BONUS: Does Agile play well in Leadership teams in organizations? – Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein

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. 

Here are the resources we mention: 

 

How about you? What have been your major challenges when working with leaders in your organization? Leave a comment below and share the tools/books/podcasts you’ve found useful. 

About Diana Larsen and Jutta Eckstein

Diana Larsen co-founded and collaborates in leadership of Agile Fluency™ Project. Diana co-authored the books Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great; Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams; Five Rules for Accelerated Learning; and the seminal “Agile Fluency Model: A Brief Guide to Success with Agile” article.

You can link with Diana Larsen on LinkedIn and connect with Diana Larsen on Twitter

 

Jutta Eckstein works as an independent coach & consultant. 

As a developer, she started with XP in 97/98, started scaling agile in 2001 (and published about that in 2004), and am now Jutta focuses on company-wide agility.

You can link with Jutta Eckstein on LinkedIn and connect with Jutta Eckstein on Twitter

You can learn more at Jutta Eckstein’s website, and check out Jutta’s books on Amazon and LeanPub.

Jutta’s Agile Bossanova book is available here.

BONUS: Diana Larsen and James Shore introduce the Agile Fluency Model™ for Scrum Masters

In this Bonus episode we have Diana Larsen, and James Shore, both authors of acclaimed books about Agile. They join us to talk about their model called Agile Fluency Model™. We talk about how the model emerged.

One of the premises of the model is that teams find proficiency in different aspects of their work. Some teams focus on Value delivery, others focus on improving their technical skills, etc. And although all of these approaches are valuable, they are also different. And we need to understand where we are, as well as what phase best corresponds to the needs of the teams and organizations we work with.

The different phases of team fluency are called “zones”, as in a Bus route. This is because all zones are possible destinations, but there is a certain sequence to the progression. Diana and James discovered this after a long process of learning and experimenting with the teams they’ve worked with. The model reflects their experience, and has been validated by many other Agile Coaches that have seen similar patterns of development for their teams. The Agile Fluency Model is a collection of patterns that teams experience over time, and given their specific focus.

The model is also a useful tool for our retrospectives in the form of a “diagnostics” tool that the core team has put together to help us understand where each of our team is according to the model.

Many will no doubt tempted to call the Agile Fluency Model a “maturity model”, but Diana and James point out that each of the phases of the model has its own maturity dimension, and a team can be very mature in any of the phases if that suits their business context. Maturity is a cross-cutting concern for all phases of the model.

There’s also a very cool story of how the model was invented. Interested? Then listen in on our conversation about the Agile Fluency Model.

When you are ready to know more, follow the links below:

About the authors

Diana Larsen joins us today from Portland, Oregon. Diana leads the practice area for Agile software development, team leadership, and Agile evolutions at FutureWorks Consulting. Diana is co-author of Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great; Liftoff: Start and Sustain Successful Agile Teams; Five Rules for Accelerated Learning; and co-originator of the Agile Fluency™ model.

You can link with Diana Larsen on LinkedIn and connect with Diana Larsen on Twitter.

James Shore joins us today from Portland, Oregon. James is a long-time Agile practitioner who teaches, writes, and consults on Agile development processes. He is a recipient of the Agile Alliance’s Gordon Pask Award for Contributions to Agile Practice, co-author of /The Art of Agile Development/, and co-creator of the Agile Fluency Model. InfoQ has named him as one of the “most influential people in Agile.” You can find his screencasts at letscodejavascript.com and essays at jamesshore.com.

You can link with James Shore on LinkedIn and connect with James Shore on Twitter.

Steve Holyer shares 3 rules to access your success as a Scrum Master

The 3 rules to access your success of the scrum master:

  1. Trust is high in the team – check out how Steve measures trust
  2. Impediments are removed – check out how Steve follows the impediments to resolution
  3. Software is delivered when the market needs it – check out what Steve defines as the market need.

In this episode we also cover the Agile Fluency Model, a model by Diana Larsen and James Shore that can help teams find their “next improvement”, and keep their continuous improvement on track.

About Steve Hoyler

Steve Holyer serves as advocate, trainer and mentor for companies looking for a better ways of working, using Agile practices in a productive, fulfilling, and fun way.
He learned his craft serving as a Scrum Master with multiple teams and organisations, so he knows how to change an organisation from the inside. Steve now serves as an indie-label Agile Coach-for-Hire. He’s passion lies with coaching managers and teams to find ways to do software better.
You can contact Steve Hoyler on twitter, and find Steve Hoyler on LinkedIn. For more, check his Lift Off workshop.