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

SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Katrina Clokie on retaining the purpose for your Agile adoption

For Christmas week 2020, we have a special treat for you. Yves Hanoulle and I interview great Agilists and Scrum Masters that you will probably not hear from in your local Agile conference. 

These are people that are really pushing the state of the practice, and we want to bring their forward-looking, and hopeful ideas to you in our Christmas Special Week for 2020. 

 

Katrina is the author of A Practical Guide to Testing in DevOps, a book that offers direction and advice relevant to anyone involved in testing in a DevOps environment.

She started her Agile transition after a long stint within a waterfall organization, and she shares some of the most contrasting changes she experienced when moving to an Agile organization. Ultimately, she reminds us, the Agile approach is much closer to the final purpose: solving a problem for a customer out there. And she reminds us that we should try to keep that purpose front and center at all times. 

Learning to be persuasive: a key lesson for Scrum Masters and all agile practitioners

When we dive into Katrina’s most important lesson learned in her Agile journey, we discuss the need to bring our best persuasive game with us. We discuss some of the reasons why the ability to persuade others is so important, for example testers will often be outnumbered in an Agile team, and their ideas are less likely to be followed if they can’t “bring others along”. In this segment, we refer to a key book for all wanting to learn more about influencing colleagues and building collaborative relationships: How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Books for Agilists and Agile leaders

The books that Katrina chose to recommend remind us that often we need to express our leadership abilities, and we can do that only if we cultivate those through reading and practice. We talk about Lara Hogan’s Resilient Management, The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier, and Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren et al. 

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 Katrina Clokie

Katrina is an accomplished and experienced IT leader. She is a regular keynote at international conferences where the main themes include leadership, knowledge sharing, and communicating change. In 2017 Katrina published her first book, A Practical Guide to Testing in DevOps. Katrina was a finalist for the Inspiring Individual of the Year Award at the 2018 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards.

You can link with Katrina Clokie on LinkedIn and connect with Katrina Clokie on Twitter

 

SPECIAL XMAS BONUS: Rashina Hoda on using Scrum, Kanban and Agile in academic research 

For Christmas week 2020, we have a special treat for you. Yves Hanoulle and I interview great Agilists and Scrum Masters that you will probably not hear from in your local Agile conference. 

These are people that are really pushing the state of the practice, and we want to bring their forward-looking, and hopeful ideas to you in our Christmas Special Week for 2020. 

When Rashina first got introduced to Agile, she was mesmerized. It was a way of looking at software that focused on people instead of only on the technical aspects of the work to be done. 

The key lesson for Agilists, Rashina’s view

When we asked Rashina about the most important lesson learned while learning Agile, she shared that it was the ability to deal with, and thrive in uncertainty. The year of 2020 is a great backdrop to illustrate this lesson, and we discuss some of those aspects. 

Rashina then explains what she has learned from Agile that she now applies in her work as a researcher. 

In this segment, we refer to Rashina’s work, and her website.

The reference book for agilists

Agile Retrospectives by Diana and Esther is the reference book that Rashina refers to. As she puts it: “of all the different practices, Retrospective reflection is the one that brings it back home.”

And I totally agree, however, she also refers to the New New Product Development Game. A foundational paper that illustrated the power of self-organization in product development. We discuss what aspects from that paper we can learn from and apply to our work as Scrum Masters. 

Inspiring others

If you want to know more about Rashina and her work you can visit her website, and listen to her TED Talk on Agile Nations. This is the last message, the inspiring message that Rashina leaves for us: “thing big. Agile is already widespread, but we can learn from it and apply it to more and more challenges.”

What an inspiring interview!

Merry Christmas everybody!

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 Rashina Hoda

Rashina is an Associate Professor and the Associate Dean (Academic Workforce) in the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash University, Australia.

She’s been studying people and how they become agile for over a decade. My PhD research explained how agile teams self-organize through the informal roles they play. Rashina has written and spoken extensively on agile transformations, agile project management, customer collaboration, team practices, reflective practices, and culture, with over 70 publications on these topics.

In 2017, Rashina’s Theory of Becoming Agile received the distinguished paper award at the prestigious International Conference on Software Engineering. But she has also applied the theory to a wider societal context and coined the idea of “Agile Nations” captured as a TEDxAuckland talk.

You can link with Rashina Hoda on LinkedIn and connect with Rashina Hoda on Twitter

 

BONUS: Maarten Dalmijn on scaling the Product Owner role in Scrum organizations

Maarten Dalmijn joins us on this special episode on the role of the Product Owner to talk about how Product Owners can adapt to the increasing demands placed upon them. It could be working with more teams, or supporting the development of multiple products, the PO role (when successfully executed) will eventually expand to cover more aspects and support more teams.

The struggling and un-happy Product Owner

As Product Owners take on the responsibility to work with more teams, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and overworked. That will likely lead to an un-happy PO, which will, in turn, have a big impact on the teams and their performance.

In this segment, we talk about why PO’s end up taking on too much work and discuss some of the tools we can apply to help scale the Product Owner role. We talk about Sprint Goals (an often forgotten aspect of Scrum), and other techniques that Maarten learned in his career that helped him scale up his role and impact. 

In this segment, we refer to a blog post on setting Sprint Goals and the Coach Your Product Owner e-course and the modules on Sprint Goals and Scaling up the PO role. The modules are: 

  • Coach Your PO v2.0 – Module 04 – How to scale up the Product Owner role to serve multiple teams; and
  • Coach Your PO v1.0 – Module 08 – How to define the perfect Sprint Goal – and why that matters!

The Coach Your PO course (v1.0 and v2.0) is available here: bit.ly/coachyourpo.

Collaboration with the Scrum Master

The Product Owner does not need to work alone when scaling their role to a few more teams or products. We discuss the importance of creating a collaborative relationship with the Scrum Master and how Scrum Masters can help Product Owners. 

In this segment, we talk about how Scrum Masters are sometimes an obstacle for their Product Owners to perform, and we refer to a blog post by Marten on what Scrum Masters can do to help Product Owners

Resources for Product Owners and Scrum Masters on the PO role

Reading about the role, and understanding the role of PO is a critical aspect for Scrum Masters that need and want to help their Product Owners. In this segment, we refer to Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan and Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value by Melissa Perri.

About Maarten Dalmijn

Maarten is a Product Manager and Scrum practitioner who believes in ‘less, but better’. By blending the world of Product Management and Scrum, Maarten helps teams beat the Feature Factory and uncover better ways of delivering value together.

He has over 10 years of experience building products and helped rebuild products as well as Agile Transformations as a leader and participant.

He says: “Product management is about getting the right things done. It is easy to come up with a list of things to add to make something better. It is much harder to decide which things to leave out to make something better.”

You can link with Maarten Dalmijn on LinkedIn and connect with Maarten Dalmijn on Twitter

Follow Maarten Dalmijn’s blog posts on Medium.

 

BONUS: Marcus Hammerberg on predicting Software development without estimation

Marcus wrote a blog post about predicting progress in ‘well-defined’ projects. He used a simple example where uncertainty was very limited. You can read the details in the blog post. However, even when uncertainty about the work was low, the predictions he was able to do (and he collects quite a few metrics in that story), was limited. 

In this episode, we explore the limits to prediction, and how that affects how we should look at prediction in our own software projects. 

Embracing uncertainty and what that means in practice for software projects

Continue reading BONUS: Marcus Hammerberg on predicting Software development without estimation

BONUS: Agile Online Summit 2019, an Agile conference you can attend from home

In this BONUS episode, Tom Henricksen, the host of the Agile Online Summit presents this unique Agile conference that you can attend from home

The Agile Online Summit has been on since 2017, and is now in its third edition. From 500 participants in its first year, the AOS 19 will have 3000+ attendees from all over the world, and when you look at the list of speakers, it’s easy to understand why. AOS 19 will have, among others: 

  • Andrew Stellman will talk about the people aspects, and how those affect Agile adoption
  • Al Shallowly will explore the 3rd decade of Agile, and what it might bring
  • Rebecca Scott will share her ideas on how teams can improve their connection with other teams
  • Bob Gallen will speak about Product Ownership
  • Anantha Natarajan will share lessons from implementing agile in a non-IT organization
  • Richard Lawerence will share his experience and ideas about Behavior Driven Development

Date and place: October 7th to 11th

This session packed conference will take place online from October 7th to 11th. Beyond the recorded sessions that will be accessible in those dates, there will also be live sessions organized to help you ask direct questions from the participants as well as interact with your fellow conference attendees. 

For more details stay tuned to the Agile Online Summit website, where all the sessions are described, and where the information about upcoming live sessions will be added. 

A networking opportunity you can enjoy from home or at the office

As any IRL (in-real-life) conference, Agile Online Summit is a networking opportunity, which will help you get to know the speakers as well as other participants. There will be a slack channel available for all who sign-up at this link (NOTE: DISCOUNTED VIP TICKET for Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast fans). 

The Slack channel will be the preferred community hang-out area with channels for you to interact with participants from all over the world, but there will also be live sessions where you can ask questions directly from the speakers. Sign-up for the conference to know when those sessions take place (NOTE: Tickets are FREE for live attendance, purchase the VIP ticket for life-time access to the talks). 

About Tom Henricksen

Tom Henricksen is a technical professional and coach. After working for many years as a developer, Scrum Master, and manager he has made a lot of mistakes and wants to help others achieve their goals. Tom has a passion for sharing wisdom with other agilists.

Tom is the founder and host of the Agile Online Summit. 

You can link with Tom Henricksen on LinkedIn and connect with Tom Henricksen on Twitter

You can find Tom Henricksen’s website at MyITCareerCoach.com.

BONUS: Diana Getman – How checklists make Agile teams faster and deliver with high quality, without adding more processes

In this episode, we explore the role that checklists can have in helping teams improve their process and their performance without adding more processes. 

It is a normal tendency to “add more processes” to fix a problem a team is experiencing. In this episode, we challenge that view. Checklists, we argue, are a simple, effective tool that helps you reach a similar goal, but does not require the process to grow, and become bloated. 

2 Common types of checklists that help teams improve how they work

There are several types of items we can add to a checklist. In this segment, we discuss 2 common types of checklists, and how they can help teams. We start by discussing the “process checklists”, which may include important tips on how to execute a certain process. 

The key thing to remember is that checklists don’t replace processes, but are rather a set of reminders, or items that help teams execute a process once they’ve already read and understood the process. 

The second type of checklists we discuss are those that summarize a series of requirements or pre-conditions that a team needs to follow-up on. This may include quality requirements or certain tasks that need to be completed before a certain work item is considered complete. 

The most common checklists Scrum teams use

Scrum teams have a common set of checklists that they use. We discuss the commonly used Definition of Done, and also talk about the importance of having a Definition of Ready, and how that may help teams get started on the right foot when a new Sprint is about to kick-off.

Additionally, we talk about a pre-release checklist. With a pre-release checklist, teams are able to keep a memory of what they’ve learned from the past about meeting the release requirements, and can continuously improve that critical aspect of any team’s process.

In this segment, we also tackle the usual objections that people given when asked to consider the use of checklists. Checklists may be seen as “more bureaucracy”, but instead, they are there to help teams summarize a process that already exists, provides transparency about the process execution, and ultimately it should be a time saver for the team.

How about you? How have you used Checklists in your work? Share your experience in the comments below.

About Diana Getman

Diana Getman has more than 25 years of experience as a project manager leading cross-functional teams, in both startup and non-profit organizations. Diana has held the roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach and is the current President at Ascendle, a custom software development firm in Portsmouth, NH.

You can link with Diana Getman on LinkedIn, or visit Ascendle’s blog for more on checklists.

BONUS: The critical steps to become a Scrum Master, inspiration and tips for you to apply and become a more impactful Scrum Master

When Ben moved to another team he faced some pretty challenging situations. A fully distributed team with a Scrum Master in another country trying to juggle the time zone differences. 

It was only fitting that Ben would then take over the Scrum Master role shortly after. The journey from developer to Scrum Master is hard enough, but in this story, we talk about how to take on the Scrum Master role for a distributed team as well. Not an easy first assignment as a Scrum Master. Listen in to learn about that journey and the lessons that you can apply in your own work. 

The major obstacles Ben faced in his Scrum Master journey

Continue reading BONUS: The critical steps to become a Scrum Master, inspiration and tips for you to apply and become a more impactful Scrum Master