Jakub Jurkiewicz: How to help a Scrum team to handle conflict, without a blow-up

This team had a conflict that no one wanted to address. The team behaved as if they just hoped things would go back to normal. It was wishful thinking, though. Things got so bad, that the team members started to fake agreement, just to avoid facing the conflict. Jakub wasn’t happy with the situation, and started working on how to resolve that conflict, and learned key lessons on how to prepare to handle the conflict. 

Featured Book of the Week: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Jakub discovered a guide on how he could live his life to the full potential. In the book, which he still re-reads, he finds something new every time he picks it up. It’s a book that reminds him of what an Agile life could look like.

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: Navigating Complexity and Conflict in Scrum teams

Conflict is a natural process in teams. How teams handle, and survive conflict becomes therefore a critical aspect of their work. In this episode, we explore some of the skills/tools that help teams survive and benefit from (constructive) conflict, instead of suffering and being destroyed by (destructive) conflict.

Featured book of the Week: One From Many, The Rise Of The Chaordic Organization by Dee Hock

In One From Many, The Rise Of The Chaordic Organization by Dee Hock, John found a book that gave him a different perspective of organizations and the role of “order” and “control” in management. In this real-life story about the creation of VISA (the credit card and payment processing organization), John found many ideas that help us navigate complex organizations. In this episode, we also talk about Wardley Maps, Complexity, and the Cynefin framework.

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.

BONUS: Melissa Lang on using Nonviolent Communication as a method to build stronger teams

Nonviolent communication is a method of a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. It focuses on three aspects of communication: self-empathy (defined as a deep and compassionate awareness of one’s own inner experience), empathy (defined as an understanding of the heart in which we see the beauty in the other person), and honest self-expression (defined as expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others).

Melissa was made aware of Non-violent communication via the work of Bob Marshall (check out his episode on Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast), and his blog where he published several articles about Nonviolent Communication. Thanks to this work, and some of the Marshall Rosenberg Nonviolent communication videos on YouTube, Melissa got started with NVC. A journey that changed her view of communication and what matters when it comes to building stronger teams.

But how can we, as Scrum Masters benefit from this method?

A simple context where NVC may be useful is when teams and team members want to get and give feedback. NVC can be very useful to phrase our feedback in a way that highlights what we are looking for (our needs being met) without expressing judgement over others (our opinions of them). But that’s only one of the contexts where NVC may be useful. There are many others.

I bet your team has a lot of written communication with stakeholders and within the team. Is that right? Well, then you know that written communication has a lot of potential for misunderstandings and to generate conflicts. How can we avoid that? By using better approaches to communicate. Melissa also explains how we can use NVC ideas to make written communication less conflictuous and more likely to have the impact we hope.

What we need to be able to communicate effectively

NVC is a good method to structure our communication, but before we can use that method we need to understand how we feel. NVC, being a needs/emotions driven communication method requires us to be aware of our own emotions and feelings. So we need to learn about emotions and needs. And especially we need to enlarge our vocabulary about needs and feelings so that we can communicate them in a way that is understandable by others. This is especially important if you are not a native speaker of the language you use at work.

Where should I get started if I want to know more about NVC?

When it comes to getting started with NVC, Melissa has a few recommendations for us. The first is the book by Marshall Rosenberg: Nonviolent communication, A Language of Life, but is also very important to practice every part of the method as well as read and learn about emotions, feelings(PDF) and needs.

In this episode Melissa also shares simple practices you can take into use immediately to help you practice NVC and help your team learn about, and maybe even get started with NVC.

About Melissa Lang

Melissa has worked in many diverse jobs over the last 20 years: ethnomusicologist, cook, IT project manager, agile coach. In all of those jobs, her main focus has been on strengthening team work and facilitating communication. As a dedicated agilist for 10+ years Melissa has worked at a range of companies, from start-up to multi-national corporation. Currently she is coaching teams from Barcelona and Hamburg at Xing AG where she has been employed since December 2011.

You can connect with Melissa Lang on Twitter and link with Melissa Lang on XING or LinkedIn.

If you want to follow Melissa’s writings, be sure to follow her blog over at Medium.