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Jörn Hendrik Ast: Championing Change Without Being a Martyr, A Scrum Master’s Tale

In a candid recount of dedication and its pitfalls, Jörn shares a personal fail story from his early days as a scrum master. His tale begins with a fervent desire to protect his team, a desire so strong that it led to a confrontational encounter with management over resource allocation. This clash ultimately cost Jörn his position, but it sparked a series of realizations about the essence of effective problem-solving and influence within a team setting. How can a scrum master navigate the fine line between protecting the team and engaging constructively with management? Jörn delves into practical tips on avoiding martyrdom, the importance of choosing battles wisely, and strategies for inspiring acknowledgment of issues by those in power. His insights underscore the significance of communication, understanding the impact of decisions on the team, and the crucial role of psychological safety in fostering a collaborative environment.

The inspiring story of how a failing hospital turned things around with Agile and Lean

Recovering from failure, or difficult moments is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. Not only because of us, but also because the teams, and stakeholders we work with will also face these moments! We need inspiring stories to help them, and ourselves! The Bungsu Story, is an inspiring story by Marcus Hammarberg which shows how a Coach can help organizations recover even from the most disastrous situations! Learn how Marcus helped The Bungsu, a hospital in Indonesia, recover from near-bankruptcy, twice! Using Lean and Agile methods to rebuild an organization and a team! An inspiring story you need to know about! Buy the book on Amazon: The Bungsu Story – How Lean and Kanban Saved a Small Hospital in Indonesia. Twice. and Can Help You Reshape Work in Your Company.

About Jörn Hendrik Ask

Jörn Hendrik Ast, founded of New Work Heroes in 2018. He is an entrepreneur, podcaster, and author dedicated to innovating work through team collaboration, leadership, and personal development. He is coaching teams, producing podcast episodes, and continues to create impactful learning formats and books.

You can link with Jörn Hendrik Ask on LinkedIn and connect with Jörn Hendrik Ask on Threads.

 

BONUS: Agile Coaching With a Philosophical Twist, Exploring Michel Foucault’s Work, The Panopticon, and Other Systems of Control With Michelle Pauk

In this episode, with Michelle Pauk – an Agile Coach – we explore what we can learn from philosophy, and Michel Foucault’s work on systems of power and discourse. Learn more about the systems we need to adapt to, and even transform. From the Panopticon, to the systems that drive compliance, and remove creative thought! A must listen for those interested in changing the world of work!

Michelle’s Journey into Agile Coaching

“It’s not about predicting; it’s about responding.”

Michelle’s journey into becoming an Agile coach was as unpredictable as volcanos can be, literally! Inspired initially by Michel Foucault during her studies, she found herself intrigued by the intricacies of thought and its impact on behavior. This intellectual curiosity led her to a company specializing in language learning software, where her role in project management opened her eyes to the stress and unpredictability inherent in the field. The realization that many of her challenges could be mitigated by Agile methodologies was a turning point. Agile, with its emphasis on adaptation over prediction, offered a solution to the guilt and responsibility she felt over uncontrollable factors, like a volcano disrupting her project. This journey not only transformed her approach to work but also challenged inherited industrial revolution-era notions of work processes.

Foucault’s Influence

“The panopticon and Agile: Visibility without the constraint.”

Michelle’s admiration for Michel Foucault’s work, particularly his book Discipline and Punish, provides a unique lens through which she views her role as an Agile coach. The book’s exploration of the panopticon—a system for observing without being seen—parallels the modern open office plan and contrasts with Agile’s emphasis on transparency and collaboration. Foucault’s historical analysis of justice systems and control mechanisms resonates with the systemic changes Agile coaching aims to implement in the workplace.

Systems of Control and Culture

“Pay attention to what is *NOT* being said; it speaks volumes about your team’s culture.”

One of the core aspects of Agile coaching for Michelle is the focus on discourse and culture within teams—what is being talked about, and perhaps more importantly, what isn’t. Drawing on Foucault and Wittgenstein, she emphasizes the power of unspoken norms and assumptions in shaping work environments. By encouraging teams to challenge these silent boundaries, Agile coaching not only aims to improve workflow but also to humanize the workplace, making it more receptive to change and innovation.

Awareness of Culture in Agile Practices

“Can we even think outside our language?”

The challenge for Agile coaches and Scrum Masters lies in becoming deeply aware of the surrounding culture and its influence on thought and action. By critically examining workplace norms and practices, Agile professionals can identify and challenge the limitations imposed by current systems of work. This awareness is crucial in fostering an environment where innovation thrives and work is humanized, reflecting the core goals of Agile methodology.

Philosophical Inspirations

“I’m curious on what I learn from literature. It helps to understand, and develop empathy.”

Michelle’s coaching philosophy is enriched by a broad spectrum of historical and literary insights, demonstrating a deep-seated belief in the value of diverse perspectives. Beyond Foucault, she draws inspiration from literature and other historical accounts of thought, believing that understanding different mental frameworks can enhance empathy and effectiveness in her coaching practice. Books like Edgar Schein’s explorations of organizational culture further contribute to her holistic approach.

Exploring Systems of Control

“Understanding ‘coercive persuasion’ sheds light on resistance to change.”

For those interested in delving deeper into the concepts of systems of control and their implications for learning and adaptation, Michelle recommends an article from the Harvard Business Review by Edgar Schein. This resource provides insights into ‘coercive persuasion’ and the natural resistance to change, topics that are crucial for Agile coaches aiming to navigate and mitigate these challenges in their organizations.

About Michelle Pauk

Michelle Pauk is the founder of Streamside Coaching, where she helps leaders and organizations thrive with change. She has over 15 years of experience working in diverse agile environments as a Product Owner, Scrum Master, project manager, and Agile coach. She is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation and has a master’s degree in leadership and organizational development.

You can link with Michelle Pauk on LinkedIn.

Joe Scherler: The Self-Driving Team, Signs of a Self-Sufficient Scrum Team

In this episode, we discuss how important it is to help a team evolve to the point where they no longer need direct guidance. But what are the signs of such a transformation? This episode explores possible indicators of a team’s growing autonomy, from self-initiated process improvements to a shift from seeking solutions to seeking opinions. How can discussing value over output and engaging with the team on waste reduction contribute to this evolution? Discover the key questions and approaches Joe recommends for Scrum Masters aiming to foster truly self-sustaining teams.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: A Dialogue-Based Timeline

In this segment, Joe introduces a reflective and dialogue-rich retrospective format that begins with understanding the current state of the team and tracing back through the events of the last Sprint. By drawing a timeline and encouraging team members to share their personal experiences and impacts, this format fosters a deeper understanding of the team’s dynamics. How can incorporating personal experiences into retrospectives enhance team empathy and collaboration? Learn how this approach helps teams transition from identifying events to interpreting their significance and planning actionable improvements, ultimately strengthening the team’s ability to navigate challenges together.

How can I, as a Scrum Master, supercharge my facilitation?

Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox!

About Joe Scherler

Having experienced Scrum and Agile in various roles, Joe’s mission is to unlock the hidden potential of teams and those who work with them to create a work environment that is as enjoyable as it is effective. He loves working on both soft and hard skills with the teams.

You can link with Joe Scherler on LinkedIn.

Joe Scherler: From Chapter Leads to Champions, Value Over Velocity in Scaled Agile

In this episode, Joe shares his experience with implementing the Spotify model across several small, agile teams. Confronting the complexities of entrenched roles and slow decision-making, Joe explains how he tried to empower teams through delegation and a focus on value over output. How can challenging traditional reporting structures and coaching leaders on delegation unlock a team’s full potential? Discover the transformative power of discussing team results in terms of value and fostering a collaborative environment where every team member is a catalyst for innovation.

Want to Improve Your Change Management Results? Discover the Lean Change Management Approach Today!

As Scrum Master we work with change continuously! Do you have your own change framework that provides the guidance, and queues you need when working with change? The Lean Change Management framework is a fully defined, lean-startup inspired change framework that can be used as the backbone of any change process! You can buy Lean Change Management the book at Amazon. Also available in French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.

About Joe Scherler

Having experienced Scrum and Agile in various roles, Joe’s mission is to unlock the hidden potential of teams and those who work with them to create a work environment that is as enjoyable as it is effective. He loves working on both soft and hard skills with the teams.

You can link with Joe Scherler on LinkedIn.

Get These Valuable Lessons Today!
Down-to-earth, hard-earned Scrum Masters lessons and the Tips from the Trenches e-book table of contents, delivered by email
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Internal Conference
Checklist
Internal Conference
Checklist
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
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A moving story of how work at the Bungsu Hospital was transformed by a simple tool that you can use to help your team.
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
FREE QUIZ - Rate Your Coaching Skills with This Fast Quiz
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FREE QUIZ - Rate Your Coaching Skills with This Fast Quiz
(Please join the waitlist to be notified first when this quiz is ready for you).