Denis Salnikov on how to evaluate team progress in their Agile journey

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.

In this episode we refer to the book #NoEstimates: How to measure project progress without estimation by Vasco Duarte.

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.

You can link with Denis Salnikov on LinkedIn and connect with Denis Salnikov on Twitter or follow his blog on Medium.


Shubhang Vishwamitra 5 different perspectives to analyze our Scrum Master progress

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.

In this episode we refer to The Responsibility Process by Chris Avery.

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.

You can link with Shubhang Vishwamitra on LinkedIn.

Sarah O’Brien on two aspects of Scrum Master success

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.

In this episode we refer to the book #NoEstimates, How to Measure Project Progress Without Estimates.

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.

You can link with Sarah O’Brien on LinkedIn.

Jella Eifler on Self-guided retrospectives and how to keep ourselves accountable as Scrum Masters

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.

You can link with Jella Eifler on LinkedIn and connect with Jella Eifler on Twitter.

Lynoure Braakman Delivering value as the key to Scrum Master success

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.

In this episode we also talk about team dynamics and mention The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

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.

You can link with Lynoure Braakman on LinkedIn and connect with Lynoure Braakman on Twitter. You can also follow Lynoure Braakman’s blog at:

Kathy Andersen on FitRep, applying lessons from the Marines to following progress for teams

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.

In this episode we discuss the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott, a book about the styles of communication and their impact.

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.

You can link with Kathy Andersen on LinkedIn and connect with Kathy Andersen on Twitter.


Umer Saeed on success as a Scrum Master and a Scrum team

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.  

You can link with Umer Saeed on LinkedIn and connect with Umer Saeed on Twitter.

Jeff Maleski on Menlo Innovations and inspiring work

When Jeff discovered that Menlo Innovations (from the book Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan) was a drive away from his workplace, he got a few people together and started a journey that would change his view of how work should work. He decided that his work as a Scrum Master was about improving lives.

In this episode we refer to the TED talk by Shawn Anchor about The Happy Secret to Better Work.

Featured Retrospective format: The Sailboat Retrospective

In the sailboat retrospective we use a metaphor to help the team identify the goal, the obstacles (the rocks), the drags on the team performance (the anchor) and the things that push us forward (sailing wind). Through metaphor we help the team explore ideas that they would otherwise skip in a more structured retrospective.

About Jeff Maleski

Jeff is passionate about working with and building up both individuals and teams using ideas from Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0 and Dan Pink’s Drive. When leading project teams, Jeff strives for empirical based planning and forecasting, continuous learning, and delivering high quality software products that exceed expectations. Jeff believes in leading by actions and focusing on building relationships with others.

You can link with Jeff Maleski on LinkedIn.

Lucas Smith shares his 5 Scrum Master success benchmarks

The questions we ask from ourselves, and the team asks from themselves are critical to influence our behaviour and decisions. In this episode we explore 5 different aspects for a successful Scrum Master, and what Lucas has learned about them.

Featured Retrospective format of the week: The Starfish Retrospective

The Starfish format is popular, and we have discussed it here on the podcast. But Lucas brings an interesting twist: add a personal question to the retrospective to create a safer environment. Listen in to learn how Lucas applies that idea.

About Lucas Smith

Lucas has been a developer, manager, and agile coach and trainer with Boeing. Currently works a Professional Scrum Trainer with and is the owner of LitheWorks. Lucas enjoys helping people and organizations improve the way they work to be more creative, effective, and efficient.

You can find Lucas Smith’s company at

You can link with Lucas Smith on LinkedIn.

Michael Küsters: success for a Scrum Master is a mature team

The success of a Scrum Master can be seen in its outcome. When something happens. Michael shares with us his successful outcome: a mature team! Listen in to learn what that means for Michael and some of the ways he has been able to help teams mature.

Featured retrospective format of the week: Open conversation

Conversation can open up the biggest issues that the team has in mind. And sometimes a good, open conversation is the best way to get the team to open up. In this episode Michael shares his approach to organising and facilitating a retrospective around the concept of having an “open conversation”.

About Michael Küsters

Michael helps companies and people become more agile by providing coaching, training and consulting in agile frameworks, principles and mindset.

Michael has consulted for a wide range of companies from small start-up to international corporation, transforming teams, divisions and entire organizations. He is a seasoned veteran with Scrum, Kanban, XP, LeSS and SAFe, Lean and Six Sigma and harnesses this vast experience for his clients’ success.

Michael is a Thought Provoker helping organizations become more agile.

You can link with Michael Küsters on LinkedIn and connect with Michael Küsters on Twitter.