Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst): the downward spiral that starts when teams don’t “own” the product

In this episode, we talk about motivation and engagement. Jassy shares with us the most common anti-pattern he has seen in teams. It starts with a lack of identification or empathy with the product. Followed by the “we are doing this for someone else” dynamic, leading to further disengagement. Finally, we talk about some of the things that Scrum Masters can do to help their teams get out of that downward spiral.

Featured book of the week: Momo, by Michael Ende

In Momo by Michael Ende, Jassy found a story about time and effort that constantly inspires him in his role as Scrum Master. In the words of the then Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland, in his New Year Address to the nation on January 1, 1997: “People are persuaded to save time by eliminating everything not useful. One of the people so influenced cuts out his girlfriend, sells his pet, stops singing, reading and visiting friends. In this way he will supposedly become an efficient man getting something out of life. What is strange is that he is in a greater hurry than ever. The saved-up time disappears – and he never sees it again.

About Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst)

Jassy moved from developer to being a Scrum Master and then a freelancer. He calls himself:  the person to contact for help in On-Boardings, as well as a friend of bottom-up, power to the people! No top-down, no micro-management. No despotism in agile software development.

You can link with Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst) on LinkedIn, or XING and connect with Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst) on Twitter.

Bradley Pohl: how to work with a team of outside contractors

Working with a team of contractors can be a savior for some organizations. However, there are specific challenges that come with using “outsiders” to do significant projects in any organization. In this episode, we discuss one of the anti-patterns that come with teams of contractors: the lack of future outlook. We also discuss some of the important lessons Bradley learned and how to prepare for when you need to work with a team of contractors.

Featured Book of the Week: Drive by Daniel Pink

In Drive by Daniel Pink, Bradley found the 3 aspects of motivation that later helped him work with the teams he facilitates. In this episode, we also refer to Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins and Mindset Growth by Carol Dweck.

About Bradley Pohl

Bradley is a young Scrum Master working for a mid-sized US bank that is currently undergoing an “Agile Transformation.” As a part of the Transformation, his training consisted of a 4 week Agile boot camp that was designed to build scrum masters from the ground-up. In his free time, he applies lean and agile principles to designing websites and providing social media advertising to local small business as Catch On, at catchontech.com.

You can link with Bradley Pohl on LinkedIn.

Jeremy Willets: how interruptions kill Scrum team effectiveness and efficiency

A team was given a new assignment. They would finally start developing a cool new technology that they had wanted to focus on for a while. They were assigned full-time to this new project. What’s not to like? Well… It’s never that simple. Scrum teams don’t exist in a vacuum, and soon enough the “old” work started interrupting the “new and cool tech project”! Listen and learn what happened to that team.

In this episode, we refer to the book: Principles of Product Development Flow by Don Reinertsen.

Featured Book for the Week: Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business by David Anderson

In Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business by David Anderson, Jeremy found that Scrum needs to evolve, and that following Scrum as such may not be the best option for you, or your teams. In Kanban, David Anderson answers the following questions:

  • What is Kanban?
  • Why would I want to use Kanban?
  • How do I go about implementing Kanban?
  • How do I recognize improvement opportunities and what should I do about them?

About Jeremy Willets

Jeremy Willets is a Technical Writer turned Scrum Master/Agile Coach. He’s passionate about bringing Agile to all facets of his organization. He enjoys spending time with his family, making music, and drinking the finest craft beer the world has to offer!

You can link with Jeremy Willets on LinkedIn and connect with Jeremy Willets on Twitter.

Elena Popretinskaya: Definition of Ready, a Scrum tool to help teams start a Story on the right foot

Teams that are motivated, can also find themselves in trouble. This happens, for example, when teams are eager to get started and rush into implementing stories that are not well understood or defined.

In this episode, we talk about the possible pitfalls of being “too” driven, and how we can help teams get ready to start implementing before committing to early.

In this episode, we refer to a tool called “Definition or Ready”, a simple checklist (à lá Definition of Done) that helps teams make sure that they have enough information to get started implementing.

Featured Book for the Week: Emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman

In Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Elena found an explanation and a reminder that humans are not computers. We are emotional creatures. Our emotions drive our behavior as much as anything else.

About Elena Popretinskaya

Elena considers herself a lifetime learner (she says, she absolutely loves having “aha!” moments). And she especially enjoys learning together with and from other people: her team and her friends. Elena is curious about everything: people, software craftsmanship and the world around. Elena is also a passionate hiker and a cross-country skier 🙂

You can link with Elena Popretinskaya on LinkedIn and connect with Elena Popretinskaya on Twitter.

Catrine Björkegren: How to avoid the “hero” anti-pattern in Scrum teams

In some teams, the division of work leads to having people who are the “heroes” for some part of the product. This siloing of expertise leads to many anti-patterns, and as Scrum Masters, we must be aware of those, and be ready to act and help teams overcome the problems that come with this “hero” anti-pattern.

In this episode, we talk about #MobProgramming and the Promiscuous Pairing paper by Arlo Belshee (PDF download).

Featured Book of the Week: Training from the Back of the Room by Sharon Bowman

The Scrum Master’s work includes training and workshop facilitation. It’s important that we learn how to help people learn in a classroom setting. In Training from the Back of the Room by Sharon Bowman, Catrine found a new way to look at how to organize and facilitate training. Thanks to that book Caterine changed how she hosts/facilitates training and workshops for teams and stakeholders.


About Catrine Björkegren

Agile coach and scrum master, Catrine has worked with agile for a decade in various areas like education, nuclear waste, government agencies, pharmaceutical and at the Royal Swedish Opera.

She believes that co-location is the key to building teams and that leadership is the key to successful agile transformation.

You can link with Catrine Björkegren on LinkedIn and connect with Catrine Björkegren on Twitter.

Kristopher Stice-Hall: What can happen when the Product Owner and Team fail to collaborate

The interaction between teams and Product Owner is one of the most critical in Scrum. Sometimes teams forget that the PO must be involved in the decisions they make every day. Decisions such as prioritization, technical / functionality trade-offs, etc. If teams start making those decisions without PO involvement they endanger the success of the product. How can Scrum Masters help the teams involve the PO in the right decisions? That’s what we tackle in this episode.

Are you having trouble helping the team working 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/coachyourpo18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

Featured book of the Week: User Stories Applied, by Mike Cohn

In the User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn, Kristopher found a good, practical guide to help teams learn how to use User Stories to their advantage, especially to take in the customer/user point of view.

About Kristopher Stice-Hall

Is the co-owner of Digital Maelstrom, a consultancy specializing in custom software, DevOps, managed cloud services, and information security. He has been doing Scrum Master work for over 10 years. He has worked with fortune 500 companies to companies less than 15 people. He also has been doing software development for 17 years.

You can link with Kristopher Stice-Hall on LinkedIn and connect with Kristopher Stice-Hall on Twitter.

Varun Maheshwari: How to help teams move from reporting to collaboration

Sometimes teams enter the “reporting” anti-pattern. Teams exhibiting this anti-pattern are focused on just describing what they have done, but spend little time discussing the value or the reasons why that work is important. In the end, the daily meeting is the engine of collaboration, and as Scrum Masters we need to focus on collaboration more than status reporting. In this episode we discuss how we can help teams move from reporting to collaboration.

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum Product Ownership by Robert Galen

Scrum Product Ownership by Robert Galen is a book with practical advice, real-world tactics, and stories to help understand and shape the Product Owner role. The book is full of ideas that focus on helping the Team and the PO deliver on the promise of Scrum.

About Varun Maheshwari

Varun is a Scrum Master and agile practitioner in Australia. He believes in “being agile” rather than “doing agile”. For him, Agile frameworks are not the goal, but rather “Delighting customers, Zero Defects, Quick ROI, Better team work, Excellent Quality & Shortest ‘Time to Market’” are some of the possible goals.

You can link with Varun Maheshwari on LinkedIn.

Elena Astilleros on a step-by-step approach to help Scrum teams in crisis

Elena joined a team that was about to implode. We discuss the context, what was causing the problems, and then share a step-by-step approach to help teams that are in crisis.

Featured Book of the Week: Coaching Agile Teams, by Lysa Adkins

Elena shares with us 3 books, from The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler, to Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown and Coaching Agile Teams by Lysa Adkins.

In Coaching Agile Teams, Elena found a good reminder of how Scrum Masters and team members should be aware of how they relate to each other and how that can have a huge impact on the team’s performance.

About Elena Astilleros

Elena coaches people who hate wasting their time with badly run agile ceremonies, meetings or projects. She gives them tools to get more out of their time while sprinkling in a little enthusiasm and cheerleading. You can find some of her tools in the forthcoming book Invisible Leader.

You can link with Elena Astilleros on LinkedIn and connect with Elena Astilleros on Twitter.

Eduardo Ribeiro: is the Scrum team really that good, or just not willing to improve?

Sometimes, Scrum teams are not facing any challenges. They might even be “good” at what they are doing. When that happens, it is a sign that Scrum Masters must pay extra attention to the team dynamics and the relationship with their stakeholders. Is the team really that good, or is it so that they are just getting comfortable with the status quo and not willing to improve anymore?

Featured Book of the Week: Agile Software Development by Schwaber and Beedle

The “black book of Scrum”, Agile Software Development by Schwaber and Beedle was the first book published on Scrum and it helped Eduardo understand Scrum and why it was created. It also helps Scrum Masters prepare their arguments for the adoption of Scrum when that is necessary.

About Eduardo Ribeiro

Eddy is passionate about helping people, teams, and organizations foster a culture of continuous improvement where experimentation and embracing change becomes part of their DNA.

He’s also the author of the Beyond Lean Agile Blog, a Co-Founder of the Lean Coffee Portugal Community, Founder of Agile Online Community and Co-Founder & Director of Startup Grind Porto.

You can link with Eduardo Ribeiro on LinkedIn and connect with Eduardo Ribeiro on Twitter.

Nedeljko Damnjanovic: how to help teams that are new to Scrum

As Scrum Masters, sometimes we work with teams that are at the start of their learning journey with Scrum. These teams might even be motivated, and committed teams. But there are many aspects of Scrum that can only be learned with experience. In this episode, we talk about the possible problems we face when working with “new” teams, and how we can help them survive their first Scrum implementation.

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts

In Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts, Nedeljko found a great list of examples on what differentiates good from great Scrum Masters. He found also many patterns that helped him solve the problems he was facing in his Scrum Master role.

You can find the Scrum Master Toolbox episode with Geoff Watts here.

About Nedeljko Damnjanovic

Nedeljko is a Scrum Master and a full-stack developer who has been in the IT industry for the better part of the decade. He spent the last 5 years actively working as a Scrum Master with many diverse teams and projects who has helped him understand his role better. One of the core developers of the first VivifyScrum release, he has participated in its development product-wise ever since.

You can link with Nedeljko Damnjanovic on LinkedIn.

You can find Nedeljko and the rest of the team at VivifyScrum on twitter.