Rachel Macasek: Helping Scrum organizations grow quickly, collaboratively

When companies grow very fast, the teams don’t have the time to adjust and grow their inter-team collaboration. Scrum Master must then learn to detect those anti-patterns and help the teams build their collaboration strategies deliberately, and quickly to keep up with the company’s growth. 

About Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

Rachel Macasek: Detecting toxic cultural anti-patterns in Agile organizations

That there are projects where teams feel under pressure is no news. In fact, stress-related to pressure is a very common problem in software teams. However, sometimes the situation goes too far and turns into a toxic culture. In this episode, we explore what are the signs that the normal “pressure” teams feel is turning into a much more impactful and negative set of patterns.

Featured Book of the Week: Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House et al.

As Rachel grew in the coaching role, she felt frustrated by the reactive mindset she saw in leadership. That led her to explore other approaches to help executives understand and benefit from Agile Values and principles.

In Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives, Rachel found a good guide to help her focus her work on helping the individual team members and executives she worked with. 

About Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

Rachel Macasek: Dealing with self-doubt when starting as a Scrum Master

Rachel started with a manufacturing background, which naturally left her with questions about how to apply her craft to a different industry. However, as she started in her Scrum Master role, she learned how to ask questions in order to enable the team to understand and solve their own obstacles. 

In this episode, we refer to the Imposter Syndrome and the book Agile Retrospectives by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby

About Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

BONUS: Module 2, Retrospectives Master Class with David Horowitz

This is the second of a multi-part series on Agile Retrospectives with David Horowitz who’s the CEO of Retrium, a company that builds tools to help you facilitate remote retrospectives. The links to Retrium’s Retrospectives Academy below are affiliate links, if you prefer to follow a link that takes you to Retrium’s site, but does not give anything back to the podcast, you can. Just follow this link: Retrium.com. On the other hand, if you want to help us grow this podcast, you can follow the links below or this link to Retrium’s Retrospective’s Academy.

In the second instalment of the Agile Retrospectives Masterclass with David Horowitz, we talk about the 5 phases of a successful retrospective, and share tips and ideas for each of those phases to ensure you are prepared and get the team to find and act on breakthrough improvements. 

You can find Module 1 of the Retrospectives Master Class here

It all starts with a simple check-in: “Set the Stage”, Phase 1 of a successful retrospective

When we start a retrospective, usually at the end of a Sprint, the team member’s minds might be on that last bug they just closed, or the story that didn’t get delivered, or the feedback they just got from stakeholders. The Check-in phase of the retrospectives helps all the team members, and the facilitator to get into the retrospective mood. To forget the open threads that will need to be picked up later, and focus on the question: “How can we do even better in the next Sprint?”

In this segment, we talk about the Constellations exercise that helps everyone visualize agreement and disagreement with a specific statement in a way that raises engagement, and increases the energy level of the retrospective. You can find here a detailed description of the Constellation exercise for Agile Retrospectives

We also discuss the “one-word check-in” exercise and the “Mad/Sad/Glad” check-in for Agile retrospectives.  

For retrospectives that try to focus on improving collaboration between team members, David suggests The Circle Of Appreciation exercise

In this segment, we also refer to the classic book: Agile Retrospectives by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby

Gathering Data and Generating Insights, the core of an Agile Retrospective

If we want to enable deeper conversations, we need to be aware that the information that is shared will directly affect the quality of the conversations. Therefore, Agile Retrospectives require special attention to the “gathering data” phase. There are many ways to gather data, and some might even happen during the Sprint, instead of during the retrospective. 

During the retrospective, however, we will visualize that data and help the team make sense of it. 

In this segment, we talk about the timeline exercise, and how to use emotional-queues to help uncover important pieces of information. 

Soft or qualitative data can also be used to augment the use of other data in the timeline exercise. One such way is to use the “journey lines” exercise.

When the data is visible and understandable, then the team focuses on finding insights by analyzing the data and generating possible connections and causal links. Here the challenge for a Scrum Master is to prevent the team from jumping too early into solutions before they deeply understand the problem they are trying to solve. 

David shares some tips to help prevent the team from discussing solutions before they have a shared understanding of the problem. We talk about The 5 Why’s technique, but there are many more. 

Making Retrospectives Impactful: Deciding what to do

Many teams fail in Phase 4, Deciding what to do. But they might fail in quite different ways. For example, some teams might want to commit to too many items at once, while other teams might not commit to any improvement. And finally, the worst problem: those teams that commit to improvements, but work on none of them. 

Great teams, understand well how many improvements they can take from a retrospective, and are clear on the commitment, maybe even including the improvement ideas as items on their Sprint backlog. 

In this segment, we talk about the ICE method for prioritizing improvement ideas and the importance of brainstorming several solutions before deciding what to do. It’s also important to use methods of consensus generation when there are several options that seem equally valuable. The commitment of each team member to the solution to be tried will directly impact their commitment to the work to be done for that solution. 

In this segment, we talk about experiments and the use of such templates as the Hypothesis-Driven Development template by Barry O’Reilly

Phase 5: Close the retrospective

At the end of the retrospective, our goals are to provide closure, a sense of achievement, and energy for the work ahead. 

How can we do that? In this segment, we talk about the “retro on the retro” and the “gif check-out”. Two simple approaches that help the team feel a sense of accomplishment, and also get better at doing future retrospectives. 

Which closing exercises have you used? Share those with us on Twitter or LinkedIn

About David Horowitz

David Horowitz is the CEO of Retrium, a platform for agile retrospectives that has powered over 100,000 retrospectives from thousands of companies across the world.

Prior to co-founding Retrium, David spent a decade at The World Bank as an engineer turned Agile coach.

He has degrees in Computer Science and Economics from The University of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Technology Management from The Wharton School of Business.

Learn more about Better Retrospectives with David Horowitz by accessing the FREE Retrospective’s Academy by Retrium: http://bit.ly/retromasterclass

You can link with David Horowitz on LinkedIn and connect with David Horowitz on Twitter

Simon Flossmann: Defining success from Scrum Masters with the customer in mind

Many of our guests start by defining their success in relation to the work they do with the team. Simon takes a different approach. In this episode, we talk about the success aspects for Scrum Masters that are not linked only to the work with the team, but focus more on the value delivered to the end customers.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Simplifying the Retrospective format

Sometimes, the topics to discuss are so clear that the format can get in the way. For those times, Simon describes his approach based on a simple format that focuses on the conversation and enables self-organization at the team level.

 

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 experiences: 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 Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

You can follow Simon Flossmann’s writings on this home page.

Simon Flossmann: Scaling Scrum while adopting it, a cautionary tale

When Simon started in this department, the order was simple: make the department adopt and practice Scrum. In that process, Simon learned some critical lessons about the difference between introducing Scrum to a team, or a group of teams. In the process, he learned about how critical clear goals can ben when adopting Agile and Scrum. 

About Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

You can follow Simon Flossmann’s writings on this home page.

Simon Flossmann: Teams, the secret sauce of Scrum

Sometimes, the quickest way to get a product out the door is to create a team of contractors and focus on building a product quickly. Or is it? In this episode, we talk about the consequences that can come from building a team of contractors, focusing mostly on speed, but forgetting that a team is much more than a group of individuals. And teams, are really the secret sauce of Scrum

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen

In Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen (who’s been a guest on the podcast), Simon found a good guide for his journey to improve and professionalize his role as a Scrum Master. In this segment, we also talk about Lean Startup by Eric Ries, a book that helped Simon improve his focus on empiricism as a tool to help teams. 

About Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

You can follow Simon Flossmann’s writings on this home page.

Simon Flossmann: A critical lesson for Scrum Masters

When working with a team in a startup, Simon focused on helping the team develop the product. However, the customers weren’t there yet, and at some point the product was there, but there was no income. 

Even when the product finally launched, and a customer had been found, Simon’s job was abruptly ended and he left the company. This gave Simon one of the most important lessons you can learn as a Scrum Master… Listen in to learn what that lesson was, and how Simon brings that lesson with him every day.

About Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

You can follow Simon Flossmann’s writings on this home page.

Paddy Corry: Enabling Scrum teams to learn faster from the feedback they get

Building on feedback is one of the key aspects of Agile teams. What happens when the PO’s either help or prevent teams from learning from feedback? We explore that question in this episode.

The Great Product Owner: Enabling teams to learn faster from the feedback they get

In certain projects, it is more important than usual to build on the feedback we get from retrospectives and Sprint demos. In this segment, we talk about a different approach to refinement, enabled by the Product Owner, that allowed the team to learn quickly and delay decisions that would otherwise cause problems. 

The Bad Product Owner: The Solutions-pushing Product Owner.

Product Owners who want to help the teams move quickly can sometimes focus on delivering solution descriptions instead of problem descriptions and letting the team come up with the solution. In this segment, we talk about the PO that wanted to help the team but ended up creating more problems by pushing solutions and removing the motivation the teams have to find their own solutions.

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Paddy Corry

Paddy was a developer for many years, after which he started his Scrum Master journey with special interest for coaching and developing the agile mindset. 

You can link with Paddy Corry on LinkedIn and connect with Paddy Corry on Twitter.

Paddy Corry: Reflecting and requesting feedback as a way to grow into the Scrum Master role

When developers move to a Scrum Master role, they face a completely new set of expectations. Paddy reminds us that reflecting on that change is critical, as well as regularly requesting feedback from the teams we work with.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Influence over what went well/not so well

In this segment, we talk about a classic retrospective format: “What went well, not so well”. Paddy adds a twist to that format, by adding a second dimension to each of the categories: “is this item under our control?” This raises some good conversations in the team, and helps teams that may be facing frustration from not being able to resolve some problems.

 

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 experiences: 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 Paddy Corry

Paddy was a developer for many years, after which he started his Scrum Master journey with special interest for coaching and developing the agile mindset. 

You can link with Paddy Corry on LinkedIn and connect with Paddy Corry on Twitter.