Helen Garcia: Helping Scrum teams improve, but not too fast!

Teams go through their own learning journey. During that process, they experience different learning perspectives, from following the rules to going beyond the rules of Scrum (the Shu-Ha-Ri model). However, we must help them reflect on when they are ready to go beyond the “rules of the game”. We discuss how we can best help our teams go through the learning journey at their own pace, without jumping over important steps!

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Strengths and Weaknesses for Remote teams

The format that Helen shares with us is tailored for remote teams and focuses on helping all team members share their perspectives on the team and its progress. Helen also shares a cool tip on how to keep the engagement throughout the retrospective. 

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 experience: 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 Helen Garcia

Helen’s been in projects for over 10 years, everything from construction to pharma to more recently gaming. Not only does she want to bring an Agile mindset to organizations that are ready for change but she also strongly believes that Agile can be just as effective at home. Bringing value sooner, safer and happier thanks to Jon Smart it’s a quote Helen take most places!

You can link with Helen Garcia on LinkedIn and connect with Helen Garcia on Twitter

You can also visit Helen Garcia’s website to learn more about her work.

The untold, science based, truth about motivating and engaging Scrum teams

This is a guest blog post by Christian Heidemeyer, the developer of Echometer, a tool for Scrum Masters to run retrospectives, and collect data that helps reflect and develop  team’s performance

Why employee mindset is overrated

After interviewing hundreds of Scrum Masters, one of the most common challenges we at Echometer get is: “People don’t have the right, agile mindset.” 

As a psychologist, I think these Scrum Masters do not understand one of the key ideas of agile methods and Scrum. These people are overrating the importance of employee mindset over other – critical – aspects, which leads them down the wrong path. I will try to explain it with a simple story.

The story of Felix

Imagine Felix, an amazing software engineer who mostly works on his own. He created some creative free products thousands of people use. People celebrate him on Twitter.

But Felix wants a change. More and more of his IT friends, especially Sarah, talked about the magic of working in a great team. Where people inspire each other, or as they say: where ideas have sex.

Felix applies to a few jobs and ends up with two offers that seem to fit his needs. The two potential teams he could join are totally different.

The Performers

Team one, let us call them, “Performers”, seem to be a team of overperformers. Every single one of the team members is a legend in their area of expertise. Felix was able to talk to two of the team members. They seemed to be highly motivated and skilled. They are young and bold. But at the same time, Felix feels like something is wrong in that team after talking to the team members. They did not seem to be totally honest with him.

And then there is the way they organize: There is no clear structure. Everybody is supposed to have maximum freedom – because after all, they are all skilled professionals who know what to do. 

On the one hand, Felix likes this high-profile companionship. On the other hand, he is not sure how the team benefits from each other’s knowledge with so little communication and structure.

The Teamy-Team

In team two, we will call “Teamy”, Felix did not know a single one of the developers. None of them seemed to be specifically good at their job. Some of the developers in the team seemed to be relatively old and clumsy on first impression.

But at the same time, they are the team everybody talked about on Social Media. The challenge they worked on was the challenge everybody worked on – but they seemed to be the team with the solution: A simple, smart, and creative game-changer.

When he talked to one of the older team members, Robin, he saw the glowing enthusiasm in his eyes. That is nothing he saw in the “Performers” Team. So which team should Felix go for?

The system and the mindset

Let me tell you something about the two teams Felix does not know: Team 1 is not performing. Individually they are good and they are motivated, but they don’t work as a team. 

Colleagues of the “Performers” team know of their bad performance. And they also think they know the reason: “They just don’t have the right mindset”. 

Now imagine Felix would join the Performers team. I am pretty sure, Felix – a motivated and bright software engineer – would not have performed well over the long run. His colleagues would also say “he also does not have the right mindset, just like the others”. They would think there is something wrong with Felix as a person.

We are at the core of the problem here. These colleagues blame it on the mindset. But as you may have guessed, it is not the mindset.

Jeff Sutherland says it, too

The majority of people have what people think of as the “right” mindset. They are motivated and want to perform. But it is the situation, surroundings, or system they are in – the culture and structure of their team, company, or maybe private family – that affects their performance. 

This is the case for the “Performers” team. Individually they have good ideas and skills. But they are lacking the right structure and communication system. Therefore, these ideas go in different directions, tasks are not aligned, making progress really hard. 

Jeff Sutherland, co-creator of Scrum, puts it this way here: “We are all creatures of the system we find ourselves embedded in. Instead of seeking someone to blame, try to examine the system that produced the failure and fix the system.”

We tend to overrate the importance of personal character when explaining the behavior of others. Interestingly, we do not do so when explaining our own behavior, or did you ever hear someone say “I don’t have the right mindset”? No, that person could give a good – situational – reason why they are not performing.

In psychology, this is called “fundamental attribution error”. It is a natural, widely spread bias in western cultures that you can obverse everywhere in daily life.

Working on the root cause

Given the fundamental attribution error, people often think they can solve their problems if they could “fix” one or two persons in their team. Instead, they should work on their team and their surrounding as a whole.

Therefore, like many others, I believe the retrospective is the most important event in Scrum. There you can make your team aware of the root causes of the problems they face, which often lie in the situation, not the persons. This is the reason why I, as a psychologist and agile evangelist, decided to develop a tool for agile retrospectives in teams, Echometer – and not, e.g., a digital coach for the individual. 

If you really want to work on the psychological input triggers of team performance, I recommend having a look at the “team flow” model of dutch scientist Dr. Jef van den Hout. He developed a model that is a roadmap to bring the individual feeling of flow to a whole team.

You can find more about the model and get additional 12 practical workshops to bring it into your team – for example in your agile retro – in my free eBook. You can download it here.

Ah, by the way. Felix chose the right team, “Teamy”. He is really happy with his choice. Learning more than ever – and adding more value than ever!

About Christian Heidemeyer

Christian is a psychologist by training and a retrospective tool developer for Scrum Masters and Scrum Teams. His tool Echometer takes advantage of the latest science-based findings of team motivation and performance to help Scrum Masters run impactful retrospectives.

You can link with Christian Heidemeyer on LinkedIn.

Chris Foley: How can we develop a really good, functioning Scrum team?

We start by assessing that “a really good, functioning team” is what success looks like for a Scrum Master. But we continue by developing that idea, and discussing some of the characteristics of great teams. In this segment, we also address the critical subject of “language” in teams, and how the lack of that common language can negatively impact a team.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Future-spective, traveling to the future

In this segment, we talk about the forward-looking retrospective (the future-spective), which allows the team to imagine, and define what success would look like, including the behaviors and the conditions need to setup “now” to be successful in the future. 

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 Foley

Chris is a Principal Systems Design Engineer at Red Hat working in the area of Engineering Improvement. He has over 20 years of experience in software and has filled PO and ScrumMaster roles. The team, to Chris, is the essence of the whole process and the Scrum Masters role is to help optimize that. He uses his experience from the sporting world to draw parallels around how successful teams function.

You can link with Chris Foley on LinkedIn and connect with Chris Foley on Twitter.

Joe Auslander: How to build trust in Scrum teams, a Scrum Master guide

How do we build trust in a team? Trust between team members is one of the ingredients for success, but it requires deliberate work from Scrum Master and team members. In this episode, we talk about the signs that trust has developed in the team, and how Scrum Masters can help build trust with concrete steps. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Agile Retrospective format innovation challenge

Joe gave himself the challenge of not repeating an Agile Retrospective format with a team, and that led to a lot of innovation and many new formats learned. Joe shares some of the insights he got from that experience as well as some tips on how to prepare for that challenge.

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 experience: 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 Joe Auslander

Joe is into game/experience design and enjoys working with teams to solve unique problems. In the past this has been in areas of ship repair, crew coordination, television production and software delivery. Joe enjoys learning and sharing what he has learned and he particularly loves seeing people succeed. 

You can link with Joe Auslander on LinkedIn and connect with Joe Auslander on Twitter.

BONUS: Scrum Guide 2020 featured as Vasco and Ed discuss how we can facilitate the Scrum events

In this episode, Ed and Vasco talk about the recently released Scrum Guide 2020, and discuss the role of the Scrum Master in facilitating the Scrum events. 

They deep dive into the roles, events and the aspects of the Scrum Guide they agree with, and the ones they don’t agree with. 

Don’t miss this in-depth discussion about the Scrum events, and the role of the Scrum Master.

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 

Ed Evan Rich is the author of “Express Yourself Fearlessly”, and co-author of “The 48hr Book Method” a Product Manager by day, podcast host by night and I am homeschooling my child with my wife in between.

You can read more from Ed at https://EdEvanRich.com

Vasco Duarte is a managing partner at Oikosofy where he wants to change the world, one company at a time. He’s also the regular host on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast.

Product Manager, Scrum Master, Project Manager, Director, Agile Coach are only some of the roles that he’s taken in software development organizations. Having worked in the software industry since 1997, and Agile practitioner since 2004. He as worked in small, medium and large software organizations as an Agile Coach or leader in agile adoption at those organizations.

Vasco was one of the leaders and catalysts of Agile methods and Agile culture adoption at Avira, Nokia and F-Secure.

Jakub Jurkiewicz: How to nudge a Scrum team towards self-organization, an Agile retrospective format

Jakub’s focus as a Scrum Master is to help teams be effective. However, “effective” is not necessarily easy to define. So Jakub helps his teams work on their own definition of effective, so that they reflect on, and start working towards being effective. 

In this episode, we refer to the Scrum Guide, where the Scrum framework is defined.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Nudging a team towards self-organization

In this segment, we talk about the importance of tailoring the retrospective format to the needs of the team. Jakub describes how this simple format around a discussion about topics the team already wanted to discuss, created the energy and motivation for the team to start their journey to self-organization.

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 Jakub Jurkiewicz

Jakub is a kaizen practice lead who participated in his first standup in 2005 and facilitated his first retrospective in 2007. Previously a software developer, team leader, Scrum Master and Agile consultant, Jakub is also, a podcaster and trainer at Agile Coaching Lab. Loves wine, bicycles and his wife (in the reverse order).

You can link with Jakub Jurkiewicz on LinkedIn and connect with Jakub Jurkiewicz on Twitter.

John Albrecht: Scrum Builders, an effective Agile Retrospective format

When we discuss success with John, he brings up the idea that Scrum Masters that are successful have the ability to go off and do something else (outside the team) while the team focuses on their own goals and Sprint. In this episode, we also describe 7 characteristics of great Scrum teams.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Scrum Builders

The Scrum Builders game that John Albrecht developed, is about helping teams reflect on their actions during the Sprint. John was working with a team at the time that was constantly overcommitting and needed to reflect on what was pushing them towards that anti-pattern.

Listen in to learn how to use the game to help your teams reflect on their behavior during the Sprint.

 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 John Albrecht

Agile Person, for the team by the team, used to be a developer. Got into Agile via Extreme Programming (XP), then Kanban, then Scrum. Some of his key ideas are Principles over Practices, #noestimates, love working with teams and organizations, the softer side, finding what they and customers need and what works for them.

You can link with John Albrecht on LinkedIn and connect with John Albrecht on Twitter

You can learn more about John Albrecht’s work at Scrum Lake, and All Agile websites.

Laurens Bonnema: Growing high-performing teams as a Scrum Master

As Scrum Masters, we try to grow high-performance teams. In this episode, we talk about what might help teams become high-performing. We discuss the Team Vision, and how that can help teams progress and have fun on their way to high-performance.

In this episode, we refer to the Retrospective’sPrime Directive, which was crafted by Norm Kerth, author of the Project Retrospectives book

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Timeline

When helping teams reflect, one of the most important things is to help them “see” the same events, and causes, so they can then analyze them and come up with possible solutions to try. But how do we help teams visualize what happened? In this episode, we talk about the Timeline Retrospective, a way to help the team visualize and come to a common agreement on what happened, so they may define improvement actions based on a shared understanding of the past.

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 Laurens Bonnema

Laurens helps leaders create high-performance organizations by guiding them to embrace who they are. As Laurens puts it: “when leaders ignite their inner strength and capability—and lead from love—they soar beyond their expectations. That is how we create a world of work that we would want our kids to live in.” 

You can link with Laurens Bonnema on LinkedIn and connect with Laurens Bonnema on Twitter

Nikoletta Tatár: Kudo cards and appreciation as Scrum team success techniques

Do you have a culture of appreciation in the Scrum team? That’s one of the signs of a team that is jelling and on its way to success. We also discuss tips on how to help the team spend more time and effort highlighting the best things that happen, with the goal of building energy and achieving a more positive work atmosphere. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Mad/Sad/Glad, with a Kudos card section

We’ve discussed the Mad/Sad/Glad Agile Retrospective format before, but in this episode, we talk about adding a Kudos card section to that format. The Kudo card section adds higher energy to the retrospective and helps motivate the team.

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 Nikoletta Tatár

Nikoletta is an Agile Coach who is passionate about creating an environment where teams and individuals have the space to grow, deliver awesome products to customers, and have fun doing so. She is also a Collaboration Superpowers facilitator holding workshops online about remote working and collaboration. 

You can link with Nikoletta Tatár on LinkedIn and connect with Nikoletta Tatár on Twitter

Lakshmi Ramaseshan: Helping Scrum teams be self-sufficient

Great Scrum Masters are able to help the teams be self-sufficient, and has Lakshmi puts it: “work themselves out of a job”. We discuss what are the signs that teams are ready to start moving in that direction and become more self-sufficient.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Circles and Soup

In this segment, we discuss the Circles and Soup Agile retrospective format, a format that helps the teams see what’s in their control, and focus on that instead of all the things that would need changing but are outside their control. 

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 Lakshmi Ramaseshan

Lakshmi considers Agile Coaching her true calling! With 20+ years in the software industry, her journey started as a developer on an agile team. After which she quickly realized good product development is all about having the right conversations, building happy teams, and being aligned with your customer. 

Lakshmi is passionate about growing people, fostering trust amongst the team members, and building high-performance teams. She also believes in giving back to the community & paying it forward to help inspire others on their Journey!

You can link with Lakshmi Ramaseshan on LinkedIn and connect with Lakshmi Ramaseshan on Twitter.