David Gentry: how the Starfish Agile Retrospective leads quickly to actions for the team 

Is your team more like a Golf team or a Hockey team? That’s one of the questions David asks himself when assessing his impact as a Scrum Master. Checking the Scrum Guide, for a list of responsibilities may also be a good way to get started assessing your success as a Scrum Master, but don’t forget to adapt to the local reality, a core idea of Agile that also applies to the Scrum Master work. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Starfish Retrospective

The Starfish retrospective is a format that David finds leads more often to concrete actions, the final goal of a retrospective. In this segment, we also talk about the importance of having many formats in your toolbox, so that the retrospectives don’t get boring and stop delivering results. 

About David Gentry

David Gentry is an Agile Coach and Scrum Master. He has served in a variety of other roles in his career including developer, data analyst, business analyst, quality analyst, and project manager. In his free time, he can be found playing bass guitar and interpreting how groove applies to life and agility. 

You can link with David Gentry on LinkedIn and connect with David Gentry on Twitter.

Long Suciu: using Liberating Structures to plan and facilitate Agile Retrospectives

Long suggests that Scrum Masters collect feedback from the team to assess their success. The method he suggests is the team NPS: “How likely are the team members to recommend that others join the team?” We also talk about how it is important to measure and reflect to reach a successful outcome for our work as Scrum Masters.

In this Article, you can read how Jason Little (a previous guest on the podcast) used the NPS survey to evaluate his own work.

In a previous episode with Jeff Kosciejew we also reviewed the use of NPS for Scrum Master performance self-evaluation.

Featured Retrospective format of the Week: Liberating Structures

Retrospectives follow a specific set of activities, from the check-in to get everybody focused and in the mood to reflect, to the data gathering. These activities can be organized in many ways. In this episode, we talk about Liberating Structures, a set of activities that you can use in any of the steps of the retrospective.

About Long Suciu

Long is driven by a passion to help people unlock their potential and discover their own capacities. He has spent the past 20 years helping teams and organizations find and put in place better ways of working.

You can link with Long Suciu on LinkedIn.

Katy Cabral & Joseph Contreras: 3 signs of a successful Scrum team

Scrum Master’s success is dependent on the team’s approach to solving their own problems. In this episode, we talk about how teams that take ownership of the process, make decisions on their own and find their own incremental improvements are a sign of a successful Scrum Master. But how do we get there? In the episode, we talk about tools that help Scrum Masters succeed.

Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: Wow, Wandering, Worried. Artifacts, events, roles

Joe and Katy share with us two retrospective formats. First, we discuss “Wow, Wandering, Worried. Artifacts, events, roles”, a format that turns the team’s attention to the items, or things they want to improve.

The second agile retrospective format is the “Picture retrospective” (example: The Sailboat Retrospective exercise). In this segment, we specifically talk about the use of pictures or drawings as check-in as well as data gathering and decision exercises.

About Katy Cabral & Joseph Contreras

Katy has over 14 years of software delivery experience, serving in roles ranging from analyst to developer, project manager and for more than 6 years, also Scrum Master. Her Scrum experience has been mostly with distributed teams working across multiple time zones. She hopes to someday have the opportunity to travel to meet her colleagues in China, but for now, Katy enjoys reading about creative methods to keep her team engaged.

You can link with Katy Cabral on LinkedIn.

Joe is an experienced scrum master, who strives each day to help and coach his squad to continuously improve how they work so that they can be awesome.

Joe is also a scrum master chapter lead at Fidelity Investments.

You can link with Joseph Contreras on LinkedIn.

Nick Vitsinsky on The Island Expedition Agile Retrospective format

Is the team providing feedback openly to each other and stakeholders? That’s one of the key success questions that Nick asks when evaluating his own success as a Scrum Master.

That leads him to find approaches to help teams open up and share their perspective on the work.

In this episode, we also refer to a paper on how to help teams improve their performance. It is based on the same principle that top athletes apply every day: pushing, then resting. A cycle that is guaranteed to improve performance over time.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Island Expedition metaphor format

Nick likes to focus on creativity for the retrospectives he facilitates. He’s found several metaphor-focused formats that work, but one he especially likes is The Island Expedition.

Metaphor-focused formats help the teams be more creative by taking them out of their regular context and pushing them to imagine themselves in a different context.

About Nick Vitsinsky

Nick as more than 10 years in IT started from QA Engineer/Waterfall after two years realized that there should be a different approach to how to develop and ship the software. His philosophy and mindset is: “find out Agile and make it own moto”. He focuses on that on a daily basis.

You can link with Nick Vitsinsky on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Vitsinsky on Twitter.

Mili Shrivastava: Help your team be more effective with the KALM Agile Retrospective format

One of the most common, and sometimes forgotten, sensors for a Scrum Master is the daily meeting. Mili asks us to consider how the team members show up for the daily. Are they excited about the day that is starting? Or happy about the results of the day that is ending?

How are you using the Daily stand-up to assess your impact on the team?

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: KALM

Keep your teams focused on the problems they want to solve with this simple format. KALM stands for Keep, Add, Less, More. These are the keywords that Mili asks the team to consider when reflecting on the previous Sprint.

About Mili Shrivastava

Mili has more than 12 years of experience in the software industry. Loves to spend time with her family and is a big fan of outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

You can link with Mili Shrivastava on LinkedIn and connect with Mili Shrivastava on Twitter.

Get hired as a Scrum Master: 10 Techniques to Get 10x More Views on Your LinkedIn Profile

This is a guest post by Estelle Liotard. A fresh perspective on LinkedIn for Scrum Masters and freelance consultants.

If we look at the most popular social networks, Facebook still reigns supreme, leaps and bounds ahead of LinkedIn. However, from a business standpoint, you can gain more benefits from optimizing your LinkedIn profile compared to optimizing your Facebook profile.

Why? Because unlike all the other social networks, LinkedIn was designed specifically for professionals and B2B connections. When signing in on LinkedIn, users aren’t looking to check out what their friends have been up to. They are investing their time looking for suppliers, business partners, clients, and employers.

A post on the LinkedIn marketing blog reveals that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. Additionally, 43% of marketers say that they have sourced a customer from LinkedIn.

When a platform can play such a big role in gaining exposure for your services or business, getting more views is worth every effort. Follow these 10 techniques to boost your visibility on LinkedIn and take advantage of everything this platform has to offer:

1. Complete your profile

There are about 450 million registered users on LinkedIn and, if you want to stand out, you need to cross your T’s and dot your I’s on your profile. If you leave some sections blank, your profile automatically becomes less attractive to visitors, so take the time to fill in every detail about yourself. Remember, sharing builds trust upfront!

From the headline and previous jobs to skills and samples of your work, you should take full advantage of every profile section. And don’t forget to upload a professional photo of yourself! LinkedIn users are more likely to reply if your profile photo is of an actual person, not a business logo.

Pro Tip: many LinkedIn users polish the description for the job they currently hold, but neglect the previous ones. Those are relevant too, so optimize your previous job titles to make them SEO-friendly.

2. Join LinkedIn groups

Groups are one of the most powerful LinkedIn features when it comes to gaining visibility and exposure for yourself and your services. This is because groups help you widen your network with 2nd-degree connections, gain influence, and interact with other industry professionals. In groups, you can post meaningful articles about your industry, discuss interesting news and trends, even find answers to difficult business problems.

Keep in mind that groups aren’t created randomly on LinkedIn. Each group is built with a specific demographic in mind, and you need to know what that demographic is before posting.

Which groups should you join?

  • Look for groups containing specific keywords related to your field. It can be something general, like “Scrum Masters”, or more specific, like “Scrum Masters in San Diego”.
  • Always join active groups where new discussions are started every week.
  • If you’re not a member of any group, start by joining one small group (<100 members), one medium group, and one large group (>1000 members).

Research the group to get a feel for the style

Before posting anything in a LinkedIn group, lurk around and take a few hours to get to know the members and the topics they talk about. What positions do they have, what style do they use and what is their angle on approaching industry-specific issues? Are they friendly and informal or are they formal and professional? Do they prefer short articles or long-form content? Do they encourage debate?

Bring a valuable contribution to the groups you joined

A LinkedIn group is no place for spam and irrelevant self-promotion. To position yourself as an expert in your industry, you need to bring a valuable topic and start a productive conversation, not just post for the sake of posting. People will only click on your profile if they like what they read.

If you agree with someone, don’t just say “I agree with you.”. Explain why you agree and bring your own point of view. If you disagree, friendly debate is always encouraged, but be polite.

You can promote your services and your brand, as long as it is relevant to the conversation. Follow the 80-20 rule: 80% of your contribution has to be valuable information, 20% self-promotion. Let your expertise speak for itself.

3. Start your own discussion

After you’ve contributed to a few discussions in small groups, it’s time to start your own. Share some interesting news about your industry, some research you conducted, or ask the other members about their experience with a certain problem.

Just make sure no one has discussed the same topic recently and, if they have, give that topic a fresh perspective. Once people start answering, reply to every comment to show you are involved.

4. Get as many connections possible

The LinkedIn algorithm places profiles with more connections higher in search results, so don’t limit yourself to a handful of workmates and former colleagues. Expand your network with 2nd and 3rd level connections too. Use these tricks to make more connections:

  • See if your high school or college has an alumni group you can join
  • Connect on LinkedIn with professionals you meet at conferences and other work-related events
  • When adding new contacts, don’t use the Connect button from the People You May Know field. Instead. Click on their profile and use the Connect button there to send them a personalized request.

Remember: asking for recommendations, testimonials, and endorsements is key in growing your LinkedIn network!

5. Replace the default URL

When you first create a LinkedIn account, your profile URL is made up of a string of numbers. If you change this URL to display your name, your profile will pop up sooner in search engines when people search your name or company. Besides, a custom LinkedIn URL is easier to remember and looks better on business cards compared to the default one. Here’s how you can change your LinkedIn Profile page URL.

6. Promote your LinkedIn profile to get inbound links

Although adding more connections and being active in LinkedIn Groups are the two major strategies you can use to get more views, you shouldn’t forget about external promotion either.

Make sure you connect your LinkedIn account with other social media accounts and use these strategies to get more inbound links:

  • Put your LinkedIn profile in your email signature, along with your phone number, website, and Facebook page.
  • Become a contributor to industry blogs and add your LinkedIn profile in the bio. Not only will this help you drive more traffic, but also become known as an expert in your field.
  • Be a guest on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast, to get a high-traffic link to your LinkedIn page.

7. Get more recommendations and endorsements

Testimonials, recommendations, and endorsements are at the heart of the LinkedIn algorithm. For example, ProFinder, LinkedIn’s feature for hiring top local freelancers, ranks profiles based on the number of testimonials.

Always follow-up on your messages and ask your connections to endorse your skills and recommend you. From your work colleagues to your former boss or the clients you’ve worked with, anyone can contribute, so don’t hesitate to ask them.

Remember: if you become a power user, endorsements will come on their own. Be professional in everything you do and everyone from colleagues and fellow group members will recommend you.

Pro Tip: A good way to start a request for an endorsement is to write one for your colleagues first, and then ask them to write one for you. Reciprocity is a very powerful unwritten rule between people who trust each other!

8. Content is key

Apart from group contributions, LinkedIn articles are another excellent way to make your voice heard on LinkedIn and drive more traffic to your profile. In fact, LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for content marketing. Follow these tips to create high-quality, relevant content that your connections actually want to read:

  • Focus on long-form content (over 2,000 words) that includes actionable tips and advice
  • Give your unique perspective on an industry topic
  • Write a killer headline that captures the audience’s interest
  • Be a good storyteller. Don’t just enumerate facts, present them in a way that connects with the audience at an emotional level
  • Stay relevant. Professionals go to LinkedIn for professional content, the kind that they can only get from an industry expert, so don’t settle for low-quality posts that don’t provide any real value.
  • Be SEO-friendly. Include relevant keywords in your LinkedIn articles so they show up in search engine results pages. Don’t know what keywords to write about? Use a tool like BuzzSumo, which helps you find the most shared content on the Web.
  • Use images to make your articles look more appealing in the LinkedIn newsfeed.

9. Repost your content (Post multiple times per day)

On your company’s blog website, and other social media platforms, reposting content is something you should avoid, but you won’t have this problem on LinkedIn. If you wrote a high-quality, insightful article that you’re proud of, don’t be afraid to promote it, because Pulse (LinkedIn’s personalized newsfeed) won’t penalize you for it.

To increase the chances of being noticed,  even more, you can post updates at different times of day, so that they reach more users in different countries.

Pro Tip: when reposting a link to a LinkedIn article, write a new description every time.

10. Combine articles with long-form status updates

Many LinkedIn users have reported that status updates show up on their feed more often than articles and, while this doesn’t mean you should stop sharing articles, you can think of it as an opportunity to share both types of content.

In a status update, you have 1,300 characters to capture your audience’s interest (~300 words), which is not enough to offer the full perspective, but it’s enough to write a compelling introduction. Plus, you can always post a link to the article in the first comment so your followers can read more.

Whether you want to recruit, find investors, or gain leads, LinkedIn is a fantastic social network. Experiment with the strategies above to get more views, but remember that you will only get consistent results by posting regularly on LinkedIn. Be active every day and you’ll notice not only a surge in views but also an increase in your number of connections.

About Estelle Liotard

Estelle Liotard is a seasoned content writer and a blogger, with years of experience in different fields of marketing. She is a content editor at Trust My Paper and loves every second of it. Her passion is teaching people how to overcome digital marketing obstacles and help businesses communicate their messages to their customers.

 

Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst): How to run an agile retrospective meeting that generates insights

Continuing the thread from Monday’s episode with Jassy, we discuss how feedback from the team is a critical source of information and inspiration for Scrum Masters. In this episode, we discuss how to collect feedback from the team, so that the feedback is not biased by your presence, and what are the 4 dimensions of Scrum Master success for Jassy

Featured Retrospective for the Week: Games that inspire insights

Jassy calls himself “not a friend of retrospectives by the book”. He claims to rarely use a “vanilla” format from somewhere else, but prefers to facilitate retrospectives that feel like a game, like a fun thing to do. We discuss metaphor games, and how they help teams find insights they would not find otherwise.

About Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst)

Jassy moved from developer to being a Scrum Master and then a freelancer. He calls himself:  the person to contact for help in On-Boardings, as well as a friend of bottom-up, power to the people! No top-down, no micro-management. No despotism in agile software development.

You can link with Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst) on LinkedIn, or XING and connect with Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst) on Twitter.

Bradley Pohl: Helping teams get started with continuous improvement

There are many challenges teams face that require Scrum Master support. Some of those are related to cross-team dependencies (one of the core aspects for Scrum Masters), but they can also be related to basic improvements in the ways of working. In this episode, we discuss how the team’s outlook on improvement is critical for Scrum Masters and what to look at when evaluating our own contribution to the team.

Featured Agile Retrospective format for the week: What are you looking for out of your work?

When starting with a new team, the questions you ask are critical. Bradley shares with us a format that helps team members understand each other, as well as define the work agreements they need to get them started on the journey to high-performance.

About Bradley Pohl

Bradley is a young Scrum Master working for a mid-sized US bank that is currently undergoing an “Agile Transformation.” As a part of the Transformation, his training consisted of a 4 week Agile boot camp that was designed to build scrum masters from the ground-up. In his free time, he applies lean and agile principles to designing websites and providing social media advertising to local small business as Catch On, at catchontech.com.

You can link with Bradley Pohl on LinkedIn.

Jeremy Willets: using the Speed Car Retrospective exercise to host an impactful Retrospective

Jeremy explains the questions that he asks himself when evaluating his contribution to the team. As Scrum Masters, these are some of the many questions that can help us assess our work and improve our approach to help make teams successful.

Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: The Speed Car retrospective format

The Speed Car retrospective format is one of the many metaphor exercises that helps teams get out of the details of what happened and think about the impact those events might have on their performance, just like many aspects have an impact on a race car.

In this episode, we refer to the classic book: Agile Retrospectives by Larssen and Derby.

About Jeremy Willets

Jeremy Willets is a Technical Writer turned Scrum Master/Agile Coach. He’s passionate about bringing Agile to all facets of his organization. He enjoys spending time with his family, making music, and drinking the finest craft beer the world has to offer!

You can link with Jeremy Willets on LinkedIn and connect with Jeremy Willets on Twitter.

Elena Popretinskaya: What? / So what? / Now what? Scrum Retrospective format from Liberating Structures

A Scrum Master can wear many hats. Specifically, the Scrum Master can be a coach, a mentor and a teacher. All three roles are necessary at different times in our assignments. How do we know which ones to hold? We discuss that in this episode, where we explore Elena’s definition of success for a Scrum Master.

Featured Retrospective of the Week: What? / So what? / Now what?

Elena found in “Liberating Structures”, a good exercise to help teams reflect on the outcomes, and the necessary changes after a Sprint. In this episode, she shares one facilitation technique that helps facilitate a retrospective even with large teams.

For more on the What? / So what? / Now what? Technique read this blog post.

About Elena Popretinskaya

Elena considers herself a lifetime learner (she says, she absolutely loves having “aha!” moments). And she especially enjoys learning together with and from other people: her team and her friends. Elena is curious about everything: people, software craftsmanship and the world around. Elena is also a passionate hiker and a cross-country skier 🙂

You can link with Elena Popretinskaya on LinkedIn and connect with Elena Popretinskaya on Twitter.