Donna Marie Lee on helping a group become a real Scrum team

In this episode, we discuss the common anti-pattern of teams that are nothing but a loosely coupled group of individuals. Where collaboration is difficult, if not impossible. A group that can’t work well together because they share very little that would make them a team.

We then discuss the approaches, the tools, and strategies that Donna Marie used to help that group of people become a real team.

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts

In Scrum Mastery by Geoff Watts, Donna Marie found practical advice for her journey as a Scrum Master. She especially appreciated the real-life stories that the author shares. Those stories helped her connect with the Scrum Master role as well as learn valuable practices and strategies for her role.

About Donna Marie Lee

Former software engineer turned pragmatic change agent working in Tokyo. Enthusiastic about inspiring teams to be great and achieve their goals.

Certified Scrum Professional with more than 5 years experience in training, facilitating and coaching agile and scrum practices.
Previously worked as a Line Manager and Team Lead responsible for nurturing the growth and maturity of teams and individuals within the company.

You can link with Donna Marie Lee on LinkedIn and connect with Donna Marie Lee on Twitter.

Daniel Heinen on the “strong” leader anti-pattern Scrum Masters must be aware of

When leaders are “strong”, we may have the top-down scrum anti-pattern. When the leader drives what the team does, and the team just follows orders. In this episode, we discuss this Scrum anti-pattern and how we, Scrum Masters, can tackle such situations.

Look out for team burnout, lack of trust from stakeholders and how people hide from the latent conflict. All symptoms that something is about to break.

Featured Book of the Week: Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde

In Scaling Lean & Agile Development by Larman and Vodde, Daniel found a good description of the scaling problems developers usually face when working in large organizations, and why we must take a deliberate approach to help many teams work together (scaling Agile).

About Daniel Heinen

Daniel has been a Scrum Master since 2014 on a Scrum pilot at BMW. Since 2016 focusing on organizational change management, for example, facilitating communities of practices for Scrum adoption at BMW. Recently he started working as a Scrum Master and Agile Coach at Autonomous Driving BMW, who decided in 2017 to restructure according to the LeSS framework.

You can link with Daniel Heinen on LinkedIn.

David Denham on the over-commitment anti-pattern in Scrum teams

In this team, David saw a sense of panic! The team was trying to define and commit to the maximum possible amount of work that could fit in one increment. They were measured by their “predictability” (how much of what was committed was actually delivered), and that led to lots of escalations to management. The team started being late and pushing QA/testing to the next sprint. The conditions were set for a disaster!

Listen in to learn about this story and how David and his colleagues helped this team.

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

David found the ideas in the book to be helpful in his own journey as a coach. He refers to the learning model for teams (Shu-Ha-Ri) and the many tools in the book that helped him in his job.

In this segment, we also talk about the book User Story mapping by Jeff Patton.

About David Denham

David Denham works as a Scrum Master in Workday in Dublin and is one of the leaders of the Agile-Lean Ireland community and co-organiser of the ALI conference. He previously worked as a UX lead and believes in the power of Product delivery teams being involved in Product Discovery, through practicing Design Sprints. He practices failure every single day by attempting to use his agile coaching skills with his 2 small daughters!

You can link with David Denham on LinkedIn and connect with David Denham on Twitter.

David Sabine on how to teams get out of self-defeating patterns

When Scrum Masters try to help teams, they must be aware of the differences between what is being said by management, and what is being done in practice. In this episode, we talk about how Scrum Masters can explore the real situation (as opposed to what is being said about the situation), and how Scrum Masters can help teams get out of their own self-defeating patterns.

Featured Book of the Week: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig

In Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig tells the story of a motorcycle trip that unites father and son. It is a book that begs us to reflect on our values. As Scrum Masters, we must also inquire into our, and the team’s values so that we can help them reflect and be coherent with those values.

About David Sabine

David is a Scrum trainer and an advisor to software development organizations. He is in demand among Canada’s largest enterprises including Scotiabank, Sun Life Financial, and Canada’s Federal Government. He formerly worked with DigitalOcean and, among others. He’s been helping people with the ways they use Scrum since 2007.

You can link with David Sabine on LinkedIn and connect with David Sabine on Twitter.

Silvana Wasitova on How to Handle the “It’s not my Decision” Anti-pattern

Many teams expect that decisions are made “elsewhere” and they just need to execute. In Agile this is an anti-pattern that repeats over and over again. We discuss with Silvana how to detect the early signs of this anti-pattern and how to tackle it in our role as Scrum Masters.

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

In Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins, Silvana found important lessons on how to engage with the teams, and how to change her mind about the role of a Coach or Scrum Master. Listen in to learn about the key lessons that book had for Silvana.

About Silvana Wasitova

Silvana Wasitova, Enterprise Agile Coach, helps teams and companies achieve better results through applying and living Agile values and principles. Scrum practitioner since 2005. Silvana lives and breathes the agile value of “People over Process”, and brings that to the forefront of her coaching work with teams and companies, while focused on the client’s audacious goals and desired results. Silvana has aided multinational enterprise Agile transformations in United States, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Indonesia and Switzerland with clients including Yahoo, Nestle, Skype, Microsoft, financial enterprises as well as startups.

You can link with Silvana Wasitova on LinkedIn and connect with Silvana Wasitova on Twitter.

Paulo Rebelo: Helping a Product Owner change from long specifications to User Stories

As Scrum Masters we don’t just work with the team, we also work directly with the Product Owners that support the team. In this story, Paulo shares the case of the Product Owner that had a Business Analysis background and thought the job was about writing specifications in isolation. Listen in to learn how Paulo handled that and helped the Product Owner transition to User Stories and more team interaction.

Featured Book of the Week: Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo

In Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo, Paulo found a management model that better suited his goal to become a Scrum Master. By reading this book he learned about how he could become a better servant leader. A key aspect of the Scrum Master role.

About Paulo Rebelo

Paulo Rebelo helps companies to improve using agile and lean principles like Scrum, XP, and Kanban. He currently works at Blackhawk Network in the U.S., helping teams succeed by building great products. His background is a developer, Scrum Master, product owner, project manager, and coach. Paulo is a CSP, CSPO and a CSM from the Scrum Alliance and PMP from the PMI.

You can link with Paulo Rebelo on LinkedIn and connect with Paulo Rebelo on Twitter.

Elizabeth Christensen on Applying Scrum outside Software Development: a Marketing team

Scrum is an approach to managing work, and helping teams collaborate. In non-SW teams, however, some things are harder to adopt. Listen in to learn how Liz helped a Marketing team use Scrum, and what were the major obstacles they faced when adopting Scrum.

Featured Book of the Week: Strategic Planning by Bryson

In Strategic Planning by John M. Bryson Liz found some important lessons about how to lead a team with a mission. In Strategic Planning by Bryson we can read about how to lead an organisation and a team with intent.

About Elizabeth Christensen

Elizabeth Christensen shares tales from the not-so-cutting-edge, bringing Scrum to Marketing. She is currently developing scrum practices for a marketing team. With a background in business management & team leadership this self-proclaimed scrappy new Scrum Master finds her way in a never-before-experienced opportunity.

You can link with Elizabeth Christensen on LinkedIn.

Kyle Aretae on how Scrum Masters can help teams address conflict without a blow-up

For Kyle, Agile solves 2 problems. One is the building of software in a better, more sustainable manner. The other is to create a functioning organization, which will become a better place to work. In this episode, Kyle also explains how a simple technique can help the team address behavior that negatively affects the team without ever making that a personal conflict.

Featured Book of the Week: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennet

Kyle was struck by the book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennet. It helped him understand the enormous difference between plannable systems and evolutionary systems. That helped him understand the impact that Agile could have on organizations. During his research after reading that book he also came across Interactual Ritual Chains by Randall Collins, which helped him understand the role of (Scrum) ceremonies in the development of the team, and ultimately led him to write one of his own books: Ceremony: A Profound New Method for Achieving Successful and Sustainable Change by Kyle Aretae and Thomas Meloche

About Kyle Aretae

Kyle has been programming since ’81. Teaching since ’91. Practicing Agile (Extreme Programming – XP) since 2000. Kyle is always interested first in better ways to understand things and systems. Especially interested in Complex (CAS/VUCA) Systems like building software or the economy at large.

You can find Kyle Areate at, or link with Kyle Areate on LinkedIn.

Faye Thompson on how a poor Product Owner can destroy the team’s ability to deliver

Many things can fail when we work with teams. But one critical anti-pattern that leads to problems is the lack of a good Product Owner. In this episode, we explore what are the consequences for our teams of having a Product Owner that is unable to filter input from many stakeholders or even to politely say “No!”. Listen in to learn about the many anti-patterns that can come from a poor Product Owner.

Featured Book of the Week: any book by Gerry Weinberg

Faye has followed the work of Gerry Weinberg and recommends that to all Scrum Masters. She mentions several of Gerry Weinberg’s books in this episode, for example: The Secrets of Consulting, or An Introduction to General Systems Theory. For Faye, Gerry’s work is an example of what Scrum Masters work is about: being humane.

About Faye Thompson

Faye calls herself a Scrum Master and agile coach, and she enjoys working with teams to solve cool business problems while not being jerks to one another.

You can link with Faye Thompson on LinkedIn and connect with Faye Thompson on Twitter.

Ilya Bibik on how Scrum Masters can identify possible future problems with teams

How can you identify that a team is starting to fail, possibly going into a negative behaviour pattern that will eventually lead to problems? In this episode we review a set of signals that you can use to review your team’s behaviour and detect possible problems ahead.

Featured Book of the Week: Stages of Group Development by Tuckman

This week we recommend a paper, where Bruce Tuckman, of the famous Tuckman’s “stages of group development” model describes his famous model. Unfortunately that article is not freely available for everyone to read, so we stick to the wikipedia entry for the Tuckman’s “stages of group development” model.

About Ilya Bibik

Ilya has about 16 years experience in software development and more than 7 years experience in the Scrum Master role. On top of Software engineering, Ilya has also a background as a school teacher and military service that helps him with his Scrum Master role. Recently Ilya published a book “How to Kill the scrum Monster” that he wished he had read 8 years ago.

You can link with Ilya Bibik on LinkedIn and connect with Ilya Bibik on Twitter.