Your cultural anti-patterns are AMPLIFIED by remote work. Are you ready? (Tips for Scrum Masters)

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Scrum Masters often have to face cultural anti-patterns when working with teams, and the organizations they are part of. Those cultural anti-patterns are being amplified by the move to #Remote work due to the #covid19 situation.

What can we do? How can we get ready?

Here are some tips to get you started or to help you further adapt to this new reality.

Lack of transparency is even worse when #Remote

There are many Scrum Masters that come on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast and share stories that relate to a culturally-engrained lack of transparency. This lack of transparency takes many forms:

  • Team members don’t share their struggles in the Daily Standup because they perceive that as a sign of weakness (for example)
  • Product Owners don’t share the reasons why certain changes are brought into the Sprint, perhaps because they themselves don’t know
  • Other teams we collaborate with don’t share changes to a dependency we have on them

Whatever symptoms of lack of transparency you experienced when working in the same office, those symptoms will only get worse when our organization moves to #Remote work. Some of the reasons are:

  • Individuals are less engaged and motivated due to the stress, or being distracted by the presence of children while they work, or because they don’t see (and therefore don’t take into account) their colleagues during the day
  • Sudden tasks or priority shifts are communicated to individuals, and the rest of the team isn’t physically present to witness that change
  • Now that we’re distributed we miss out on all the spontaneous collaboration that used to happen.
  • etc.

Tips for Scrum Masters to increase transparency and foster collaboration

As Scrum Masters, we must be deliberate about improving transparency and collaboration in #Remote teams. Our domain of expertise is collaboration, and we must keep adapting to enable collaboration at all times. Here are some tips, that may help you improve transparency, information sharing, and collaboration between team members and with other teams: 

  • Have a collective retrospective with the teams on which your team has regular dependencies
  • Discuss with the Product Owner how to share changes to the Sprint so that all team members are aware and can share their possible impact on the work they have to finish
  • Move to a shorter Sprint. Agile is about creating more, and faster, feedback loops. As we go #Remote those feedback loops are even more important. Shorter sprints provide more transparency (problems are found faster), makes the amount of work smaller which helps with clarity (shorter stories), and with identifying and solving process problems in the team, and across teams
  • Have 2 daily check-ins

  • Integrate more often. If you are integrating with dependant teams at the end of the Sprint, consider bringing their work into your daily build pipeline, or assign specific team members on both teams to work on integration from the start of the sprint
  • Track dependencies on other teams just like you would a User Story. Understanding of dependencies will grow during the Sprint. Make sure you are covering that dependency on the Daily Standup if nothing else to learn that “everything is proceeding according to plan”
  • Create an URGENT Slack/Teams channel, so that team members can always explicitly ask for help to solve a problem they are facing. When #Remote, even waiting one more day can make the problem harder to find.

When we are #Remote, collaboration and cooperation are harder to achieve, and transparency can be a critical trigger for that collaboration to flourish. Consider what you can do as a Scrum Master to improve collaboration. Every day.
Stay Safe, #StayHome

More tips, and more insights from the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

We have started a page to help you deal with the reality of #Remote work. Bookmark this page to easily access all the tips we share related to #Remote work. In this page you will find blog posts, as well as links to the YouTube videos of our LIVE Q&A sessions with #Remote work experts!

Building Skyscrapers and Shattering Dreams in Product Development | Guest post by Rainer Tikk

Rainer Tikk writes this guest blog post about what Product Development looks like from the perspective of a leader of a software organization in a mid-size bank. He’s the Head of Software Development at LHV, an Estonian bank betting on IT as a competitive advantage.

To a non-IT person, developing an IT solution might often seem like a mystical activity that boys with ponytails (and some girls) do in a dark basement somewhere. Moreover, software development, in general, is an expensive activity altogether and often takes more time than it really should. And even if there is money available to pay for the software development, more often than not, it’s almost impossible to find a developer to build the stuff you need.

Continue reading Building Skyscrapers and Shattering Dreams in Product Development | Guest post by Rainer Tikk

BONUS: Lean and Agile Financial planning with Maarit Laanti and Rami Sirkiä

The financial processes of companies can defeat their own efforts to become more agile. It’s simply impossible for an organization to be adaptable if their project processes require all projects to be specified up-front and funded months ahead of their starting date.

Tackling the financial process changes in our organizations is one of the make-or-break aspects of helping organizations become Agile and adaptable.

In this episode, we talk about Lean and Agile Financial Planning (PDF article download), an approach that tries to adopt Agile and Lean thinking in the funding and financial processes of an organization.

The reason why Lean and Agile Financial planning is a core aspect of Agile transformation in enterprises

Continue reading BONUS: Lean and Agile Financial planning with Maarit Laanti and Rami Sirkiä

Doug Knesek on moving from Scrum “enforcer” to Scrum Master

When we get started as Scrum Masters, especially those that have a Project Management or Management background, we tend to “enforce” Scrum. As our understanding progresses though, we start to learn that there’s a lot of value in helping teams learn by themselves, help them feel confident and take over the process.

In this episode, we discuss that change in our approach to the Scrum Master role, and a lot more!

We talk about Extreme Programming and how that approach should be looked at by Scrum Masters. We also refer to Kent Beck’s Extreme Programming Explained and Martin Fowler’s Refactoring book.

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.

BONUS: Ben Aston on Project Management lessons that Scrum Masters can use

Ben is a project manager with experience in developing digital services and products for worldwide clients. He’s learned some very important lessons and shares some of his key insights with you in this special episode, where we dive deep into the project manager role and the project management world.

Continue reading BONUS: Ben Aston on Project Management lessons that Scrum Masters can use

BONUS: Geoff Watts on what makes a great Scrum Master, the key challenges to Scrum adoption and much more about Agile

There are quite a few books out there about the Scrum Master job. However, the classic that many refer to over and over again here on the podcast is Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts.

In the description of the publisher writes: “Scrum coach Geoff Watts has identified patterns that separate a good Scrum Master from a great one”.

As a podcast for Scrum Masters, we wanted to have Geoff on, to share the key insights in the book, but also what he learned since the book was first published in 2013.

But, before we go into those new lessons learned, let’s quickly review some of the key insights from the book

The key insights from Scrum Mastery, the book

Read on for the detailed show notes and all the links…

Continue reading BONUS: Geoff Watts on what makes a great Scrum Master, the key challenges to Scrum adoption and much more about Agile

BONUS: Allan Kelly and Vasco Duarte on #NoProjects and #NoEstimates the latest trends in the Agile community

This is an episode about #NoProjects, #NoEstimates and introduces a unique, and 1-time-only workshop by Allan and Vasco that will take place in London in February 2019. Check out this page about the #NoProjects and #NoEstimates Workshop to know more.

In the past few years a few new trends have emerged in the Agile community that have challenged some of the basic assumptions of how software should be delivered. The first one, #NoProjects is challenging the idea that software work is best managed as a project. As Allan puts it in this episode: “Successful software does not end. It continues. And projects are for temporary endeavours, that have a known start and fixed end. That’s now how software is developed today.”

With that start to the episode you can expect that many unconventional (and inconvenient?) ideas will be shared in this podcast focused on the latest trends in how to manage software development.

Read more… Continue reading BONUS: Allan Kelly and Vasco Duarte on #NoProjects and #NoEstimates the latest trends in the Agile community

BONUS: Mary and Tom Poppendieck on Lean Software Development, Business Agility and how autonomous teams enable adaptability

Tom and Mary Poppendieck have authored several books over the years about what needs to change in how we develop software to be able to meet the demands of the market, competition, and the growth in complexity of technology businesses. A recurring pattern they have witnessed is that people keep trying to discover a “silver bullet”. We explore why that is a bad idea and some of the changes in product development that make it an impossible quest.

Read on for the details, and all the links shared during the show.

Continue reading BONUS: Mary and Tom Poppendieck on Lean Software Development, Business Agility and how autonomous teams enable adaptability

Vasco Duarte shares a secret about his Agile journey

We’ve all gone through a twisting and turning Agile journey. When you are a pioneer in Agile adoption like Vasco is, it is impossible not have gone through some very interesting, and twisted steps in that journey. In this episode Vasco shares a secret about his own Agile journey and that that has completely shaped his view of Agile in software development in particular, but also in the overall business landscape.

About Gunther Verheyen

Gunther left consulting in 2013 to partner with Ken Schwaber, Scrum co-creator, at Scrum.org. He represented Ken and Scrum.org in Europe. Gunther left Scrum.org in 2016 to continue his journey of Scrum as an independent Scrum Caretaker. Gunther believes that Scrum – the most applied software development framework – will not only increase the value that software delivers to organizations but is also a way to re-humanise the workplace for people.

Gunther is co-creator to Agility Path and the Nexus framework for Scaled Professional Scrum.

You can link with Gunther Verheyen on LinkedIn and connect with Gunther Verheyen on Twitter.

Ricardo explains that if you do not have poising people in the team performance in his experience its always driven by the system.

By his experience every time a team was not performing the reasons were related with a poor system. Before we blame people we should look into how the organization is assembled.

About Ricardo Fiel

Ricardo has 12 years experience in software teams, He had multiple roles from developer to architect to CTO, working in both startups and global corporations. He led teams from 4 to 30 members. Currently, he leads product development (SaaS) teams at Rupeal. You can find Ricardo in linkedin or twitter.