SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Agile Transformation and Business Agility in the Large with Peter Lam

Agile is necessary by not sufficient for Agility

When teams start adopting Scrum, it’s easy to think that when they are proficient in Scrum, the work is done. However, that’s not nearly enough to help the organization achieve its goals. What are the outcomes that the team is aiming for? Are those outcomes part of the team’s Vision, and Mission? 

Peter suggests that we should start our work by defining together with the team and stakeholders what success means. That becomes the first question to ask before we start our work with the team.

Bing bang approaches are sometimes necessary, but not sufficient for the momentum of change that is needed

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SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Team Performance Predictors, with Sally Elatta

When we look at team performance in a business, we need to take into account 3 different metrics. Sally explains those 3 key metrics at the start of this episode, and we dive into why some metrics are good leading indicators of team performance. 

As we dive into performance metrics, we discuss what are some of the enablers for team performance, as well as how leaders, and leadership teams can positively impact the agility and performance of their teams. 

Measuring Maturity, Performance and Outcomes, the critical aspects of performance 

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SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: The Joy of Agility, looking at Business Agility with Joshua Kerievsky

As Joshua started to research his book, he discovered many stories of people applying the principles and ideas behind agility to their lives, and their businesses. The Joy Of Agility is a book that collects those stories and explains what agility is really about. And it’s not about Scrum, or any other process framework. 

Joshua starts by telling us a story of a young Richard Branson who, having been left stranded on an airport, came up with an idea to get to his destination while helping other fellow passengers who had also been left stranded. This is a story of a person being resourceful in the face of adversity. Being resourceful is one of those aspects of agility that we often don’t discuss, but is – as Joshua puts it – at the core of Agility.

The art of perfecting your act

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SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Personal Agility Framework to help unlock your potential, with Maria Matarelli and Peter Stevens

The Personal Agility Framework started with a conversation between Peter and Maria after Peter started to talk publicly about his own challenges as a business owner and an Agile Coach/Scrum Master. Peter realized he was working too much and needed some direction, some supporting structure to help him manage his work as well as his consulting business. 

The Personal Agility System emerged as a way to tackle the common problems many of us suffer every day: too large backlog, not having a clear direction, feeling overwhelmed and not having a clear goal focus. 

Peter describes the Personal Agility System as a foundational shift that helped him regain control over his life and his business, and that’s a theme we hear much more about as the episode progresses and Maria and Peter share stories of others that also applied the Personal Agility System. 

Transforming an executive team with the help of the Personal Agility System

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SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Human Business and Business Agility with Thomas Juli

Thomas’ perspective on business starts with the idea that businesses exist to generate value for people. The ones inside, as well as outside the business.  

As he started the book, he realized that the digital age had transformed our ideas about what being human in that medium was all about. He set out to write about what it meant to be humn in the digital age. However, that was just the start of the book. 

In that first part of the book, Thomas explores questions such as “am I a resource?”, a very common question we hear when we talk to teams. 

This exploration leads to the realization that businesses have to generate value for customers, stakeholders, but also (and critically) for employees. 

The needed transformation of business on the path to Business Agility 

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BONUS: Changing industries and breaking into the Scrum Master role with Ben Mills

In this episode, we cover how Ben found his vocation for the Scrum Master role, and the techniques he applied to break into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role. 

Changing industries is never easy, but changing from non-tech to tech and to a completely new role, like the Scrum Master role is even harder. 

For many of our guests, the Scrum Master role has been a calling, a sort of vocation that becomes obvious once you start. For our guest in this episode, Ben Mills, the vocation to be a servant leader and to help others overcome struggles was already there. And that vocation was what attracted him to the Scrum Master role.

People before anything else

When Ben started to learn more about the Scrum Master role, and eventually after taking the Scrum Master certification course, he understood that the role called for a mindset that put people before anything else. Their relationships, the collaboration, their ability to solve conflict, etc. 

At this point Ben, at the time a Pastor, started to apply what he had learned in his own team. Ben had been a project manager before, so organizing and following up was not new, but the role of the Scrum Master and the process of Scrum called for something else. 

In this segment, we refer to the episode with Alioscha Chaplits, Rachel Macasek and Daniel Lenhart about starting as a Scrum Master when you don’t have any tech industry experience.

Breaking into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role 

For aspiring Scrum Masters, it may not always be easy to first break into the tech industry, and later into the Scrum Master role. Ben shares with us some of the tips that helped him, and still help him to grow his network, and find the right people to ask questions. 

In the end, the perspective that people are the critical link in the success of teams can bring insights and prepare you for the role. 

In this segment, we talk about the book Shift From Product To People, published by Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast. 

Resources for aspiring Scrum Masters

Some of the books that inspired Ben Mills in his quest to understand the Scrum Master role: 

But perhaps, one of the stories that influenced Ben the most, was one story of his own. When he was starting out as a project manager, and learned an important lesson about transparency. Listen in to find out what that story was, and how it can transform your work as a Scrum Master.

About Ben Mills

Ben is a scrum master, a project manager and a Pastor. That’s a very unique journey that he is sharing with us. 

He’s starting his career as a scrum master and is sharing his journey with us on this BONUS episode.

You can link with Ben Mills on LinkedIn.



BONUS: The 4 (+1) key skills for Product Owners with David Pereira

We start this episode by discussing what are some of the key skills for Product Owners. David shares that – as the Head of Product Management – he tries to help his people with the following skills: 

  • Value-driven mindset: solving problems instead of delivering solutions
  • Communication: adapting to the different scenarios and knowing how to navigate common situations for software projects 
  • Empathy: being able to put themselves in the users, as well as stakeholder, and development team’s shoes
  • Decision making: Sometimes we don’t have data, but we can’t stop making decisions or the team will be paralysed. 
  • If you listen to the end of the episode, we share one more (BONUS! 🙂 skill that David helps Product Owners with

The process to help Product Owners develop these skills

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BONUS: Agile Leadership Fitness, get your HR leader to listen to this episode! with Nick Horney

As he helped leaders, Dr. Nick Horney worked hard to understand what was going on in the business world in a way that could be explained to others, and to form a curriculum for leaders in worldwide organizations. He came up with the acronym VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity. 

Nick wrote a book titled VUCA Masters: Developing Leadership Agility Fitness for the New World of Work, and created a curriculum to help leaders deal with complexity in a VUCA world, this curriculum is part of the VUCA Masters Academy. 

In this episode, we dive into what VUCA means in practice and share insights that Scrum Masters can take and help the leaders in their organization.

About Nick Horney

Dr. Horney has written four books. The most recent is VUCA Masters: Developing Leadership Agility Fitness for the world of work, the topic of this episode. 

Nick retired from the U.S. Navy (Special Operations) at the rank of Captain and has applied that experience to his work with high performance team agility. He serves as a coach for The Honor Foundation focusing on the successful transition of Navy SEALs to the business world.

Dr. Horney founded Agility Consulting in 2001 and has been coaching leadership agility and organizational agility for over 30 years.

You can link with Nick Horney on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Horney on Twitter. 

BONUS: Rahul Bhattacharya on what do on your first 90 days of a scrum master for a new team

We start this episode by talking about why it is important to have a specific focus on your first 90 days when working with a new team. The first 90 days are all about setting yourself up for success, and that requires that you take certain actions. 

Start preparing before you start helping

Rahul suggests that we start preparing for our new role as a Scrum Master by asking specific questions (even in the job interview if that’s the case). Rahul suggests that to understand the expectations placed on you, you must understand what others have done before, what the team might be struggling with, but also how the context around the team works. What are the hierarchies, what do the team expect the Scrum Master to do, and more!

Do the Gemba: a critical step for your success as a Scrum Master

The gemba (a term from Lean that means “the place where the work happens”) walk is all about seeing with your own eyes, and talking directly to the people that you will be working with, or that your work will depend on. It’s important for Scrum Masters that are getting started that they not only talk to the team, but also to the stakeholders of the team, and possibly other teams that represent dependencies for the team you are trying to help. 

See the system: looking beyond software development

Finally, the third step in this structured approach to the first 90 days with a new team, is all about what’s around the team that you need to deal with, even if it is not at the core of what the team does. This is “the systemic view” or context for the team. Rahul shares some critical questions we should ask ourselves (and those around the team), so that you can understand what kind of pressure and expectations are placed on the team.

Mega tips to close off this episode (make sure you listen all the way to the end) 

Once we review the 3 main activities to prepare your Scrum Master assignment successfully, we dive into some of the tips that Rahul has collected over the years as an Agile Coach and Scrum Master. Rahul shares some critical insights that will help you overcome the most common challenges Scrum Masters face when taking on a new team. 

To know more about Rahul’s approach, check out this article for Agile Coaches and Scrum masters called “Needs-oriented model of Agile Coaching”. 

And check out Rahul Bhattacharya’s podcast, The Agile Atelier! 

About Rahul Bhattacharya 

Rahul Bhattacharya is currently working as an Agile Coach at Delivery Hero. He is responsible for optimizing the ways of working within the organization, coaching others on best practices while simultaneously guiding teams working on different products. Rahul is passionate about constant learning through experimentation and feedback

You can link with Rahul Bhattacharya on LinkedIn and connect with Rahul Bhattacharya on Twitter. 

And check out Rahul Bhattacharya’s podcast, The Agile Atelier! 


BONUS: Clare Sudbery, technical focus the missing piece for Scrum Masters/Agile Coaches

We start by discussing why understanding technical aspects, and having a technical focus is a key asset for Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches. It all starts with the idea that teams should get software in front of their users as quickly as possible. 

We discuss Trunk Based Development, and why understanding what that is will help Scrum Masters working with teams that have difficulty releasing on a regular cadence.

The technical side to process changes

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