Ronny Deicke: Organizing the retrospective that your Scrum team needs right now

When it comes to our success as Scrum Masters, Ronny focuses on the team’s journey. He asks if the team is taking brave steps to improve their work, and collaboration with stakeholders. Ronny shares some examples of what might look like in practice.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Organizing the retrospective that your Scrum team needs

Ronny shares that he uses many formats, but that he focuses on preparing a retro that the team needs at that time. In this segment, we talk about several formats, and how to prepare one based on the team’s situation in that Sprint.

 

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 experiences: 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 Ronny Deicke

Ronny is a Scrum Master and Agile coach with a developer and team lead background. Currently working as a part-time Scrum Master and in the rest of the time giving (agile) workshops, supporting people as a coach and Agile Coach. Video game enthusiast and Indie developer on the side.

You can link with Ronny Deicke on LinkedIn and connect with Ronny Deicke on Twitter.

Pieter Verbaarschott: Helping teams feel safe, and empowered as a success metric for Scrum Masters

There’s one phrase Pieter heard that made him understand that his work had had a positive impact on the team. The phrase was: “Psychological safety is more than a buzzword in our team”.

Pieter shares how important it is for us to focus on the dynamics between Scrum Master and team members that help create that aspect of safety, and the ability to contribute at all times.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Retrospectives for Engineering minded folks

Not every team member will appreciate having games in the retrospectives they participate in. For those folks, it is important to have some simple, to the point formats in our back pocket to help them engage without feeling awkward. 

In this episode, we talk about simpler formats that focus on triggering conversations between team members.

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 experiences: 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 Pieter Verbaarschott

Pieter is a hands-on generalist with a background in software development. A passion for helping teams work together better. Agile aficionado since his first endeavors in Extreme Programming. Happened to be among Agile Manifesto authors when the discussion was hot. And he refuses to work the traditional way. 

You can link with Pieter Verbaarschott on LinkedIn and connect with Pieter Verbaarschott on Twitter.

BONUS: Module 2, Retrospectives Master Class with David Horowitz

This is the second of a multi-part series on Agile Retrospectives with David Horowitz who’s the CEO of Retrium, a company that builds tools to help you facilitate remote retrospectives. The links to Retrium’s Retrospectives Academy below are affiliate links, if you prefer to follow a link that takes you to Retrium’s site, but does not give anything back to the podcast, you can. Just follow this link: Retrium.com. On the other hand, if you want to help us grow this podcast, you can follow the links below or this link to Retrium’s Retrospective’s Academy.

In the second instalment of the Agile Retrospectives Masterclass with David Horowitz, we talk about the 5 phases of a successful retrospective, and share tips and ideas for each of those phases to ensure you are prepared and get the team to find and act on breakthrough improvements. 

You can find Module 1 of the Retrospectives Master Class here

It all starts with a simple check-in: “Set the Stage”, Phase 1 of a successful retrospective

When we start a retrospective, usually at the end of a Sprint, the team member’s minds might be on that last bug they just closed, or the story that didn’t get delivered, or the feedback they just got from stakeholders. The Check-in phase of the retrospectives helps all the team members, and the facilitator to get into the retrospective mood. To forget the open threads that will need to be picked up later, and focus on the question: “How can we do even better in the next Sprint?”

In this segment, we talk about the Constellations exercise that helps everyone visualize agreement and disagreement with a specific statement in a way that raises engagement, and increases the energy level of the retrospective. You can find here a detailed description of the Constellation exercise for Agile Retrospectives

We also discuss the “one-word check-in” exercise and the “Mad/Sad/Glad” check-in for Agile retrospectives.  

For retrospectives that try to focus on improving collaboration between team members, David suggests The Circle Of Appreciation exercise

In this segment, we also refer to the classic book: Agile Retrospectives by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby

Gathering Data and Generating Insights, the core of an Agile Retrospective

If we want to enable deeper conversations, we need to be aware that the information that is shared will directly affect the quality of the conversations. Therefore, Agile Retrospectives require special attention to the “gathering data” phase. There are many ways to gather data, and some might even happen during the Sprint, instead of during the retrospective. 

During the retrospective, however, we will visualize that data and help the team make sense of it. 

In this segment, we talk about the timeline exercise, and how to use emotional-queues to help uncover important pieces of information. 

Soft or qualitative data can also be used to augment the use of other data in the timeline exercise. One such way is to use the “journey lines” exercise.

When the data is visible and understandable, then the team focuses on finding insights by analyzing the data and generating possible connections and causal links. Here the challenge for a Scrum Master is to prevent the team from jumping too early into solutions before they deeply understand the problem they are trying to solve. 

David shares some tips to help prevent the team from discussing solutions before they have a shared understanding of the problem. We talk about The 5 Why’s technique, but there are many more. 

Making Retrospectives Impactful: Deciding what to do

Many teams fail in Phase 4, Deciding what to do. But they might fail in quite different ways. For example, some teams might want to commit to too many items at once, while other teams might not commit to any improvement. And finally, the worst problem: those teams that commit to improvements, but work on none of them. 

Great teams, understand well how many improvements they can take from a retrospective, and are clear on the commitment, maybe even including the improvement ideas as items on their Sprint backlog. 

In this segment, we talk about the ICE method for prioritizing improvement ideas and the importance of brainstorming several solutions before deciding what to do. It’s also important to use methods of consensus generation when there are several options that seem equally valuable. The commitment of each team member to the solution to be tried will directly impact their commitment to the work to be done for that solution. 

In this segment, we talk about experiments and the use of such templates as the Hypothesis-Driven Development template by Barry O’Reilly

Phase 5: Close the retrospective

At the end of the retrospective, our goals are to provide closure, a sense of achievement, and energy for the work ahead. 

How can we do that? In this segment, we talk about the “retro on the retro” and the “gif check-out”. Two simple approaches that help the team feel a sense of accomplishment, and also get better at doing future retrospectives. 

Which closing exercises have you used? Share those with us on Twitter or LinkedIn

About David Horowitz

David Horowitz is the CEO of Retrium, a platform for agile retrospectives that has powered over 100,000 retrospectives from thousands of companies across the world.

Prior to co-founding Retrium, David spent a decade at The World Bank as an engineer turned Agile coach.

He has degrees in Computer Science and Economics from The University of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Technology Management from The Wharton School of Business.

Learn more about Better Retrospectives with David Horowitz by accessing the FREE Retrospective’s Academy by Retrium: http://bit.ly/retromasterclass

You can link with David Horowitz on LinkedIn and connect with David Horowitz on Twitter

Simon Flossmann: Defining success from Scrum Masters with the customer in mind

Many of our guests start by defining their success in relation to the work they do with the team. Simon takes a different approach. In this episode, we talk about the success aspects for Scrum Masters that are not linked only to the work with the team, but focus more on the value delivered to the end customers.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Simplifying the Retrospective format

Sometimes, the topics to discuss are so clear that the format can get in the way. For those times, Simon describes his approach based on a simple format that focuses on the conversation and enables self-organization at the team level.

 

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 experiences: 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 Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

You can follow Simon Flossmann’s writings on this home page.

Paddy Corry: Reflecting and requesting feedback as a way to grow into the Scrum Master role

When developers move to a Scrum Master role, they face a completely new set of expectations. Paddy reminds us that reflecting on that change is critical, as well as regularly requesting feedback from the teams we work with.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Influence over what went well/not so well

In this segment, we talk about a classic retrospective format: “What went well, not so well”. Paddy adds a twist to that format, by adding a second dimension to each of the categories: “is this item under our control?” This raises some good conversations in the team, and helps teams that may be facing frustration from not being able to resolve some problems.

 

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 experiences: 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 Paddy Corry

Paddy was a developer for many years, after which he started his Scrum Master journey with special interest for coaching and developing the agile mindset. 

You can link with Paddy Corry on LinkedIn and connect with Paddy Corry on Twitter.

Julio de Lima: Success for QA engineers and Scrum Masters

Julio is a Quality Assurance (QA) engineer, so we discuss what does it mean to be a successful QA engineer in a Scrum/Agile team. In this conversation, we talk about the need to help the whole team feel responsible for the quality of their deliverable. In other words, we talk about how to get the whole team to think like a QA engineer. 

We also talk about the focus on this episode: success as a Scrum Master. In this regard, Julio shares how Scrum Masters can work with QA engineers specifically, to help them improve, and work better with the rest of the team. In this segment, we also discuss some of the pitfalls of estimation.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: People, Process and Technology

Julio’s preferred formats revolve around the triad of improvement: people, processes, and technology. He describes how he usually organizes retrospectives around these three topics, and how teams reacted when he deviated from these 3 topics. 

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 experiences: 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 Julio de Lima

Julio is a Principal QA Engineer working for Capco that believes in the Culture of QA. He has been sharing professional insights and experiences on a daily basis and has more than 4500 students in his 4 online courses. In 2020, he was elected the Brazilian Testing reference practitioner. 

You can link with Julio de Lima on LinkedIn and connect with Julio de Lima on Twitter.

Sjoerd Nijland: The success mindset for Scrum Masters

We start the success discussion with a poem by Kipling: “If”. We then discuss what is the real motivation Scrum Masters have to look at their success in the role. Sjoerd explains what is critical for him in that role, and the mindset that helps him when working with teams.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The SWOT Canvas

The SWOT canvas is a technique that helps teams reflect on what are the aspects they can build on (strengths), what they need to either avoid or fix (weaknesses), what are the aspects they can take advantage of (opportunities) and finally what are the dark clouds that threaten their ability to execute (threats). In this segment, we also discuss how that same canvas can be used in the context of product, organization, individual or even product increment to help the team reflect and evolve.

 

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 experiences: 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 Sjoerd Nijland

Sjoerd is a founder of Serious Scrum, and creator of the Road to Mastery co-creative online training. Previously E-commerce manager at Bugaboo, and then Manager of Operations at Digital Agency Triggerfish.

You can link with Sjoerd Nijland on LinkedIn and connect with Sjoerd Nijland on Twitter.

Oskar Collin: Success as a Scrum Master is defined by the team’s behaviors

As Scrum Masters, having a clear definition of success is critical for us to be able to do our own self-reflection and learn how to improve our impact in the team and the organization we work with. In this episode, we talk about what that looks like, and how most of the success signs for Scrum Masters have to do with behaviors, and actions by the team, and not the Scrum Masters themselves. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The WADE Matrix

Oskar describes the WADE matrix format as a retrospective exercise. How to apply it, the main steps, and why it is a great method to have the team discuss and decide what they can affect. In the end of this segment, Oskar shares a great tip on how to help teams get value out of the Agile retrospective.

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 experiences: 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 Oskar Collin

Oskar is a former software developer who became a passionate agile coach and Scrum master. He did so mainly because he was better at helping teams working together than building software. He loves experiments and questioning the status quo. He is passionate about helping teams build digital products and deliver value continuously. 

You can link with Oskar Collin on LinkedIn and connect with Oskar Collin on Twitter.

Stefania Marinelli: Two success aspects for Scrum Masters to reflect on

Stefania highlights some aspects for the team’s success, from helping teams self-organize to being the trainer, or educator at the company where we work. Related to these aspects, we talk about possible questions to ask ourselves when reflecting on our success in the Scrum Master role. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Turn the Table

Turn the table, is the format that Stefania explains in this segment. The focus of that format is on communication and empathy between team members. 

In this segment, we also refer to the “Dixit” board game. 

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 experiences: 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 Stefania Marinelli

Stefania is an Agile Manager @Hotels.com (Expedia group) former Scrum Master, former team leader/project manager, former developer. Stefania is fascinated by people dynamics and works every day to create a collaborative and safe environment. NVC practitioner.

You can link with Stefania Marinelli on LinkedIn and connect with Stefania Marinelli on Twitter

Anubhuti Agarwal: How to facilitate great Agile Retrospective conversations

What distinguishes a successful Scrum Master from a not so successful one? In this segment, we explore the questions that Anu asks as well as the behaviors she evaluates to assess her progress in the Scrum Master role.

Featured Retrospective of the Week: Facilitating product conversations

In this segment, Anu shares her tips on how to select the right format for the retrospective based on what has happened to the team during the Sprint. We talk about why certain formats work better and discuss the core role of the Scrum Master when it comes to facilitating a retrospective: facilitate productive conversations.

 

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 experiences: 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 Anubhuti Agarwal

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.

You can link with Anubhuti Agarwal on LinkedIn.