Meena Venkataraman: Customer Feedback Loops – Key to Building the Right Product, the Agile Way!

The Great Product Owner: Customer Feedback Loops: Key to Building the Right Product, the Agile Way!

In this segment, Meena describes a great product owner who was very effective at product discovery. This PO paired hypothesis with metrics to ensure that what was being built was what the customer wanted. He focused on feedback loops, using customer interviews to learn about the flow and using that feedback to inform delivery decisions. The PO also involved the team in interpreting the numbers, which helped the team understand how to build the right thing.

The Bad Product Owner: Technical Leadership Challenges in Product Ownership, leaving the tech lead role behind

Meena shared a story about a product owner who transitioned from being a senior developer and was unable to let go of technical leadership. This resulted in the PO intimidating the team by providing specific solutions and telling them exactly what to do, creating an unhealthy dependency. Meena gave one-on-one feedback to the PO, and appealed to the PO’s human relations ability. She emphasizes the importance of coaching and giving feedback to the PO, and not just focusing on the rules.

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About Meena Venkataraman

Meena is an Agile & Lean coach who helps organizations and teams transition to Agile ways of working. She is passionate about the neuroscience behind team dynamics and is interested in organizational design and the application of Agile principles across different business domains. Meena enjoys speaking at conferences and is an avid learner.

You can link with Meena Venkataraman on LinkedIn.

Meena Venkataraman: Knowing When to Step Back, a Scrum Master superpower

In this segment, Meena shares how, as a scrum master, she strives to step back once the team is self-sufficient.

Meena mentions that it is important to make sure that there is no unhealthy dependency between the team and the scrum master. To do this, the scrum master needs to ensure that they are not the only one who can resolve conflicts and that the team is communicating effectively with stakeholders.

The success of a scrum master is also measured by whether the team is delivering a quality product. Meena provides several tips for scrum masters, including making sure that it’s not about them, and observing the behaviors of the team to determine if they can self-manage.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Simple and effective conversation focused formats

In this segment, Meena shares that when it comes to retrospectives, she prefers to focus on simplicity and creating conversations with the team. She emphasizes the importance of creating insights and actions with the team, rather than just generating data. Meena shares a tip to ask questions that crystallize insights and anchor them in the agile principles.

She also shares a story about observing a retro led by someone else where there was a lot of data but no actionable insights. Meena emphasizes that retros are great places for scrum masters to coach and that it’s not about the format, but rather about anchoring questions in the agile principles.

In this segment, we refer to a shared whiteboard tool named MURAL.

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About Meena Venkataraman

Meena is an Agile & Lean coach who helps organizations and teams transition to Agile ways of working. She is passionate about the neuroscience behind team dynamics and is interested in organizational design and the application of Agile principles across different business domains. Meena enjoys speaking at conferences and is an avid learner.

You can link with Meena Venkataraman on LinkedIn.

Meena Venkataraman: Coaching Stakeholders and product owners, a critical aspect of the Scrum Master role

In this episode, Meena shared her experience coaching a team where the Product Owner (PO) was hostile towards her. The PO had previously been a project manager with control over many aspects of the project, and had trouble adjusting to the new role in Agile. Meena observed that the team was using a mix of Scrum and Waterfall practices, and the PO was still using language like “resources” and moving team members around like Lego pieces.

Meena worked with the team to establish common vocabulary and practices through training and discussions, but found it challenging to help the PO understand the Agile approach. Meena emphasized the importance of working with early adopters in the team and coaching stakeholders outside of the team. Overall, the experience highlights the challenges of change management in Agile and the need for patience, education, and communication to help teams and stakeholders understand and adopt new practices.

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About Meena Venkataraman

Meena is an Agile & Lean coach who helps organizations and teams transition to Agile ways of working. She is passionate about the neuroscience behind team dynamics and is interested in organizational design and the application of Agile principles across different business domains. Meena enjoys speaking at conferences and is an avid learner.

You can link with Meena Venkataraman on LinkedIn.

Meena Venkataraman: Building Psychological Safety, lessons from helping an Agile team to share interpersonal feedback

In this segment, Meena shares her experience coaching a team that struggled to take off and was stuck in a cycle. Despite being nice to each other during scrum events, team members were not sharing feedback with each other, and psychological safety was not present in the team. Meena stresses the importance of having hard conversations and discussing the interpersonal topics in the team, and she suggests that teams should have the necessary tools to talk about difficult topics.

By highlighting the value that a team coach can bring to a team, Meena emphasizes the importance of psychological safety and how it plays a crucial role in team dynamics. She suggests that teams should be aware of the small things that can become big things and make sure that they are having hard conversations to address interpersonal issues. Ultimately, Meena’s experience coaching this team shows that building a successful team is not just about being nice to each other but also about creating a culture of openness, trust, and psychological safety.

We also discuss how using approaches such as non-violent communication can help the Scrum Master create an open environment that is also psychologically safe.

Featured Book of the Week: Sooner Safer Happier, by Jonathan Smart

In this segment, Meena Venkataraman recommends the book “Sooner Safer Happier: Antipatterns and Patterns for Business Agility” by Jonathan Smart as a valuable resource for scrum masters. She notes that as a scrum master, it’s important to have a holistic view of agile and to be “T-Shaped” – understanding the various facets of product development. Meena highlights that the book brings the 12 principles of agile to life and is a resource she refers to often.

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About Meena Venkataraman

Meena is an Agile & Lean coach who helps organizations and teams transition to Agile ways of working. She is passionate about the neuroscience behind team dynamics and is interested in organizational design and the application of Agile principles across different business domains. Meena enjoys speaking at conferences and is an avid learner.

You can link with Meena Venkataraman on LinkedIn.

Meena Venkataraman: Dealing with Dysfunctions in the Wider System, a story of Agile adoption

Meena discusses her lessons learned from her first experience in navigating agile adoption. She emphasizes how important it is for us to have a sponsor in our role as Scrum Masters, and notes that we should look out for anti-patterns such as agile being just a buzzword. Meena also highlights the importance of dealing with dysfunctions in the wider system and staying neutral while accepting when things don’t work. She suggests coaching managers and asking questions before accepting a job to understand how the organization works. Meena also suggests investigating conversations to find out more about people and aligning expectations with a sponsor as a coach or Scrum Master.

Overall, Meena’s lessons learned highlight the importance of navigating change with patience.

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About Meena Venkataraman

Meena is an Agile & Lean coach who helps organizations and teams transition to Agile ways of working. She is passionate about the neuroscience behind team dynamics and is interested in organizational design and the application of Agile principles across different business domains. Meena enjoys speaking at conferences and is an avid learner.

You can link with Meena Venkataraman on LinkedIn.

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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
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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
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Internal Conference
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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
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NEW! FREE Product Owner Mini-Summit
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Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.