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Stephanie Cully: How To Lead with Empathy, The Story of an Open-Minded Scrum Product Owner

The Great Product Owner: Leading with Empathy, The Story of an Open-Minded PO

In this episode, Stephanie discusses her experience with an exceptional Product Owner (PO) who, despite having no prior experience in Agile and Scrum, demonstrated a remarkable willingness to learn and adapt. The PO’s approach was characterized by asking questions, seeking help, and engaging in training sessions to better understand Agile practices. This openness extended to discussions about customer pain points and the user journey, contributing significantly to the team’s ability to deliver effectively. The PO’s caring attitude towards the team and flexibility in adapting to the developers’ needs further exemplified the qualities of a great PO.

The Bad Product Owner: Addressing the Root Causes of an Absent PO

In this segment, Stephanie shares an experience with a Product Owner (PO) who was essentially absent, leaving a Business Analyst (BA) to handle product prioritization. The BA inadvertently compounded the issue by taking on the PO’s responsibilities instead of addressing the root cause together with the team and the PO. Stephanie intervened to emphasize the importance of understanding why the PO was unavailable, revealing that the PO was overwhelmed with multiple roles. Through facilitating direct conversations among the BA, developers, and stakeholders, Stephanie highlighted the need for clear roles and effective time management in agile teams.
If you are facing a similar situation, where the PO is mostly absent, you may want to review our Sprint Checklist, which helps you have a coaching conversation with the PO, and define clear expectations about participation in the work with the team.

The Ultimate Guide to Supporting Product Owners as a Scrum Master

Are you having trouble helping the team work well with their Product Owner? We’ve put together a course to help you work on the collaboration team-product owner. You can find it at bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Stephanie Cully

Stephanie Cully is a Scrum Master, and CEO of Scrum Life Consulting. Stephanie founded Scrum Life with a mission to help Scrum Masters overcome self-doubt and land the role.

You can link with Stephanie Cully on LinkedIn.

Stephanie Cully: Ted Lasso Lessons That Help Define Success For Scrum Masters

Stephanie defines success for Scrum Masters as their ability to foster growth within their teams and ensure the delivery of value. She emphasizes that a great Scrum Master not only demonstrates how to deliver value but also engages the team in discussions about the meaning and importance of value, thereby helping the team understand and focus on value creation. Through continuous learning and development, a Scrum Master supports the team’s growth, drawing inspiration from the ethos of Ted Lasso, which underscores the significance of positive influence and guidance. In this episode, we refer to the following quote by Ted Lasso: “For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field. And it ain’t always easy … but neither is growing up without someone believing in you.”

Featured Retrospective Format For The Week: Warm-Up Questions That Uncovered A Team’s Fears

Stephanie shares a retrospective format that incorporates “warm-up” questions designed to gauge the team’s sentiments about the previous sprint. Through this method of warm-up questions, Stephanie uncovered that the team felt they were not delivering value, indicating a risk of demotivation. She emphasizes the importance of retrospectives as safe spaces for addressing difficult topics, suggesting that such open dialogues are crucial for maintaining motivation and continuous improvement within agile teams.

How can I, as a Scrum Master, supercharge my facilitation?

Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox!

About Stephanie Cully

Stephanie Cully is a Scrum Master, and CEO of Scrum Life Consulting. Stephanie founded Scrum Life with a mission to help Scrum Masters overcome self-doubt and land the role.

You can link with Stephanie Cully on LinkedIn.

Stephanie Cully: Leading Teams Through Agile Adoption, and Mindset Transformation

Stephanie shares a story about helping a team to move from a waterfall to an agile framework. Despite initial resistance to abandoning familiar practices, she guided the team through the change by clarifying the goals of agile processes and introducing tools like the velocity chart in JIRA to help teams understand how some of the older concepts (tracking progress) could be achieved with the Agile approach.

Her approach focused on understanding the purpose behind practices, encouraging continuous conversation, and providing direct feedback. By repeatedly explaining the benefits and purposes of Scrum practices, Stephanie helped the team grasp the value of agile methods, leading to a more effective and adaptive development process.

Want to Improve Your Change Management Results? Discover the Lean Change Management Approach Today!

As Scrum Master we work with change continuously! Do you have your own change framework that provides the guidance, and queues you need when working with change? The Lean Change Management framework is a fully defined, lean-startup inspired change framework that can be used as the backbone of any change process! You can buy Lean Change Management the book at Amazon. Also available in French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.

About Stephanie Cully

Stephanie Cully is a Scrum Master, and CEO of Scrum Life Consulting. Stephanie founded Scrum Life with a mission to help Scrum Masters overcome self-doubt and land the role.

You can link with Stephanie Cully on LinkedIn.

Stephanie Cully: How A Misunderstanding Created The Opportunity For Collaboration Between A Scrum Team And Their Product Owner

Stephanie recounts the challenges faced by a team transitioning to a new application project, marked by tension between developers and the product owner (PO), who micromanaged interface details without clearly conveying customer goals. Initially, separating the team from the PO led to communication issues and misunderstandings. A turning point occurred when a design misunderstanding prompted a shift in strategy: apologies were made, and collaborative design sessions were initiated. This improved communication and understanding, eventually leading the PO to facilitate direct developer-customer interactions, fostering a more integrated and effective team dynamic.

Featured Book of the Week: How To Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty

Stephanie was deeply inspired by Jay Shetty’s “How to Think Like a Monk” in her career as a Scrum Master. The book emphasizes the importance of consistent practice, showing up authentically, and contributing equally within a team. Its teachings resonate with the Scrum Master role, highlighting the significance of not solving problems for others but facilitating their ability to solve problems themselves. This approach fosters self-reliance and growth within the team, aligning with the core principles of effective scrum mastery.

Transform Your Agile Teams with Hard-Earned Lessons from Super-Experienced Scrum Masters

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 Stephanie Cully

Stephanie Cully is a Scrum Master, and CEO of Scrum Life Consulting. Stephanie founded Scrum Life with a mission to help Scrum Masters overcome self-doubt and land the role.

You can link with Stephanie Cully on LinkedIn.

Stephanie Cully: From Conflict to Collaboration, How To Collaboration With Skeptic Scrum Product Owners

In a new team, the Product Owner (PO) was initially against Stephanie’s role as a Scrum Master, fearing loss of control. Despite the challenges, she focused on understanding the PO’s objectives, maintaining a positive mindset, and persisting in her efforts to foster collaboration. By actively listening and seeking support from colleagues, Stephanie gradually built a strong, supportive relationship with the PO and the team, emphasizing the importance of aligning with the company’s and PO’s goals.

The inspiring story of how a failing hospital turned things around with Agile and Lean

Recovering from failure, or difficult moments is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. Not only because of us, but also because the teams, and stakeholders we work with will also face these moments! We need inspiring stories to help them, and ourselves! The Bungsu Story, is an inspiring story by Marcus Hammarberg which shows how a Coach can help organizations recover even from the most disastrous situations! Learn how Marcus helped The Bungsu, a hospital in Indonesia, recover from near-bankruptcy, twice! Using Lean and Agile methods to rebuild an organization and a team! An inspiring story you need to know about! Buy the book on Amazon: The Bungsu Story – How Lean and Kanban Saved a Small Hospital in Indonesia. Twice. and Can Help You Reshape Work in Your Company.

About Stephanie Cully

Stephanie Cully is a Scrum Master, and CEO of Scrum Life Consulting. Stephanie founded Scrum Life with a mission to help Scrum Masters overcome self-doubt and land the role.

You can link with Stephanie Cully on LinkedIn.

Get These Valuable Lessons Today!
Down-to-earth, hard-earned Scrum Masters lessons and the Tips from the Trenches e-book table of contents, delivered by email
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Internal Conference
Checklist
Internal Conference
Checklist
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Motivate your team with the right metrics, and the right way to visualize and track them. Marcus presents a detailed How-To document based on his experience at The Bungsu Hospital
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A moving story of how work at the Bungsu Hospital was transformed by a simple tool that you can use to help your team.
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
FREE QUIZ - What's Your Scrum Master Superpower:
(Please join the waitlist to be notified first when this quiz is ready for you).
Unlock Your Leadership Potential & Help Your Team Reach Their Potential
FREE QUIZ - What's Your Scrum Master Superpower:
Unlock Your Leadership Potential & Help Your Team Reach Their Potential (Please join the waitlist to be notified first when this quiz is ready for you).