Stella Ihenacho: From Project Manager to Scrum Master, The Critical Agile Ideas we Need to Adopt

Stella talks about her journey from project manager to Scrum Master, revealing how she struggled to balance both roles. She learned the critical difference between the two, focusing on trust and empowerment for her teams. When it comes to a critical lesson she learned in the process, Stella talks about a developer who resisted support, highlighting the importance of early intervention and effective 1:1s. What can we learn from her transition and the lessons on team support?

The inspiring story of how a failing hospital turned things around with Agile and Lean

Recovering from failure, or difficult moments is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. Not only because of us, but also because the teams, and stakeholders we work with will also face these moments! We need inspiring stories to help them, and ourselves! The Bungsu Story, is an inspiring story by Marcus Hammarberg which shows how a Coach can help organizations recover even from the most disastrous situations! Learn how Marcus helped The Bungsu, a hospital in Indonesia, recover from near-bankruptcy, twice! Using Lean and Agile methods to rebuild an organization and a team! An inspiring story you need to know about! Buy the book on Amazon: The Bungsu Story – How Lean and Kanban Saved a Small Hospital in Indonesia. Twice. and Can Help You Reshape Work in Your Company.

About Stella Ihenacho

Stella is the Manager of the Continuous Improvement and Agility team at RedHat and Agile Faculty Lead at NSTAR Technologies. Dedicated to transforming organizations and individuals through an agile mindset, she believes there’s always room for improvement, even when things aren’t broken.

You can link with Stella Ihenacho on LinkedIn and connect with Stella Ihenacho on Instagram.

Avipaul Bhandari: Measuring Scrum Master Impact Beyond the Lean and Agile Metrics

In this episode, Avipaul explores the the many sides of success for Scrum Masters. Beyond metrics like cycle time and throughput, he emphasizes the importance of team smiles and voluntary contributions.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Timeline Retrospective

In this segment, Avipaul introduces the Timeline Retrospective, ideal for reflecting on the end of a phase. This format connects team members’ emotions to their journey, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of their shared experiences. The timeline retrospective can highlight the human sides projects, and enhance the team’s ability to reflect and learn.

How can I, as a Scrum Master, supercharge my facilitation?

Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox!

About Avipaul Bhandari

Avipaul is a seasoned Agile Coach with extensive experience helping teams and organizations implement Agile practices effectively. His expertise spans various domains, and he is passionate about fostering collaboration and continuous improvement.

You can link with Avipaul Bhandari on LinkedIn and connect with Avipaul Bhandari on Twitter.

Avipaul Bhandari: Why Agile Processes Matter, And How to Help Avoid Deathmarch Projects

Avipaul shares the story of a team working on an iPad app under tight deadlines. They skipped Scrum events, leading to chaos and missed deadlines. In this episode, we explore some of the most common anti-patterns that come from skipping or avoiding Agile processes and the importance of structure for teams, especially when under tight deadlines.

Featured Book of the Week: The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

In this segment, Avipaul shares how “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier,  transformed his approach as a Scrum Master. The book’s seven powerful coaching questions, especially “And what else?”, helped him enhance his coaching skills and deepen his 1:1 interactions.

Transform Your Agile Teams with Hard-Earned Lessons from Super-Experienced Scrum Masters

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!

About Avipaul Bhandari

Avipaul is a seasoned Agile Coach with extensive experience helping teams and organizations implement Agile practices effectively. His expertise spans various domains, and he is passionate about fostering collaboration and continuous improvement.

You can link with Avipaul Bhandari on LinkedIn and connect with Avipaul Bhandari on Twitter.

BONUS: Mastering Work Intake For Agile Teams with Tom Cagley and Jeremy Willets

In this BONUS episode, Tom and Jeremy discuss the main ideas from their latest book on agile transformation and work intake management: Mastering Work Intake: From Chaos to Predictable Delivery. They share some of the main the challenges teams face when trying to adopt agile practices and offer practical strategies for improving work intake processes.

The Trigger for the Book

“Most people who try to transform and be agile don’t do it well. They fail multiple times because they say ‘yes’ to everything, which is a lack of control on work intake.”

Tom emphasizes that many teams struggle with agile transformation, often due to poor management of work intake. He has built a career helping teams that have attempted and failed at this multiple times. The main issue is that they end up saying “yes” to every request, leading to a chaotic work environment, lots of work started, and very little finished.

“We got started during the pandemic. We looked at many books on the topic and saw that it wasn’t tackled very well. ‘Actionable Agile’ and ‘Why Limit WIP’ by Jim Benson inspired us.”

Defining Work Intake and avoiding common mistakes

“We are drowning in work. We use metaphors to define work intake and see that work always finds a way to get done. Initially, we titled this book ‘Work Entry’ because of the idea that work is pushed to people, who naturally say ‘yes’ because they want to help.”

“Work has a way of getting started. Recently, I had water in my basement. I didn’t know where it came from, but the water found a way in. We see this over and over at work. Work just gets in, often because saying ‘no’ feels career-limiting.”

Tom likens unmanaged work intake to water leaking into a basement—inevitable and hard to control. This analogy underscores how work finds its way into a team’s backlog, often because rejecting tasks seems risky.

“Jumping the queue is a very common mistake. Important work always gets done, but we don’t always go through the process of identifying what’s truly important. This leads to ‘fast switching’ between tasks and ‘neglected WIP.'”

Tom highlights the mistake of allowing work to bypass proper prioritization, leading to constant context switching, which makes teams slow, and neglected tasks which rarely or never get completed.

“The goal conflict anti-pattern is another issue. Much of work intake is about the relationships that lead to decision-making.”

Jeremy discusses how conflicting goals and poor relationship management can lead to self-defeating work intake processes.

Key Strategies for Managing Work Intake, and Avoiding the Over-Planning Anti-pattern

“In the book, we present patterns to handle intake management and discuss the Product Owner’s (PO) role. The PO is critical for managing work intake in Scrum, requiring discipline from both the PO and the team.”

Jeremy outlines the importance of having a disciplined Product Owner to manage work intake effectively.

“The problem of team design often causes issues. Many teams work on features while supporting systems that deliver value to customers. This lack of focus is problematic. Building a solid DevOps framework is crucial.”

“Agility means flexibility. We need to prioritize and select work more frequently, getting feedback often to determine if the work is necessary. Refer to ‘Lean Startup’ for more insights.”

Jeremy advocates for flexibility and frequent prioritization over rigid, upfront planning.

“Mapping who is involved in work intake decisions is key. Understanding the feedback loop and how it’s integrated into decision-making helps manage work intake better.”

Tom emphasizes the importance of understanding decision-making processes and who are the stakeholders, to be able to improve those processes through collaboration.

Different Types of Work Mean Different Decision Making!

“People work on features, defects, support, etc. Each requires different management patterns. Recognizing team constraints is crucial for effective work intake.”

Tom explains the need for tailored strategies for different types of work, based on team constraints. Only this “whitebox” approach to work management can help us build a work intake process that helps us manage the work in a way that leads to faster deliveries and more productivity.

As an example, Tom and Jeremy share a story about a company wanting to move to the cloud. Unfortunately, the CEO’s decision overlooked the engineers’ lack of skills, which led to big problems. This story puts emphasis on the importance of aligning work intake with team capabilities.

A Top Tip: Be Mindful and Deliberate About Accepting Work Into Your Backlog!

“We help teams be deliberate about work acceptance by emphasizing relationships and decision-making processes. Effective work intake management reduces disruptions.”

Tips For Product Owners

“Manage work intake across the entire product. It’s more than just planning.” 

“PO is an active role. Help the team make decisions and sequence work.”

Tips For Scrum Masters

“Don’t overlook work intake. Involvement in this aspect is crucial to avoid anti-patterns.” “Defend team boundaries to control work intake.”

The Impact of Applying These Ideas

“It would be a lot calmer and more orderly.”

“We would get a lot more things done, avoiding the anti-pattern of rewarding work starts over finishes.”

About Tom and Jeremy

Tom Cagley is an experienced agile coach and consultant specializing in helping teams manage work intake and improve their agile practices.

You can link with Tom Cagley on LinkedIn. You can also listen to Tom’s podcast, the SPAMCast.

Jeremy Willets is a seasoned agile practitioner and author who has collaborated with Tom on numerous projects, including this book.

You can link with Jeremy Willets on LinkedIn.

Doug Rabow: Continuous Feedback As A Forcing Function For Focus, and Productivity in Agile Teams

The Great Product Owner: Continuous Feedback As A Forcing Function For Focus, and Productivity in Agile Teams

Highlighting the characteristics of an extraordinary Product Owner, Doug shows the importance of questioning, transparency, and customer collaboration in that role. This episode also shows how great Product Owners manage to maintain clarity and progress amidst project uncertainty, and offers insights into practices that promote continuous feedback and adaptive project management.

The Bad Product Owner: The Perils of Isolation, A Product Owner Anti-Pattern That Derails Agile Teams

Doug shares what can happen when the  Product Owner works in isolation. Doug also explains how this approach can derail team progress. Learn about the crucial role of collaboration and problem definition in the Product Owner’s responsibilities.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work 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/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Doug Rabow

Doug is a passionate practitioner of Lean-Agile strategic management with a focus on developing empowered teams and Lean process improvement.

You can link with Doug Rabow on LinkedIn.

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
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
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
Checklist
Internal Conference
Checklist
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
Overcome Team Resistance and Gain Leadership Buy-In
Discover practical, real-world solutions from leading Agile practitioners. Download three free chapters from 'Tips from the Trenches Scrum Master Edition' and start transforming your Agile practices today!
Overcome Team Resistance and Gain Leadership Buy-In
Discover practical, real-world solutions from leading Agile practitioners. Access three free chapters from 'Tips from the Trenches Scrum Master Edition' and start transforming your Agile practices today!
Overcome Team Resistance and Gain Leadership Buy-In
Discover practical, real-world solutions from leading Agile practitioners. Download three free chapters from 'Tips from the Trenches Scrum Master Edition' and start transforming your Agile practices today!
FREE! Audiobook Chapters: Overcome Team Resistance and Gain Leadership Buy-In
Download three free chapters from 'Tips from the Trenches Scrum Master Edition' and start transforming your Agile practices today!
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