BONUS: Does Agile play well in Leadership teams in organizations? – Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein

Diana and I were kicking around a few topics for this episode, and we ended up selecting “Agile and Leadership, friends or foes?” The idea is to talk about how Agile and Leadership play together (or not)

In this episode, we talk with Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein about what problems Leaders try to fix with Agile, what challenges they have when they try to adopt Agile, and we will do this with the focus on the Scrum Master role, and what they can do by working with the leaders of the organizations they work within.

Let’s start by defining some of the major challenges we see happening out there.

The 3 biggest challenges on how Agile plays (or not) with Leadership

Some of the challenges we mention in this episode are not new. You are probably familiar with many of them. We talk about how Agile requires us to think about leadership as a distributed responsibility that team members need to take on, which is itself a major challenge for Scrum Masters as they help their teams understand what that means in practice. 

We also discuss how important it is to understand that leadership is not simply a “role”, but also something we need to earn, including Scrum Masters.

Finally, we talk about the important role that leaders play for the teams they work with. Specifically in setting the direction that helps the teams adopt quicker processes like Hypothesis-Driven-Development, for example.

How Scrum Masters can cope with these challenges

We then discuss how Scrum Masters can understand, and learn to cope with these challenges. Not surprisingly, Agile Retrospectives come up as a critical tool for Scrum Masters to use when working with teams and their leaders. 

Regarding collaboration with leaders, we discuss how Scrum Masters can help teams focus on the right goals, which need to be defined in cooperation with leaders in the organization.

But there’s a second tool we discuss that complements perfectly the work we do with the retrospectives and helps the teams and leaders understand where they can contribute the most: visualization as a way to establish a shared context.

Do Scrum Masters really need to protect the team from their leaders? 

Stop me if you have heard this one before. Way back when I was taught that Scrum Masters need to protect the team from interference. Although it made sense to me at the time, with the passing of time, and after collecting more than a decade of experience, I have come to value a different approach. 

In this segment, we talk about the need (or not) to protect the team from Leadership interference. 

The goal, of course, is to generate a real collaboration between the team and the leaders in the organization.

The key resources on leadership and Scrum by Diana Larsen, Jutta Eckstein and Vasco Duarte

Given that leadership, and the collaboration between teams and leaders is a critical topic for Scrum Masters, we discuss some of the resources (books, podcasts, articles) we’ve found useful and informative on how to tackle that collaboration. 

Here are the resources we mention: 

 

How about you? What have been your major challenges when working with leaders in your organization? Leave a comment below and share the tools/books/podcasts you’ve found useful. 

About Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein

Diana Larsen co-founded and collaborates in leadership of Agile Fluency™ Project. Diana co-authored the books Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great; Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams; Five Rules for Accelerated Learning; and the seminal “Agile Fluency Model: A Brief Guide to Success with Agile” article.

You can link with Diana Larsen on LinkedIn and connect with Diana Larsen on Twitter

 

Jutta Eckstein works as an independent coach & consultant. 

As a developer, she started with XP in 97/98, started scaling agile in 2001 (and published about that in 2004), and am now Jutta focuses on company-wide agility.

You can link with Jutta Eckstein on LinkedIn and connect with Jutta Eckstein on Twitter

You can learn more at Jutta Eckstein’s website, and check out Jutta’s books on Amazon and LeanPub.

Jutta’s Agile Bossanova book is available here.

BONUS: Agile Online Summit 2019, an Agile conference you can attend from home

In this BONUS episode, Tom Henricksen, the host of the Agile Online Summit presents this unique Agile conference that you can attend from home

The Agile Online Summit has been on since 2017, and is now in its third edition. From 500 participants in its first year, the AOS 19 will have 3000+ attendees from all over the world, and when you look at the list of speakers, it’s easy to understand why. AOS 19 will have, among others: 

  • Andrew Stellman will talk about the people aspects, and how those affect Agile adoption
  • Al Shallowly will explore the 3rd decade of Agile, and what it might bring
  • Rebecca Scott will share her ideas on how teams can improve their connection with other teams
  • Bob Gallen will speak about Product Ownership
  • Anantha Natarajan will share lessons from implementing agile in a non-IT organization
  • Richard Lawerence will share his experience and ideas about Behavior Driven Development

Date and place: October 7th to 11th

This session packed conference will take place online from October 7th to 11th. Beyond the recorded sessions that will be accessible in those dates, there will also be live sessions organized to help you ask direct questions from the participants as well as interact with your fellow conference attendees. 

For more details stay tuned to the Agile Online Summit website, where all the sessions are described, and where the information about upcoming live sessions will be added. 

A networking opportunity you can enjoy from home or at the office

As any IRL (in-real-life) conference, Agile Online Summit is a networking opportunity, which will help you get to know the speakers as well as other participants. There will be a slack channel available for all who sign-up at this link (NOTE: DISCOUNTED VIP TICKET for Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast fans). 

The Slack channel will be the preferred community hang-out area with channels for you to interact with participants from all over the world, but there will also be live sessions where you can ask questions directly from the speakers. Sign-up for the conference to know when those sessions take place (NOTE: Tickets are FREE for live attendance, purchase the VIP ticket for life-time access to the talks). 

About Tom Henricksen

Tom Henricksen is a technical professional and coach. After working for many years as a developer, Scrum Master, and manager he has made a lot of mistakes and wants to help others achieve their goals. Tom has a passion for sharing wisdom with other agilists.

Tom is the founder and host of the Agile Online Summit. 

You can link with Tom Henricksen on LinkedIn and connect with Tom Henricksen on Twitter

You can find Tom Henricksen’s website at MyITCareerCoach.com.

BONUS: Diana Getman – How checklists make Agile teams faster and deliver with high quality, without adding more processes

In this episode, we explore the role that checklists can have in helping teams improve their process and their performance without adding more processes. 

It is a normal tendency to “add more processes” to fix a problem a team is experiencing. In this episode, we challenge that view. Checklists, we argue, are a simple, effective tool that helps you reach a similar goal, but does not require the process to grow, and become bloated. 

2 Common types of checklists that help teams improve how they work

There are several types of items we can add to a checklist. In this segment, we discuss 2 common types of checklists, and how they can help teams. We start by discussing the “process checklists”, which may include important tips on how to execute a certain process. 

The key thing to remember is that checklists don’t replace processes, but are rather a set of reminders, or items that help teams execute a process once they’ve already read and understood the process. 

The second type of checklists we discuss are those that summarize a series of requirements or pre-conditions that a team needs to follow-up on. This may include quality requirements or certain tasks that need to be completed before a certain work item is considered complete. 

The most common checklists Scrum teams use

Scrum teams have a common set of checklists that they use. We discuss the commonly used Definition of Done, and also talk about the importance of having a Definition of Ready, and how that may help teams get started on the right foot when a new Sprint is about to kick-off.

Additionally, we talk about a pre-release checklist. With a pre-release checklist, teams are able to keep a memory of what they’ve learned from the past about meeting the release requirements, and can continuously improve that critical aspect of any team’s process.

In this segment, we also tackle the usual objections that people given when asked to consider the use of checklists. Checklists may be seen as “more bureaucracy”, but instead, they are there to help teams summarize a process that already exists, provides transparency about the process execution, and ultimately it should be a time saver for the team.

How about you? How have you used Checklists in your work? Share your experience in the comments below.

About Diana Getman

Diana Getman has more than 25 years of experience as a project manager leading cross-functional teams, in both startup and non-profit organizations. Diana has held the roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach and is the current President at Ascendle, a custom software development firm in Portsmouth, NH.

You can link with Diana Getman on LinkedIn, or visit Ascendle’s blog for more on checklists.

BONUS: The critical steps to become a Scrum Master, inspiration and tips for you to apply and become a more impactful Scrum Master

When Ben moved to another team he faced some pretty challenging situations. A fully distributed team with a Scrum Master in another country trying to juggle the time zone differences. 

It was only fitting that Ben would then take over the Scrum Master role shortly after. The journey from developer to Scrum Master is hard enough, but in this story, we talk about how to take on the Scrum Master role for a distributed team as well. Not an easy first assignment as a Scrum Master. Listen in to learn about that journey and the lessons that you can apply in your own work. 

The major obstacles Ben faced in his Scrum Master journey

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BONUS: Ash Maurya: Running Lean, Lean Product Development in practice

There’s many insights to be had from looking at how Startups and Lean Product businesses develop software and bring products to the market. In this BONUS episode with Ash Maurya, we learn about Lean Product Development from the author of Running Lean, one of the first published books around Lead Product Development.

Developing a book, the Lean way

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BONUS: Aino Corry on how to prepare for and facilitate for Distributed Retrospectives

Scrum Masters all over the world make a significant effort to get better at facilitating retrospectives… Until they have to host a Distributed Retrospective. At that point, we learn that all you learned about facilitating retrospectives is still useful, but not nearly enough!

Preparing, hosting, and facilitating a Distributed Retrospective is a completely different challenge.

The 4 things that you need to make Distributed Retrospectives work

Continue reading BONUS: Aino Corry on how to prepare for and facilitate for Distributed Retrospectives

BONUS: Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby share tips on how to help Distributed teams succeed

When Johanna visited Agile 2017, one of the largest Agile conferences that year, she was disappointed that the main advice people were giving on stage was: “don’t do distributed”. She then met Mark and started sharing her experience on how she had been able to make distributed agile work in her consulting work.

From that disappointment and both Johanna’s and Mark’s experience, a book was born: From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver.

The most important lessons about making Distributed Agile work for your team

Continue reading BONUS: Johanna Rothman and Mark Kilby share tips on how to help Distributed teams succeed

The value that Agile coaching and Scrum Masters bring to your organization – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook). He joins us on this series of Q&A shows to answer questions you’ve submitted. You can submit your questions via our survey (short, about 2 min to fill-in) or by tweeting us @scrumpodcast with #agilejeff.

In this episode, we talk about the importance of technical excellence and how to help teams adopt that mindset.

How to explain the need for Agile coaching and Scrum Masters

Continue reading The value that Agile coaching and Scrum Masters bring to your organization – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

BONUS: Lean and Agile Financial planning with Maarit Laanti and Rami Sirkiä

The financial processes of companies can defeat their own efforts to become more agile. It’s simply impossible for an organization to be adaptable if their project processes require all projects to be specified up-front and funded months ahead of their starting date.

Tackling the financial process changes in our organizations is one of the make-or-break aspects of helping organizations become Agile and adaptable.

In this episode, we talk about Lean and Agile Financial Planning (PDF article download), an approach that tries to adopt Agile and Lean thinking in the funding and financial processes of an organization.

The reason why Lean and Agile Financial planning is a core aspect of Agile transformation in enterprises

Continue reading BONUS: Lean and Agile Financial planning with Maarit Laanti and Rami Sirkiä

How do we help Scrum teams focus on technical excellence? – Q&A with Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook). He joins us on this series of Q&A shows to answer questions you’ve submitted. You can submit your questions via our survey (short, about 2 min to fill-in) or by tweeting us @scrumpodcast with #agilejeff.

In this episode, we talk about the importance of technical excellence and how to help teams adopt that mindset.

How do we help teams focus on technical excellence?

Continue reading How do we help Scrum teams focus on technical excellence? – Q&A with Jeff Campbell