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Usman Kotwal: How to help a “hands-off” PO to engage more with the Scrum team

The Great Product Owner: The empowering Product Owner

This PO was in her first job as a Product Owner. Still, she had a natural sense for how to work with the team. Using both of her technical and business experience, she brought a mix of skills and a curious mentality that sparked great collaboration with the team. 

Another great sign, was when she asked Usman to be the Scrum Master for that team (which was missing one), and worked with him to help the team. To start with, she recognized her presence was important, and when she realized she had too much on her plate, she actively started sharing work with Usman, the Scrum Master.

Through her work and attitude, she was able to make the team feel both responsible and empowered!

The Bad Product Owner: How to help a “hands-off” PO to engage more with the Scrum team

This Product Owner was very hands-off. The PO was working with a team from a consultancy, which had their own “shadow PO”. This only made the situation worse, as the Product Owner did not feel responsible for the success of the team (as the team was “external”), and wanted the “shadow PO” to solve all the problems, with very little information or interaction. 

In this segment, we also discuss what Scrum Masters can do to help “hands-off” PO’s to feel more responsible and engage more with the teams.

Are you having trouble helping the team work 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.

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

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.

Usman Kotwal: Breaking down a Scaling project into actionable tasks everyone can understand 

In an organization that was going through a “agile at scale” transformation, Usman noticed that the teams felt overwhelmed. Usman and his colleagues understood that they had to change the approach to help the teams benefit from the scaling tools they were being trained on. They had to actively counter the idea of “big scaling”, since this was a group of only 10 teams, where some “large scale” approaches would only cause chaos and mis-understandings. Listen in to learn how Usman and his colleagues were able to “scale down” the “scaling agile” project in a way that made sense to the teams, and helped them achieve their goals.

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

Usman Kotwal: Helping Agile teams when the Product Owners are absent

In this project, some new Product Owners were appointed. However, the PO’s wanted to have their own teams. Working with a consulting company, they set the new teams up for the project, however, and based on experience, the consulting company organized for each team to have a “shadow PO”. Over time, it became clear that the buyer-side Product Owners were very much “hands-off”, and the teams were discouraged from talking directly to the stakeholders, which led to trouble because they started missing information they could not get any other way. 

In this episode, we explore this anti-pattern in a team, and what we can do – as Scrum Masters – to combat the potential consequences.

Featured Book of the Week: Empowered by Marty Cagan et al.

In Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products by Marty Cagan et al, Usman learned about how to help teams move towards the focus on outcomes, and own the decision making in the product development process. The book shares tips on how to help product teams, also from the perspective of a manager or Scrum Master.

How can Angela (the Agile Coach) quickly build healthy relationships with the teams she’s supposed to help? What were the steps she followed to help the Breeze App team fight off the competition? Find out how Angela helped Naomi and the team go from “behind” to being ahead of Intuition Bank, by focusing on the people! Download the first 4 chapters of the BOOK for FREE while it is in Beta!

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.

Usman Kotwal: Helping a Scrum team survive an experienced, but non-collaborative team member

Usman was “mesmerized” by Agile. The idea of inspecting and adapting was for him like a scientific approach to work. When he started to work with this one team, he observed that most of the team was collaborative, but there was one senior developer that did not share the same approach. The team felt the same, but they did not want that team member to leave, as they felt he contributed to the team despite the lack of collaboration. However, the situation was about to turn for the worse… Listen in to learn what Usman learned, and eventually did to help this team.

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.

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Down-to-earth, hard-earned Scrum Masters lessons and the Tips from the Trenches e-book table of contents, delivered by email
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Internal Conference
Checklist
Internal Conference
Checklist
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Motivate your team with the right metrics, and the right way to visualize and track them. Marcus presents a detailed How-To document based on his experience at The Bungsu Hospital
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A moving story of how work at the Bungsu Hospital was transformed by a simple tool that you can use to help your team.
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
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