Elena Astilleros: When culture is used as an excuse for the Status Quo

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a popular phrase that tries to highlight the importance of culture. However, sometimes culture can be used to hide. Teams that use the “it’s not in our culture” phrase a lot may be avoiding facing a change that is staring them in the face. How do we know when culture is a real obstacle or just an excuse? That’s what we talk about in this Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast.

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.

How the right metric, communicated the right way can engage your team. By Marcus Hammarberg

This is a guest post by Marcus Hammarberg, author of Salvation: The Bungsu Story, How Lean and Kanban saved a small hospital in Indonesia. Twice. And can help you reshape work in your company. (available on Amazon)

When we first started to work with the Bungsu hospital they were in a devasting situation. Their finances were at an all-time low after years of decline in patient visits. Their operational permit had not been renewed and they were operating on probation, the staff was disengaged and blasé … oh, and one more thing: the roof of the entire second floor had collapsed.

Still, to my great surprise, not many people were upset, engaged or even cared about the survival of the hospital.

Fast forward 1,5 years and you would see a hospital that was making money every day, had not only an operational permit but also got awards for their services, happy and engaged staff … oh yes, and they had a newly renovated roof.

We didn’t hire or fire a single person during this time – and all the work to save The Bungsu was done by the people in the hospital, I merely acted as a guide for new ways of working.

In the end, we turned the hospital from a situation where only the director and her closest staff cared, to a situation where 100 people in the hospital were actively engaged in everyday improvements.

How is this possible? What kind of magic was applied?

We soon realized that the scary state of the hospital’s finances was not only our number one priority but it was also too vague for the staff when expressed in numbers. Billions of rupiah in deficit didn’t mean a thing for the staff.

First of all, those numbers were unrelatable for the average employee, even if we broke it down per day. Saying “we need 18.000.000 rupias per day” to someone that earns 1.000.000 per month doesn’t spark engagement.

We need 18.000.000 rupias per day!

Secondly, and perhaps most important, the staff in the hospital was not interested in budgets, forecasts or financial plans. They worked with patients! We needed something more concrete and closer to their day-to-day reality.

Armed with those two realizations we started to track “the number of patients we served per day”. We hoped this concrete metric would engage the staff. The numbers of presented were truly awful; our financial target was 134 services sold per day and we were averaging on 60-70. Half of what we needed to be able to improve the financial situation!

our financial target was 134 services sold per day and we were averaging on 60-70. Half of what we needed to survive!

I was shocked but the reaction in the room was something very different. Indifferent, unfocused or the occasional shrug. Almost angry, I got up and added a new line, for the number of patients required to break-even; 120. In my upset mood I blurted out:

Below this line we lose money by having the hospital open and we may need to close it!

That got their attention. The jaws of the 70 people in the room dropped to the floor at once. We now had our one metric that matters and most importantly: everyone understood it.

In the next blog post, you will see how this metric, visualized and understandable not only helped us focus on what is important but also made us into a team.

Do you need the one metric that matters to engage your team? This booklet is for you!

In the Bungsu’s Pirate Code for Visualization downloadable booklet I will go into details on how we made this “one metric that matters” engaging, kept it relevant and ultimately saved the hospital by keeping our focus there – using what we referred to as the Bungsu Pirate Code. Click here to download your guide to using the “one metric that matters” in your own team.

This is a very actionable tool that you can you use today in your organisation to make your visualizations matter to everyone all the time.

The Bungsu Story is a fascinating account of a real-life crisis, and how Agile, Lean and Kanban saved the Hospital from bankruptcy! Twice! Get ready for the journey, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

About Marcus Hammarberg

Marcus is the author of Salvation: The Bungsu Story (available on Amazon), an inspiring and actionable story about how simple tools can help transform the productivity and impact of an organization. The real-life stories in The Bungsu can help you transform the productivity of your team. Marcus is also an renowned author and consultant in the Kanban community, he authored the book Kanban in Action with Joakim Sundén.
You can link with Marcus Hammarberg on LinkedIn, and connect with Marcus Hammarberg on twitter.

Eduardo Ribeiro on how to deal with conservative cultures in Scrum teams

In some cultures, people value tradition and what has happened before. They might even look wearingly to the outside and focus more on their “internal” knowledge. That’s a problem for Scrum teams, but some teams live and breath that kind of culture. How can Scrum Masters help teams get out of their “self” focus and learn more from others and newer approaches to work? That’s the question we discuss in this episode.

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 do your teams receive and integrate new team members?

Nedeljo is a natural of Serbia, a place where people are hospitable and friendly. In this episode, we talk about how do teams interact and integrate new team members. We also talk about how some cultures will accept that approach much more eagerly than others. How do your teams receive and integrate new team members?

In this episode, we refer to Management 3.0, the framework developed by Jurgen Appelo that offers simple techniques for many of the challenges Scrum Masters and managers face when working with Scrum teams.

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.

Henrique Centieiro: navigating introvert/extrovert cultures in Scrum teams

When working with teams from different cultures, one of the characteristics that Scrum Masters will notice is the introvert/extrovert culture split. Some teams will naturally be more extrovert, while other teams will naturally be more introvert. Scrum Masters must be aware of the dominant temperament for their teams and use that to help teams collaborate, especially when there are contrasting cultures in one team.

About Henrique Centieiro

Henrique is a Blockchain Product Manager (i.e. dealing with the blockchain related features/user stories of the product). He is passionate about teams and agile, using scrum to manage even his personal tasks.

You can link with Henrique Centieiro on LinkedIn.

Ajeet Singh: how to help multi-cultural Scrum teams

In today’s software development world, having multiple cultures in one team is quite common. That presents specific challenges for Scrum Masters, who must be able to help teams where contrasting cultures must co-exist.

In this episode, we talk about the possible challenges Scrum Masters may face when working with multi-cultural teams and also how they can help those teams jell and collaborate productively.

About Ajeet Singh

Ajeet is an IT professional with 17 years of delivery experience in application development, system integration and software testing. He’s served as a ScrumMaster for over 3.5 years for the clients of USA, UK and Australian geographies.

You can link with Ajeet Singh on LinkedIn and connect with Ajeet Singh on Twitter.

Tilman Rumland how Scrum Masters help avoid conflicts when teams communicate in other languages

In multinational companies, the usual communication language (English, in many) is not the native language for many of the team members and even stakeholders. As Scrum Masters we must be aware of this and prepare to avoid the expected misunderstandings and possible conflicts. Tilman shares his tips on what Scrum Masters can to to handle multinational teams that don’t share a common native language.

About Tilman Rumland

Tilman Rumland is an agile coach, expert speaker, and productivity enthusiast. He just released his new workshop series: “getting shit done that really matters to you”. As a scrum master, he implemented agile structures to agrilution, a small scale vertical farming startup, ranked on the Forbes TOP 100 innovative German Startups. (www.agrilution.com)

You can link with Tilman Rumland on LinkedIn.

Raluca Mitan: How Scrum Masters can work with contrasting cultural expectations

When we work in international teams, the cultures team members bring with them become a critical factor in the work of Scrum Masters. How can we help team members with completely different expectations to work together? In this episode, we discuss the contrast between open and closed cultures, and what Scrum Masters need to do to help those different cultures work well together.

About Raluca Mitan

Raluca calls herself a recovering Project Manager that discovered Agile and somehow the “good, the bad and the ugly” received distinctive names.

She loves her job and practices Accelerated Learning to achieve her Goals (to become a Scrum Master Trainer for Scrum Alliance, to write a book, acknowledged as an Inventor, share her ideas to the world and with her daughters).

And maybe someday to be a Bonus Podcast guest on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast :).

You can link with Raluca Mitan on LinkedIn and read Raluca Mitan’s blog.

Doug Knesek on how individualist cultures affect Scrum adoption

What can we learn from individualist cultures, and how they affect Scrum and Agile adoption?

We discuss how the Wisconsin natives look at the Scrum values and what might be some of the challenges they face when trying to put those in practice.

About Doug Knesek

Doug has been an agilist since before it was cool, as his first agility client can attest. He is currently the Director of Agile Development & Coaching at Wisconsin-based Flexion inc., leading agile teams that serve both private and public sector clients. His current hobby is thinking beyond agility, to antifragility.

You can link with Doug Knesek on LinkedIn and connect with Doug Knesek on Twitter.

Anja Bonatto-Minella on how direct cultures follow the values of Scrum

Anja shares her experience in Germany. We discuss how people express their ideas in that culture, and how direct they can be. We also discuss why that’s important in Scrum, especially in Retrospectives, when we must address topics quickly and find solutions or changes to help the team progress.

About Anja Bonatto-Minella

Working with agile and scrum only since for a year Anja still considers herself a scrum-beginner. Before starting at her currrent job which brought her into the world of agile, she studied physics and then worked in research for several years.

You can link with Anja Bonatto-Minella on LinkedIn.