Sometimes, when team members leave the team, the ones that stay behind have a lot to deal with. The uncertainty caused by team members that leave can lead to negative anti-patterns. In this episode, we discuss some of the actions Scrum Masters can take to take care of the team, even when some of the team members are leaving.
Featured Book of the Week: Crucial Conversations by Patterson et al.
Anu is a software tester turned Scrum master. She worked as Software QA in India for 6 years and then moved to Berlin to complete her Masters in Business Administration. She has been working as a Scrum Master for 3 years in an agency and has learned, first hand, the challenges of working with Agile in an agency.
When we start out as a Scrum Master we might not yet be able to detect the anti-patterns that may develop in teams. That lack of experience can turn against us. One anti-pattern that emerges over and over again is that of the “hero”. In this episode, we explore what leads people to assume the “hero” role and how that negatively affects the team.
Deadlines cause all kinds of side effects in team’s behavior. In this story, Denniz saw that the deadline pressure was increasing, and the teams were starting to show signs of stress. However, the teams were still trying to “power through” those deadlines, and they started to skip things. As it usually happens, at some point they started to skip important things. Listen in to learn how Denniz helped the team step back from that self-destructive behavior.
Featured Book of the Week: The Skilled Facilitator by Roger Schwarz
In The Skilled Facilitator by Roger Schwarz, Denniz found something that was in stark contrast with the command and control mindset. The book helped him understand his role as a facilitator, create approaches that favored collaboration and mutual learning, collaborative games, and more. All of it with backing from decades of research. As Scrum Masters, being a facilitator is perhaps the most important role we play, and this book helped Denniz learn a lot about what that role means in practice.
Denniz has both huge academic and practical experience. He studied agile teams for his PhD at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) before becoming a Scrum Master and freelance consultant in 2016. Denniz believes the key to becoming more agile is to establish what he calls “enabling structures.”
When a team started to have “backchannel” conversations and excluding some team members from those conversations, it was clear that something was going on that was not allowed to be discussed in the wider team. Samantha and Brian then focused on helping the team share what was going on in a safe way. Listen in to learn about what was holding the team back from discussing the important topics.
Featured Book of the Week: Ideal Team Player by Lencioni and Difficult Conversations by Stone et al.
In Ideal Team Player by Lencioni Samantha found a great reference for a team that had to go through a recruiting process. The book helped the team reflect and choose the right candidate, by working together to define what they were looking for in a candidate beyond the technical skills.
Samantha Menzynski has spent her entire career in software. Starting in support and account management, moving to customer support management, and with Penta’s transformation to Scrum becoming Scrum Master for the Core product team.
Brian Ziebart started his career in software as a developer, but found himself wanting to move towards coaching and developing people rather than product development. When Penta’s Scrum transformation started in August 2019, he jumped at the opportunity to work more with people while still staying involved with development.
In certain teams, there’s a need to find “the fall guy”, a person that takes the blame for the collective misses of the team. However, even when there is a fall guy, that search for someone to blame leads to many anti-patterns that destroy the team. In this episode, we talk about how we can help teams get out of this anti-pattern and be ready to take the steps necessary to succeed as a team
Featured Book of the Week: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willing
In Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willing, Jeffrey found a great reminder that we must always be asking “how may I contribute to help this team/these teams?” This helped Jeffrey understand how to communicate this aspect to teams and stakeholders. It’s only what we think we own that we are ready to improve.
About Jeffrey Koors
Jeff started his studies and career as a fine artist and has gone on to use his creative thinking and vision to help many organizations find ways to design systems, solve problems and embrace Agile. Jeff is also the co-founder and host of Coaching Agile Journeys.
This team had very talented developers, they were able to work without conflict. But that’s when Charles started to realize that this team might be averse to conflict. Instead of confronting bad ideas, the team would go along with every idea because they didn’t want to start a conflict. In this episode, we talk about The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, where this pattern is explored in detail as part of one of the dysfunctions.
Featured Book of the Week: Turn the Ship Around! By David Marquet
Charles has been working in software development for 16+ years with roles ranging from a database developer to manager to agile coach all in an effort to ‘try to make things better’ for future generations joining the IT industry.
Christian was asked to step in and give his insights on how one team was performing. When he joined a Sprint Planning he saw “finger-pointing” and a culture of blame. When he looked deeper he found some of the patterns that were fostering that culture.
In this episode, we discuss some of the patterns that drive a blame culture.
Featured Book of the Week: Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux
In Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux, Christian found an explanation that helped him understand how organizations change (and don’t), and what are the cultural models that influence organizations’ evolution. He also understood what “value systems” may help or hinder the change we hope to promote when working as Scrum Masters.
Christian is an enthusiastic Release Train Engineer, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, and Facilitator who started his agile journey as a Product Owner. Later he turned his back on technology and focused on people and relationships. He is passionate about creating space for people and teams to be the best they can be.
When Raphael got started, many of his teams still had the back-end and front-end separation clearly visible, to the point of them being separate teams. Raphael found that, in Business Intelligence projects, that separation would cause communication gaps, and started investigating how to go about removing that gap. That led him to work in developing the concept of “generalizing specialists” for his organization, and he shares that process with us, with many tips on how to slowly, but deliberately move towards cross-skilled team members, and cross-functional teams.
Featured Book of the Week: Agile Data Warehouse Design, by Lawrence Core
In Agile Data Warehouse Design by Lawrence Core (check the book’s website), Raphael found an idea that helped him “see” how Agile could be adapted to work in Business Intelligence and Data projects. In the process of developing that idea, Raphael also found out how to involve users directly in the data modeling step, therefore benefiting from very early feedback.
Raphael Branger is a Certified Disciplined Agile Practitioner and a pioneer in adapting agile methods in the context of data and analytics projects. He works as a Principal Consultant Data & Analytics at IT-Logix in Switzerland with more than seventeen years of experience in business intelligence and data warehousing.
Marianne joined a team that was forced to adopt Agile. That’s never an easy assignment, however, things got even worse. She started hearing comments like “Agile ruined my life!” What’s a Scrum Master to do in that situation? We explore how we can work teams that are stuck in the question “why should we adopt Agile?”.
Featured Book of the Week: The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
As part of their interaction with Product Owners and teams, Scrum Masters often have to help facilitation User Story writing sessions. This book helped Marianne learn to think about the user experience. Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, is a seminal book on user experience and usability.
About Marianne Erickson
Always an enthusiastic Agilist, Marianne is proud to be a part of the Agile Transformation Team at AAA, a company that empowers its team members to learn, grow, empower, and do the right thing!
Steve was hired to help the teams go “faster”. However, when he started to see the Product Owners throw their teams under the bus at Sprint Demos he understood that something else was going on. It wasn’t only about helping teams be faster anymore. As he started to dig deeper, he found a culture of fear in the organization and many other anti-patterns that he shares with us. A great story, with lots of warnings for us to keep an eye out for.
Featured Book of the Week: The #NoEstimates Book by Vasco Duarte
In The #NoEstimates Book by Vasco Duarte, Steve found a book that helped him understand what empirical process control is about, and put some things in place on how he approaches teams and their process.
Steve is an Enterprise Agile Coach, Volunteer, Speaker, and Musician in Boston, Massachusetts. When he’s not leading workshops with creative software organizations, he’s probably working on an album or deep in meditation!