Pieter Verbaarschott: What happens when Scrum teams work harder, but lose their improvement focus

When teams are pressured or pushed to work harder, or longer hours, the easy solution is to just say yes, and carry with it. However, the role of Scrum Masters is to help teams understand and prevent those cases when the “work harder” mantra is disconnected from the goals of the company. In this episode, we discuss one such example, where the team was not able to say “no” to the PO, and was, therefore, pushed to do more, and more work and forgetting to focus on improving as a team.

Featured Book of the Week: Leading Teams by Richard Hackman

In Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances by Richard Hackman, Pieter found the results of a long research process that lead to defining some of the conditions and patterns that exist in successful teams. One such aspect was the definition of goals for the team. We explore what that means in practice and how to apply it as a Scrum Master.

About Pieter Verbaarschott

Pieter is a hands-on generalist with a background in software development. A passion for helping teams work together better. Agile aficionado since his first endeavors in Extreme Programming. Happened to be among Agile Manifesto authors when the discussion was hot. And he refuses to work the traditional way. 

You can link with Pieter Verbaarschott on LinkedIn and connect with Pieter Verbaarschott on Twitter

Rachel Macasek: Detecting toxic cultural anti-patterns in Agile organizations

That there are projects where teams feel under pressure is no news. In fact, stress-related to pressure is a very common problem in software teams. However, sometimes the situation goes too far and turns into a toxic culture. In this episode, we explore what are the signs that the normal “pressure” teams feel is turning into a much more impactful and negative set of patterns.

Featured Book of the Week: Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House et al.

As Rachel grew in the coaching role, she felt frustrated by the reactive mindset she saw in leadership. That led her to explore other approaches to help executives understand and benefit from Agile Values and principles.

In Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives, Rachel found a good guide to help her focus her work on helping the individual team members and executives she worked with. 

About Rachel Macasek

Rachel is passionate about individual and team growth. She has fostered an environment of collaboration and continuous improvement in the manufacturing, biotech, and software industries. Currently, Rachel is focused on the power of an individual and recently acquired her Leadership and Performance Coaching certification.

You can link with Rachel Macasek on LinkedIn and connect with Rachel Macasek on Twitter.

Simon Flossmann: Teams, the secret sauce of Scrum

Sometimes, the quickest way to get a product out the door is to create a team of contractors and focus on building a product quickly. Or is it? In this episode, we talk about the consequences that can come from building a team of contractors, focusing mostly on speed, but forgetting that a team is much more than a group of individuals. And teams, are really the secret sauce of Scrum

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen

In Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen (who’s been a guest on the podcast), Simon found a good guide for his journey to improve and professionalize his role as a Scrum Master. In this segment, we also talk about Lean Startup by Eric Ries, a book that helped Simon improve his focus on empiricism as a tool to help teams. 

About Simon Flossmann

Simon helps teams effectively use Scrum and an agile mindset to deliver products and services that matter! As a Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Trainer, licensed by Scrum.org, he supports teams and organizations of varying sizes in a wide range of business domains, like automotive, home appliance, energy sector, federal government agency, and insurance.

You can link with Simon Flossmann on LinkedIn and connect with Simon Flossmann on Twitter.

You can follow Simon Flossmann’s writings on this home page.

Paddy Corry: Helping Scrum teams that are under schedule pressure

When teams feel they are under pressure, they tend to focus on “just doing it”. When that happens, they might want to skip refinement, and other ceremonies (e.g. retrospectives), which then leads to problems. In this episode, we talk about those pressures, where they come from, and what Scrum Masters can do to help those teams.

Featured Book of the Week: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Paddy found the idea of psychological flow: when time melts away, and you can get a lot done. This helped him understand why it is important to block out time for deep work, and changed his approach to the role of the Scrum Master. 

In this segment, we also refer to a blog post by Paul Graham on the concept of “maker’s schedule”.

About Paddy Corry

Paddy was a developer for many years, after which he started his Scrum Master journey with special interest for coaching and developing the agile mindset. 

You can link with Paddy Corry on LinkedIn and connect with Paddy Corry on Twitter

Julio de Lima: “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature” – solving conflicts between testers and developers in Scrum teams

Sometimes the perspective of the tester can be different from the team’s perspective when it comes to a bug or defect. When that difference of perspective exists, a conflict might arise. In this episode, we talk about how to bring the testers and developers to a common understanding on how to improve quality and avoid conflicts that escalate and can destroy a team.

Featured Book of the Week: Agile Testing by Janet Gregory, Lisa Crispin

In Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams by Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin, Julio found what he calls “the bible for Agile testing practitioners”. The book helped Julio understand how different the tester perspective needs to be when working in an Agile team. 

In this segment, we refer to the concept of exploratory testing, a critical concept for Agile testers. 

About Julio de Lima

Julio is a Principal QA Engineer working for Capco that believes in the Culture of QA. He has been sharing professional insights and experiences on a daily basis and has more than 4500 students in his 4 online courses. In 2020, he was elected the Brazilian Testing reference practitioner. 

You can link with Julio de Lima on LinkedIn and connect with Julio de Lima on Twitter.

Sjoerd Nijland: Removing the “bus factor” with a Scrum team

In this organization, each developer was assigned an application or component. The catch? Each of those applications was critical for the company’s business. Soon enough, this became a problem. Sjoerd shares with us how he tried to help this company eliminate their “bus factor”, and the important lessons he learned about how not to do it.

Featured Book of the Week: The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

In The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle, Sjoerd learned how important non-work related aspects are for forming a great team. The book shares what are the aspects that are associated with great teams, and highlights how culture and team-culture are critical for the success of a team.

About Sjoerd Nijland

Sjoerd is a founder of Serious Scrum, and creator of the Road to Mastery co-creative online training. Previously E-commerce manager at Bugaboo, and then Manager of Operations at Digital Agency Triggerfish.

You can link with Sjoerd Nijland on LinkedIn and connect with Sjoerd Nijland on Twitter.

Oskar Collin: The Scrum team that didn’t want to be a team

A team Oskar worked with, was complaining about the meetings and wanted to stop some of those. Over time, the team members started not showing up, or showing up and not participating actively in the meeting. As the team was delivering, no one else saw this was a problem, but Oskar knew that this was not a team, it was just a group of individuals. In this episode, we talk about how to motivate a team and the importance of having a Vision that brings the team members together. 

In this segment, we refer to the FREE Create A Compelling Product Vision e-course

Featured Book of the Week: Accelerate by Nicole Forsgren

In Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren, Oskar found a book that helped him explain the Agile mindset to technical people. He also understood the role of DevOps in an Agile organization. The biggest takeaway? Listen in to learn what was Oskar’s biggest takeaway.

In this segment, we also talk about the #NoEstimates book, and how that influenced Oskar’s career. 

About Oskar Collin

Oskar is a former software developer who became a passionate agile coach and Scrum master. He did so mainly because he was better at helping teams working together than building software. He loves experiments and questioning the status quo. He is passionate about helping teams build digital products and deliver value continuously. 

You can link with Oskar Collin on LinkedIn and connect with Oskar Collin on Twitter

Stefania Marinelli: Helping the introvert Scrum team members express their contributions

One of the worst anti-patterns to deal with as a Scrum Master is the disengaged team. And there are many possible reasons for that anti-pattern. One example is when a team is not allowed space for learning, and necessarily failing some times. Or if the team members are mostly introverts, and there’s no space for them to express their contribution. 

Scrum Masters must learn to create space for those team members to express themselves and help the team. 

In this episode, we talk about the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. This booked helped Stefania learn how to deal with, and help the quietest team members.

Featured Book of the Week: Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn

Each Scrum Master journey is a path, and each step has a different focus and a different book that makes an impact. Stefania shares how Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn was one of those books, and how later she discovered and learned from the NoEstimates book when she was in a different phase of her journey.

About Stefania Marinelli

Stefania is an Agile Manager @Hotels.com (Expedia group) former Scrum Master, former team leader/project manager, former developer. Stefania is fascinated by people dynamics and works every day to create a collaborative and safe environment. NVC practitioner.

You can link with Stefania Marinelli on LinkedIn and connect with Stefania Marinelli on Twitter.

Anubhuti Agarwal: Taking care of a Scrum team that just lost key team members

Sometimes, when team members leave the team, the ones that stay behind have a lot to deal with. The uncertainty caused by team members that leave can lead to negative anti-patterns. In this episode, we discuss some of the actions Scrum Masters can take to take care of the team, even when some of the team members are leaving.

Featured Book of the Week: Crucial Conversations by Patterson et al.

In Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson et al., Anu found a book about a critical skill set for Scrum Masters. Anu also shares a concrete example of how she applied the learnings from that book in a tough situation.

About Anubhuti Agarwal

Anu is a software tester turned Scrum master. She worked as Software QA in India for 6 years and then moved to Berlin to complete her Masters in Business Administration. She has been working as a Scrum Master for 3 years in an agency and has learned, first hand, the challenges of working with Agile in an agency.

You can link with Anubhuti Agarwal on LinkedIn

Thomas Kofoed: The “hero” culture that destroys Scrum teams

When we start out as a Scrum Master we might not yet be able to detect the anti-patterns that may develop in teams. That lack of experience can turn against us. One anti-pattern that emerges over and over again is that of the “hero”. In this episode, we explore what leads people to assume the “hero” role and how that negatively affects the team. 

In this episode, we refer to the graphic novel series Asterix and Obelix

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts

In Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership by Geoff Watts, found many good stories and examples that make a difference between “good enough”, and “really great” Scrum Masters. The book does this via many short stories that illustrate the differences. 

In this segment, we also refer to The Scrum Guide as well as Gunther’s Scrum – A Pocket Guide. 

Both Geoff Watts and Gunther Verheyen have been previous guests on the podcast. 

About Thomas Kofoed

Passionate Agile Coach / Scrum Master. Thomas focuses on engaging people while helping organizations and teams evolve their products guided by the feedback from their customers/users. 

Thomas switches between Facilitation Coaching and Teaching (sometimes Mentoring). He’s open about his purpose and that he strives to get his teams to where they don’t need him but might miss him 🙂 

You can link with Thomas Kofoed on LinkedIn