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
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
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.
One thing that is clear from this interview is how the role of community is important in our journey as Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches. Ivana shares how she got started with Agile, and how the community helped her learn where to focus and improve her skills and knowledge.
Learning about our personal Prime Directive
Ivana calls on us to reflect, and learn about what our personal Prime Directive is, and based on that develop our Agile practice. Ivana shares that her prime directive is about focusing on the “bigger picture” and the culture and leadership context she works within.
We also talk about what that “bigger picture” is like in practice. From understanding the type of business we are working in, to mapping out the relationships and influencers within the organization. Ivana always tries to create a mental map of what influences the people she works within her context.
Continuous Improvement, the missing lesson in Agile
Ivana’s experience has helped her understand that many teams get focused on the “tool” or “process” of Agile, and forget that ultimately we are trying to build the habit of continuously getting better at what we do.
Learning about the big picture, a perspective to take on as an Agile Coach and Scrum Master
Ivana’s focus on the “bigger picture” has also come thanks to the book Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar Schein. The book influenced Ivana’s perspective when working with organizations, and she still goes back to that book, and its particular way of defining and describing organizations.
Finally, Ivana leaves us with the idea that we should be learning and sharing as a community. Just like she did in this incredibly insightful podcast episode!
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 Ivana Gancheva
Ivana is passionate about working with people, not titles. She works with companies from various sectors to help improve their organizational culture and well-being by helping them become learning and growing organizations. She coaches and mentors decision-makers, C-level corporate executives, leaders, product managers, who have the passion and the intent to disrupt the status quo, and enable genuine growth.
Peter and Michael just finished the first half of a book they are writing together on the topic of shifting our attention, and focus from the “product” focused techniques to “people” focused techniques in order to achieve superior performance.
Every 4 months, about 8 teams comprised of University students, other students, and partner-company employees start working on a new product idea at the Digital Product School (DPS).
These teams become their own mini-startups, and work to develop, and sell their products in a 3-month accelerated program. They experience hands-on what it is to work in a start-up and to go from a fuzzy idea (the problem space) to a product they can sell in a very short period of time.
This learn-by-doing program helps companies educate their employees in rapid product development methods, and helps students get hands-on experience with product development in a very short period of time.
The most common problems teams face in DPS
The teams that join and complete DPS usually have the same problems all other teams face, but because of the accelerated time-frame, and because the DPS team has seen more than 10 batches already, the problems are obvious! And we can learn a lot from those problems when it comes to the more normal product development we participate in.
The first challenge teams face is that they have a hard time locking down the problem they want to solve. As it happens, they want to solve too many problems, which is a common affliction of many teams and leads to confused and confusing products.
The DPS team expected that it would be hard to convince developers to work with users and do user research. However, it turns out developers actually embrace that work, and the biggest problem is getting the Product Managers (PMs) to make decisions. PMs tend to expect that the “process” will ensure they have a good outcome, and that leads to having a hard time making decisions.
In this segment, we talk about how to help PMs make decisions and the transformation that happens when PMs are faced with the need to make decisions.
The biggest problem in the Developer-PM collaboration
In such an accelerated program (3 months from idea to product), it is natural that the pressure is high at some point. PM’s work needs to include facilitating and motivating the teamwork. Why are we doing certain decisions? What’s the goal of a certain user test? And many more questions come up during the work.
This brings one of the biggest problems in the Developer-PM collaboration: the motivation of the team when under pressure. In this segment, we also talk about the most common anti-patterns developers and PMs fall into when under pressure. There are also some great insights for Scrum Masters about team building and coping with pressure!
Enabling good Developer-PM collaboration
One of the usual sticking points in the Developer-PM collaboration is the fact that these people speak different languages. Many Scrum Masters also experience that when they see PMs and developers fight about estimations, for example.
At DPS, special attention is put into helping PMs understand what developers do and vice-versa. From explaining and using tools that developers use, to helping developers understand Story Maps and other PM tools, the way the DPS team helps developers and PM’s collaborate is especially about helping each other and learning each other’s job and responsibilities.
Why Product Manager and not Product Owner?
At DPS, the team decided early on to call the role of the product person the Product Manager, and not the Product Owner. Why did they do that?
In this segment, we explore a question that most companies adopting Scrum will need to struggle with: what to call the product roles.
The DPS team shares how the idea of “product” is owned by the whole team, and that the product manager role is much more than looking at the backlog or defining priorities, it’s about being responsible for user experience, business, and technology!
This emphasizes the idea of the DPS program: product development is a team sport!
Resources for rapid product development
At the end of the episode, we talk about what resources DPS suggests teams to study, and we list the following books:
DPS is an accelerated product development program in Munich that helps students from University and employees in partner companies experience hands-on what it is to work in a startup. In 3 months they go from idea to a product, and some ideas are brought back to the companies for further development.
About the DPS team
Michi / Michael Stockerl is director of DPS and has worked as a software engineer with several teams in different setups. Before that, he gathered experience in smaller Startups in Munich and Germany’s biggest Q&A platform.
Steffen is a trained journalist, who slipped into product management through Content Management and e-commerce. He worked with Amazon and Haymarket media, did several hundred user interviews and tests, witnessed dozens of teams at DPS, a Digital Product School of the Technical University of Munich in Germany.
Bela is a Software Engineer at DPS. She helps teams with various software and hardware engineering tasks. She was previously also a participant at DPS.
This is a BONUS episode on the topic of #NoEstimates. The Agile Wire podcast hosts Jeff Bubolz and Jeff Maleski interview Vasco Duarte.
Some of you might have heard about #NoEstimates, and want to know more, and for others, it might be the first time you hear about it. Either way, in this episode we talk about the origins of #NoEstimates and why you may want to consider it when helping your teams.
This is a shared episode with a fellow Agile podcast The Agile Wire, where hosts Jeff Maleski and Jeff Bubolz interview Agile practitioners. Both Jeff Maleski and Jeff Bubolz have been guests here on the Scrum Master Toolbox podcast.
About Jeff Bubolz and Jeff Maleski
Jeff Bubolz is a speaker, trainer, and agile coach. He has been a Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team member. Jeff has worked with enterprise companies to small start-ups. His goal is to end human suffering in organizations, by nudging people to be the change they want to see in the world.
Jeff Maleski is passionate about working with and building up both individuals and teams using ideas from Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0 and Dan Pink’s Drive. When leading project teams, Jeff strives for empirical based planning and forecasting, continuous learning, and delivering high quality software products that exceed expectations. Jeff believes in leading by actions and focusing on building relationships with others.
What is Business Agility? In a time where it seems that every company wants to adopt Agile, there’s also the dark side of Agile: the belief that it only affects “people in the IT department”. That could not be further from the truth.
In this episode, we have Evan Leybourn sharing what Business Agility is about, and why it matters for your organization.
Diana and I were kicking around a few topics for this episode, and we ended up selecting “Agile and Leadership, friends or foes?” The idea is to talk about how Agile and Leadership play together (or not)
In this episode, we talk with Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein about what problems Leaders try to fix with Agile, what challenges they have when they try to adopt Agile, and we will do this with the focus on the Scrum Master role, and what they can do by working with the leaders of the organizations they work within.
Let’s start by defining some of the major challenges we see happening out there.
The 3 biggest challenges on how Agile plays (or not) with Leadership
Some of the challenges we mention in this episode are not new. You are probably familiar with many of them. We talk about how Agile requires us to think about leadership as a distributed responsibility that team members need to take on, which is itself a major challenge for Scrum Masters as they help their teams understand what that means in practice.
We also discuss how important it is to understand that leadership is not simply a “role”, but also something we need to earn, including Scrum Masters.
Finally, we talk about the important role that leaders play for the teams they work with. Specifically in setting the direction that helps the teams adopt quicker processes like Hypothesis-Driven-Development, for example.
How Scrum Masters can cope with these challenges
We then discuss how Scrum Masters can understand, and learn to cope with these challenges. Not surprisingly, Agile Retrospectives come up as a critical tool for Scrum Masters to use when working with teams and their leaders.
Regarding collaboration with leaders, we discuss how Scrum Masters can help teams focus on the right goals, which need to be defined in cooperation with leaders in the organization.
But there’s a second tool we discuss that complements perfectly the work we do with the retrospectives and helps the teams and leaders understand where they can contribute the most: visualization as a way to establish a shared context.
Do Scrum Masters really need to protect the team from their leaders?
Stop me if you have heard this one before. Way back when I was taught that Scrum Masters need to protect the team from interference. Although it made sense to me at the time, with the passing of time, and after collecting more than a decade of experience, I have come to value a different approach.
In this segment, we talk about the need (or not) to protect the team from Leadership interference.
The goal, of course, is to generate a real collaboration between the team and the leaders in the organization.
The key resources on leadership and Scrum by Diana Larsen, Jutta Eckstein and Vasco Duarte
Given that leadership, and the collaboration between teams and leaders is a critical topic for Scrum Masters, we discuss some of the resources (books, podcasts, articles) we’ve found useful and informative on how to tackle that collaboration.
This is a guest blog post by Jacopo Romei. Author of Extreme Contracts, a book about how to build trust, and deliver value without traditional contracts.
How to build trust with clients and stakeholders while getting what you deserve for your work: a story about trust
Over the last ten years, I’ve experienced the direct impact of lack of trust in vendor-buyer and even colleague-colleague relationships. I’ve come to find that it is the main reason why collaborations in knowledge work fail.
I’ve tried to fix that in my own work as an independent consultant and when working with other colleagues. That’s why I ended up experimenting with a new type of agreements which are optimized for trust building. This experimentation resulted in a set of principles that I call Extreme Contracts. Now, all my customers and I use this approach to shape our collaboration and they have started using Extreme Contracts also with their customers.