Steve Silbert: Doing Agile Retrospectives in teams that “don’t have time for retros”

Sometimes, teams decide that they are so busy, they don’t even have time for Retrospectives. This is the story Steve shares with us. However, as Scrum Masters, it is our duty to ensure that the team does not stop reflecting and improving. How can we combine the team’s perceived lack of time, with the need for reflection and improvement? In this episode, we talk about the “stealth retrospective” and other techniques we can use that help the team while respecting their own management of time.

Featured Book of the Week: Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins

Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins is about leveling up coaching and coaching into the team, as Steve puts it. 

In this segment, we also refer to The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, where Steve found inspiration on how to look at team setups, and how different types of work are handled.

Finally, Steve refers to Winnie the Pooh, a book that taught him some important lessons he also applies as a Scrum Master. Listen in, to learn more about why these books are important for Steve.

About Steve Silbert

Steve is an Agile Coach living in Jacksonville, Florida. He is co-curator of SketchnoteArmy, sits on the board of directors for a spiritual innovation incubator, and designs agile games in his spare time.

You can link with Steve Silbert on LinkedIn and connect with Steve Silbert on Twitter. 

Jesse Houwing: Scaled Scrum done wrong, and how to make it right!

Jesse was working on a large Scrum project. As he started observing the structure, he noticed something was off. This project had 17 teams, 17 backlogs, and 17 Product Owners. It was as if every team was in a little island. As he looked further, Jesse found that teams were optimizing the work for their own context and needs, at the same time destroying the ability of other teams to succeed. An example of how NOT to scale Scrum. 

We discuss what we can do when facing similar situations.

Featured Book of the Week: Code Complete by Steve McConnel

From Code Complete by Steve McConnel, Jesse learned some important lessons that helped him later on as a developer and as a Scrum Master. The aspects that Jesse highlights are the collaboration between developers, and how to work as a team when developing larger systems. 

In this segment, we also refer to Scrum, A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen, who’s also been a guest on the podcast. 

About Jesse Houwing

Father of 2, husband of 1, Professional Scrum Trainer with, Steward of the Scaled Scrum curriculum there, gadgeteer and techy at heart. Lives in the middle of The Netherlands.

You can link with Jesse Houwing on LinkedIn and connect with Jesse Houwing on Twitter. 

Ludmila Reyter: Dealing with disappointment and frustration in Scrum teams

Ludmila has experienced how unhappiness and frustration with the environment can do to a team. We talk about the team member that was trapped in a cynical state of mind and discuss the consequences that can have for the individual and the team. We discuss how to prepare for those situations in which the team is in a less than perfect environment, and starts to react negatively.

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts

Ludmila found important guidance in Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts and recommends the book for Scrum Masters getting started in their journey. In this segment, we also refer to The Coach’s Casebook by Geoff Watts and Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins.

About Ludmila Reyter

Ludmila started as a project manager and became a scrum master early on, and has been working with teams in the software development sector for 7 years now – but with other teams in general (basketball, studies) much longer. 

She loves to see people working together successfully, which of course means going through some tough times, too. Ludmila realized that the things she once learned somehow rearrange, and has a thought for us: never be sure that what you think you know will always be true!

You can link with Ludmila Reyter on LinkedIn and connect with Ludmila Reyter on Twitter.

Mahesh Jade: Dealing the critical team members in an Agile adoption at the team level

Mahesh started to work with a new organization, and there were several people and teams that were not familiar with Agile. When focusing on continuous improvement, one of the people in the team constantly pointed out mistakes in others, which caused resentment in the team. This helped Mahesh learn a very important lesson about the difference between being kind and being right.

Featured Book of the Week: Evolvagility by Hamman and Cooney

In Evolvagility: Growing an Agile Leadership Culture from the Inside Out, Mahesh found guidance on how to look at the agile adoption process. 

About Mahesh Jade

Mahesh is an Agile evangelist dedicated to championing the cause of building winning teams and winning products. A facilitator by passion, a coach, and an agilist at heart, he works to bring agility to the organization and humanizing the workplace. 

You can link with Mahesh Jade on LinkedIn and connect with Mahesh Jade on Twitter.

Leigh Griffin: The Scrum team that would not improve because they wanted to be “perfect”

“Not all things that matter can be measured, and not all the things that can be measured are important” is a phrase that summarises this conversation with Leigh. He shares the story of a team that was stuck in the perfection self-defeating loop. Focusing on seemingly important metrics that, in the end, did not allow them to improve as a team.

Featured Book of the Week: The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey

In The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance by Timothy Gallwey, Leigh found a book that inspired his own approach as a Scrum Master and coach. He reflects on the similarities between the mental aspects in sports and product development. 

About Leigh Griffin

Leigh is an Engineering Manager in Red Hat working with distributed Agile teams. His focus is on the Agile mindset through proactive Coaching and helping teams to grow.

You can link with Leigh Griffin on LinkedIn and connect with Leigh Griffin on Twitter.

Ben Maynard: When the “best” team is a world of trouble for the Scrum Master

It seems like a “no brainer” to choose the best people available and form a team with them. However, as Ben reminds us, that’s not always the case. Sometimes the “best” people available don’t have compatible personalities, and the Scrum Master must be able to understand and tackle that together with leadership. In this episode, Ben shares the story of a team of “stars” that just couldn’t work together and describes the things he tried (and which worked… or not) to help that team grow.

In this episode, we refer to LeSS and to an episode with Bas Vodde, one of the creators of the LeSS framework.

In this segment, we refer to Deming and the concept of Gemba walks. 

Featured Book of the Week: Practices For Scaling Lean & Agile Development, by Vodde and Larman

Thanks to Bas Vodde’s and Craig Larman’s Practices For Scaling Lean & Agile Development, Ben changed his career. First, he started by applying many of the ideas in the book, and started to like the approach that the authors take in the book: suggesting experiments for readers to try. While reading the book, ben found many ideas that he could try at work, which ultimately led him to become a large scale Scrum trainer. 

About Ben Maynard

Ben is an experienced coach, trainer, and mentor assisting senior leaders in medium to large organizations with organizational design and the cultural repercussions. 

You can link with Ben Maynard on LinkedIn and connect with Ben Maynard on Twitter. 

Jacy Ong: Dealing with deadline-pressure in Scrum teams

A team member told Jacy: “we pushed to production without testing”. That was only one of the anti-patterns that developed in the team because of deadline pressure, but there are more! In this episode, we explore the deadline-pressure anti-patterns, and we share some tips on how to help teams that are under the schedule “gun”.

Featured Book for the Week: Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins 

Jacy heard about Coaching Agile teams by Lyssa Adkins from a colleague, and while reading it, she learned a lot of important lessons about coaching, and being a coach. And from those lessons, one of the most important for Scrum Masters: believe in the team you are working with.

About Jacy Ong

Jacy is a big anime fan! And she has found a strong connection between sports anime and her work as a scrum master. As she puts it: “nothing feels more rewarding than to watch your teams grow and achieve goals they never thought they could possibly achieve. :)”

You can link with Jacy Ong on LinkedIn. 

Chris Stone: Pushing an Agile team to a waterfall project, a disaster story

This team was asked to work in an Agile way. So far, so good. However, they then were given “waterfall deadlines” (listen in to learn what those are). The team started to drift. Stopped doing retrospectives, looked at the stand-up as a status reporting meeting, and just plowed through to try and meet those deadlines. What happened next wasn’t pretty. Listen to the story of this team, and learn what Chris would have done differently, had he needed to face that team again.

Featured Book of the Week: Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet

In Turn the Ship around by David Marquet, Chris read about a different leadership model, the “leader-leader” model that David Marquet illustrates with a real-life story of how he turned the Santa Fe submarine, from the last in the ranks of the US Navy to number #1 in 12 months. You can listen to David Marquet describe the book in this episode.

In this segment, we also refer to Drive, by Dan Pink. 

About Chris Stone

Chris is The Virtual Agile coach, a #PeopleFirst champion, and an Agile Evangelist / Agile Transformation Lead / Scrum Master possessing over 8 years of experience within the IT industry.

You can link with Chris Stone on LinkedIn.

Adrienne Rinaldi: Managers as Scrum team members, a cautionary tale

Adrienne was working with a small team, in a governmental organization, that had started their Agile adoption journey. A supervisor/manager was assigned to be a team member in that team. In this episode, we discuss how the relationships of power or hierarchical superiority can destroy a team, if we don’t pay special attention to the collaboration between team members.

Featured Book of the Week: Leadership is Language by L. David Marquet 

When reading Leadership is Language by L. David Marquet, Adrienne learned about some aspects of language, and the words we use that can directly affect the success of our work as Scrum Masters and leaders. We also talk about the importance of language in helping people accept they can make a change to their own lives, and at work.

In this segment, we refer to the special BONUS episode with L. David Marquet. 

About Adrienne Rinaldi

Adrienne Rinaldi is an Agile Transformation Coach and co-founder with PinnacleTek Consulting. She has a passion for topics such as emotional intelligence in agile leadership, cultural transformations and breaking the norms in hierarchical organizations. She has enabled value-based strategy and business agility at many levels of client organizations: teams, programs and portfolios. When not being an agilist, Adrienne’s activities a published book (about beer and yoga!), mountaineering, hiking (Colorado 14er finisher), kayaking and spending time with friends/family.

You can link with Adrienne Rinaldi on LinkedIn. 

Arjay Hinek: The critical Scrum Master task of helping Product Owners

When this story starts, we hear about a Product Owner that had the unfortunate habit of micro-managing the team and assignments. On top of that, the PO was also a yes-man, who wanted to say “yes” to everything the stakeholders came up with. We explore how these behaviors led to the team imploding, and discuss what we can do to help teams and PO’s who start showing the same symptoms.

Featured Book of the Week: Agile Product Management with Scrum: Creating Products that Customers Love

In Agile Product Management with Scrum by Roman Pichler, found a book that distills the concepts down to practical advice and helps the teams and the Scrum Masters focus on customer needs. He also found that the book allowed him to have great conversations with Product Owners, and coach the PO’s he worked with.

In this segment, we also refer to The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management by Stephen Denning.


Are you having trouble helping the team working 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: 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

About Arjay Hinek

Arjay has been an Agilist for over a decade. In the last few years he’s focused on Agile and “product development” for non-software applications. A considers himself a teacher at heart, he uses metaphors and story-telling to help others see their challenges from a different perspective and overcome them. 

You can link with Arjay Hinek on LinkedIn and connect with Arjay Hinek on Twitter. 

You can follow Arjay’s blog at