Donald Ewart on the Scrum theater we sometimes play

Donald joined one team and found that they only had a very superficial knowledge of Scrum. They knew the ceremonies, the meetings, the formalities, but something was off. In this episode we discuss how you can “test” if your team really understands Scrum, and how to help the team realize where they are in their journey to adopt Scrum.

About Donald Ewart

For more than 10 years, Don has been a scrum master and coach working in different sectors in London and across the UK as an independent consultant.

With a background of 10+ years in several development roles for web and finance systems, Donald has a good technical knowledge of modern development techniques, and can quickly build rapport and respect with development teams, understanding their issues and helping them to find the right solutions.

You can link with Donald Ewart on LinkedIn and connect with Donald Ewart on Twitter. You can also find out more about Donald’s work in his website.

Venetia Foo gives a Project Management ninja trick: how to successfully change a project to another team without disruption

Venetia, a Scrum Master got the order from project management: the project must be moved to a new team, hundreds of miles away in another city! Wow, what a challenge!

When we discuss changes on the podcast we very often talk about Agile adoption, Agile transformation or some other “larger” kind of change. Venetia was facing a different story. She was facing a change of team for an existing product! In this episode Venetia shares how they were able to successfully onboard new team members (in a new city!) and change the whole project to that new team over a period of a few months. A real, tangible change that everyone needed to get used to, and execute it at the same time!

About Venetia Foo

Venetia has been on her agile journey since 2007 and has been a witness to the best and to the worst of it. She is passionate about learning and continuous improvement. She uses a variety of skills to empower and enable teams to perform at their best.

You can link with Venetia Foo on LinkedIn and connect with Venetia Foo on Twitter.

Jac Hughes how to help teams adopt Scrum and have fun with it!

Change is a dreaded word in many work places. They may be associated with fads, change of management, new processes that make our jobs harder, etc. But sometimes – when adopting Agile for example – change is something that helps us all and our customers! How can we help teams, especially teams with a long experience in pre-agile methods, to change and adopt Agile? Jac shares with us the Lego Scrum game and how that helped him bring a new hope to an old organization.

About Jac Hughes

Jac is a scrum master who has a passion to help teams become empowered, autonomous but mostly importantly productive. Jac has served 7 years in the Royal Navy before moving into the world of IT.

You can link with Jac Hughes on LinkedIn.  

Jac Hughes on how Scrum Masters must prepare for distributed teams

As Jac puts it: “it was a dream to have the whole team co-located”. But invariably, as Scrum Masters, we will face distributed teams. So we must prepare for those teams. There are many possible problems. The lack of interaction, the cultural expectations in different countries, the problems with the remote meeting technology. How are we to prepare to handle these challenges? Jac explores the topic and shares his experience on working well with distributed teams.

About Jac Hughes

Jac is a scrum master who has a passion to help teams become empowered, autonomous but most importantly productive. Jac has served 7 years in the Royal Navy before moving into the world of IT.

You can link with Jac Hughes on LinkedIn.  

Balazs Tatár from boring to FANTASTIC daily meetings

As Balazs puts it, you don’t expect public sector organizations to be the most Agile organizations ever. However, if you do things right – like Balazs shares with us in this episode – you can make a big impact with relatively small changes. In this episode Balazs shares how he was able to help a team go from ineffective and long daily meetings to sharp, clear and quick daily meetings.

About Balazs Tatár

Balazs is a technical project manager, working for the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. Currently he plays the Scrum Master role in a support team of one of the biggest web project at the European Commission. He is a former technical lead and fan of open source technologies.

You can link with Balazs Tátár on LinkedIn and connect with Balazs Tátár on Twitter.


BONUS: David Marquet on the book Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Building Leaders

Captain L. David Marquet, author of Turn the Ship Around!, joins us in the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast to discuss the lessons learned from his stint at the Santa Fe, a US Navy submarine that, when he took over, ranked last in retention and operational standing.

How do you turn around a ship that is going south? When people leave quickly, you don’t even keep the little knowledge gathered in the team. Just like in our organizations today, the Santa Fe was losing key people and suffered from very low morale. This was the moment when Retired Captain David Marquet entered the ship. The Santa Fe was about to change, and Captain Marquet shares with us the key moments in that story as well as very practical tools you can use as a Scrum Master to help your team go from follower to leader.

Acknowledging what you don’t know and still being a leader

Leaders are expected to know a lot. In fact, in the US Navy submarine captains are put into school for 1 year before taking office in the ship. Captain Marquet shares with us the moment when he gave his first order and was made aware that his order was impossible to carry out.

Many leaders do this, but are never told by their subordinates that the order is impossible to execute. This moment of understanding led Retired Captain David Marquet to start a new practice aboard the Santa Fe: being silent to allow people to express their intent. Later on the Captain and his crew developed the “I Intend to” method that is described in his Turn the Ship Around book, and enabled the major transformation in the ship: from 1 leader and 134 followers to 135 leaders on board. This simple technique can dramatically unlock the capabilities of your organization and your team.

Captain Marquet also shares the simple techniques that allowed him to make the “I intend to” approach work. Listen in for the details.

Giving up control, the key to self-organization and a major challenge for leaders today  

Leaders are leaders because they are able and willing to take control of difficult situations. And they add value by helping their teams face and resolve difficult situations. However, the challenge is that when we do take control, we immediately send the message to the team that they are not supposed to. How do we get out of that pattern? Captain Marquet shares with us his approach, an approach that he uses today with leaders all over the world. Practicing giving up control is one way we can learn to unlock the power of the organizations and teams we work with.

Listen in to learn about this simple, but effective practice and how it can help you – as a Scrum Master – let the team raise up to the challenge. To take ownership on their own. This simple technique alone can trigger the process of self-organization

Audience question: how to deal with bad apples?

As a Captain in the Navy, Captain Marquet had to deal with all kinds of people and in situations where there was no other choice. You can’t fire a person while you are at sea for 6 months. That person can be a key to a future critical situation, so we need to make sure everyone can contribute to the challenges we face. How do you do that when there’s a “bad apple” in the team? Captain Marquet reviews with us his approach to tackling that kind of issue that we will have to face, sooner or later, in our Scrum Master career.

The audience question was submitted by Alexandre Thibault, a previous guest on the podcast.

The real role for leaders in organizations

George W. Bush famously proclaimed “I’m the decider!” But is that really the role of a leader? How about the role of the leader as the one responsible for the structure, the system where the teams and individuals perform their work?

Captain Marquet challenges us with the idea that we, as leaders, are responsible for the system of work. The structure and methods of interaction and collaboration. While the people in the team or organization are responsible for the real work. The content of the work. If we don’t follow this simple approach we end up micromanaging outcomes as Captain Marquet says.

Be authoritarian in the system of work, but decentralize decisions about the work content.

Act your way into a new way of thinking

How can we bring this kind of change to our organization? No change can happen without the attention and focus of the leaders in the organization. And in this aspect lies one of the key insights of the book by Captain Marquet: “Instead of trying to change mind-sets and then change the way we acted, we would start acting differently and the new thinking would follow.”

The story that Captain Marquet conveys in his book is a striking example of how you can change culture in an organization, and radically improve results with simple, and sometimes counter-intuitive, lessons on leadership.

About Captain L. David Marquet

Captain David Marquet (pronounced: MAR-KAY) was assigned to command the nuclear powered submarine USS Santa Fe. The Santa Fe ranked last in retention and operational standing. He literally “turned his ship around” by treating the crew as leaders, not followers, and giving control, not taking control. This revolutionary approach not only took the Santa Fe from “worst to first” in the rankings, but also created more subsequent leaders than any other submarine. Stephen R. Covey called the Santa Fe “the most empowering organization [he’d] ever seen” and wrote about Captain Marquet’s leadership practices in his book, The 8th Habit.

Captain Marquet is the author of Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders.

This was Fortune magazine named it the #1 must-read business book of the year, and USA

Today listed it as one of the top 12 business books of all time.

David Marquet is here to share with us the powerful message that in highly effective organizations, leadership is not for the select few at the top; he will share with us how he and the crew of Santa Fe developed a way to create leaders at every level.

To find out more, visit Captain Marquet’s site, buy Turn the Ship Around!

You can link with Captain L. David Marquette on LinkedIn and connect with Captain L. David Marquet on Twitter.


EXTRA BONUS! 🙂 Captain David Marquet’s Leadership Nudges available for you, right now and for free!

You can go to youtube and subscribe to Captain Marquet’s leadership nudges. Short videos about key aspects of leadership that the shares with you every week. You can subscribe to Captain Marquet’s leadership nudges on his website, or follow the channel on youtube!


Here’s one of my favourites for you to watch: 1 minute to make you a better leader!

Samantha Webb on how to improve performance of organizations with your facilitation skills

Scrum Masters are facilitators by definition. However, some might think that facilitation alone is not enough to have a large impact. Well, Samantha proves those people wrong by sharing with us a story of how she was able to help a team, and an organization greatly reduce their time-to-market by focusing on her role as a facilitator. She shares with us tools and ideas on how to bring improvement ideas to reality by working with the team and stakeholders, with plenty of facilitation mixed in.

In this episode we mention Queueing Theory, which helps us understand how to speed up our processes; the LeSS framework for large scale Scrum; and the book Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins.

About Samantha Webb

Samantha is a Scrum Master based in London where she works with clients in a number of different industries. In her spare time she is a game writer and designer and uses Scrum to work on game projects.

You can link with Samantha Webb on LinkedIn and connect with Samantha Webb on Twitter.

Karthik Nagarajan on how games can help you change the organization

Karthik had a challenge. He needed to prove the benefits of Agile and Kanban to a team that wasn’t ready yet. Luckily he was aware of the Kanban game and he started showing the team how that works. Listen in to find out how the game helped him convey the benefits for the team, and help them visualize what the future could look like once they adopted Agile.



About Karthik Nagarajan

Karthik has worked as a Product Manager, Scrum Master and QA Manager across a variety of domains, including: Fintech, Travel, Human Capital Management, CRM, Recruitment, Insurance, Banking and Financial Services. He loves tackling complex business challenges and being a positive bridge between Product, Design, Engineering, Quality Assurance, Customers and Business Teams.

You can link with Karthik Nagarajan on LinkedIn.

Adrian Kerry on why coaching is so important for Scrum Masters

In change processes many behaviours, habits and practices need to change. As we adapt to the new way of working we struggle to find our footing in the new reality. How can a Scrum Master help a team in that kind of transition. What are the skills we should have? Where to go for those skills. Listen in to learn Adrian’s journey and how he found that coaching was a critical skill for him.

In this episode we refer to Behavior Driven Development, a practice that help teams collaborate with the product stakeholders, while defining concrete, automated tests.

About Adrian Kerry

A Scrum Master who specialises in Mobile and User Centred Design based approaches, Adrian comes from a testing background and he still finds that he champions making testing easier for the teams he works with. Due to that Adrian is also a strong advocate of XP practices (and, from that, BDD)

You can link with Adrian Kerry on LinkedIn.

Jacopo Romei on how Kanban can help you visualize and promote necessary change

Change management, or as we like to call it, Change Leadership is a very difficult part of our job as Scrum Masters. There are great books out there that help people find the approaches to change management that work in an Agile context, however doing it in practice is never as simple as the books describe. In this episode we talk about a fundamental transformation that Jacopo was part of, and how a simple Kanban board helped the organization find the necessary changes and implement them in practice by allowing everyone involved to take part in the definition of the change.

About Jacopo Romei

Agile practitioner since 2003, entrepreneur more than once, he has been agile coach in eBay Italia, co-founder of the ALE Network and a former member in Cocoon Projects, an open governance based company. His main focus now are contracts and lean-thinking-compatible agreements.

You can link with Jacopo Romei on LinkedIn and connect with Jacopo Romei on Twitter.

You can also follow Jacopo’s work at, and follow the latest news on his book about Extreme Contracts on LeanPub.