George Mathews: Dealing with pressure and stress in Scrum teams

When the team feels pressure from the outside, the behavior of the people on the team changes. At first, it might be simple things, like being late or forgetting to get back to a team member, but later those problems may escalate to full-out conflict. In this segment, we talk about the importance of learning when the team is stressed, and work through those causes for stress as Scrum Masters.

In this episode, we refer to an #AgileOnlineMeetup with Bob Galen where he shares his perspective on how Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches can ensure that their own stress levels are not overwhelming. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Simpler is better

George favors a simpler retrospective format for the retrospectives he hosts. In this segment, we explore some of the simpler formats we can use, and why their use matters for the team.

About George Mathews

George Mathews is a Scrum Master at SentryOne for two fully remote teams. Prior to that, he had experience as a Customer Service Representative, Operations Analyst and Finance Technical Analyst allowing him to employ a broad practical point of view as he coaches Agile teams at SentryOne.

You can link with George Mathews on LinkedIn.

Mandy Sunner: Sprint Goals as a catalyst for better retrospectives

At the end of every Sprint, teams show their progress to key stakeholders. As Scrum Masters, we benefit from that ceremony to understand our impact and improve our work. In this episode, we talk about why it is critical for Scrum Masters to improve those ceremonies and focus on the feedback that stakeholders give. That feedback can become our fuel for improvement.

Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: Sprint Goals as a catalyst for better retrospectives

In retrospectives, we want to focus the teams on what we can do to become a better team. In this episode, we talk about Sprint Goals, and why those goals are important to help the teams be able to reflect better and have better retrospectives.

About Mandy Sunner

Mandy calls herself the Angel of Agile as she guards her team and stakeholders from attacks and compromises which are forthcoming in an era of uncertainty. Her Agile approaches are thought through by virtue of being a systematic thinker and keeping the customers at the forefront of development. A problem solver with many years of practical experience.

You can link with Mandy Sunner on LinkedIn and connect with Mandy Sunner on Twitter.

Tony Richards: Helping Scrum teams be aware of their anti-patterns (and patterns)

When Scrum Masters start working with a team, they might feel the need to intervene often. It might be just to get the team to start talking, or for the team members to respect each other’s turn to speak. However, when we evolve our practice and start seeing some success is when we are able to step back and use “mirroring” to let the team understand their own behavior. Just like us, team members are also often blind to their own behavior patterns, a successful Scrum Masters will help team members be less blind to their own behavior patterns.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Powerful Questions Walk

Tony found an approach that helps teams dive deeper into their experience and find improvement opportunities they would otherwise ignore. In this episode, he describes the Powerful Questions Walk exercise and how it improves the team’s ability to learn and reflect.

In this episode, we refer to the Coaching Cards by Deborah Preuss (PDF Download).

About Tony Richards

Tony coaches Agile teams across the UK and currently serves as program advisor to the Scrum Alliance. His most recent client is applying Scrum and Kanban in the engineering and production of physical goods. 

Tony is also in the organizer team for the Scrum Gathering in sunny Lisbon this year, and he’s busy working with a great team of volunteers to review and build a program of great talks and workshops.

You can link with Tony Richards on LinkedIn and connect with Tony Richards on Twitter.

Olsen Turan: A simple, yet effective Retrospective format Scrum Masters can use to build trust

When a Scrum Master joins a team, it is critical to start building trust from the first interaction. In this episode, we talk about what that means in practice and share Olsen’s approach to building trust and opening the communication channels with the team. 

Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: The Casual Conversation

There are many retrospective formats out there, each serving a specific purpose, from problem definition to ideation and so on. However, in this episode, we focus on a simple format that aims at building relationships between team members and between Scrum Master and team members. The format is “the casual conversation”, which has been prepared and is facilitated by the Scrum Master but helps team members feel safe and at ease. 

About Olsen Turan

Olsen is an experienced Agile Coach and Scrum Master with a mix of Servant Leadership skills and technical knowledge acquired over his decade-long career. His background includes Ph.D. studies in Organizational Leadership, Agile Transformation and Coaching, Project Management, and Scrum Master duties.

You can link with Olsen Turan on LinkedIn and connect with Olsen Turan on Twitter

You can also follow Olsen Turan on his coaching website.

Sami Prentice: Self-organization and collective ownership in Scrum teams

Looking into how teams organize themselves is often a good indicator that our work is having an impact. In this episode, we talk about the need to help teams self-organize, and find ways to sustain their own progress and improvement. Finally, we discuss the key ingredient for success in Scrum teams: having collective ownership for the work they need to.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Liberating Structures, TRIZ

Sometimes the best way to help teams focus on what they can improve is to talk about what is the worst that could possibly happen. In this Liberating Structure called TRIZ, the goal is to reflect on what can go wrong, so that the team is then ready to focus on how to avoid that negative outcome.

About Sami Prentice

Sami is a Scrum Master in Denver, Colorado. She used to work in the beer industry before making the switch to Scrum Master and she is passionate about facilitating awesome meetings that don’t suck. 

You can link with Sami Prentice on LinkedIn.

Tom Suter: 5 Requirements for great Agile Retrospectives

When it comes to having a positive impact on the teams, and companies we work with, the way we help teams focus on value delivery is critical. 

In this episode, we talk about how Scrum Masters can enable teams to focus on business value creation with different techniques.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: 5 Requirements for great Agile Retrospectives

Tom’s approach to the Retrospectives is informed by 5 requirements he tries to fulfill for every retrospective. In this episode, we explore what those are, and how to prepare and host impactful retrospectives.

In this segment, we refer to Retromat, and Fun Retrospectives, two websites that help you get more exercises for your retrospectives.

About Tom Suter

As our workforce changes rapidly, Tom suggests it is going to be more and more challenging to attract and keep talent and knowledge, and that’s why we need a healthy and sustainable working environment. Tom is passionate about improving the industry for his children and their generations. 

You can link with Tom Suter on LinkedIn and connect with Tom Suter on Twitter.

Thomas von Busse: Developing Scrum teams through feedback culture

Thomas’ approach is to allow the team space to develop. That perspective requires an approach to the Scrum Master role that is more focused on feedback between team members. In this episode, we talk about how we can help teams improve their team-internal feedback culture. We discuss the Feedback Burger technique for feedback.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The WADE Matrix

The WADE Matrix is a facilitation technique that helps include outside stakeholders to help create a more holistic view of what the team is facing. It also helps find and define improvements that require different perspectives from what the team is normally exposed to.

Thomas has an article (in German) about how to prepare and facilitate a retrospective with the WADE Matrix.

About Thomas von Busse

Thomas is a Scrum Master since 2013. After his Bachelors’s Degree in Software Engineering, he gained experience as a Programmer and uses this deep understanding of how to build software systems to help his Teams get better with each iteration. 

You can link with Thomas von Busse on LinkedIn and connect with Thomas von Busse on Twitter.

Bola Adesope: The Mad/Sad/Glad Retrospective Exercise

There are many aspects that we must consider when evaluating our success as Scrum Masters. Bola reminds us that the way the team acts and behaves is a clear indicator of our influence on their progress as a team. We talk about how our different stances affect the team’s performance, and how we must deliberately move from one stance to the other when the team’s evolution so requires. Listen in to learn how Bola assesses and decides to move to the right stance as a Scrum Master.

Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: Mad/Sad/Glad technique

The Mad/Sad/Glad exercise from Core Protocols helps the team find out about problems that may not yet be obvious by focusing them on the feelings and the triggers for those feelings. For more on Core Protocols, listen to this episode on the Core Protocols with Richard Kasperowski.

About Bola Adesope

Bola is an experienced Business and Agile Transformation Consultant, Speaker and Coach with in-depth knowledge and experience working with businesses in implementing best practice frameworks, driving changes and solving complex business problems. Bola has worked on several transformation initiatives, coached teams and Scrum Masters. He’s an Agile Coach based in Toronto.

You can link with Bola Adesope on LinkedIn and connect with Bola Adesope on Twitter

Leslie McCormack: The ultimate success goals for Scrum Masters and Scrum teams

Leslie asks a few questions of herself when evaluating her success. We review those questions and why they are important to assess team growth and product success which are the ultimate success goals for Scrum Masters and Scrum teams.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Rotating exercises to create creative thinking

Scrum Masters must be able to adapt their Agile Retrospective exercises to the needs of the team at that time. In this episode, we talk about multiple exercises you can run, and why it is important to always be ready to facilitate a different exercise. We also discuss some of the downsides of repeating exercises over time.

In this episode, we refer to the Sailboat / Speedboat Restrospective exercise, the 3 L’s Retrospective exercise (similar to the 4L’s Retrospective exercise) and others.

About Leslie McCormack

Leslie is a full-time Scrum Master. Prior to that Leslie was a Project Manager, and started her career as a mainframe database developer (COBOL, HCL, DB2, Oracle, Unix). After that, she moved on to Java support for a few years. Finally, she transitioned to an analyst role, and it was in that role that she first encountered Agile and Scrum.

You can link with Leslie McCormack on LinkedIn.

Darren Smith: Leadership lessons for Scrum Masters

“Leaders make leaders of other people” is the phrase Darren shares with us to explain his view on what success is for a Scrum Master. By focusing on the team, and what they can do, Darren helps teams grow and become self-sufficient.

In this episode, we refer to Darren Smith’s The Naked Scrum Master blog, as well as the book Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: A Walk In The Park

There are many formats that Darren likes to use. In this episode, he advocates the use of the “right” method for the retrospective, at the “right” time. Listen to the story of a team under pressure, and what Darren did to be able to help the team with his retrospective format.

About Darren Smith

Darren, aka the Naked Scrum Master, has been helping teams and organizations be better than they were by exposing dysfunction and helping people to remove obstacles from their path so they can be happier and more fulfilled in their working lives.

You can link with Darren Smith on LinkedIn and connect with Darren Smith on Twitter.