Patty Aluskewicz: Breaking Down Walls, Strategies for Collaborating with an External PO

The Great Product Owner: Courage, Empathy and Action, Qualities of Great PO’s

In this segment, Patty discusses the qualities of courage, empathy, and active listening that define exceptional POs. How do these traits foster team equality and enhance performance? Gain insights into how a PO can act as a catalyst for team cohesion and why building strong relationships within the team is crucial for success.

The Bad Product Owner: Breaking Down Walls, Strategies for Collaborating with an External PO

In this segment, Patty explores the anti-pattern of the Product Owner that is external to the team, and the challenges it presents. How does a PO that sees themselves as external to the team impact team dynamics? Patty discusses her firsthand experience dealing with this common issue and provides practical tips for Scrum Masters aiming to bridge the gap between the team and an externally positioned PO. Learn strategies to enhance involvement and neutralize the us-vs-them mentality.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Patty Aluskewicz

Patty Aluskewicz is an Agile Coach for PwC and the founder of Agile Mindset Consulting. With over 15 years of experience, she assists businesses and their employees in building fundamental Agile and Scrum skills, improving team dynamics and communication, and successfully implementing organizational change.

You can link with Patty Aluskewicz on LinkedIn.

BONUS: Agile Coaching With a Philosophical Twist, Exploring Michel Foucault’s Work, The Panopticon, and Other Systems of Control With Michelle Pauk

In this episode, with Michelle Pauk – an Agile Coach – we explore what we can learn from philosophy, and Michel Foucault’s work on systems of power and discourse. Learn more about the systems we need to adapt to, and even transform. From the Panopticon, to the systems that drive compliance, and remove creative thought! A must listen for those interested in changing the world of work!

Michelle’s Journey into Agile Coaching

“It’s not about predicting; it’s about responding.”

Michelle’s journey into becoming an Agile coach was as unpredictable as volcanos can be, literally! Inspired initially by Michel Foucault during her studies, she found herself intrigued by the intricacies of thought and its impact on behavior. This intellectual curiosity led her to a company specializing in language learning software, where her role in project management opened her eyes to the stress and unpredictability inherent in the field. The realization that many of her challenges could be mitigated by Agile methodologies was a turning point. Agile, with its emphasis on adaptation over prediction, offered a solution to the guilt and responsibility she felt over uncontrollable factors, like a volcano disrupting her project. This journey not only transformed her approach to work but also challenged inherited industrial revolution-era notions of work processes.

Foucault’s Influence

“The panopticon and Agile: Visibility without the constraint.”

Michelle’s admiration for Michel Foucault’s work, particularly his book Discipline and Punish, provides a unique lens through which she views her role as an Agile coach. The book’s exploration of the panopticon—a system for observing without being seen—parallels the modern open office plan and contrasts with Agile’s emphasis on transparency and collaboration. Foucault’s historical analysis of justice systems and control mechanisms resonates with the systemic changes Agile coaching aims to implement in the workplace.

Systems of Control and Culture

“Pay attention to what is *NOT* being said; it speaks volumes about your team’s culture.”

One of the core aspects of Agile coaching for Michelle is the focus on discourse and culture within teams—what is being talked about, and perhaps more importantly, what isn’t. Drawing on Foucault and Wittgenstein, she emphasizes the power of unspoken norms and assumptions in shaping work environments. By encouraging teams to challenge these silent boundaries, Agile coaching not only aims to improve workflow but also to humanize the workplace, making it more receptive to change and innovation.

Awareness of Culture in Agile Practices

“Can we even think outside our language?”

The challenge for Agile coaches and Scrum Masters lies in becoming deeply aware of the surrounding culture and its influence on thought and action. By critically examining workplace norms and practices, Agile professionals can identify and challenge the limitations imposed by current systems of work. This awareness is crucial in fostering an environment where innovation thrives and work is humanized, reflecting the core goals of Agile methodology.

Philosophical Inspirations

“I’m curious on what I learn from literature. It helps to understand, and develop empathy.”

Michelle’s coaching philosophy is enriched by a broad spectrum of historical and literary insights, demonstrating a deep-seated belief in the value of diverse perspectives. Beyond Foucault, she draws inspiration from literature and other historical accounts of thought, believing that understanding different mental frameworks can enhance empathy and effectiveness in her coaching practice. Books like Edgar Schein’s explorations of organizational culture further contribute to her holistic approach.

Exploring Systems of Control

“Understanding ‘coercive persuasion’ sheds light on resistance to change.”

For those interested in delving deeper into the concepts of systems of control and their implications for learning and adaptation, Michelle recommends an article from the Harvard Business Review by Edgar Schein. This resource provides insights into ‘coercive persuasion’ and the natural resistance to change, topics that are crucial for Agile coaches aiming to navigate and mitigate these challenges in their organizations.

About Michelle Pauk

Michelle Pauk is the founder of Streamside Coaching, where she helps leaders and organizations thrive with change. She has over 15 years of experience working in diverse agile environments as a Product Owner, Scrum Master, project manager, and Agile coach. She is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation and has a master’s degree in leadership and organizational development.

You can link with Michelle Pauk on LinkedIn.

Inga Bergmann: Empathy in Action, How Great Product Owners Help Their Agile Teams Succeed

The Great Product Owner: Empathy in Action, How Great PO’s Help Their Agile Teams Succeed

This episode shines a spotlight on a Product Owner whose empathy and people-centric approach set a gold standard for the role. Inga emphasizes how caring, empathy, and effective communication can elevate team creativity and bonding. Through this inspiring story, listeners will discover the transformative power of a Product Owner in harmonizing team dynamics and fostering an environment where people and projects thrive together.

The Bad Product Owner: The Trust Divide, When Product Owners Destroy Trust in Their Interactions With Agile Teams

This Product Owner constantly undermined team estimates. We take that example of a PO anti-pattern as the story that allows us to understand the nuances of trust, pressure, and negotiation. We also discuss how to engage constructively with such Product Owners. Inga’s approach to understanding and addressing the underlying pressures faced by Product Owners provides a compelling case study on fostering healthier team dynamics.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Inga Bergmann

Inga is an empathic provocateur dedicated to unlocking the potential of teams on their way to high-performance. As Agile and Organizational Coach, she fosters psychological safe and thought-provoking environments where human-centred approaches and agile principles apply. She emphasizes trust and meaningful connections as enablers of successful collaboration and growth.

You can link with Inga Bergmann on LinkedIn.

Stephanie Cully: How To Lead with Empathy, The Story of an Open-Minded Scrum Product Owner

The Great Product Owner: Leading with Empathy, The Story of an Open-Minded PO

In this episode, Stephanie discusses her experience with an exceptional Product Owner (PO) who, despite having no prior experience in Agile and Scrum, demonstrated a remarkable willingness to learn and adapt. The PO’s approach was characterized by asking questions, seeking help, and engaging in training sessions to better understand Agile practices. This openness extended to discussions about customer pain points and the user journey, contributing significantly to the team’s ability to deliver effectively. The PO’s caring attitude towards the team and flexibility in adapting to the developers’ needs further exemplified the qualities of a great PO.

The Bad Product Owner: Addressing the Root Causes of an Absent PO

In this segment, Stephanie shares an experience with a Product Owner (PO) who was essentially absent, leaving a Business Analyst (BA) to handle product prioritization. The BA inadvertently compounded the issue by taking on the PO’s responsibilities instead of addressing the root cause together with the team and the PO. Stephanie intervened to emphasize the importance of understanding why the PO was unavailable, revealing that the PO was overwhelmed with multiple roles. Through facilitating direct conversations among the BA, developers, and stakeholders, Stephanie highlighted the need for clear roles and effective time management in agile teams.
If you are facing a similar situation, where the PO is mostly absent, you may want to review our Sprint Checklist, which helps you have a coaching conversation with the PO, and define clear expectations about participation in the work with the team.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Stephanie Cully

Stephanie Cully is a Scrum Master, and CEO of Scrum Life Consulting. Stephanie founded Scrum Life with a mission to help Scrum Masters overcome self-doubt and land the role.

You can link with Stephanie Cully on LinkedIn.

Eliza Gregory: Strategies for Dealing with a Misaligned Product Owner

The Great Product Owner: Caring, Committed, and Capable: Traits of a Great Product Owner

In this episode, Eliza emphasizes that a great PO genuinely cares about the team, the product, and the project. They have a strong desire to perform well and ensure the success of the team. Eliza mentions the importance of reminding the PO to take breaks and rest, if they may have a tendency to shoulder too much responsibility. A great PO should be able to say “no” when necessary, demonstrating their care for the team’s workload and effectively prioritizing tasks to align with the product’s goals. Overall, a great PO is someone who combines a genuine concern for the team, a passion for the product, and the ability to make informed decisions for the project’s success.

The Bad Product Owner: Strategies for Dealing with a Misaligned Product Owner

In this episode, Eliza discusses the challenges of working with a bad Product Owner (PO) who was new to the company, and exhibited behaviors that were not in the team’s best interest, despite claiming to support change and act as a catalyst for it. In meetings, the PO constantly fought against change and advocated for the status quo. Additionally, they frequently interrupted and spoke over the team, and even asked the Scrum Master for more command and control.

Eliza found it confusing that the PO seemed to be fighting against Agile principles and stepping on the team’s autonomy. Eventually, Eliza left the company, but learned that the PO had conflicts with other Agile coaches and managers as well.

She provides tips for dealing with such situations, including having one-on-one conversations with the PO and coaching them as part of the Scrum Master’s role. Creating a safe space for the team to express themselves without interruptions is crucial, and understanding the perspective and background of the PO is also important. Eliza suggests getting training to better understand the PO’s job. Overall, the episode highlights the challenges posed by a bad Product Owner and offers strategies for managing and coaching them effectively.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Eliza Gregory

Eliza Gregory has worked as a Project Manager, Scrum Master, and Agile Coach for U.S. Defense and the German automotive industry. She uses teachings from Agile to hone her writing process, and has a new novel out this May about an IT Project Manager coping with burnout and work stress. Originally from Virginia, she now resides in Bavaria, Germany.

You can link with Eliza Gregory on LinkedIn and connect with Eliza Gregory on Twitter, and you can read about her novel Painting the Whiskey Blue.

Get These Valuable Lessons Today!
Down-to-earth, hard-earned Scrum Masters lessons and the Tips from the Trenches e-book table of contents, delivered by email
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Internal Conference
Checklist
Internal Conference
Checklist
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Motivate your team with the right metrics, and the right way to visualize and track them. Marcus presents a detailed How-To document based on his experience at The Bungsu Hospital
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A moving story of how work at the Bungsu Hospital was transformed by a simple tool that you can use to help your team.
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
NEW! FREE Product Owner Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
NEW! FREE Product Owner Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
NEW! Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
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NEW! Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
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