When teams are stuck in their Agile adoption, it is tempting to bring in more training, do more teaching and expect that to solve the problem. In reality, however, the situation is much more complicated. We need to understand the real reasons for the team’s lack of progress, and adapt our approach to the reality we face. Training may be a good option, but it certainly isn’t the only one. In this episode we talk about a team that was stuck, not completing sprints, no tester in the team, etc. And we cover some practical tips on how to deal with similar situations.
Featured Book of the Week: Scrum Field Guide by Mitch Lacey
In the Scrum Field Guide, Mitch Lacey lays out advice for the Scrum practitioner’s first year. It is a practical advice-filled book that will help you face, and overcome the most common problems that Scrum Masters face in their first few months on the job.
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.
When strong personalities are in positions of power, their ideas become “law”. But sometimes the leaders are themselves prisoners of their own approach to work. In this episode we discuss how we, as Scrum Masters, can help those leaders recognize the anti-patterns they create and overcome those obstacles to the performance of the team.
Featured Book for the Week: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho tells the story of a pilgrimage and journey where the hero of the story goes through many challenges and is pushed to learn more about himself, and face the world without fear. This book was an inspiration for Jem when he was introducing the Scrum Master role to a new organization, and he was himself a new Scrum Master. Fear is part of the journey, and this book helped Jem accept and overcome that fact.
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.
When working with multiple teams, in a multi-team Scrum project, we may face what Andreas faced: the finger pointing anti-pattern. This is especially common in environments where no one wants to “be wrong” or take risks.
Even if learning and growing requires taking risks and sometimes “being wrong”, the fact is that no one wants to be that team that delays the project, so the finger pointing starts.
But how can a Scrum Master overcome that problem? How can the Scrum Master help the teams collaborate? That’s the topic of this episode.
Featured Book of the Week: Succeeding with Agile by Mike Cohn
Teams need to take ownership of their own work, so that they can effectively focus on delivering running, working software every Sprint. However, sometimes there are strong personalities in the team. We may want to ignore that anti-pattern, but it won’t ignore us. In this episode we talk about one such story, where the Architect in the team wanted to overrule the team members, and even escalated the issue to the team’s manager. Listen in to learn about Mark’s role in that story, and how we, as Scrum Masters, can handle similar situations.
Featured Book of the Week: 10% happier by Dan Harris
The book 10% happier by Dan Harris is a true story of how Dan found a way to keep focused, but lose the stress and self-doubt. For Mark however, this was a book about learning to focus on the events in front of him. The “now” that must be our focus as Scrum Masters.
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.
Listening is not the easiest part of the Scrum Master job. However, that’s one of the most important and powerful tools we have in our toolbox. In this episode we explore the case of a team that was entering a spiral of conflict and what was needed to avoid that from going out of control.
Featured Book of the Week: The Human Side of Agile by Gil Broza
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.
Many of us have been in teams where there’s a “dominant” team member. But have we thought about the possible consequences that it may bring to the team? In this episode we explore the possible consequences that dominant team members can trigger. We also discuss a very unusual way to address such situations, one that takes into account the whole team, not just the dominant team member.
About Venetia Foo
Venetia has been on her agile journey since 2007 and has been a witness to the best and to the worst of it. She is passionate about learning and continuous improvement. She uses a variety of skills to empower and enable teams to perform at their best.
Many will say that helping team meeting commitments is how Scrum Masters best do their work. Seann shows us another side of the job: developing teams. Helping them develop their skills, their collaboration, and focus on outcomes, not outputs.
We discuss that knowing “why” is often more important than focusing on the work at hand, and we mention the book by Simon Sinek: Start with Why.
About About Sean Dunn
Sean is an Enterprise Agile Coach with IHS Global. He has been involved with agile development for 8 years as a developer, product owner, and agile coach. Prior to his exposure to agile development Sean spent 13 years in the Canadian Army. In fact, Sean is known to point out that the Army is far more agile than most people think.
That background in the Canadian Army influenced his view of Leadership and the role of Leadership in creating and developing great teams.
You can connect with Sean Dunn on LinkedIn, check out Sean Dunn on the Scrum Alliance or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out Sean Dunn’s blog on leadership.
Technology enthusiast. Change artist. Culture hacker. People focused. Helping organizations provide their employees with the most meaningful and fulfilling experience they could have while delivering solutions that change the world. Ebenezer is also a Tech Director at Mannheim.
You can link with Ebenezer Ikonne on LinkedIn, and contact Ebenezer Ikonne on Twitter. You can also read his thoughts on Agile on his blog.
Talking about self-destructive behaviours may make people feel they are being judged, and Sebastian prefers to stay away from judgements. Instead, he wants to focus on behaviours that affect the team and must be addressed. Sebastian also shares with us a sabotage technique that is sometimes used by team members and teams in their work.
The sabotage technique is also available in the Simple Sabotage Field Manual a document used by a precursor to the CIA to explain how individuals could sabotage countries, factories and other potential targets. Are you aware of all the sabotage behaviors your team can perform on itself?
About Sebastian Schürmann
Sebastian has an extremely strong work ethic, a great passion to his work, unwavering desire for excellence, and unabated willingness to share his rich knowledge.
Driven by his strong work ethic, he takes several key roles: as scrum master, agile coach, mentor, as protector of the young development teams, after all, a humble leader who takes risks and responsibilities at extremely critical moments, creates a vision which the other follow by heart – with excellent outcome.
You can find Sebastian Schürmann on twitter, and link with Sebastian Schürmann on LinkedIn.
You can find Sebastian Schürmann’s website, and his blog.
What can you do, as a Scrum Master when the team is stuck in a pattern of negativity and self-destruction? Stephen explains the situation of a team that was in that situation, and what were the symptoms that characterized the problems the teams were facing. He discusses how communication suffers, how the us versus them dynamic emerged and how hard it was to help the team in that situation. We also discuss the techniques you can use to help the team get out of that pattern of self-destruction.
About Stephen Thomas
Stephen has been managing digital projects since 2004. Initially specialising in e-learning, he now looks after multiple projects that range from rapidly produced native apps to large-scale social networks. Based in Oxford, he is also one of the founders of the DOPM meetup.
You can connect with Stephen Thomas in LinkedIn, and follow Stephen Thomas on Twitter.