Katy Cabral & Joseph Contreras: Helping teams work well with a demanding Product Owner

A common anti-pattern Scrum Masters encounter in their teams is the inability to say “No!” This becomes an especially impactful anti-pattern when the team is unable to say “No!” to the Product Owner. When that happens we run the risk of allowing the team to ver overwhelmed, and eventually decrease the quality of their work.

In this episode, we discuss that anti-pattern and how Scrum Masters can help Product Owners and teams to avoid that from becoming destructive for the team.

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: bit.ly/coachyourpo. 18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

Featured Book for the Week: Scrum: the art of doing twice the work, in half the time by Sutherland & Unmarketing, Scott Stratten

This week we have a tag team for guests and therefore we have two books to discuss. Katy recommends Scrum: the art of doing twice the work, in half the time by Jeff Sutherland.

That book helped Katy understand better her role as a Scrum Master.

Joe takes a different approach and recommends a book that is not about Scrum or Agile: Unmarketing – stop marketing, start engaging by Scott Stratten. This book helped Joe understand better the team he is working with, which is a marketing team.

In this episode, we also refer to Who the Hell Wants to Work for You?: Mastering Employee Engagement by Tim Eisenhauer and Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators by Patrick Lencioni, a follow-up to a regular recommendation on the podcast: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

About Katy Cabral & Joseph Contreras

Katy has over 14 years of software delivery experience, serving in roles ranging from analyst to developer, project manager and for more than 6 years, also Scrum Master. Her Scrum experience has been mostly with distributed teams working across multiple time zones. She hopes to someday have the opportunity to travel to meet her colleagues in China, but for now, Katy enjoys reading about creative methods to keep her team engaged.

You can link with Katy Cabral on LinkedIn.

Joe is an experienced scrum master, who strives each day to help and coach his squad to continuously improve how they work so that they can be awesome.

Joe is also a scrum master chapter lead at Fidelity Investments.

You can link with Joseph Contreras on LinkedIn.

Nick Vitsinsky shares a common Scrum adoption Anti-pattern

When adopting Scrum, some organizations focus on the process, the meetings that come with Scrum. But, unfortunately, they also often forget about the meaning and the reason for those meetings, ending up just renaming the old meetings with new names.

This anti-pattern is common, and we should be able to detect it and counter it in our organizations. In this episode, we discuss how to detect and reverse the “same meetings with different names” Scrum adoption anti-pattern.

Featured Book of the Week: Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo

In Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo, Nick found a book filled with practical tips that help Scrum Masters (and managers) to work with the team every day, and make their work easier. In this episode, we also talk about the source for retrospective format ideas: Retromat.org; and about a book that inspires Nick every day: The Little Prince by Saint-Éxupery.

About Nick Vitsinsky

Nick as more than 10 years in IT started from QA Engineer/Waterfall after two years realized that there should be a different approach to how to develop and ship the software. His philosophy and mindset is: “find out Agile and make it own moto”. He focuses on that on a daily basis.

You can link with Nick Vitsinsky on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Vitsinsky on Twitter.

Mili Shrivastava: using Agile retrospectives to help Scrum teams get out of their anti-patterns

Inevitably, teams will bump into problems over time. It is how teams and their stakeholders react to those anti-patterns that matters. In this episode, we explore the importance of retrospectives in helping teams identify, understand, and ultimately resolve the anti-patterns they fall into.

Featured Book of the Week: Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

In Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, Mili found a good tutorial on how to give, and receive feedback. Handling feedback, whether it is giving or receiving, is one of the most common tasks Scrum Masters deal with, and help team members deal with. Therefore, this book should be part of the reading list of all Scrum Masters.

About Mili Shrivastava

Mili has more than 12 years of experience in the software industry. Loves to spend time with her family and is a big fan of outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

You can link with Mili Shrivastava on LinkedIn .

Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst): the downward spiral that starts when teams don’t “own” the product

In this episode, we talk about motivation and engagement. Jassy shares with us the most common anti-pattern he has seen in teams. It starts with a lack of identification or empathy with the product. Followed by the “we are doing this for someone else” dynamic, leading to further disengagement. Finally, we talk about some of the things that Scrum Masters can do to help their teams get out of that downward spiral.

Featured book of the week: Momo, by Michael Ende

In Momo by Michael Ende, Jassy found a story about time and effort that constantly inspires him in his role as Scrum Master. In the words of the then Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjørn Jagland, in his New Year Address to the nation on January 1, 1997: “People are persuaded to save time by eliminating everything not useful. One of the people so influenced cuts out his girlfriend, sells his pet, stops singing, reading and visiting friends. In this way he will supposedly become an efficient man getting something out of life. What is strange is that he is in a greater hurry than ever. The saved-up time disappears – and he never sees it again.

About Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst)

Jassy moved from developer to being a Scrum Master and then a freelancer. He calls himself:  the person to contact for help in On-Boardings, as well as a friend of bottom-up, power to the people! No top-down, no micro-management. No despotism in agile software development.

You can link with Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst) on LinkedIn, or XING and connect with Jassy (Jan-Simon Wurst) on Twitter.

Bradley Pohl: how to work with a team of outside contractors

Working with a team of contractors can be a savior for some organizations. However, there are specific challenges that come with using “outsiders” to do significant projects in any organization. In this episode, we discuss one of the anti-patterns that come with teams of contractors: the lack of future outlook. We also discuss some of the important lessons Bradley learned and how to prepare for when you need to work with a team of contractors.

Featured Book of the Week: Drive by Daniel Pink

In Drive by Daniel Pink, Bradley found the 3 aspects of motivation that later helped him work with the teams he facilitates. In this episode, we also refer to Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins and Mindset Growth by Carol Dweck.

About Bradley Pohl

Bradley is a young Scrum Master working for a mid-sized US bank that is currently undergoing an “Agile Transformation.” As a part of the Transformation, his training consisted of a 4 week Agile boot camp that was designed to build scrum masters from the ground-up. In his free time, he applies lean and agile principles to designing websites and providing social media advertising to local small business as Catch On, at catchontech.com.

You can link with Bradley Pohl on LinkedIn.

Jeremy Willets: how interruptions kill Scrum team effectiveness and efficiency

A team was given a new assignment. They would finally start developing a cool new technology that they had wanted to focus on for a while. They were assigned full-time to this new project. What’s not to like? Well… It’s never that simple. Scrum teams don’t exist in a vacuum, and soon enough the “old” work started interrupting the “new and cool tech project”! Listen and learn what happened to that team.

In this episode, we refer to the book: Principles of Product Development Flow by Don Reinertsen.

Featured Book for the Week: Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business by David Anderson

In Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business by David Anderson, Jeremy found that Scrum needs to evolve, and that following Scrum as such may not be the best option for you, or your teams. In Kanban, David Anderson answers the following questions:

  • What is Kanban?
  • Why would I want to use Kanban?
  • How do I go about implementing Kanban?
  • How do I recognize improvement opportunities and what should I do about them?

About Jeremy Willets

Jeremy Willets is a Technical Writer turned Scrum Master/Agile Coach. He’s passionate about bringing Agile to all facets of his organization. He enjoys spending time with his family, making music, and drinking the finest craft beer the world has to offer!

You can link with Jeremy Willets on LinkedIn and connect with Jeremy Willets on Twitter.

Elena Popretinskaya: Definition of Ready, a Scrum tool to help teams start a Story on the right foot

Teams that are motivated, can also find themselves in trouble. This happens, for example, when teams are eager to get started and rush into implementing stories that are not well understood or defined.

In this episode, we talk about the possible pitfalls of being “too” driven, and how we can help teams get ready to start implementing before committing to early.

In this episode, we refer to a tool called “Definition or Ready”, a simple checklist (à lá Definition of Done) that helps teams make sure that they have enough information to get started implementing.

Featured Book for the Week: Emotional intelligence by Daniel Goleman

In Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Elena found an explanation and a reminder that humans are not computers. We are emotional creatures. Our emotions drive our behavior as much as anything else.

About Elena Popretinskaya

Elena considers herself a lifetime learner (she says, she absolutely loves having “aha!” moments). And she especially enjoys learning together with and from other people: her team and her friends. Elena is curious about everything: people, software craftsmanship and the world around. Elena is also a passionate hiker and a cross-country skier 🙂

You can link with Elena Popretinskaya on LinkedIn and connect with Elena Popretinskaya on Twitter.

Catrine Björkegren: How to avoid the “hero” anti-pattern in Scrum teams

In some teams, the division of work leads to having people who are the “heroes” for some part of the product. This siloing of expertise leads to many anti-patterns, and as Scrum Masters, we must be aware of those, and be ready to act and help teams overcome the problems that come with this “hero” anti-pattern.

In this episode, we talk about #MobProgramming and the Promiscuous Pairing paper by Arlo Belshee (PDF download).

Featured Book of the Week: Training from the Back of the Room by Sharon Bowman

The Scrum Master’s work includes training and workshop facilitation. It’s important that we learn how to help people learn in a classroom setting. In Training from the Back of the Room by Sharon Bowman, Catrine found a new way to look at how to organize and facilitate training. Thanks to that book Caterine changed how she hosts/facilitates training and workshops for teams and stakeholders.


About Catrine Björkegren

Agile coach and scrum master, Catrine has worked with agile for a decade in various areas like education, nuclear waste, government agencies, pharmaceutical and at the Royal Swedish Opera.

She believes that co-location is the key to building teams and that leadership is the key to successful agile transformation.

You can link with Catrine Björkegren on LinkedIn and connect with Catrine Björkegren on Twitter.

Kristopher Stice-Hall: What can happen when the Product Owner and Team fail to collaborate

The interaction between teams and Product Owner is one of the most critical in Scrum. Sometimes teams forget that the PO must be involved in the decisions they make every day. Decisions such as prioritization, technical / functionality trade-offs, etc. If teams start making those decisions without PO involvement they endanger the success of the product. How can Scrum Masters help the teams involve the PO in the right decisions? That’s what we tackle in this episode.

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 bit.ly/coachyourpo18 modules, 8+ hours of modules with tools and techniques that you can use to help teams and PO’s collaborate.

Featured book of the Week: User Stories Applied, by Mike Cohn

In the User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn, Kristopher found a good, practical guide to help teams learn how to use User Stories to their advantage, especially to take in the customer/user point of view.

About Kristopher Stice-Hall

Is the co-owner of Digital Maelstrom, a consultancy specializing in custom software, DevOps, managed cloud services, and information security. He has been doing Scrum Master work for over 10 years. He has worked with fortune 500 companies to companies less than 15 people. He also has been doing software development for 17 years.

You can link with Kristopher Stice-Hall on LinkedIn and connect with Kristopher Stice-Hall on Twitter.

Varun Maheshwari: How to help teams move from reporting to collaboration

Sometimes teams enter the “reporting” anti-pattern. Teams exhibiting this anti-pattern are focused on just describing what they have done, but spend little time discussing the value or the reasons why that work is important. In the end, the daily meeting is the engine of collaboration, and as Scrum Masters we need to focus on collaboration more than status reporting. In this episode we discuss how we can help teams move from reporting to collaboration.

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum Product Ownership by Robert Galen

Scrum Product Ownership by Robert Galen is a book with practical advice, real-world tactics, and stories to help understand and shape the Product Owner role. The book is full of ideas that focus on helping the Team and the PO deliver on the promise of Scrum.

About Varun Maheshwari

Varun is a Scrum Master and agile practitioner in Australia. He believes in “being agile” rather than “doing agile”. For him, Agile frameworks are not the goal, but rather “Delighting customers, Zero Defects, Quick ROI, Better team work, Excellent Quality & Shortest ‘Time to Market’” are some of the possible goals.

You can link with Varun Maheshwari on LinkedIn.