When we are knee deep in our role as Scrum Masters, we often forget that all success is a function of how we, and the team, and the organization evolve over time.
Jem suggests we should look at what has changed over time to assess our success as Scrum Masters. He also suggests some specific “metrics” you can take into account to measure team and organizational evolution over time.
Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Constellation Game
In the Constellation Game, the goal is to get the whole team to express their views on a specific topic. And because it involves physical movement, rather than just talking it is also a great way to get new team members introduced to the team in a safe atmosphere. Finally, it allows the whole team to see where all other team members are relative to a specific topic.
About Jem D’jelal
Jem trained to be a social worker, but ended up dropping out & joining the dark side instead : investment banking 🙂 In a funny way, Jem was led back to his passion – helping people. This happened when he was introduced to Scrum in 2006, and has been a career Scrum Master since. He calls himself “nomadic”, having had almost 30 roles in 10 + years. He does say that he will be searching for a home at some point. Some of Jem’s other passions involve running, a part time mentoring charity for repeating youth offenders in North London & callisthenics.
A recurring approach to self-evaluation is to define aspects or categories that we should evaluate on a regular basis. Andreas shares his 5 categories, and how he focuses on the reflection and improvement cycle as a Scrum Master. The key message however, is: accept that sometimes – maybe even most of the time – you will progress through baby steps!
Featured Retrospective format of the Week: Lean Coffee
Lean Coffee is a format that allows the team to cover many issues in a short period of time. In this episode we also discuss check-in exercises.
About Andreas Plattner
Andreas is an Agile Coach @ Daimler. He is has been a passionate Agilist and Scrum Master for over 10 years. He works on and cares for organizational health.
During our journey as Scrum Masters we often struggle with the meaning of success. Mark’s approach hinges on two aspects: eliminating the need for the role, and connecting with the “why”. In this episode we discuss how those two aspects shape Mark’s own self-evaluation and the role he takes on when working with teams.
Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Bubble-up format
Just like in football or basketball tournaments we have the “brackets”, we can use the same metaphor to bubble-up the main issues the teams want to solve during the retrospectives. Mark describes how he uses this format, and why it may be important for your team.
About Mark Cruth
Mark has been playing in the Agile space since 2009, helping multiple organizations move towards a more Agile perspective on work across several industries, including manufacturing, eCommerce, and FinTech. Today Mark works as an Agile Coach for Quicken Loans, as well as operates his own Consulting company called Teal Mavericks.
As Scrum Masters, our attention is very much focused on the evolution of the team, and how we can support their development. Using a framework like Shu-Ha-Ri can help us verbalize that evolution and track the progress of the team over time. As we progress in the mastery journey with the team, there are practices and approaches we can take to evaluate the team’s progress and we discuss some of those in this episode.
Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: The Starfish Retrospective
In the Starfish Retrospective we discuss not only what is good, bad or needs to change, but we talk also about other categories. In his approach to the Starfish Retrospective, Denis also asks: what do we want to see more of (continue and do more), or what we want to see less of (continue, but do less of it).
Denis also discusses the “Weather Report” check-in exercise to energize the team and get them in the flow of the retrospective.
About Denis Salnikov
Agile Coach and Scrum Master passionate about creating and fostering happy workplaces and safe environments. Denis calls himself an Agile Mythbuster.
As Scrum Masters we must constantly set the example. One of the examples we need to set is that of Continuous Improvement. Shubhang suggests we should regularly look at what has changed from the moment we started with the team until “now” and consider 5 different aspects when doing that analysis.
Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: Start-Stop-Continue
The Start-Stop-Continue retrospective format is simple, and helps tackling the “set the stage” phase of a retrospective in a way that delivers quite quickly actionable items.
We also talk about another playful retrospective format: the COOL WALL, based on a feature of the Top Gear television show.
About Shubhang Vishwamitra
Shubhang is a passionate agile practitioner originally from Bangalore, India. Who’s worked in Japan and Finland and is currently based in London and working as scrum master.
Shubhang has an extensive background in software development and agile delivery model in smartphone, travel and finance industries. He believes that having a technical background helps to connect with teams and ease the flow of discussion in solving complex problems.
There are two aspects of success: our own evolution as Scrum Masters, and what the team feels about their own progress. With Sarah we explore some of the questions we can use to reflect on these two aspects of Scrum Master success.
Featured Retrospective Format of the week: The Postcard Retrospective
The postcard retrospective is an invitation to describe the Sprint to ourselves, and find the most important events, and problems as well as wins we had during the Sprint. It is a simple, yet effective and fun way to talk about what we went through in the last sprint.
About Sarah O’Brien
Sarah is passionate about helping teams work together to bring value to their work lives. She has worked in the Scrum Master role for the past 6 years after transitioning out of waterfall as a senior software engineer. Her (not so) secret goal is to help people bring agile practices home.
The common thread in our Thursday episode is that many Scrum Masters have a set of criteria that helps them re-assess their own work and personal evolution in their role as Scrum Masters. Jella is no exception. She shares with us 3 criteria that she uses to assess her work, learn from what is happening, and evolve. But she asks a very important question: How do you keep yourself accountable? When no one is looking, is when self-reflection is the most important. How do we, as Scrum Masters, keep ourselves accountable? Listen in to hear Jella’s interesting answer to this question.
Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: Self-guided retrospectives for advanced teams
In our work as Scrum Masters, we meet some teams that are already at the point where they can start to take ownership of some (if not all) critical aspects of the work they do. Retrospectives are one great example of that. In this episode we talk about the “self-guided” retrospectives for advanced teams.
About Jella Eifler
Jella has a background in linguistics (totally non-tech) and calls herself “agile native” (having never worked any other way, at least in software development). She works as a Scrum Master since 2014 at Qudosoft in Berlin. She has worked with both colocated as well as distributed teams.
Scrum Masters work and influence many aspects of an organization or project. However, there’s one overarching concern that we must have in mind at all times: “are we delivering real value to our customers and stakeholders?” Lynoure discusses the importance of focusing on value delivery.
Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Good / Bad / What to change
Sometimes it is the simpler formats of the retrospective that work best. This week we review some of the classic formats (e.g. Good / Bad / What), and how variation in formats may negatively affect the teams we work with.
About Lynoure Braakman
Lynoure has worked in many roles in the IT, from operations, scrum mastering and requirements analysis to programming, even a little as a tester. She’s worked in agile teams since 2000 and loves being an adapter type, bringing in a wider perspective into her projects and to help different types of personalities to work together.
Kathy presents the FitRep, a performance evaluation system from the US Marines and how it inspired her to create a similar approach for measuring team progress and Scrum Master success. Kathy also shares with us the specific questions she looks at when thinking about her own role.
Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: If you owned this company…
In this episode we talk about how to effectively prepare for retrospectives with the team, and we discuss one specific “prompt” for a retrospective. Prompts are powerful as they trigger different perspectives in the minds of the participants. In this episode we discuss the prompt: “If I owned this company I would: start / stop / continue”.
About Kathy Andersen
Kathy works as a Scrum Master with a team implementing a billing management system for a company called Hudl. Hudl is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska and provides video review and performance analysis tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play. Kathy took an uncommon route to the software world, and since then she has had the luck of working on a diverse set of projects and teams. You’ll find her speaking at conferences and participating in the agile community.
When thinking about our success as Scrum Masters, Umer invites us to think about the success of the team as well. But not forgetting that, as Scrum Masters, we have a specific job to do with concrete questions to ask ourselves in order to assess our work and progress.
Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: Fly High Retro
In the Fly High Retrospective we imagine the team is a Kite, and we want it to fly high. So we explore what are the obstacles (telephone lines, or tree branches), as well as the motivators (like wind) and explore – with the team – how to improve.
In this episode we also discuss the Starfish Retrospective and the “Well/ Not So Well / What different in next sprint” formats.
About Umer Saeed
Umer is a Scrum Master, joining us from London, UK, currently working for one of the largest TV broadcasters in the UK, ITV. He has 5 years experience working in Agile environments spanning across Sports, Broadcasting, Travel and Publishing.