Lorna Mason & Jon Lawrence: Two Agile retrospective formats for two different times in the lifecycle of a team

When a team is performing, and they show up and are happy in their work, these are great signs that the Scrum Master has helped the team. All of these are signs that we can be sure to move on, and the team will likely pick-up and own their own process. We also about about how Scrum Masters can help to create an environment where teams can succeed.

In this segment, we talk about “bad jokes” and “dad jokes” as a great way to break the ice in teams or retrospectives. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Sailboat as a great new-team retrospective

When we start with a new team, it’s good to have a format that helps us understand the team, and their context. Jona and Lorna suggest we could start with the Sailboat Retrospective and use that to establish a baseline for the team. Then we talk about a retrospective format to use at the end of a cycle with the team, the Awards Ceremony retrospective. This format helps us get closure while learning from what happened during that period.

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Lorna Mason & Jon Lawrence

Lorna Mason and Jon Lawrence are both agilists working in an insurance scale-up based in Brighton. Their journey to agile has walked a less ‘traditional’ path of Change Management and Continuous Improvement, to Scrum Master, Delivery Manager and Agile Coach; (proving not EVERY Scrum Master needs to code!). They hold the firm belief that you can be a successful Scrum Master as long as you genuinely care about people and value first; and hold a profound desire to always make things better!

You can link with Lorna Mason on LinkedIn

You can link with Jon Lawrence on LinkedIn.

Usman Kotwal: Helping Agile teams focus on outcomes

When we start working with a team, we need to understand what is their situation, so that we can decide what to start with. As we start to understand the team’s situation, we might need to focus on the organizational impediments to help the team progress. Some useful questions to ask are: is the team engaging with the stakeholders? Are they able to interact with customers/users? Do they have clear impact metrics for their product? What is the level of engagement in the team? 

All of these questions help us, Scrum Masters, understand if the team is ready to focus on, and work on outcomes. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Retrospectives for Scrum Masters starting with a new team

The Team Health Check is one of the formats we talk about as a possible “getting started with a new team” format. Usman also recommends the Sailboat Retrospective for Scrum Masters getting started with new teams. 

Once we are “in the rhythm” with a team, Usman recommends some more “free” formats like 1-2-4-all or something from Liberating Structures. Finally, his recommendations is: “help teams make their own choices, as they are much more committed to those”

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Usman Kotwal

Usman is a Scrum Master and Agile Coach in the field of data analytics in life sciences. He considers his learning journey to continue forever when it comes to bringing forward change in the ways we work collaboratively. His mission is to help guide the way to empowered product teams.

You can link with Usman Kotwal on LinkedIn.

Jan Neudecker: Business and team focus, the aspects that define Scrum Master success

Jan shares with us two dimensions of the Scrum Master work that define success for him: the business perspective, and the team members perspective. We discuss some of the questions that Scrum Masters can ask themselves in order to help them assess their work thus far, as well as define possible areas for improvement to focus on. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Movie Critic Format

The Movie Critic Agile Retrospective format is the one that Jan shares with us. He focuses on how this format lightens the mood and helps the team share their thoughts without the burden of “being serious”. Jan describes this format as one of several “fun methods” that can help understand how everyone perceived, and experienced the previous iteration. 

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. /Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Jan Neudecker

Jan is an Agile Coach and Trainer. His vision is to make workplaces more humane, enjoyable and purposeful. An unpleasant diagnosis three years ago had a big impact on how he looks at these topics today. It became his mission to get these topics more into the spotlight of teams and organizations so they are less of a taboo subject in future.

You can link with Jan Neudecker on LinkedIn and connect with Jan Neudecker on Twitter.

If you want to know more about Jan’s fight with cancer, you can follow his blog

Jan also organizes a Scrum User Group in Germany.

Sadia Dibbens: Two critical areas that define the work of the Scrum Master

Sadia shares some of the questions that she asks herself to assess her work as a Scrum Master. In that discussion we talk about the focus on delivering running software, as well as the focus on self-organization. Both of these focus areas define the work of the Scrum Master. 

Featured Retrospective for the Week: The Elephant In The Room

Sadia chooses to highlight what might be, for some of us, a difficult kind of retrospective: to bring up the elephant in the room. We discuss why that is important and share some formats that we can use to help the team discuss the hard topics. In this segment, we talk about the Lego retrospective, as well as the Movie retrospective

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Sadia Dibbens

Sadia has a long experience in the payments industry, and loves helping teams and individuals. Personally, she likes keeping fit, being involved within the community, and makes sure to put some time aside for volunteering.

You can link with Sadia Dibbens on LinkedIn and connect with Sadia Dibbens on meetup.com.

Nilesh Makan: Learning to listen to, and work with emotions in an Agile team

What is the team happiness in your team? Nilesh suggests that, even if we tend to ignore it,  happiness is a critical aspect of creating a well functioning and productive team. He suggests we start by understanding where the team members are regarding different aspects, even if we need to talk about emotions. Nilesh shares a great tip on how to tackle emotions productively in your team. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Start with the Why/Intent for the retrospective!

When preparing a retrospective, we are reminded by Nilesh that we should focus on the “intent” of the retro. What are we trying to achieve with that ceremony, in “this” sprint? Nilesh also prefers formats that are designed to focus on enabling conversations and dialogue between team members. 

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Nilesh Makan

Nilesh is the founding Director at Padawan Consulting, where the vision is to build transformed businesses through transformed people. He works with companies in the arena of Digital Transformation, considering how to leverage people, process and technology to design and build innovative solutions.

You can link with Nilesh Makan on LinkedIn and connect with Nilesh Makan on Twitter.

Priyanka Gorai: Motivating new teams with the Superpowers retrospective format

The definition of success can change based on the context of the team, however there are certain questions that Priyanka likes to ask for every team she works with. Priyanka shares those questions with us, as well as some self-assessment questions for Scrum Masters to help them fine tune their approach to the team they work with. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Superpowers retrospective format

Priyanka prefers to experiment with multiple retrospective formats. This helps her maintain the team’s energy high in every retrospective. However, when starting with a new team, she prefers to use the Superpowers format, where the team can talk about the “enemies” (challenges) as well as share what each team member can contribute to the team to overcome the challenges they expect to face. 

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Priyanka Gorai

Priyanka started her journey as a Software Test Engineer in 2014 and has more than 7 years in the software industry. Priyanka was thrilled by the concept of servant leadership in agile software development, and started supporting her team and then became a full-time Scrum Master. She is very passionate about agile development and wants to share that passion with others. She’s also learned that while improving individuals or a team, one can improve themselves.

You can link with Priyanka Gorai on LinkedIn.

Linda van Sinten: Creative thinking formats to spice up your retrospectives 

Linda describes her own success as a Scrum Masters through the behaviors she wants to see in the teams she works with. We discuss what we need to do as Scrum Masters to enable those behaviors as well as the importance of asking questions. The goal: to help teams feel enthusiastic about their work!

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Creative thinking formats to spice up your retrospectives

Linda prefers to use different formats in most retrospectives, and especially likes to use formats and exercises that encourage creative thinking by the team. These formats help the teams get out of “complaining” and focus on improvements. She describes some formats for us, and we refer to Story Cubes; The 4 L’s; Liberating Structures; 1-2-4-all and other formats you can use to spice up your retrospectives. 

In this segment, we also refer to the Ecocycle planning workshop

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About ​​Linda van Sinten

Linda van Sinten is an experienced Scrum Master and creator of the Liberating Structures Visual design cards. She combines her knowledge of Scrum with the powerful skill of creating visualizations and visual tools to drive teams forward. She has trained over 500 people in making powerful visuals out of ideas, structuring strategies and product visions in Tech, Healthcare and other industries. 

You can link with ​​Linda van Sinten on LinkedIn.

Samet Ulutas: Check-in, a critical aspect for successful retrospectives

There are 3 factors that Samet reviews regularly to assess his own work as a Scrum Master. We discuss those 3 factors, as well as some of the questions to take into account for a possible survey that documents the progress of the team over time. 

Featured Retrospective Format For The Week: Helping teams warm up to the retrospective

Samet shares Retromat.Org, a tool that helps Scrum Masters come up with new formats for every retrospective. When preparing for the retrospective, Samet puts special focus on the warm-up/check-in part, to help teams get ready to discuss the really important topics. Samet shares with us some tips on how to help teams get ready for the retrospective with some warm-up/check-in exercises. 

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Samet Ulutas

Samet has been working as an Agile Coach for more than 3 years and coached 35+ different teams until now. Samet has plenty of experience dealing with difficulties of an Agile Transformation, including being to witness the Agile Transformation of the largest private bank in Turkey from the beginning. Samet is also the co-owner of “Be Agile Stay Agile” YouTube channel. 

You can link with Samet Ulutas on LinkedIn and connect with Samet Ulutas on Twitter. 

Matthew Green: Assessing what we can’t measure in the Scrum Master role

Matthew describes his goal as a Scrum Master and explains how he assesses the impact of his performance. We also discuss some of the “unmeasurable” aspects of the Scrum Master role, and how to keep those in mind even if it’s hard to quantify our impact on those dimensions.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Wheel of Agile Goodness

Matthew shares a format that focuses on finding the teams’ strengths and focusing on how to get even better. In some cases, teams can feel that Scrum is “pushing them to the hamster wheel”, and that detracts from motivation and satisfaction. Matthew suggests a format that helps teams get out of that hamster wheel anti-pattern.

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Matthew Green

Before becoming a Scrum Master, Matthew worked in a variety of roles both inside and outside of IT. This eclectic background has served him well in working with teams and individuals to help them on their own journey to a more humane way of working. 

You can link with Matthew Green on LinkedIn and connect with Matthew Green on Twitter.

Kathryn Tancos: Tweaking Retrospectives to help silent Agile teams speak up

Even when measuring our success can be difficult, we can define a set of questions that help us reflect and help teams. Kathryn shares some of those questions, as well as a “guideline” for our success as Scrum Masters. Listen in to learn about Kathryn’s success questions. 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Tweaking Start/Stop/Continue to help teams that have a hard time speaking up

Kathryn likes to adapt the format to the team. Even when using simple formats, such as Start/Stop/Continue, Kathryn prefers to add some twists so that all team members participate actively. In this segment, Kathryn shares a story of a team that had a hard time speaking up, and what she did to help the team contribute actively in the retrospective. 

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experience: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome!  

About Kathryn Tancos

Kathryn is a certified Scrum Master focused on Agile transformations and helping teams build a better way of working. How did this Emmy Award-winning news producer become an avid Agilist? Through communication, curiosity, and collaboration, the pillars of successful Agile teams. Her goal is to inspire teams and organizational cultures to foster a sense of self-leadership throughout the transformation journey.

You can link with Kathryn Tancos on LinkedIn and connect with Kathryn Tancos on Twitter.

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