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Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

Every week day, Certified Scrum Master, Agile Coach and Business Consultant Vasco Duarte interviews Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches from all over the world to get you actionable advice, new tips and tricks, improve your craft as a Scrum Master with daily doses of inspiring conversations with Scrum Masters from the all over the world. Stay tuned for BONUS episodes when we interview Agile gurus and other thought leaders in the business space to bring you the Agile Business perspective you need to succeed as a Scrum Master. Some of the topics we discuss include: Agile Business, Agile Strategy, Retrospectives, Team motivation, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Backlog Refinement, Scaling Scrum, Lean Startup, Test Driven Development (TDD), Behavior Driven Development (BDD), Paper Prototyping, QA in Scrum, the role of agile managers, servant leadership, agile coaching, and more!
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Now displaying: May, 2018
May 31, 2018

Scrum Masters work and influence many aspects of an organization or project. However, there’s one overarching concern that we must have in mind at all times: “are we delivering real value to our customers and stakeholders?” Lynoure discusses the importance of focusing on value delivery.

In this episode we also talk about team dynamics and mention The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

 

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Good / Bad / What to change

Sometimes it is the simpler formats of the retrospective that work best. This week we review some of the classic formats (e.g. Good / Bad / What), and how variation in formats may negatively affect the teams we work with.

 

About Lynoure Braakman

Lynoure has worked in many roles in the IT, from operations, scrum mastering and requirements analysis to programming, even a little as a tester. She's worked in agile teams since 2000 and loves being an adapter type, bringing in a wider perspective into her projects and to help different types of personalities to work together.

You can link with Lynoure Braakman on LinkedIn and connect with Lynoure Braakman on Twitter. You can also follow Lynoure Braakman’s blog at: Lynoure.net.

May 30, 2018

Working with a team is hard enough when the organization is stable and not going through a major upheaval. But when an organization is in massive change, how can we keep teams motivated and engaged with the work? In this episode we discuss the story of a team that was “alone” in the middle of a major organizational change, and what they did to keep the motivation and even going far beyond the call of duty. An inspiring story of how, sometimes, change comes from the team itself!

In this episode we discuss the Agile Fluency Model and refer to Deming’s 14 points for management, a list of points to help transform the role and effectiveness of management.

 

About Lynoure Braakman

Lynoure has worked in many roles in the IT, from operations, scrum mastering and requirements analysis to programming, even a little as a tester. She's worked in agile teams since 2000 and loves being an adapter type, bringing in a wider perspective into her projects and to help different types of personalities to work together.

You can link with Lynoure Braakman on LinkedIn and connect with Lynoure Braakman on Twitter. You can also follow Lynoure Braakman’s blog at: Lynoure.net.

May 29, 2018

Peopleware by DeMarco and Lister is one of the classics in the management of software projects niche. Originally published in 1987, the book focuses on the specific aspects that relate to successfully managing a software development team. In this episode we talk about how it helped Lynoure understand what are the factors that influence a team’s productivity.

 

About Lynoure Braakman

Lynoure has worked in many roles in the IT, from operations, scrum mastering and requirements analysis to programming, even a little as a tester. She's worked in agile teams since 2000 and loves being an adapter type, bringing in a wider perspective into her projects and to help different types of personalities to work together.

You can link with Lynoure Braakman on LinkedIn and connect with Lynoure Braakman on Twitter. You can also follow Lynoure Braakman’s blog at: Lynoure.net.

May 28, 2018

Scrum vs Kanban is a very common debate. Some teams will be adamant that only one of those applies to their context. Whichever you choose, you should be aware of the consequences. In this episode we explore one such process change, and the problems associated.

 

About Lynoure Braakman

Lynoure has worked in many roles in the IT, from operations, scrum mastering and requirements analysis to programming, even a little as a tester. She's worked in agile teams since 2000 and loves being an adapter type, bringing in a wider perspective into her projects and to help different types of personalities to work together.

You can link with Lynoure Braakman on LinkedIn and connect with Lynoure Braakman on Twitter. You can also follow Lynoure Braakman’s blog at: Lynoure.net.

May 25, 2018

On Friday’s we usually discuss system conditions. This episode is no exception, however we also take a look at a method to identify those system conditions before they cause major problems for the teams. We discuss the Spotify Squad Health Check as a method to survey the teams and identify possible impacts that need to be further investigated and mapped to system conditions. This is especially important when companies are growing fast, and we need to keep an eye on what problems might emerge as a result.

 

About Kathy Andersen

Kathy works as a Scrum Master with a team implementing a billing management system for a company called Hudl. Hudl is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska and provides video review and performance analysis tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play. Kathy took an uncommon route to the software world, and since then she has had the luck of working on a diverse set of projects and teams. You'll find her speaking at conferences and participating in the agile community.

You can link with Kathy Andersen on LinkedIn and connect with Kathy Andersen on Twitter.

May 24, 2018

Kathy presents the FitRep, a performance evaluation system from the US Marines and how it inspired her to create a similar approach for measuring team progress and Scrum Master success. Kathy also shares with us the specific questions she looks at when thinking about her own role.

In this episode we discuss the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott, a book about the styles of communication and their impact.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: If you owned this company…

In this episode we talk about how to effectively prepare for retrospectives with the team, and we discuss one specific “prompt” for a retrospective. Prompts are powerful as they trigger different perspectives in the minds of the participants. In this episode we discuss the prompt: “If I owned this company I would: start / stop / continue”.

 

About Kathy Andersen

Kathy works as a Scrum Master with a team implementing a billing management system for a company called Hudl. Hudl is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska and provides video review and performance analysis tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play. Kathy took an uncommon route to the software world, and since then she has had the luck of working on a diverse set of projects and teams. You'll find her speaking at conferences and participating in the agile community.

You can link with Kathy Andersen on LinkedIn and connect with Kathy Andersen on Twitter.

May 23, 2018

The adoption of a new process can be a great example of how change happens and is gradually accepted, and then adopted by the teams and team members. In this episode we explore a Kanban adoption, and how the process of Kanban also had an impact on the change itself.

In this episode we talk about ScrumBan, a development approach that tries to pick the best components of both Scrum and Kanban.

 

About Kathy Andersen

Kathy works as a Scrum Master with a team implementing a billing management system for a company called Hudl. Hudl is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska and provides video review and performance analysis tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play. Kathy took an uncommon route to the software world, and since then she has had the luck of working on a diverse set of projects and teams. You'll find her speaking at conferences and participating in the agile community.

You can link with Kathy Andersen on LinkedIn and connect with Kathy Andersen on Twitter.

May 22, 2018

When a team has a past firmly in the waterfall camp there are some specific problems we should look for. In this episode we talk about one such team, how they looked at requirements and how that impacted their work. We also discuss about the changes we need to go through with the team before they are ready and able to adopt an Agile process.

Featured Book of the Week: The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt

The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt is a book that has often been mentioned on the post. In this episode we discuss how this book can help us understand the concept and ideas behind Systems Thinking.

May 21, 2018

In retrospectives with the team we are looking for improvement opportunities. And often the team members will already have ideas about how to improve the ways of working. But sometimes we need to look for improvement opportunities, and the “The Story of a User Story” retrospective we talk about in this episode may help you find the things that need to change.

Listen in to learn what gaps the team uncovered, and how Kathy and the team recovered from a painful story delivery.

 

About Kathy Andersen

Kathy works as a Scrum Master with a team implementing a billing management system for a company called Hudl. Hudl is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska and provides video review and performance analysis tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play. Kathy took an uncommon route to the software world, and since then she has had the luck of working on a diverse set of projects and teams. You'll find her speaking at conferences and participating in the agile community.

You can link with Kathy Andersen on LinkedIn and connect with Kathy Andersen on Twitter.

May 18, 2018

When working with teams, we often face bottlenecks. Points in the process that slow everything down. Those bottlenecks are where we should focus our attention if we want to help our team deliver more and faster. For that to happen we need to understand where those bottlenecks come from, and that’s why it is so important to understand the system conditions in play. Bottlenecks are caused by system conditions.

 

About Umer Saeed

Umer is a Scrum Master, joining us from London, UK, currently working for one of the largest TV broadcasters in the UK, ITV. He has 5 years experience working in Agile environments spanning across Sports, Broadcasting, Travel and Publishing.  

Read Umer Saeed’s blog.

You can link with Umer Saeed on LinkedIn and connect with Umer Saeed on Twitter.

May 17, 2018

When thinking about our success as Scrum Masters, Umer invites us to think about the success of the team as well. But not forgetting that, as Scrum Masters, we have a specific job to do with concrete questions to ask ourselves in order to assess our work and progress.

Featured Retrospective Format of the Week: Fly High Retro

In the Fly High Retrospective we imagine the team is a Kite, and we want it to fly high. So we explore what are the obstacles (telephone lines, or tree branches), as well as the motivators (like wind) and explore - with the team - how to improve.

In this episode we also discuss the Starfish Retrospective and the “Well/ Not So Well / What different in next sprint” formats.

 

About Umer Saeed

Umer is a Scrum Master, joining us from London, UK, currently working for one of the largest TV broadcasters in the UK, ITV. He has 5 years experience working in Agile environments spanning across Sports, Broadcasting, Travel and Publishing.  

Read Umer Saeed’s blog.

You can link with Umer Saeed on LinkedIn and connect with Umer Saeed on Twitter.

May 16, 2018

Sometimes we have to work on team-level changes. Changes about how to release for example. In this episode we explore one such change, and everything that we need to be aware of when working with team, stakeholders and a process that needs to improve. We may think that team-level changes are simpler or easier than other types of changes, but are they really?

 

About Umer Saeed

Umer is a Scrum Master, joining us from London, UK, currently working for one of the largest TV broadcasters in the UK, ITV. He has 5 years experience working in Agile environments spanning across Sports, Broadcasting, Travel and Publishing.  

Read Umer Saeed’s blog.

You can link with Umer Saeed on LinkedIn and connect with Umer Saeed on Twitter.

May 15, 2018

Teams sometimes take “timeboxes” in Scrum as something of a “soft rule”. A rule that is ignored when necessary to avoid the hard-truth of failing to deliver in the Sprint. This is just one of the anti-patterns we discuss with Umer in this episode where we explore how we can help teams implement and benefit from Scrum.

Featured Book of the Week: Scrum and XP from the trenches by Henrik Kniberg

Scrum and XP from the trenches by Henrik Kniberg is a down-to-earth account of how Scrum and XP were adopted at a Swedish company. It’s a book that focuses on the practices, and the daily insights that we collect when working hands-on with the adoption of Agile.

 

About Umer Saeed

Umer is a Scrum Master, joining us from London, UK, currently working for one of the largest TV broadcasters in the UK, ITV. He has 5 years experience working in Agile environments spanning across Sports, Broadcasting, Travel and Publishing.  

Read Umer Saeed’s blog.

You can link with Umer Saeed on LinkedIn and connect with Umer Saeed on Twitter.

May 14, 2018

Umer was working in a project where chaos was the approach the teams were taking. Not a good way to start, especially not for a new Scrum Master. This led Umer to learn a few tough,  but critical lessons about how important it is to set expectations and priorities correctly.

 

About Umer Saeed

Umer is a Scrum Master, joining us from London, UK, currently working for one of the largest TV broadcasters in the UK, ITV. He has 5 years experience working in Agile environments spanning across Sports, Broadcasting, Travel and Publishing.  

Read Umer Saeed’s blog.

You can link with Umer Saeed on LinkedIn and connect with Umer Saeed on Twitter.

May 11, 2018

Sometimes, with the best of intentions, we create policies that actively detract from the team’s ability to deliver. Jeff shares with us such a story, where the team was not able to deliver their product to production. They needed some other team in the loop. That created communication problems, delays and did not help the team deliver more, or better.

This happens when we solve symptoms, not problems. In this episode we explore this story, and how to avoid getting stuck in the symptoms. If we want to help teams we must focus on the real problem, the root causes!

 

About Jeff Maleski

Jeff is passionate about working with and building up both individuals and teams using ideas from Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0 and Dan Pink's Drive. When leading project teams, Jeff strives for empirical based planning and forecasting, continuous learning, and delivering high quality software products that exceed expectations. Jeff believes in leading by actions and focusing on building relationships with others.

You can link with Jeff Maleski on LinkedIn.

May 10, 2018

When Jeff discovered that Menlo Innovations (from the book Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan) was a drive away from his workplace, he got a few people together and started a journey that would change his view of how work should work. He decided that his work as a Scrum Master was about improving lives.

In this episode we refer to the TED talk by Shawn Anchor about The Happy Secret to Better Work.

Featured Retrospective format: The Sailboat Retrospective

In the sailboat retrospective we use a metaphor to help the team identify the goal, the obstacles (the rocks), the drags on the team performance (the anchor) and the things that push us forward (sailing wind). Through metaphor we help the team explore ideas that they would otherwise skip in a more structured retrospective.

 

About Jeff Maleski

Jeff is passionate about working with and building up both individuals and teams using ideas from Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0 and Dan Pink's Drive. When leading project teams, Jeff strives for empirical based planning and forecasting, continuous learning, and delivering high quality software products that exceed expectations. Jeff believes in leading by actions and focusing on building relationships with others.

You can link with Jeff Maleski on LinkedIn.

May 9, 2018

Sometimes we do a great job, we help the teams reach a cross-functional collaboration, they are able to release production ready code but… Did we really reach our goal?

Jeff tells a story of a change process where some of the critical ingredients of change were in place, but it was something else that was missing. Listen in to learn about the anti-pattern that revealed itself later on.

 

About Jeff Maleski

Jeff is passionate about working with and building up both individuals and teams using ideas from Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0 and Dan Pink's Drive. When leading project teams, Jeff strives for empirical based planning and forecasting, continuous learning, and delivering high quality software products that exceed expectations. Jeff believes in leading by actions and focusing on building relationships with others.

You can link with Jeff Maleski on LinkedIn.

May 8, 2018

When we let the team grow their own silos, then we end up with teams that have many single points of failure. Is that really what is best for the team or the business? The famous bus-factor metric tells us how many people would have to be run over by a bus for us to hit a major problem.

Are you helping your team reflect on their bus-factor areas? Listen in to learn about the practices you can use to identify and resolve those bus-factor problems.

Featured book of the week: The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni

A question that many managers ask themselves: who’s the best person to hire for my team? In The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni explores the characteristics and how to develop the idea team player for the team.

 

About Jeff Maleski

Jeff is passionate about working with and building up both individuals and teams using ideas from Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0 and Dan Pink's Drive. When leading project teams, Jeff strives for empirical based planning and forecasting, continuous learning, and delivering high quality software products that exceed expectations. Jeff believes in leading by actions and focusing on building relationships with others.

You can link with Jeff Maleski on LinkedIn.

May 7, 2018

What can 5 monkeys tell us about agile/digital transformation? That’s what Jeff was asking when he found himself in the middle of an agile transformation in an organization where some people had been working for decades.

That led to an important insight. If you don’t care, it’s impossible to change. Listen in to learn how Jeff reached that insight and what were the lessons he carried into his work as a Scrum Master.

 

About Jeff Maleski

Jeff is passionate about working with and building up both individuals and teams using ideas from Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0 and Dan Pink's Drive. When leading project teams, Jeff strives for empirical based planning and forecasting, continuous learning, and delivering high quality software products that exceed expectations. Jeff believes in leading by actions and focusing on building relationships with others.

You can link with Jeff Maleski on LinkedIn.

May 5, 2018

Psychological safety has been claimed to impact greatly the productivity and well being of teams. Building trust is how we reach psychological safety, but trust is a touchy topic for teams. Scrum Masters try to build trust between team members, with stakeholders, with other teams, with the Product Owner. Trust maybe one of the critical ingredients that allows collaboration to emerge. But how do we build trust? How do we learn what works, and what doesn’t when building trust?

Tim Ottinger shares his learning in this BONUS episode on trust, with a very practical approach, just like we like it here on the podcast.

The different types of trust: Vulnerability and Autonomy

Before we can start to work on building trust, we need to distinguish between what Lencioni calls “Vulnerability Based Trust”, explained in The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, and what Tim is referring to. Tim wants us to focus on trust as it happens in practice, every day, not only in moments of deep connection (which is needed for vulnerability based trust to emerge). Tim talks about Autonomy, the team’s autonomy, as being the trust barometer. He explains how we can measure the trust level in a very practical way by looking at the signs, and hints around the level of autonomy that the team is given.

Why The Trust Transaction matters: when trust isn’t yet established

Vulnerability based trust requires we already trust the people around us to some extent. As Tim says: “it’s about exposing your jugular to your teammates. That’s not where we start. When we start working with a team, we don’t yet know what is the “safe” level of trust. So Tim suggests a different approach to building trust. Start by discussing what is the acceptable “discretionary space” (time on your own, or time the team can decide what to do without reporting and getting feedback) at this point?

Be deliberate about establishing the expectations with stakeholders, start with a smaller discretionary space and grow/increase as you go. You build trust slowly. The stakeholders give the team (or the team gives a team member) some “discretionary space”, and then get to see what is delivered, and give feedback. This is the core of the trust transaction that Tim describes in much more applicable detail in this episode.

What a Scrum Master can do to bring trust into the system

As Scrum Masters, our goal is to help teams succeed, and our businesses survive. For that we need to learn to bring trust into the system in a practical way. At the end of this episode we discuss how we - Scrum Masters - can bring trust to the teams and organizations we work with.

About Tim Ottinger

Tim has over 37 years in the software business where he has been an employee, a manager, a consultant, and a mentor to many people in several dozen large and small organizations. Through Industrial Logic, he continues this work promoting Modern Agile's guiding principles. Tim is known for his technical consulting and agile thought leadership from 'way back, but lately also for his work in leading knowledge workers, establishing psychological safety, and for his journey away from recreational anger.

You can link with Tim Ottinger on LinkedIn and connect with Tim Ottinger on Twitter.

 

May 4, 2018

Nobody gets credit for solving problems that never happened is a paper that explores why the tools that are the reason for success in some companies are ineffective in other companies. And when that happens, people in those organizations have the tendency to work even harder. But is that enough?

In this episode we explore the idea that working harder may be an anti-pattern, and we explore the impact of a simple question: “why?” Go deeper, ask why.

 

About Lucas Smith

Lucas has been a developer, manager, and agile coach and trainer with Boeing. Currently works a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and is the owner of LitheWorks. Lucas enjoys helping people and organizations improve the way they work to be more creative, effective, and efficient.

You can find Lucas Smith’s company at litheworks.com.

You can link with Lucas Smith on LinkedIn.

May 3, 2018

The questions we ask from ourselves, and the team asks from themselves are critical to influence our behaviour and decisions. In this episode we explore 5 different aspects for a successful Scrum Master, and what Lucas has learned about them.

Featured Retrospective format of the week: The Starfish Retrospective

The Starfish format is popular, and we have discussed it here on the podcast. But Lucas brings an interesting twist: add a personal question to the retrospective to create a safer environment. Listen in to learn how Lucas applies that idea.

 

About Lucas Smith

Lucas has been a developer, manager, and agile coach and trainer with Boeing. Currently works a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and is the owner of LitheWorks. Lucas enjoys helping people and organizations improve the way they work to be more creative, effective, and efficient.

You can find Lucas Smith’s company at litheworks.com.

You can link with Lucas Smith on LinkedIn.

May 2, 2018

In this episode we discuss a step-by-step approach that Lucas took to help him navigate change in an organisation where he worked. We discuss each step, why it is important, and how it helped Lucas in his quest to help the organisation change.

In this episode we refer to the book Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows.

 

About Lucas Smith

Lucas has been a developer, manager, and agile coach and trainer with Boeing. Currently works a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and is the owner of LitheWorks. Lucas enjoys helping people and organizations improve the way they work to be more creative, effective, and efficient.

You can find Lucas Smith’s company at litheworks.com.

You can link with Lucas Smith on LinkedIn.

May 1, 2018

Getting a team to learn and practice Scrum is not enough. There’s a critical aspect to a team’s own success and further development: feeling ownership over the product they are developing.

In this episode we discuss how the lack of ownership in the team led to bigger and bigger problems.

We also discuss how to work with manager, who sometimes are the biggest blocker for the team to evolve.

Featured Book of the week: Every good endeavour by Timothy Keller

Every Good Endeavor is about the theology of work. Timothy Keller explores the importance of vacation in work, and asks: why do we do the work we do. An important reflection for Scrum Masters, who are there to serve.

In this episode we also mention Extreme Programming explained by Kent Beck and Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows

 

About Lucas Smith

Lucas has been a developer, manager, and agile coach and trainer with Boeing. Currently works a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and is the owner of LitheWorks. Lucas enjoys helping people and organizations improve the way they work to be more creative, effective, and efficient.

You can find Lucas Smith’s company at litheworks.com.

You can link with Lucas Smith on LinkedIn.

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