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Eliza Gregory: Unlocking Team Autonomy, and Achieving Success through Difficult Conversations

In this episode, Eliza explores success for Scrum Masters and discusses a situation where success was achieved when her team no longer relied on her. She describes an anti-pattern where teams still ask for permission as if she were their boss, indicating a lack of autonomy. Eliza shares an experience with a team that was initially closed off to change. A manager’s demoralizing comment caused the entire team to shut down. However, during a retrospective, Eliza was able to facilitate a discussion by getting one team member to open up, leading to the team collectively sharing their feelings about the manager’s comment. This retrospective proved to be a success as it allowed for an open conversation about a difficult topic with a little prompting from Eliza. The team then took the initiative to address the issue themselves. Eliza provides tips, noting that when the entire team realizes they are on the same page, they gain the courage to bring up important topics. She also highlights the significance of shared experiences within the team, as it contributes to their overall growth and effectiveness.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Letter From the Future, predicting the future in your Agile Retrospective

In this segment, Eliza introduces the concept of the “Letter From the Future” and shares her experience of implementing it for the first time. She advises that it may require explaining the concept multiple times before being able to successfully conduct it. The retrospective follows a specific format, beginning with setting up a digital whiteboard. Eliza then assigns a postcard to each developer. To engage the team, she appeals to their culture. The main activity involves writing a letter to oneself from the future. Eliza highlights that the different format of this retrospective helps the team think differently and encourages fresh perspectives.

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 Eliza Gregory

Eliza Gregory has worked as a Project Manager, Scrum Master, and Agile Coach for U.S. Defense and the German automotive industry. She uses teachings from Agile to hone her writing process, and has a new novel out this May about an IT Project Manager coping with burnout and work stress. Originally from Virginia, she now resides in Bavaria, Germany.

You can link with Eliza Gregory on LinkedIn and connect with Eliza Gregory on Twitter, and you can read about her novel Painting the Whiskey Blue.

Oguz Ozyurt: Checklists, and an accountability partner, the Scrum Masters’ best friends

In this episode, Oz emphasizes the importance of having a list of topics to review regularly in a self-assessment moment. He includes assessing whether the team is delivering what they committed to, taking advantage of Agile practices, and working on continuous improvement items. He notes that his list of topics consists of four dimensions, including the Value dimension which focuses on the value of the Scrum Master, and the Happiness dimension which assesses whether people around him are happy. In this segment, we also discuss the importance of having an accountability partner as a helpful tool for achieving success as a Scrum Master.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Conversation Café, helping everyone to be heard

In this segment, Oz shares his favorite Agile retrospective toolbox: liberating structures. He explains that he likes to focus on the process and facilitation, leaving the content for the team to decide. Oz mentions a specific format called Conversation Cafe, which he likes to use. The Conversation Cafe format helps to promote active listening and allows everyone to be heard.

Oz emphasizes the importance of focusing on the process of the retrospective, rather than the content. By creating a safe and structured environment, everyone can share their thoughts and opinions without fear of judgment or retribution. Using the Conversation Cafe format, the team can have a productive and meaningful conversation about the sprint, identifying areas for improvement and celebrating successes. Oz believes that by focusing on the process and creating a safe space, the team can achieve better outcomes and improve continuously.

How can I, as a Scrum Masters, 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 Oguz Ozyurt

Oz came from a technical background, and has worked across multiple industries, applying agile practices toward the technical and non-technical areas. He is passionate about agile, he has leveraged his passion for delivery value and agile practices by coaching, teaching, mentoring many teams to transform from traditional software development life cycle to Agile principles and practices.

You can link with Oguz Ozyurt on LinkedIn.

Oguz Ozyurt: Helping Scrum Teams by Establishing Trust and Shared Understanding with Product Owners

In this segment, guest Oz emphasizes that we all work in a complex environment and are change agents. Oz shares a story about a team that faced problems with its product owner, who would add stories to the sprint backlog without refinement and interrupt the team even on the last day of the iteration. As a result, the team lost trust in the PO.

To address this challenge, Oz recommends making sure the team has an agreement on how to bring new stories into an ongoing sprint and discussing the team agreement with the PO. Oz also suggests bringing up the topic in the retrospective when the PO introduces a surprise story. Oz acknowledges that these conversations can be difficult, especially when the PO is a good friend of the team’s manager, but emphasizes the importance of building trust and ensuring shared understanding.

Featured Book of the Week: Leading Change by John Kotter

In this segment, Oz recommends “Leading Change” by John Kotter, which outlines eight steps for organizational transformation and is useful for anyone looking to apply these steps to a change process. Oz also suggests “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek for its insights on inspiring others and finding the purpose behind the work. Finally, Oz recommends “Team Topologies” which provides guidance on building and managing modern teams, a key responsibility for Scrum Masters. The authors of Team Topologies, Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais, have been previous guests on the podcast.

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 Oguz Ozyurt

Oz came from a technical background, and has worked across multiple industries, applying agile practices toward the technical and non-technical areas. He is passionate about agile, he has leveraged his passion for delivery value and agile practices by coaching, teaching, mentoring many teams to transform from traditional software development life cycle to Agile principles and practices.

You can link with Oguz Ozyurt on LinkedIn.

Caterina Palmiotto: The Phantom Product Owner, How Lack of Decision-Making Impacts the Team and Kills Innovation

The Great Product Owner: The Collaboration Between PO and Team as Key to PO Success

In this segment, Caterina shares a story of a great Product Owner who worked closely with their team. The PO took the time to share the high-level vision and timeline for a new module, collected doubts and comments from the team, and presented user stories with enough information to start a discussion. The PO listened to all suggestions and was available every day to collaborate. The refinement process was done in two parts, with the second part focused on investigating technical aspects. The PO even participated in retrospectives and worked with the team to improve the product based on either technical or functional ideas by the team. Caterina emphasizes the importance of building this kind of productive collaboration between POs and their teams, with the help of Scrum Masters.

The Bad Product Owner: The Phantom PO, How Lack of Decision-Making Impacts the Team and Kills Innovation

In this segment, Caterina talks about a Product Owner who only wrote user stories but was unable to make decisions. The Product Owner always needed to report to his boss, which caused a delay in decision-making. This led to delays in the team’s work, resulting in not completing the story in the sprint. Additionally, the team lost trust in the PO, and did not have enough information or support from the PO to bring their contribution to the product through technical innovation. Eventually, the team started to make decisions on their own and stopped suggesting ideas to the PO. Caterina emphasizes the importance of Product Owners being able to make decisions and not causing delays in the team’s work.

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 Caterina Palmiotto

Caterina started as a software developer but soon realized that she was passionate about team dynamics and communication, and embraced agility from the moment she saw it.

Caterina believes a team can be more than the sum of its parts and that growing the right culture is essential. When people are surrounded by good examples they will be motivated to do their best.  So the first step is doing your best to be a good example of the culture you want to nurture.

You can link with Caterina Palmiotto on LinkedIn.

Get These Valuable Lessons Today!
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
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
FREE QUIZ - What's Your Scrum Master Superpower:
(Please join the waitlist to be notified first when this quiz is ready for you).
Unlock Your Leadership Potential & Help Your Team Reach Their Potential
FREE QUIZ - What's Your Scrum Master Superpower:
Unlock Your Leadership Potential & Help Your Team Reach Their Potential (Please join the waitlist to be notified first when this quiz is ready for you).