Pieter Verbaarschott: Helping teams feel safe, and empowered as a success metric for Scrum Masters

There’s one phrase Pieter heard that made him understand that his work had had a positive impact on the team. The phrase was: “Psychological safety is more than a buzzword in our team”.

Pieter shares how important it is for us to focus on the dynamics between Scrum Master and team members that help create that aspect of safety, and the ability to contribute at all times.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Retrospectives for Engineering minded folks

Not every team member will appreciate having games in the retrospectives they participate in. For those folks, it is important to have some simple, to the point formats in our back pocket to help them engage without feeling awkward. 

In this episode, we talk about simpler formats that focus on triggering conversations between team members.

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 Pieter Verbaarschott

Pieter is a hands-on generalist with a background in software development. A passion for helping teams work together better. Agile aficionado since his first endeavors in Extreme Programming. Happened to be among Agile Manifesto authors when the discussion was hot. And he refuses to work the traditional way. 

You can link with Pieter Verbaarschott on LinkedIn and connect with Pieter Verbaarschott 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.

Julio de Lima: Success for QA engineers and Scrum Masters

Julio is a Quality Assurance (QA) engineer, so we discuss what does it mean to be a successful QA engineer in a Scrum/Agile team. In this conversation, we talk about the need to help the whole team feel responsible for the quality of their deliverable. In other words, we talk about how to get the whole team to think like a QA engineer. 

We also talk about the focus on this episode: success as a Scrum Master. In this regard, Julio shares how Scrum Masters can work with QA engineers specifically, to help them improve, and work better with the rest of the team. In this segment, we also discuss some of the pitfalls of estimation.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: People, Process and Technology

Julio’s preferred formats revolve around the triad of improvement: people, processes, and technology. He describes how he usually organizes retrospectives around these three topics, and how teams reacted when he deviated from these 3 topics. 

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 Julio de Lima

Julio is a Principal QA Engineer working for Capco that believes in the Culture of QA. He has been sharing professional insights and experiences on a daily basis and has more than 4500 students in his 4 online courses. In 2020, he was elected the Brazilian Testing reference practitioner. 

You can link with Julio de Lima on LinkedIn and connect with Julio de Lima on Twitter.

BONUS: Agile Retrospectives Masterclass, PART 1 with David Horowitz

This is the first 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 first installment of the Agile Retrospectives Masterclass with David Horowitz, we talk about the basic setup for a successful retrospective. It all starts with what David calls the triangle of success: People, Process/facilitation, and Follow-through.

How to set up your Agile Retrospectives for success with the right people

Continue reading BONUS: Agile Retrospectives Masterclass, PART 1 with David Horowitz

Denniz Dönmez: Three layers of Scrum Master success

In this episode, we talk about the success of a Scrum Master at three different levels, the individual, the team, and the organization. We explore some of the metrics that can be used at each of those levels to assess and reflect on the success of the Scrum Master role.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Keep retrospective actions top of mind

One of the aspects that makes retrospectives fail sometimes, is that the teams don’t focus on acting on the improvement ideas they’ve already collected. In this segment, we talk about how to help teams follow-up and act on the improvement ideas that surface in the retrospectives.

 

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 Denniz Dönmez

Denniz has both huge academic and practical experience. He studied agile teams for his PhD at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) before becoming a Scrum Master and freelance consultant in 2016. Denniz believes the key to becoming more agile is to establish what he calls “enabling structures.”

You can link with Denniz Dönmez on LinkedIn and connect with Denniz Dönmez on Twitter.

Samantha Menzynski and Brian Ziebart: The PO and the Scrum Master as the dynamic duo to help teams succeed

The relationship between the PO and the Scrum Master is one of the most important and impactful relationships to develop. In this episode, we talk about how the right approach from the PO (with the Scrum Master’s help), can help elevate the team to a new level. 

Another aspect of success for Scrum Masters is the team’s ability to handle conflict. In this episode, we talk about what is “constructive conflict”, and why that’s an important aspect of the Scrum Master’s success.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Expert tip for Remote Retrospectives

When facilitating remote retrospectives, the impact of overbearing team members is even bigger. In this episode, we talk about how to use the break-out rooms in your conference system as a way to ensure that every one of the team has a say. 

The Meta-Retrospective is a moment when we discuss the values of the Agile manifesto and reflect on our journey as an Agile team. In this episode, we talk about the meta-retrospective, and why that might be an important tool to add to your toolbox.

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 Samantha Menzynski and Brian Ziebart

Samantha Menzynski has spent her entire career in software. Starting in support and account management, moving to customer support management, and with Penta’s transformation to Scrum becoming Scrum Master for the Core product team.

You can link with Samantha Menzynski on LinkedIn

Brian Ziebart started his career in software as a developer but found himself wanting to move towards coaching and developing people rather than product development.  When Penta’s Scrum transformation started in August 2019, he jumped at the opportunity to work more with people while still staying involved with development.

You can link with Brian Ziebart on LinkedIn

You can read more about Samantha’s and Brian’s work and the Agile transformation they were part of in this Scrum.org blog post.

Jeffrey Koors: Defining actions from Agile Retrospectives with the sphere of influence

The question that Jeffrey asks when reflecting on this work is “how may I be able help others?” That question drives the reflection on how to achieve success as a Scrum Master as it helps Jeffrey focus on the specific needs and support each team member may need. Not all team members struggle with the same problems.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Sphere of Influence

Jeffrey likes to follow the 5 stage process that Diana Larsen and Esther Derby write about in the book Agile Retrospectives, however, he focuses on bringing in different exercises for each of the stages in the process. 

In this segment, we also talk about how to find the issue to work on as a team and discuss how the concept of “sphere of influence” helps teams find the right topic to address.

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 Jeffrey Koors

Jeff started his studies and career as a fine artist and has gone on to use his creative thinking and vision to help many organizations find ways to design systems, solve problems and embrace Agile. Jeff is also the co-founder and host of Coaching Agile Journeys.

You can link with Jeffrey Koors on LinkedIn and connect with Jeffrey Koors on Twitter

Charles Rodriguez: Creating a learning model for Scrum Master success

Charles provides a clear vision for what success is for a Scrum Master, and we discuss what are some of the growth models that help us improve our performance. 

In this episode, we refer to the book Turn The Ship Around! by David Marquet, to the learning model based on Shu-Ha-Ri, and a movie, The Karate Kid, which illustrates a learning journey from the very early moments to a moment of mastery.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Sailboat Retrospective

Metaphor retrospectives help teams enter a mood of reflection by creating a scene where the team projects their feelings and thoughts. In the sailboat retrospective, the metaphor helps the team talk about what is going on at that time, but also to plan for the future and draw a map to achieve their goals. Watch this video for a hands-on example of the sailboat retrospective.

About Charles Rodriguez

Charles has been working in software development for 16+ years with roles ranging from a database developer to manager to agile coach all in an effort to ‘try to make things better’ for future generations joining the IT industry.

You can link with Charles Rodriguez on LinkedIn and connect with Charles Rodriguez on Twitter.

Christian Hofstetter: The Flow Retrospective, helping Scrum teams make better decisions

Christian has been thinking hard about the question of what success means for Scrum Masters. He describes how the role of the Scrum Master must have a “risk” perspective, and be about minimizing risk. In this episode, we discuss what that may mean for Scrum Masters and what practices help with that goal.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Flow Retrospective

Christian shares his idea on “The Flow Retrospective”, which describes and illustrates how Agile software development can help teams reach much higher productivity and predictability. In this retrospective, Christian helps the team analyze and understand flow metrics to help them make better decisions. 

In this segment, we refer to Actionable agile metrics from Dan Vacanti and The #NoEstimates book by Vasco Duarte.

About Christian Hofstetter

Christian is an enthusiastic Release Train Engineer, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, and Facilitator who started his agile journey as a Product Owner. Later he turned his back on technology and focused on people and relationships. He is passionate about creating space for people and teams to be the best they can be.

You can link with Christian Hofstetter on LinkedIn.