Zeshan Ilyas on how department silos destroy a Scrum team’s productivity

Scrum teams can be very productive. Some teams can deliver working software to customers or production several times per day. However, some Scrum teams are stuck, unable to deliver and reach high levels of productivity.

Silo departments, functionally aligned, but separating end-to-end activities can destroy a Scrum team’s ability to reach their potential. In this episode we discuss some of the reasons why that is, and what we, Scrum Masters, can do about it.

About Zeshan Ilyas

With a firm focus on Agile and Scrum methodologies, Zeshan has worked within high profile organisations, including the HSBC, Capgemini Financial Services, Talk, Talk, and many more.

Having worked with Agile companies for many years, Zeshan identified a need for a community of Agilists in Pakistan, which would bring together professionals adopting an Agile or Scrum approach, help increase awareness of Agile.

You can link with Zeshan Ilyas on LinkedIn and connect with Zeshan Ilyas on Twitter.

David Spinks on understanding the real reasons for Scrum adoption

When organizations adopt Agile and Scrum in particular, the usual reason is “faster and better”. However, that can be a smell that the organization has not yet understood the real reasons why they are adopting a new approach to managing their work. This focus on “faster” may drive more work into the “in progress” column and clog up the whole organization with work that is started, but not finished. As Scrum Masters, we must understand the stated, and real reasons for Agile adoptions in the organizations that we support, so that we can address the systemic problems that will inevitably arise!

About David Spinks

David has over 15 years experience in the IT industry. He began his career as a software developer before becoming a Scrum Master in 2012. He calls himself an ‘agile adventurer’ and believes in continuous learning in himself and others. His passion is getting the best out of teams and seeing people reach their full potential. He has worked in a variety of industries, including eCommerce, social housing and education.

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

Jem D’jelal on creating the space for Transformation to happen

In this reference filled episode we talk about change, how to involve people in change, the different approaches to management and many other topics.

We also discuss one of the possible skills you can use as a Scrum Master: the energy level you put into the role. Finally, we discuss tips on how to engage with teams and team members so that your role as a Scrum Master is easier and pleasurable.

In this episode we refer to Non-violent communication by Marshall Rosenberg, Theory X and Theory Y of management and David Marquet’s book: Turn the Ship Around!. If you are interested in David Marquet’s work, please check also our interview with him here on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast.

About Jem D’jelal

Jem trained to be a social worker, but ended up dropping out & joining the dark side instead : investment banking 🙂 In a funny way, Jem was led back to his passion – helping people. This happened when he was introduced to Scrum in 2006, and has been a career Scrum Master since. He calls himself “nomadic”, having had almost 30 roles in 10 + years. He does say that he will be searching for a home at some point. Some of Jem’s other passions involve running, a part time mentoring charity for repeating youth offenders in North London & callisthenics.

You can link with Jem D’Jelal on LinkedIn and connect with Jem D’Jelal on Twitter.

Andreas Plattner and the lack of accountability as a systemic anti-pattern

In The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni describes an anti-pattern that often develops in teams: the lack of accountability. When we accept failure not as a part of the learning process, but rather as a tabu: something we can never talk about, and therefore not learn from.

In this episode we talk about what happens when that pattern develops at the organizational level, when entire departments stop holding themselves accountable.

In this episode we also talk about Skin In The Game by Nassim Taleb, as an antidote to a common anti-pattern: decoupling the people making decisions from the actual results.

About Andreas Plattner

Andreas is an Agile Coach @ Daimler. He is has been a passionate Agilist and Scrum Master for over 10 years. He works on and cares for organizational health.

You can link with Andreas Plattner on LinkedIn and connect with Andreas Plattner on XING.

Mark Cruth and the need for control as a root cause for many systemic anti-patterns

The need for control is something that affects many of our behaviors. In organizations that is translated into several anti-patterns that detract from the ability of the team to deliver value. Status reporting instead of delivering, wanting to know what will happen before it happens and wanting to be “sure” of the future are just some of the many anti-patterns we see in organizations that are in the jaws of the need for control.

What can Scrum Masters do to overcome the anti-patterns and help organizations succeed without controlling everything that is to happen? This is what we discuss in this episode.

About Mark Cruth

Mark has been playing in the Agile space since 2009, helping multiple organizations move towards a more Agile perspective on work across several industries, including manufacturing, eCommerce, and FinTech. Today Mark works as an Agile Coach for Quicken Loans, as well as operates his own Consulting company called Teal Mavericks.

You can link with Mark Cruth on LinkedIn and connect with Mark Cruth on Twitter.

Denis Salnikov on the transparency gap as a systemic problem

In organizations that burden teams with multiple projects, it is natural that some information is not available. Be it because the team is too busy to openly communicate with management, or because there are many stakeholders that are not aligned.

The lack of transparency is a symptom of a systemic problem. In this episode we explore what that might mean in companies that are growing too fast.

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 on the Agile Theatre that some teams play

Agile Software Development is a new entrant in the Software Development industry. Although it started in 2000, the fact is that many organizations are still in the first stages of adoption.

Inevitably we run into several Agile Theatre problems: missing PO, teams doing Scrum ceremonies to keep the Scrum Master happy, but not really understanding why they are needed. The list goes on.

In this episode we discuss some of those patterns and what we can do as Scrum Masters to understand and learn how to overcome those anti-patterns.

In this episode we refer to the Hands-On Agile Slack for agilists to share their experiences and learn from each other.

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 the line manager anti-pattern in Scrum

Scrum teams are supposed to be fully responsible for their work, and autonomous in the way of working. However, in many organizations line managers are still the ones yielding the power over teams, and even assign work directly to team members. This is one of the system conditions we must face and struggle with as Scrum Masters. In this episode we discuss how to interact with line managers, so that the Scrum team can really be responsible and autonomous as Scrum suggests.

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 how different questions can radically change how you plan software projects

The planning system, i.e. all the planning approaches, and techniques we use, can often create a set of non-negotiable needs that teams need to fulfill. Starting with up-front planning! If our planning system requires estimates for every possible feature in the roadmap, then the teams will inevitably need to estimate a lot of work that will eventually not be done at all! However, if our planning system is based on “value” instead, then the teams are asked different questions. Jella asks: “What if you would ask “is this worth doing?” instead of how “how much does this cost?”?” What kind of changes to your planning system would that change bring?

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.

Michael Küsters on how we can help a Scrum team quickly overcome certain system conditions

Some of the anti-patterns that cause problems in our organisations are: thinking only about efficiency, separating skills and having only specialists, and trying to maximise utilisation of people’s time.

In this episode we discuss how those anti-patterns become system conditions and what we can do as Scrum Masters to overcome them. Listen in to learn about Michael’s simple solution to get a team to quickly overcome these critical anti-patterns.


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.