BONUS: Learning what makes a great place to work with Woody Zuill and Yves Hanoulle

The idea for this episode started with a conversation with Yves and Woody when recording one chapter for the Tips from the Trenches Audiobook (check out the audiobook). In this episode, we talk about, and try to define what makes a great place to work, or as Woody calls them: wonderful places to work!

Woody starts by describing two different workplaces, one that was “wonderful”, and one that was not. We explore what the differences were between those two places, and what we can learn from those stories as Scrum Masters. 

As Scrum Masters, our role is to help our teams, and our organizations move towards a better place to work, therefore these lessons are critical for us to act on. 

In this segment, we refer to MobProgramming, an approach to teamwork that Woody has been talking and writing about for some years; and Cynefin, a model that tries to describe the differences between different levels of complexity, and defines certain strategies for managing different types of work.

“Turn up the good” a heuristic to build great places to work

Continue reading BONUS: Learning what makes a great place to work with Woody Zuill and Yves Hanoulle

SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Agile Transformation and Business Agility in the Large with Peter Lam

Agile is necessary by not sufficient for Agility

When teams start adopting Scrum, it’s easy to think that when they are proficient in Scrum, the work is done. However, that’s not nearly enough to help the organization achieve its goals. What are the outcomes that the team is aiming for? Are those outcomes part of the team’s Vision, and Mission? 

Peter suggests that we should start our work by defining together with the team and stakeholders what success means. That becomes the first question to ask before we start our work with the team.

Bing bang approaches are sometimes necessary, but not sufficient for the momentum of change that is needed

Continue reading SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Agile Transformation and Business Agility in the Large with Peter Lam

SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Team Performance Predictors, with Sally Elatta

When we look at team performance in a business, we need to take into account 3 different metrics. Sally explains those 3 key metrics at the start of this episode, and we dive into why some metrics are good leading indicators of team performance. 

As we dive into performance metrics, we discuss what are some of the enablers for team performance, as well as how leaders, and leadership teams can positively impact the agility and performance of their teams. 

Measuring Maturity, Performance and Outcomes, the critical aspects of performance 

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SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: The Joy of Agility, looking at Business Agility with Joshua Kerievsky

As Joshua started to research his book, he discovered many stories of people applying the principles and ideas behind agility to their lives, and their businesses. The Joy Of Agility is a book that collects those stories and explains what agility is really about. And it’s not about Scrum, or any other process framework. 

Joshua starts by telling us a story of a young Richard Branson who, having been left stranded on an airport, came up with an idea to get to his destination while helping other fellow passengers who had also been left stranded. This is a story of a person being resourceful in the face of adversity. Being resourceful is one of those aspects of agility that we often don’t discuss, but is – as Joshua puts it – at the core of Agility.

The art of perfecting your act

Continue reading SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: The Joy of Agility, looking at Business Agility with Joshua Kerievsky

SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Human Business and Business Agility with Thomas Juli

Thomas’ perspective on business starts with the idea that businesses exist to generate value for people. The ones inside, as well as outside the business.  

As he started the book, he realized that the digital age had transformed our ideas about what being human in that medium was all about. He set out to write about what it meant to be humn in the digital age. However, that was just the start of the book. 

In that first part of the book, Thomas explores questions such as “am I a resource?”, a very common question we hear when we talk to teams. 

This exploration leads to the realization that businesses have to generate value for customers, stakeholders, but also (and critically) for employees. 

The needed transformation of business on the path to Business Agility 

Continue reading SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Human Business and Business Agility with Thomas Juli

BONUS: Changing industries and breaking into the Scrum Master role with Ben Mills

In this episode, we cover how Ben found his vocation for the Scrum Master role, and the techniques he applied to break into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role. 

Changing industries is never easy, but changing from non-tech to tech and to a completely new role, like the Scrum Master role is even harder. 

For many of our guests, the Scrum Master role has been a calling, a sort of vocation that becomes obvious once you start. For our guest in this episode, Ben Mills, the vocation to be a servant leader and to help others overcome struggles was already there. And that vocation was what attracted him to the Scrum Master role.

People before anything else

When Ben started to learn more about the Scrum Master role, and eventually after taking the Scrum Master certification course, he understood that the role called for a mindset that put people before anything else. Their relationships, the collaboration, their ability to solve conflict, etc. 

At this point Ben, at the time a Pastor, started to apply what he had learned in his own team. Ben had been a project manager before, so organizing and following up was not new, but the role of the Scrum Master and the process of Scrum called for something else. 

In this segment, we refer to the episode with Alioscha Chaplits, Rachel Macasek and Daniel Lenhart about starting as a Scrum Master when you don’t have any tech industry experience.

Breaking into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role 

For aspiring Scrum Masters, it may not always be easy to first break into the tech industry, and later into the Scrum Master role. Ben shares with us some of the tips that helped him, and still help him to grow his network, and find the right people to ask questions. 

In the end, the perspective that people are the critical link in the success of teams can bring insights and prepare you for the role. 

In this segment, we talk about the book Shift From Product To People, published by Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast. 

Resources for aspiring Scrum Masters

Some of the books that inspired Ben Mills in his quest to understand the Scrum Master role: 

But perhaps, one of the stories that influenced Ben the most, was one story of his own. When he was starting out as a project manager, and learned an important lesson about transparency. Listen in to find out what that story was, and how it can transform your work as a Scrum Master.

About Ben Mills

Ben is a scrum master, a project manager and a Pastor. That’s a very unique journey that he is sharing with us. 

He’s starting his career as a scrum master and is sharing his journey with us on this BONUS episode.

You can link with Ben Mills on LinkedIn.

 

 

BONUS: Troubleshooting your Agile adoption (and conversations) with Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick

We start this episode with a warning for Scrum Masters. The question Squirrel asks is: “what is the value the Scrum Master role brings?” If you want to hear my answer, you can listen to another podcast episode we recorded on the Troubleshooting Agile podcast with Jeffrey and Squirrel (make sure to check out part 2 of that conversation on the Troubleshooting Agile podcast). 

In this conversation, we mention an article on the Scrum Master Toolbox podcast blog, where we talk about the Scrum Master as an apprentice role for future CEO’s.

Hacking culture through conversations: Agile Conversations book

One of the interesting points the authors make is that the conversations that happen (or not) in an organization are what defines the culture of that organization. In this segment, we talk about why we must pay special attention to the quality of the conversations, and why talking about culture, without talking about the conversations in an organization, is a dangerous pattern. 

Finding and entering the right conversations in your organization

Why don’t Scrum Masters take a more active role in the conversations ongoing in their organization? We discuss the fear that drives the inaction of Scrum Masters and suggests some techniques we can use to get ourselves, and others to take an active part in shaping the organizational culture and conversations. 

We talk about how “frustration” can be a resource for Scrum Masters to find and unlock important conflicts and related conversations. Scrum Masters must take an active part in finding that frustration, and using it to move the team, and the organization forward. 

In this segment, we refer to Chris Argyris and his work on organizational development.

Tools for high-quality conversations that drive the right culture

Squirrel and Jeffrey present two of the tools in the Agile Conversations book and share how they help Scrum Masters improve their interaction skills, and learn to trigger better conversations. 

We discuss the Four RRRR’s tool as well as the TDD for people tool. You can learn more about these tools in the book Agile Conversations.

In this segment, we discuss the Ladder of Inference (avoiding jumping to conclusions), and the TDD for people tool (audio). 

A call to action: mine for conflict to help your team and organization grow!

We end this episode with a call to action. We discuss how mining for conflict (seeking conflict and using it to generate energy that drives conversations) can help you pave the way for a transformation in your team and in your organization. 

We refer to The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, to describe how to create a safe environment where conflict is seen as an opportunity, rather than a threat.

About Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick

Squirrel has been coding for forty years and has led software teams for twenty. He uses the power of conversations to create dramatic productivity gains in technology organizations of all sizes. Squirrel’s experience includes growing software teams as a CTO in startups from fintech to biotech to music, and everything in between. He lives in Frogholt, England, in a timber-framed cottage built in the year 1450.

You can link with Douglas Squirrel on LinkedIn and connect with Douglas Squirrel on Twitter

Jeffrey Fredrick is an internationally recognized expert in software development and has over twenty-five years’ experience covering both sides of the business/technology divide. An early adopter of XP and Agile practices, Jeffrey has been a conference speaker in the US, Europe, India, and Japan. Through his work on the pioneering open-source project CruiseControl, and through his role as co-organizer of the Continuous Integration and Testing Conference (CITCON), he has had a global impact on software development. 

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

 

BONUS: Building and growing an Agile Coach community in your organization, with Samantha Corbett and Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook).


The Agile Coach team, at that time, had 9 people. And they all saw different problems in the organization. They struggled with slow decision making, problems at the team level, but when it came to seeing solutions, they all saw different approaches. 

Over time, they recognized they needed to coordinate their work to be successful. If nothing else, because several teams needed to be involved in solving some of the problems the organization was facing. 

The coaches started asking themselves: “Are we really performing as a team?”

This was what started the need for regular collaboration between the coaches. 

At first, they started by having a regular get-together with the team of coaches. 

Helping the organization see the whole, even when tackling local problems

Continue reading BONUS: Building and growing an Agile Coach community in your organization, with Samantha Corbett and Jeff Campbell

BONUS: Remote Work Special: Bringing teams together to solve organizational problems with Gene Connolly and Jeff Campbell

Jeff is the author of Actionable Agile tools (available on Amazon, and direct from the author at bit.ly/aatbook).


In the past, we’ve covered an internal unconference format that helps us bring multiple teams together to solve company-wide problems. This time, Gene and Jeff join us to share what they’ve learned during the Corona year of 2020 about hosting the same format online! Since we can’t travel as we did before, how can we bring teams together in an interactive, and energy-boosting format to help solve organizational problems? Listen to learn about the Virtual Online Unconference format with Gene Connolly and Jeff Campbell

Going Remote before the teams are ready

Just like all of us, Gene and Jeff’s organization moved to fully remote work at the start of 2020. That presented multiple challenges, not the least of which the fact that teams were interacting less with each other because of the necessary overhead that remote work represents for each team. 

The remote work reality became an even bigger issue when it came to addressing organization-wide issues. In the past, Gene and Jeff have helped facilitate an internal Unconference at Meltwater. However, with remote work being the norm, hosting the unconference became an extra challenge. 

Gene and Jeff were not discouraged, however, and started working on a format that would fit the online/remote reality! 

Hosting a remote Unconference: a hands-on how-to tutorial

Gene and Jeff decided to go live with the first remote unconference, keeping in mind that they would learn a lot and share their knowledge with the wider community

During the first remote unconference, they learned many lessons which they share in this episode, from the “how-to” for MIRO boards, to the surprises related to helping the teams follow instructions. This massive online event had specific challenges they had to learn to deal with and share their lessons with us. 

The most important lesson: iterate quickly, learn even faster!

Perhaps one of the most important lessons for Gene and Jeff was to “try” the format in smaller groups before going full-blown global with their ideas. For that, they decided to quickly test different tools in smaller events with teams and learned what worked and didn’t. 

If you want to know more, check out their fully detailed tutorial at the Melwater blog, and get in touch with Jeff and Gene to ask questions!

About Gene Connolly and Jeff Campbell

Gene Connolly is a Principal Software Developer at Meltwater. He has dedicated his career to improving the quality of life of legacy software systems during their golden years and making the most complex problems he can find slightly less complex.

You can link with Gene Connolly on LinkedIn and connect with Gene Connolly on Twitter.

Jeff is an Agile Coach who considers the discovery of Agile and Lean to be one of the most defining moments of his life and considers helping others to improve their working life not to simply be a job, but a social responsibility. 

He is the author of actionable agile tools, which you can get on Amazon and directly from the author at bit.ly/aatbook

As an Agile Coach, he has worked with driving Agile transformations in organizations both small and large.

You can link with Jeff Campbell on LinkedIn and connect with Jeff Campbell on Twitter.

You can also learn more about Jeff Campbell’s work at his company’s website.

BONUS: Modern Management trilogy by Johanna Rothman

In this episode, we talk with Johanna about some key insights and tips from her latest book series: Modern Management.

In this episode, we talk about the latest books from Johanna Rothman, which she collectively called “Modern Management” trilogy. 

The trilogy comprises three parts: a) Practical Ways To Manage Yourself, b) Practical Ways to Serve and Lead (Manage) Others, c) Practical Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization.

We start this episode, by talking about one critical transition for Scrum Masters: from expert to coach. When we start our Scrum Master journey, the focus of our work changes from delivery to helping others succeed with delivery. In that transition, we need to learn to manage ourselves and our work differently. Johanna shares insights from her book “Practical Ways to Manage Yourself”, which includes many stories and tips that Scrum Masters can take advantage of. 

How to overcome the “I’ll do it, I’ll be faster” Anti-Pattern 

Continue reading BONUS: Modern Management trilogy by Johanna Rothman

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