Ben Maynard: Struggling as a Scrum Product Owner, lessons learned in collaboration

Ben reminds us that Product Owners can sometimes focus on their work so much that they forget about the importance of interacting directly with the team. In this story, Ben shares his own experience as a struggling PO and what happened when he tried to create the backlog in isolation, without the team being involved. His intentions were good, but the way we create the backlog can make or break the product development process. 

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 Ben Maynard

Ben is an experienced coach, trainer, and mentor assisting senior leaders in medium to large organizations with organizational design and the cultural repercussions. 

You can link with Ben Maynard on LinkedIn and connect with Ben Maynard on Twitter.

BONUS: Karin Tenelius, Self-management in practice for Scrum teams and entire organizations

How to help teams self-organize, and why that matters to Scrum teams. Success stories from self-organizing teams.

Karin shares stories from her recent book: Moose Heads on the Table: Stories About Self-Managing Organisations from Sweden.

We are organizing a self-organization masterclass for Scrum Masters. It’s a unique opportunity to talk to Karin and get direct coaching from the author of one of the latest self-organization books. Don’t miss this chance!

Karin’s book’s title “Moose Heads on the Table” is a reference to a method she describes that helps her work with teams towards self-organization. We start this episode by discussing what that metaphor means, and why it is so critical for teams wanting to self-organize. 

Karin refers that it is critical to bring up the hot topics (the Moose heads) and discuss those openly and without judgment. It is not always necessary to have an idea of what a solution would look like, and being open about that with the teams is actually a bonus in the self-organization process!

Being a CEO in a business you don’t know anything about, and succeeding wildly!

Continue reading BONUS: Karin Tenelius, Self-management in practice for Scrum teams and entire organizations

Jacy Ong: Challenge the team, and accept the team’s challenges to be a better Scrum Product Owner

How the team acts when the PO is present is a great hint about the PO’s ability to work in Scrum. We talk about two different stances, one that makes the team feel safe, and the other that uses fear instead.

The Great Product Owner: Challenge the team, and accept the team’s challenges to be a better PO

This Product Owner was the classic persona of a great PO, they understood the product, why it existed, and what value it brought to the customers. Furthermore, this PO was available to the team, and responsive to their needs and requests. Perhaps even more important, this PO knew how to give feedback, but help the team feel safe in those moments. In the end the dynamic created between team and PO, helped both challenge each other to be even better. 

The Bad Product Owner: The absent and fearful PO

When the PO is absent, things are never easy. When, on top of that, the PO scares the team into submission, the conditions are set for a disaster. In this segment, we talk about how to work with PO’s so that they understand their contribution to the team, and help the teams engage productively with the PO. 

In this segment, we refer to a tool that helps Scrum Masters and PO’s talk about being available and cooperating within the schedule restrictions that invariably hit PO’s: The Prodcut Owner Sprint Checklist.

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 Jacy Ong

Jacy is a big anime fan! And she has found a strong connection between sports anime and her work as a scrum master. As she puts it: “nothing feels more rewarding than to watch your teams grow and achieve goals they never thought they could possibly achieve. :)”

You can link with Jacy Ong on LinkedIn

Jacy Ong: Defining Scrum team agreements with the Sailboat Retrospective format

“As a team you level up together”, and “the work of a Scrum Master is never finished”, are some of the critical realizations that Jacy shares with us on this episode. We discuss the signs that the team is “leveling up”, and explore how we might know that the teams start to be self-suficient.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Sailboat Retrospective

The Sailboat Retrospective is a popular format for the guests of the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast. However, Jacy’s take on that format is different from previous guests. She talks about the role of that retrospective format in helping teams define working norms, and in surfacing “lurking feelings” within the team. Finally, she talks about how the Sailboat format can help in dealing with teams that are new. 

Use the Sailboat retrospective to boost the production of new improvement ideas by using the “rocks” that the sailboat has to navigate around.

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 Jacy Ong

Jacy is a big anime fan! And she has found a strong connection between sports anime and her work as a scrum master. As she puts it: “nothing feels more rewarding than to watch your teams grow and achieve goals they never thought they could possibly achieve. :)”

You can link with Jacy Ong on LinkedIn

Jacy Ong: How to help non-software teams adopt Scrum

In this episode, we talk about a legal team that was adopting Scrum. Adopting Scrum in non-software teams can be a challenge, and we talk about the challenges that Jacy faced when working this team. We share some of the most important lessons about understanding the different situation those teams are in, and learning to adapt to their needs, instead of pushing the software perspective on them.

About Jacy Ong

Jacy is a big anime fan! And she has found a strong connection between sports anime and her work as a scrum master. As she puts it: “nothing feels more rewarding than to watch your teams grow and achieve goals they never thought they could possibly achieve. :)”

You can link with Jacy Ong on LinkedIn

Jacy Ong: Dealing with deadline-pressure in Scrum teams

A team member told Jacy: “we pushed to production without testing”. That was only one of the anti-patterns that developed in the team because of deadline pressure, but there are more! In this episode, we explore the deadline-pressure anti-patterns, and we share some tips on how to help teams that are under the schedule “gun”.

Featured Book for the Week: Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins 

Jacy heard about Coaching Agile teams by Lyssa Adkins from a colleague, and while reading it, she learned a lot of important lessons about coaching, and being a coach. And from those lessons, one of the most important for Scrum Masters: believe in the team you are working with.

About Jacy Ong

Jacy is a big anime fan! And she has found a strong connection between sports anime and her work as a scrum master. As she puts it: “nothing feels more rewarding than to watch your teams grow and achieve goals they never thought they could possibly achieve. :)”

You can link with Jacy Ong on LinkedIn

Jacy Ong: As a Scrum Master, be helpful, not compliant

When we get started in our Scrum Master journey it is easy to try and comply with other people’s expectations, and end up betraying the original ideas for the Scrum Master role. In this story, Jacy describes one such moment. We walk through the problems that come from trying to please, instead of trying to help and share some tips for Scrum Masters facing pressure to comply and ignore some of the basic Scrum rules.

About Jacy Ong

Jacy is a big anime fan! And she has found a strong connection between sports anime and her work as a scrum master. As she puts it: “nothing feels more rewarding than to watch your teams grow and achieve goals they never thought they could possibly achieve. :)”

You can link with Jacy Ong on LinkedIn.

Chris Stone: Helping Scrum Product Owners even when the context is difficult

The personality traits that help PO’s succeed and the need for context in the PO role are the topics of this episode.

The Great Product Owner: Humor and Vision drive motivation in the Scrum team

Chris shares the story of a Product Owner that was a native storyteller. He contrasts that with the anti-pattern he calls “JIRA ticket machine”. This Product Owner was able to bring Vision and humor to the interactions with the team. But most importantly was able to easily and clearly convey the “why” for the work the team was doing.

The Bad Product Owner: Helping PO’s even when the context is difficult

When the Product Owner is absent, we face many problems as a Scrum team. Questions that aren’t answered, details that are missed, but most importantly, we lose the quick feedback cycle that the Product Owner role is supposed to provide. In this segment, we talk about the reasons why some PO’s are absent, and how we – as Scrum Masters – can help the PO’s by understanding their context, and their needs.

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 Chris Stone

Chris is The Virtual Agile coach, a #PeopleFirst champion, and an Agile Evangelist / Agile Transformation Lead / Scrum Master possessing over 8 years of experience within the IT industry.

You can link with Chris Stone on LinkedIn.

Chris Stone: Getting coached as a Scrum Master will change your view of success for that role

When the Scrum Master gets help, the team benefits. Chris shares his story, and how getting a coach for himself helped him improve as a Scrum Master and improve his work with the teams he was serving.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Hero’s Journey Retrospective

This retrospective format needs you to start preparing the scene before the retrospective starts. Chris explains how this format can help you get ready (collect data), and the team motivated at the same time. After all, retrospectives can be fun too!

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 Chris Stone

Chris is The Virtual Agile coach, a #PeopleFirst champion, and an Agile Evangelist / Agile Transformation Lead / Scrum Master possessing over 8 years of experience within the IT industry.

You can link with Chris Stone on LinkedIn.

Chris Stone: Introducing an Agile process the right way, step-by-step instructions

This is the story of a merger between an older, bigger company and a startup. The scene was set for conflict, as these companies had very different cultures and different structures, and that was just the start of the troubles that Chris and the team had to face. The older, more established company, naturally wanted the startup to start following their process, but how they went about it, made things even worse. In this episode, we talk about how we can introduce a process to a new team (or teams) in a way that gains commitment, and engagement. 

About Chris Stone

Chris is The Virtual Agile coach, a #PeopleFirst champion, and an Agile Evangelist / Agile Transformation Lead / Scrum Master possessing over 8 years of experience within the IT industry.

You can link with Chris Stone on LinkedIn.