When things go wrong, it is critical to help the team prepare how the discuss and recover from bad news. The worst that can happen is when teams (and Scrum Masters) just drop “the bomb” of bad news and put the responsibility on others. In this episode, we talk about how to prepare those tough conversations.
Featured Book of the Week: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Andy has spent the past decade in various industries from Fortune 500 to small and mid-sized companies including Healthcare, Finance, Training and has a background in sales/marketing. He currently leads a team of Scrum Masters in the digital space as well as coaches teams. He has spoken at regional conferences and Agile Meetups on team-building for Distributed teams, how to blend Agile and personal productivity strategies, and how to influence without Authority. He used to live by the Waterfall but got bit by the Agile bug and now is spreading the Agile Mindset wherever he goes.
This team had all the ceremonies in place. They were “doing” Scrum by all accounts. But they weren’t even a team. We explore the “group, not team” anti-pattern with Eddy, and discuss what might be some of the techniques and approaches Scrum Masters can use to help these teams.
Featured Book of the Week: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
In Drive by Daniel Pink, Eddy found a new approach to the eternal question of motivation. He found a new paradigm to help him understand the role of managers and management in organizations.
About Eddy Bruin
For many years, Eddy has been using serious games and learning metaphors to help teams and organizations move forward. He is an Agile and Test Coach with the mission to help teams deliver software people actually want to use while also enjoying their work. He helps teams to enable feedback loops continuously and likes to discuss all agile and test topics over a special beer. He loves to go to (un)conferences on serious games (for example Play14, Play4Agile), and also on Agile and Testing.
As this story starts, the team is buried under technical debt. Why they got there is the topic of this episode’s story. We talk about finding the signs that the team is starting to drown in tech debt, as the recognition of that pattern is the first step to avoid major damage to the team and the product.
Featured Book of the Week: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, Jim found a reminder of some practices that are useful for Scrum Masters. The highlight is the process of “decluttering”, removing the mess we often have to deal with in our teams, our backlogs or in relationships between team members. Jim challenges us to find those “cluttered” areas in our work and ask the team: “do you feel overwhelmed?”
Jim is currently a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and works with an amazing team at Insight as an Agile Coach and trainer for their clients around the world. His time as a Scrum Master was awesome and fueled his passion for agility at all levels.
What happens when team members see themselves as specialists? We discuss some of the common anti-patterns of the specialized team member perspective and talk about the benefits of swarming, an approach where the whole team feels responsible for the deliverables they have to complete, instead of standing by and letting the specialists work alone.
Featured Book of the Week: <Redacted>
Martin wants to share some of the insights that he got from a book he read. The book allowed him to feel free from previous fears, and find space to express his curiosity. This lead to Martin finding a newly rekindled thirst for knowledge. The book? You may want to ask Martin directly on LinkedIn, his LinkedIn page is linked below, in his bio! 🙂
About Martin Lambert
Martin’s an agile coach, trainer and scrum master. He’s a Northener making a living in the south of England, and finds great energy and sense of purpose from the agile movement during the second act of his career. Loves the hills and being out on a road bike. And to all the European listeners, he says: “sorry for you know what”.
Sooner or later, Scrum Masters will face the micro-management anti-pattern. What should Scrum Masters do in that case? In this episode, we talk about the anti-patterns that can emerge in a team that is subject to micro-management and some of the tools that Scrum Masters can use in those situations.
Sometimes team members have significantly different expectations of the Scrum process or any other Agile process. Before we can help that team, we must detect when the team members are growing apart and understand what the expectations are for each one of them.
Stanislava is not only a serious games facilitator and a team coach, but she also spends a considerable amount of time rock-climbing and hiking, traveling with her partner and son, and drawing zentangles.
Working with a team of leaders, Susanne was facing a tough situation. The team was not able to collaborate. When investigating the situation, listening to the team members, and doing her own reflection, she realized what the problem was. In this episode, we talk about a critical need for teams to successfully self-organize, and how the move from micro-management to self-organization is a multistep journey.
Featured Book for the Week: Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz
Susanne is a transition coach, which translates to roles as: change management facilitator, organizational development consultant, scrum master, agile coach and community manager. (Often simultaneously.) Susanne has learned to be adaptable and resilient after having lived in Alaska, Japan, Taiwan and now Germany. She is passionate about accompanying people on journeys of transformation. (And she considers herself an introvert.)
In Agile teams, Leadership has a different role. In this episode, we talk about the traditional approach to leadership in teams. From the technical lead to the line manager, and how those roles should change to enable Agile teams.
Featured Book for the Week: How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
In How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, Izis found a set of tools that help her in her daily work as a Scrum Master. The book was written in the 1930’s, on the back of the Great Depression, and shares some of the techniques that successful people used to achieve in their lives. Dale goes through many of those techniques and outlines simple approaches that can help Scrum Masters also achieve their goals and help their teams.
About Izis Filipaldi
Izis’ mission is to help people to improve their knowledge and professional value inside organizations, applying the agile way of working. She has been working as an Agile Coach for more than 7 years, helping people to deliver products, developing an environment free of judgments where they can fail fast and learn faster. Continuous improvement of: people knowledge, product delivery, and work environment, are her 3 main focus on work. And she loves what she does!
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 team that Nick was working with had trouble delivering on time. When Nick looked into it, he discovered that the team did not take into account all the work necessary to adhere to the Definition of Done. Once he found that, however, he had to work with the team to help them realize what was going on, and how they could become more predictable by simply taking into account what they had committed to: the Definition of Done criteria.
Featured Book of the Week: The Goal by Elyahu Goldratt
When reading The Goal by Goldratt, Nick had a lightbulb moment. In that book, the author describes the impact that one single aspect of work can have: throughput.
The book describes how not paying attention to that aspect may destroy the ability to deliver value.
Nick has worked in the “Projects Space” for the last 5 years, initially working with business change, then in IT using Prince 2, Waterfall and ultimately found Agile organically through pain of delivering projects using the other methodologies. More recently he has taken on a Delivery Lead role which allows him to continue to learn whilst helping teams deliver continuous value.