s one of the topics we cover every week here on the podcast.

As Scrum Masters, we are responsible for helping progress all kinds of changes. Personal, team or organizational level changes. Perhaps the Scrum Master role is one of the few roles that specifically dedicates itself to helping organizations change. After all, it is one of our Agile Values (Responding/adapting to change over following a plan).

This year’s Scrum Master Summit is all about change. Not just change in the sense we deal with every day, but also change for us, as Scrum Masters.

This year’s Scrum Master Summit title is: “Lead The Change!”

Why is this year’s conference titled “Lead the Change!”?

Continue reading Lead the change! The Challenge we face as Scrum Masters – Scrum Master Summit 2022

Agile Coaching Survey: participate to help us understand your practice!

Hey friends!

Here’s a request for help understanding better you Agile Coaching practice!

Leigh Griffin, who has been a guest here on the podcast, wants your help, and he will come to the podcast to share the results of the survey, so please participate!

In Leigh’s own words:

Coaching Agile principles is a cornerstone of mature teams. The competencies required though are both deep and varied. We want you to participate in our anonymous survey on Agile Coaching competencies. Help us to better inform aspiring coaches of how best to improve by telling us where you are at in your journey’

I’d love to come back on and talk about the insights gained, already the results are surprising and a great talking point but I won’t spoil it!!

You can participate in this survey by completing the short form here.

Remember to share it with your friends and colleagues!

Keep sharing, keep helping the community!

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.

Announcing the Scrum Master Summit by the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

Update: The call for sessions is over, but you can still participate in the many live sessions and attend all the talks at the Scrum Master Summit. Register for FREE here.

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!

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