Lucia Alarcon: Lean Coffee, the swiss army knife of Agile Retrospectives

When it comes to assessing her own success as a Scrum Master, Lucia uses the “health” metaphor to identify and measure critical aspects of a healthy team. In this episode, we talk about The Squad Health Check. The Squad Health Check was also described in these episodes. We also mention Radical Candor, as a feedback framework as well as Clean Language.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Lean Coffee, the swiss army knife of Agile Retrospectives

Lucia likes to try many formats, but there’s one format she often comes back to thanks to its power to spark creative, and insightful conversations. That format is the Lean Coffee Retrospective format, which focuses the team’s conversations instead of trying to cover too many things in a retrospective. In this segment, we also refer to the game Cards Against Humanity, which you can learn more about (and download) by listening to this episode with Ellen Santamaria.

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 Lucia Alarcon

Lucia is a Delivery Lead and a coach working in Wellington NZ, leading an amazing development squad to achieve the delivery of multiple digital initiatives using Agile, creating a culture of empowerment, collaboration and communication. With 15+ years of experience, her professional (and personal!) journey has taken her through a variety of organizations and halfway around the world from Argentina. Lucia loves all things Agile, facilitation and coaching. 

You can link with Lucia Alarcon on LinkedIn and connect with Lucia Alarcon on Instagram

BONUS: Changing industries and breaking into the Scrum Master role with Ben Mills

In this episode, we cover how Ben found his vocation for the Scrum Master role, and the techniques he applied to break into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role. 

Changing industries is never easy, but changing from non-tech to tech and to a completely new role, like the Scrum Master role is even harder. 

For many of our guests, the Scrum Master role has been a calling, a sort of vocation that becomes obvious once you start. For our guest in this episode, Ben Mills, the vocation to be a servant leader and to help others overcome struggles was already there. And that vocation was what attracted him to the Scrum Master role.

People before anything else

When Ben started to learn more about the Scrum Master role, and eventually after taking the Scrum Master certification course, he understood that the role called for a mindset that put people before anything else. Their relationships, the collaboration, their ability to solve conflict, etc. 

At this point Ben, at the time a Pastor, started to apply what he had learned in his own team. Ben had been a project manager before, so organizing and following up was not new, but the role of the Scrum Master and the process of Scrum called for something else. 

In this segment, we refer to the episode with Alioscha Chaplits, Rachel Macasek and Daniel Lenhart about starting as a Scrum Master when you don’t have any tech industry experience.

Breaking into the tech industry and the Scrum Master role 

For aspiring Scrum Masters, it may not always be easy to first break into the tech industry, and later into the Scrum Master role. Ben shares with us some of the tips that helped him, and still help him to grow his network, and find the right people to ask questions. 

In the end, the perspective that people are the critical link in the success of teams can bring insights and prepare you for the role. 

In this segment, we talk about the book Shift From Product To People, published by Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast. 

Resources for aspiring Scrum Masters

Some of the books that inspired Ben Mills in his quest to understand the Scrum Master role: 

But perhaps, one of the stories that influenced Ben the most, was one story of his own. When he was starting out as a project manager, and learned an important lesson about transparency. Listen in to find out what that story was, and how it can transform your work as a Scrum Master.

About Ben Mills

Ben is a scrum master, a project manager and a Pastor. That’s a very unique journey that he is sharing with us. 

He’s starting his career as a scrum master and is sharing his journey with us on this BONUS episode.

You can link with Ben Mills on LinkedIn.

 

 

Madhuri Korapati: Team building exercises for Agile Retrospectives

Madhuri starts by sharing her vision for a great Agile team, and then lists some of the questions she asks herself, as well as the team to help gage her own success as a Scrum Master. We also talk about how “work in progress limits” can help teams move quickly towards self-organization.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Great team building retrospectives

Madhuri starts by sharing with us that she prefers to use a different format every time, however, she also shares some of the formats she uses when starting off with a new team. We talk about the “Two truths and a lie” exercise, that helps team members know more about each other, and the “Candy Love” Agile retrospective format which helps create a positive atmosphere in the team. 

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 Madhuri Korapati

Madhuri a self-motivated servant leader with 14 years of software industry experience across Payments and Banking sectors. She is a Scrum Master at Mastercard, and enjoys helping teams in their agile transformation and showcasing their improvements. 

You can link with Madhuri Korapati on LinkedIn and connect with Madhuri Korapati on Twitter.

Kevin Pedersen: How to define Success metrics for Scrum Masters working with Agile teams

Success is not easy to measure for Scrum Masters. If you ask a manager, you will get a different set of metrics, than if you ask the team, or even other stakeholders. Kevin shares with us how to look for the right metrics with the people you work with: managers, team, product owner, and others. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Conversation focused formats to try in your team

Kevin is a fan of trying a new format for every retrospective he facilitates. However, there’s a common thread among all of those formats he shares: to help teams have great and insightful conversations. In this segment, we refer to Mad/Sad/Glad, The 4 L’s, Lean Coffee and how bringing the team outside the office can generate great 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 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 Kevin Pedersen

Kevin is a Managing Director, agile coach and international trainer for Growing Agile in South Africa. He is passionate about helping people connect to their purpose. This is best described in Growing Agile’s vision ‘to grow people and inspire ideas so that they can be the best version of themselves and we do that by changing the way people think about work’.

You can link with Kevin Pedersen on LinkedIn and connect with Kevin Pedersen on Twitter

Mariana Trigo: Icebreakers as boosters for great Agile retrospectives

Looking at how the team executes the process is one of the key aspects that defines the impact and success of the Scrum Master. However, there’s a lot more than process that we should take into account. In this segment, we also discuss the importance of adapting our definition of success to the company we are working with.

Featured Retrospective for the Week: The difference an icebreaker makes

When we start a retrospective, we have the challenge to get the team’s attention and focus. Mariana shares how she found and started using icebreaker activities to both address the team-jelling goal, as well as shape the mood for the retrospectives. 

In this segment, we talk about a list of icebreaker activities, which you can get here from the Collaboration Superpower’s website, and we also discuss the use of the Lean Coffee format in the retrospectives.

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 Mariana Trigo

Mariana’s path from Biology to Retail to IT, is a unique path in the search for purpose and the feeling of belonging. Helping development teams to reach their full potential by improving processes and people. Her favorite time is retrospective time, probably connected with her need to constantly get out of her comfort zone. 

You can link with Mariana Trigo on LinkedIn.

Tanzil Choudhury: A fresh new look at the Sailboat Agile Retrospective

Tanzil’s definition of success has evolved over time, and revolves around assessing and acting on the idea that companies and teams should be moving “forward” continuously in their Agile journey. 

We dive into some of the questions that Tanzil asks to assess if the teams are able to learn and advance in their journey. We also introduce the concept of “cultural hangover”, which Tanzil uses to describe one of the problems he wants to remove in the teams he works with.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: A fresh new look at the Sailboat Retrospective

Tanzil’s retrospective format of choice is the Sailboat retrospective (featured often here on the podcast), but he uses that in a specific way. For Tanzil, the Sailboat retrospective can be a great Futurespective, focusing the team on the future to define their vision. He then uses the Lean Coffee format to discuss the times that come up in the 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 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 Tanzil Choudhury

Tanzil is a passionate Agilist focused on coaching individuals, teams and organizations towards the Agile transformation journey. Specialized in working with teams and organizations to help them overcome cultural hangovers. 

You can link with Tanzil Choudhury on LinkedIn.

BONUS: The 4 (+1) key skills for Product Owners with David Pereira

We start this episode by discussing what are some of the key skills for Product Owners. David shares that – as the Head of Product Management – he tries to help his people with the following skills: 

  • Value-driven mindset: solving problems instead of delivering solutions
  • Communication: adapting to the different scenarios and knowing how to navigate common situations for software projects 
  • Empathy: being able to put themselves in the users, as well as stakeholder, and development team’s shoes
  • Decision making: Sometimes we don’t have data, but we can’t stop making decisions or the team will be paralysed. 
  • If you listen to the end of the episode, we share one more (BONUS! 🙂 skill that David helps Product Owners with

The process to help Product Owners develop these skills

Continue reading BONUS: The 4 (+1) key skills for Product Owners with David Pereira

Alex Gbaguidi: Crafting purpose to reach success as an Agile Coach or Scrum Master

Are your teams smiling? That’s one of the questions Alex suggests we ask ourselves. Alex shares some more questions we should go through when evaluating our success as Scrum Masters. However, those tools only help you assess if you need to go back to a core aspect of Scrum and Agile: discussing the purpose of our work. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Lean Coffee, the conversation facilitator

There are many formats we can use with the teams we help. Each team, and each situation may need a different format. However, Alex suggests that there’s a good format to get started with a new team: Lean Coffee. 

In this segment, we also refer to the Retrospective Poker Cards, that can help you be inspired to choose your next retrospective format.

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 Alex Gbaguidi

Alex is an experienced agile practitioner, coach and trainer with twenty years of experience in IT consulting. He is passionate about helping teams discover the best ways of working adapted to their context. He’s worked in many different types of industries (Telecoms, Energy, Finance or Aeronautics) and provides training on many agile frameworks and practices all around the world in French & English.

You can link with Alex Gbaguidi on LinkedIn and connect with Alex Gbaguidi on Twitter

You can join Alex Gbaguidi’s Agile Africa community

Gonçalo Valverde: A list of questions for Scrum Master self-evaluation

What are some of the questions we can ask ourselves to evaluate our work? Gonçalo shares some of the questions he asks himself, and we discuss how critical it is to evaluate the relationship between the team and the Product Owner.

In this segment, we refer to #NoEstimates, a topic we’ve covered before here on the podcast

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The small add-ons that make retrospectives awesome

There are many ways to facilitate great retrospectives. The format of the retro will influence the success of the retro, but so will the small exercises we use for check-in or check-out. In this segment, we introduce shared visual board like Jamboard or Mural, the use of breakout rooms, Liberating Structures, Kudos, the Core Protocols (which have been featured on the podcast before) and small add-ons that make retrospectives awesome for the team!

In this segment, we also refer to the episodes recorded with Dov Tsal

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 Gonçalo Valverde

Gonçalo is an Agile Coach from Portugal working with teams and organizations in their continuous improvement journey. As a keen amateur photographer, he learned that less is more and how constraints help one focus on the outcomes. He’s also a co-organizer of Agile Coach Camp Portugal. 

You can link with Gonçalo Valverde on LinkedIn and connect with Gonçalo Valverde on Twitter.

Kim Hinsch: Measure all the things, to assess team and Scrum Master success

Kim likes to use metrics to assess her work and the evolution of the team. This helps the team reflect about their performance, but also about their motivation and engagement (when using team morale metrics, for example). Kim also mentions that your metrics should include a measure of value delivered to the customer.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Simple formats to get started with

As Kim puts it, the best format for the Retrospective is “one that works”. Of course, that means the Scrum Master must pay special attention to what is going on with the team at the time, and learn to read the signs on which method is the most appropriate for the team. 

Kim shares with us her process to define what is the format “that works” for every sprint and every team. She also shares a few formats to get you started with a new team: The Agile Battleships (online version of Battleships retrospective) and Name Game Agile Retrospective formats.

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 Kim Hinsch

Kim is an agile enthusiast, that has been stung by the power of games, communication, and psychology. Kim practices every day the fine art of making magic happen the agile way. And what makes her heart beat faster is supporting teams and organizations on their magical journey across the hills of excellence and effectiveness.

You can link with Kim Hinsch on LinkedIn.