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Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast: Agile storytelling from the trenches

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: June, 2023
Jun 30, 2023

Bojan Smudja: Genchi Genbutsu, how to help Scrum Product Owners go beyond the backlog to understand the real product

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

The Great Product Owner: Coaching the Product Owner, A Crucial Role for Scrum Masters

Bojan highlights the importance of coaching the Product Owner (PO) as a Scrum Master. He emphasizes that scrum masters should be prepared to provide coaching to the PO, focusing on their development rather than becoming product coaches themselves. Bojan notes that great POs possess the ability to multitask and actively participate in meetings. They act as focused salespeople, selling product ideas and visions to stakeholders and the team. Simply mastering tools like JIRA and stakeholder communication is not enough; the PO must also sell their ideas to the team and scrum master. By coaching the PO and helping them refine their skills, Scrum Masters contribute to the overall success of the product development process.

If you want to know more about what topics, and how you can coach your Product Owner, check out our e-course on How to Coach Your PO.

The Bad Product Owner: Genchi Genbutsu, how to help PO’s go beyond the backlog to understand the real product

In this segment, Bojan discusses a team composed of newcomers, including a newbie Product Owner (PO), working on an existing product. Bojan noticed that here was a disconnection between the work on the team’s Scrum board and the actual product. The PO struggled to bridge the gap between the technical tasks and the features used by customers. Consequently, the team lost sight of the purpose behind their work and the reasons for building the product. One prominent anti-pattern was the lack of a customer feedback loop, resulting in a missed opportunity to gather valuable insights. Bojan advises the implementation of appropriate feedback loops tailored to the specific product being developed. Additionally, he references the concept of "Genchi Genbutsu," which encourages going and seeing the product in action with customers to gain a deeper understanding.

 

[IMAGE HERE] 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 Bojan Smudja

Bojan is an Agile coach dedicated to assisting individuals, teams, and organizations in reaching their objectives. With his expertise and guidance, he empowers others to embrace Agile methodologies and maximize their potential for success.

You can link with Bojan Smudja on LinkedIn

 

Jun 29, 2023

Bojan Smudja: Reading smiles, the measure of success for Scrum Masters

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Bojan discusses the factors that contribute to the success of a scrum master. He emphasizes the importance of being recognized as a valuable part of the team and providing genuine assistance to team members. Bojan also mentions the transformative aspect of Scrum in changing the way work is approached. As an example, he shares a conversation with a product owner (PO) where he asked how the PO determines if the work being done is good. The PO responded by looking at the faces of team members and using their smiles as an indicator of success. This highlights the significance of fostering a positive and collaborative environment within the team, and measuring “smiles” as a way to evaluate our own success as Scrum Masters.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Bringing up hidden topics with the Team Mirror Retrospective

In this segment, Bojan shares his experience as a new Scrum Master for a highly technical team working with cryptocurrency. Initially, the team was hesitant to engage in open discussions during retrospectives and preferred writing post-it notes. To address this, Bojan introduces a powerful technique called the Team Mirror Retrospective. The process involves conducting individual interviews, anonymizing the responses, and then sharing them with the team as grouped reflections. This method is employed selectively for significant and sensitive topics that team members are reluctant to openly discuss. Bojan emphasizes that this retrospective format can also enhance interviewing skills when engaging with team members. He recommends this approach for remote teams and highlights its effectiveness in boosting morale and incorporating feel-good metrics.

 

[IMAGE HERE] Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox! 

 

About Bojan Smudja

Bojan is an Agile coach dedicated to assisting individuals, teams, and organizations in reaching their objectives. With his expertise and guidance, he empowers others to embrace Agile methodologies and maximize their potential for success.

You can link with Bojan Smudja on LinkedIn.

Jun 28, 2023

Bojan Smudja: Conflicts and empathy, helping Project Managers learn the Scrum Master role when adopting Agile

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Bojan discusses the challenges of change, emphasizing the need to start with personal transformation before guiding others. Scaling frameworks like SAFe add complexity to the change process, requiring numerous adjustments. Bojan shares a story of a top-down change where project managers were suddenly transitioned to be Scrum Masters. He highlights the difficulty of facilitating this shift and helping PMs adopt the new mindset. Especially because, often managers feel insecure and push PMs to exert control, creating a conflict between the change needed and the short term requests to Scrum Masters. Bojan advises bringing up these conflicts and developing empathy for managers. He suggests clarifying the role of an enabler for managers and coaching them in influencing teams positively. Understanding the safety net for managers in case of team failure and assisting with process mapping are additional tips Bojan provides.

 

[IMAGE HERE] As Scrum Master we work with change continuously! Do you have your own change framework that provides the guidance, and queues you need when working with change? The Lean Change Management framework is a fully defined, lean-startup inspired change framework that can be used as the backbone of any change process! You can buy Lean Change Management the book at Amazon. Also available in French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.

 

About Bojan Smudja

Bojan is an Agile coach dedicated to assisting individuals, teams, and organizations in reaching their objectives. With his expertise and guidance, he empowers others to embrace Agile methodologies and maximize their potential for success.

You can link with Bojan Smudja on LinkedIn

Jun 27, 2023

Bojan Smudja: How to break free from the feature factory anti-pattern, and learn to motivate Scrum teams

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Bojan reflects on a team consisting of 7-8 co-located members who were initially operating under a seemingly perfect Scrum setup. However, despite having a smooth workflow and delivering a product already in production, the team faced significant challenges. They lacked a sense of ownership and focused only on completing JIRA tasks without considering real outcomes. Bojan admits allowing this pattern to persist without interference. The team fell into the trap of becoming feature factory workers, losing sight of the purpose behind their work. Anti-patterns such as "it's not my job" and "I finished my part of the ticket" emerged. Even attempts to improve team dynamics, like playing sports, didn't address the underlying issue of delivering outcomes. This situation persisted for an extended period, ultimately impacting the success of the product. Bojan's tip for listeners is to develop empathy towards the customer, emphasizing the importance of understanding their needs and aligning efforts accordingly.

Featured Book of the Week: Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn

In this segment, Bojan discusses two influential books: "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries and "Agile Estimating and Planning" by Mike Cohn. He highlights a significant lesson he learned: the impossibility of having both fixed scope and a fixed deadline. Bojan emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between these two factors. He also mentions some practices that demonstrate how to implement agile planning effectively. Bojan also highly recommends "The Lean Startup" as a valuable resource for beginners in the field.

 

[IMAGE HERE] 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 Bojan Smudja

Bojan is an Agile coach dedicated to assisting individuals, teams, and organizations in reaching their objectives. With his expertise and guidance, he empowers others to embrace Agile methodologies and maximize their potential for success.

You can link with Bojan Smudja on LinkedIn.

Jun 26, 2023

Bojan Smudja: The salesmanship required of a Scrum Master, and how it supports Agile adoption at team and organizational levels

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Bojan emphasizes the importance of following established practices and processes. As Scrum Masters, we often juggle multiple responsibilities. Bojan highlights the need for Scrum Masters to adopt a sales mindset and effectively sell the agile transformation to others in the organization. He reflects on a challenging conversation he had with the CEO, and prompts listeners to consider the vision they are presenting to management and to understand their responsibility for team effectiveness. Additionally, he emphasizes the Scrum Master's role in helping PO and team select the right tasks to work on. Bojan provides a tip to continuously question the team's activities and encourages listeners to ask critical questions.

 

[IMAGE HERE] Recovering from failure, or difficult moments is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. Not only because of us, but also because the teams, and stakeholders we work with will also face these moments! We need inspiring stories to help them, and ourselves! The Bungsu Story, is an inspiring story by Marcus Hammarberg which shows how a Coach can help organizations recover even from the most disastrous situations! Learn how Marcus helped The Bungsu, a hospital in Indonesia, recover from near-bankruptcy, twice! Using Lean and Agile methods to rebuild an organization and a team! An inspiring story you need to know about! Buy the book on Amazon: The Bungsu Story - How Lean and Kanban Saved a Small Hospital in Indonesia. Twice. and Can Help You Reshape Work in Your Company.

 

About Bojan Smudja

Bojan is an Agile coach dedicated to assisting individuals, teams, and organizations in reaching their objectives. With his expertise and guidance, he empowers others to embrace Agile methodologies and maximize their potential for success.

You can link with Bojan Smudja on LinkedIn

Jun 23, 2023

Amruta Beri: Visual Facilitation and Dynamic Collaboration, The Secrets of a Remarkable Product Owner

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

The Great Product Owner: Visual Facilitation and Dynamic Collaboration, The Secrets of a Remarkable Product Owner

In this episode, Amruta discusses a remarkable Product Owner who excels in her role thanks to her presence and rapport with the team members. The PO effectively facilitates the team using visual tools such as MURAL, encouraging participation and creating engaging visual information radiators. While the details of the solution are provided by the engineers, the PO skillfully asks questions that help them think of value-targeted solutions. Some of the PO’s superpowers include being recognized as a subject matter expert with excellent facilitation skills, and recognizing and leveraging the team's capabilities, fostering a dynamic and productive environment. This Product Owner is also a proponent of liberating structures, ensuring that meetings remain interesting and enjoyable. Her strong rapport with the team contributes to her overall effectiveness in the role.

 

The Bad Product Owner: The role of the PO in motivating the Agile team

In this episode, Amruta emphasizes that Product Owners should focus on providing clear requirements that are valuable to customers and easy for the team to implement. However, some Product Owners tend to delve into solutions too early and second-guess the team, which leads to micro-management and disengaged engineers. The anti-patterns discussed include engineers disengaging from refinement meetings. Amruta provides tips such as helping the Product Owner realize their role is to present the "what" and leave the "how" to the team, training the Product Owner on their responsibilities, encouraging engagement with the process, and allowing for Q&A during refinement. The importance of understanding the engineers' thought process is also highlighted.

 

[IMAGE HERE] 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 Amruta Beri

Amruta is an Agile enthusiast, artist, and environmentalist. She loves quiz shows, travel and sports, and is an engineer at heart.

You can link with Amruta Beri on LinkedIn and connect with Amruta Beri on Twitter.

Jun 22, 2023

Amruta Beri: Metrics and Goals, Driving Success with SMART Goals and Data-Driven Decisions

When it comes to Scrum Master success, Amruta highlights the importance of identifying the right problems to address, which allows for setting appropriate goals and using metrics to validate the effectiveness of the solutions. She suggests defining SMART goals that align with the product or company's strategy, emphasizing the significance of goal alignment between problem goals and team goals. Amruta recommends taking action on goals by identifying critical metrics for the team and focusing on 1 or 2 goals at a time. She references resources such as the Product Institute and the HEART metrics framework. Using a real example of decreasing support call volume, Amruta illustrates the process of measuring the current level, categorizing calls, and defining possible solutions. Success, according to Amruta, lies in identifying the right problem and establishing achievable targets.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Rotating Formats to Avoid Monotony, A Super Tip For Retrospective Facilitation

To keep retrospectives engaging, Amruta recommends incorporating different types of retrospectives to avoid monotony. She mentions the "Sailboat" and "Vegas" retrospectives as useful resources. Amruta provides several tips, such as starting the retrospective with an ice-breaker to lighten the mood, using appreciations to acknowledge team members' contributions, reviewing action items from previous retrospectives, selecting a theme to facilitate discussion, defining action items for the current sprint, and concluding the retrospective by leaving the team with a thought on how Agile can benefit them. These strategies contribute to creating a productive and enjoyable retrospective experience for the team.

 

[IMAGE HERE] Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox! 

 

About Amruta Beri

Amruta is an Agile enthusiast, artist, and environmentalist. She loves quiz shows, travel and sports, and is an engineer at heart.

You can link with Amruta Beri on LinkedIn and connect with Amruta Beri on Twitter.

Jun 21, 2023

Amruta Beri: The Dual Role Dilemma of a Scrum Master, and How to Elevate the Scrum Master Role

In this episode, Amruta discusses the common issue of the scrum master role not being recognized as a full-fledged role in many organizations. She shares her experience in an organization where she was expected to split her time between development and scrum mastering. However, she soon realized that this arrangement made it difficult for her to focus on either role effectively, leading to overtime work and personal struggle. Amruta emphasizes the importance of standing up for oneself and having a 1-on-1 conversation with the manager to explain the situation. She suggests presenting the idea of a full-time scrum master role as an experiment for a limited time. By becoming a full-time scrum master, Amruta was able to improve her coaching with the product owner, define working agreements with the team, and focus on delivering solutions for the right problems. This example demonstrated to the manager the significant impact a dedicated scrum master can have on the team's performance, ultimately influencing the entire organization. Amruta highlights the role of a Scrum Master as a catalyst and recommends the book Training From the Back of the Room!: 65 Ways to Step Aside and Let Them Learn by Bowman.

 

[IMAGE HERE] As Scrum Master we work with change continuously! Do you have your own change framework that provides the guidance, and queues you need when working with change? The Lean Change Management framework is a fully defined, lean-startup inspired change framework that can be used as the backbone of any change process! You can buy Lean Change Management the book at Amazon. Also available in French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.

 

About Amruta Beri

Amruta is an Agile enthusiast, artist, and environmentalist. She loves quiz shows, travel and sports, and is an engineer at heart.

You can link with Amruta Beri on LinkedIn and connect with Amruta Beri on Twitter.

Jun 20, 2023

Amruta Beri: Code Optimization and Scope Creep, Common Anti-Patterns Scrum Masters Must be Aware of

In this episode, Amruta shares her experience working with a team on a website migration project that involved adding client-specific features. Initially, the project started off well, but they soon realized that all the stories were heavily focused on technical aspects. After about four months, as the codebase grew, they faced challenges with introducing stories about code optimization without defined scope. The stories became too big, making it difficult to convince the engineers to prioritize and focus on one optimization at a time. The team started carrying stories from sprint to sprint, resulting in deviations from their original plan. Amruta provides tips such as presenting data to highlight time allocation, involving senior members to facilitate communication, and focusing on specific features instead of the entire scope.

Featured Book of the Week: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

In this segment, Amruta shares her favorite book, "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Lencioni. She highlights how relatable the story is for Scrum Masters, as many have experienced similar situations. The book emphasizes the significance of trust within a team, aligning closely with Agile principles. It explores the journey of a team's transformation, shedding light on the challenges and dynamics that teams commonly face. Amruta's summary showcases the book's relevance to Scrum Masters and its valuable insights into building successful teams through trust and collaboration.

 

[IMAGE HERE] 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 Amruta Beri

Amruta is an Agile enthusiast, artist, and environmentalist. She loves quiz shows, travel and sports, and is an engineer at heart.

You can link with Amruta Beri on LinkedIn and connect with Amruta Beri on Twitter.

Jun 19, 2023

Amruta Beri: Building Trust and Encouraging Participation with Team Agreements

In this episode, Amruta shares their experience as a new scrum master and the challenges she faced in encouraging participation from all team members. She emphasizes the importance of building trust early in the team formation process and highlights the Tuckman model of team formation as a model that helps us understand the stages of group development. Amruta discusses the issue of some team members lacking trust and not feeling comfortable expressing their views and ideas in meetings, leading to the dominance of the loudest person in the room. To address these issues, Amruta suggests using working agreements (see Lisette's approach to team agreements) and conducting a starting exercise around team agreements. She provides tips such as using silent writing techniques to involve quieter team members and the value of establishing rapport through one-on-one conversations. Additionally, they refer to the "1-2-4-all" method from liberating structures as a useful resource.

 

[IMAGE HERE] Recovering from failure, or difficult moments is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. Not only because of us, but also because the teams, and stakeholders we work with will also face these moments! We need inspiring stories to help them, and ourselves! The Bungsu Story, is an inspiring story by Marcus Hammarberg which shows how a Coach can help organizations recover even from the most disastrous situations! Learn how Marcus helped The Bungsu, a hospital in Indonesia, recover from near-bankruptcy, twice! Using Lean and Agile methods to rebuild an organization and a team! An inspiring story you need to know about! Buy the book on Amazon: The Bungsu Story - How Lean and Kanban Saved a Small Hospital in Indonesia. Twice. and Can Help You Reshape Work in Your Company.

 

About Amruta Beri

Amruta is an Agile enthusiast, artist, and environmentalist. She loves quiz shows, travel and sports, and is an engineer at heart.

You can link with Amruta Beri on LinkedIn and connect with Amruta Beri on Twitter

Jun 17, 2023

BONUS: How I Planned My Wedding With Scrum, and Other Key Agile Adoption Lessons With Julien Déray

Julien wrote the book titled "How I Planned My Wedding with Scrum" to apply his knowledge of Scrum to the process of wedding planning. Scrum provided him with a sense of assurance, clarity, and familiarity with the tools he knew best. By deepening his understanding and applying Scrum principles, Julien found that it helped him feel more in control and provided clarity throughout the planning process. Furthermore, working as a team with his parents and family members reinforced the collaborative nature of Scrum.

Why Use Scrum for Wedding Planning? 

One of the key questions is why Julien chose to use Scrum to organize a wedding—a big-bang event. However, Scrum's structured approach and iterative process lent themselves well to wedding planning. Julien found that giving a crash course on Scrum, defining roles and rules, writing user stories, and using personas to craft experiences allowed for effective planning and communication. Regular calls with the rest of the family and feedback loops enabled them to stay on track and adapt as needed. In the end, Scrum provided a sense of peace of mind and control over the process. The main takeaway was the sense of control and peace of mind that Scrum brought to the team.

Key Messages 

The book provides an accessible Scrum introduction for a broad audience, including those new to Scrum, and aims to convey the why of Scrum rather than focusing heavily on the how. Even for experienced practitioners, the book provides a fresh perspective on Scrum and agile methodologies. It emphasizes the usefulness and applicability of Scrum in various contexts, including wedding planning.

Challenges in Leadership and Management 

Julien emphasizes that as an IT community, agile methodologies like Scrum are already well-established. However, the challenge lies in bridging the gap to the rest of the company. Other parts of the organization may not be familiar with the tools and methods used in IT, creating a need for alignment and collaboration. Traditional management approaches, rooted in Taylorism, no longer work effectively in a fast-paced, agile environment.

Key Messages for Managers and Scrum Masters 

Managers and Scrum Masters are encouraged to trust themselves and leverage the tools they have at their disposal. Understanding the purpose behind their work and proposing ways to bring others along are crucial. Agile is not just a methodology but a holistic philosophy that can drive organizational transformation. During this episode, we refer to the following books:

Julien’s book is "How I Planned My Wedding with Scrum." And you can find the book on Amazon

About Julien Deray

Julien is a senior engineering manager at SwissBorg. His journey has moved him from coding to leading fast-paced engineering team. He has a strong focus an agile methods, to facilitate communication and work processes, and to allow people to work better without spending more energy.

You can link with Julien Déray on LinkedIn.

Jun 16, 2023

Mirela Mus: The Super Scrum Master, Blending Product Expertise and Coaching Skills

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

The Great Product Owner: The Super Scrum Master, Blending Product Expertise and Coaching Skills

In this episode, the focus was on a Scrum Master who went above and beyond the traditional role. This Scrum Master had extensive experience with the product side and demonstrated a highly personable nature with a coaching attitude. The phrase "it's humans all the way down" encapsulated their approach, emphasizing the importance of understanding and dealing with people from a human perspective. The episode highlighted the multifaceted skills and perspectives that this Scrum Master brought to the role, emphasizing the value of combining product knowledge, interpersonal skills, and a coaching mindset to create a positive and effective team dynamic.

The Bad Product Owner: Unveiling a Scrum Master Anti-pattern, and what PO’s can do about it

In this episode, Mirela discussed a Scrum Master anti-pattern where certain individuals disrupted the entire team under cover of implementing Scrum. Mirela suggests that one way to avoid this anti-pattern is to have a mentor to support the Product Owner. In the mentoring sessions, Mirela questioned the PO about whether the work of the Scrum Master was causing disruption and noise, and whether they were escalating numerous issues. She advised self-reflection to identify any triggers for such behavior. Building positive relationships within the team was recommended. Mirela emphasizes that excessive escalation is detrimental to everyone involved.

 

[IMAGE HERE] 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 Mirela Mus 

Mirela is the founder of Product People, a Product Management Consultancy on a mission to help companies discover and deliver great products faster. They have 41 full-time Product Managers who help companies focus on product-led growth and/or profitability.

You can link with Mirela Mus on LinkedIn and connect with Mirela Mus on Twitter.

Jun 15, 2023

Mirela Mus: From Good to Great, Secrets of Successful Product Owners

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, the focus was on what it means to be a successful product owner. The discussion began by considering the size and nature of the organization, whether it operates in a B2B or B2C environment, and the specific challenges the product owner (PO) needs to navigate. A tip was shared to create a list of requirements for success based on the product and organization context. Some PO hiring teams tips shared included looking for similarities between one's own business and successful businesses to hire from those industries. The importance of cognitive flexibility as a key skill for POs was also highlighted. The episode also included references to Product People live stream events.

Featured Retrospective for the Week: The Asynchronous Agile Retrospective, a case study by a Product Owner

In this episode, Mirela shared her views on Agile retrospectives and provided practical tips. She recommended that all Product Owners (POs) ask Scrum Masters to host retrospectives. She discussed the benefits of asynchronous retrospectives and encouraged participants to write stories about improvements. Mirela suggested hosting a pre-mortem if a project or situation carries a high risk. She emphasized the importance of reflecting on what could have been done better with the available knowledge at the time. She mentioned the book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts by Annie Duke, and highlighted the need to tune the frequency of retrospectives to address recurring issues effectively.

 

[IMAGE HERE] Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox! 

 

About Mirela Mus 

Mirela is the founder of Product People, a Product Management Consultancy on a mission to help companies discover and deliver great products faster. They have 41 full-time Product Managers who help companies focus on product-led growth and/or profitability.

You can link with Mirela Mus on LinkedIn and connect with Mirela Mus on Twitter.

Jun 14, 2023

Mirela Mus: The Product Owner’s view on Leadership Impact, Priorities, and Stakeholder Management for Scrum Teams

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Mirela discussed the challenges of change management and shared valuable tips. She emphasized that change can fail for various reasons and highlighted the importance of impactful leadership to drive successful change. Mirela recommended having a supportive group of people ready to assist in the change process and showcasing examples of successful changes to the team. Collaboration with Product Owners (POs) was emphasized, as they can greatly influence team performance. The ability of a PO to say "no" to higher-ups was discussed. Anti-patterns such as a lack of priorities or structure in prioritization were identified as potential problems at the team level. Mirela provided tips on mapping stakeholders, managing relationships, and helping the PO learn to influence people. In this episode, we refer to the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. Managing oneself, leveraging asynchronous work, monitoring the PM's meeting time, and deprioritizing as a cost-cutting measure were additional tips shared in the episode.

 

[IMAGE HERE] As Scrum Master we work with change continuously! Do you have your own change framework that provides the guidance, and queues you need when working with change? The Lean Change Management framework is a fully defined, lean-startup inspired change framework that can be used as the backbone of any change process! You can buy Lean Change Management the book at Amazon. Also available in French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.

 

About Mirela Mus 

Mirela is the founder of Product People, a Product Management Consultancy on a mission to help companies discover and deliver great products faster. They have 41 full-time Product Managers who help companies focus on product-led growth and/or profitability.

You can link with Mirela Mus on LinkedIn and connect with Mirela Mus on Twitter.

Jun 13, 2023

Mirela Mus: The Product Owner’s View on Understanding and Overcoming Agile Team Self-Destructive Patterns

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Mirela discussed a team that self-destructed, highlighting various anti-patterns and providing helpful tips. She emphasized the negative impact of being overly focused on competition rather than individual work. Toxic personalities within the team and the acceptance of individuals who didn't align with the team culture were identified as destructive factors. Mirela suggested ignoring disruptive behaviors selectively and being mindful of personal anxiety when starting work. Working "around" difficult team members was discouraged, while assuming good intentions and engaging in one-on-one discussions were recommended. The Nonviolent Communication (NVC) approach was mentioned, and open discussions in team channels were advised to address problematic behaviors transparently.

Featured Book of the Week: Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice by Clayton Christensen

In this episode, Mirela shared her recommended books. The first recommendation was "Competing Against Luck" by Clayton Christensen, which helps cut through the noise and understand the underlying factors in successful innovation. The next recommendation was "Thinking in Systems" by Donella Meadows, a book that aids in navigating organizations and comprehending incentives by emphasizing the impact of systems. Mirela humorously mentioned the phrase, "it's because of the system, man!" Lastly, Mirela refers to the concept of "OODA Loop," which is the cycle observe–orient–decide–act, developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd. These books provide valuable insights for understanding innovation, organizational dynamics, and the PO role.

 

[IMAGE HERE] 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 Mirela Mus 

Mirela is the founder of Product People, a Product Management Consultancy on a mission to help companies discover and deliver great products faster. They have 41 full-time Product Managers who help companies focus on product-led growth and/or profitability.

You can link with Mirela Mus on LinkedIn and connect with Mirela Mus on Twitter.

Jun 12, 2023

Mirela Mus: The Product Owner’s view on the overprotective Scrum Master that lacked a focus on value

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Mirela discusses a Scrum Master failure in a classical scrum setup. The Scrum Master lacked understanding of the business and failed to protect the team. The client was struggling with a difficult subscription service and wanted to replace their old system, but the Scrum Master focused more on team-building activities. This caused panic and highlighted the importance of finding a shared goal and fostering team cohesion. Several anti-patterns were identified, including the Scrum Master feeling useless and prioritizing "showing value" without understanding the project's objectives. We discuss some Scrum Master tips for addressing these issues, such as open communication, maintaining a clear focus on critical product aspects, and avoiding the application of frameworks solely for the sake of it.

 

[IMAGE HERE] Recovering from failure, or difficult moments is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. Not only because of us, but also because the teams, and stakeholders we work with will also face these moments! We need inspiring stories to help them, and ourselves! The Bungsu Story, is an inspiring story by Marcus Hammarberg which shows how a Coach can help organizations recover even from the most disastrous situations! Learn how Marcus helped The Bungsu, a hospital in Indonesia, recover from near-bankruptcy, twice! Using Lean and Agile methods to rebuild an organization and a team! An inspiring story you need to know about! Buy the book on Amazon: The Bungsu Story - How Lean and Kanban Saved a Small Hospital in Indonesia. Twice. and Can Help You Reshape Work in Your Company.

 

About Mirela Mus 

Mirela is the founder of Product People, a Product Management Consultancy on a mission to help companies discover and deliver great products faster. They have 41 full-time Product Managers who help companies focus on product-led growth and/or profitability.

You can link with Mirela Mus on LinkedIn and connect with Mirela Mus on Twitter.

Jun 9, 2023

Takunda Noha: The Customer-Centric PO, Embracing the Gemba Walk as a Product Owner

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

The Great Product Owner: Customer-Centric PO, Embracing the Gemba Walk as a Product Owner

In this episode, the focus is on a remarkable product owner who actively engaged in the Gemba walk. The Gemba walk involves visiting the places where the team, staff, and customers interact to observe how the product is being consumed. The episode highlights that it is uncommon for product owners to actively participate in this practice. The exceptional product owner was known for his authenticity and commitment to his words. He demonstrated his dedication by being the first one present when the store opened and even disguised himself as a regular customer to gather valuable information. This genuine approach built trust as he shared insights that were not made up. The episode concludes by emphasizing the importance of checking one's ego at the door in order to truly understand and serve customers.

The Bad Product Owner: CEO-like Pressure, Overcoming the Struggle to Say 'No' as a Product Owner

In this episode, the focus is on a common anti-pattern of a product owner (PO) who struggles to say "no." The role of a PO is compared to that of a CEO, as they face immense pressure to deliver. The episode emphasizes the importance of having a strong backbone to effectively fulfill the responsibilities of a PO. The struggle to say "no" often leads to deviations from the planned direction and goals, causing challenges in achieving outcomes within quarterly cycles. Takunda shares some tips on how to help PO’s stuck in this anti-pattern. We cover, for example, assessing whether the PO is taking on too many tasks, and considering the opportunity cost of not prioritizing the original goals. We also discuss the need to stick to the planned path and make changes in future sprints rather than pivoting impulsively. 

 

[IMAGE HERE] 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 Takunda Noha

Takunda is a seasoned change agent. He specializes in turning dysfunctional teams into high performing teams.

You can link with Takunda Noha on LinkedIn.

Jun 8, 2023

Takunda Noha: Reinventing the Scrum Master Role, Transferring Skills and Approaches as a Success Strategy

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Takunda explores various perspectives on success as a scrum master. He emphasizes that when he leaves the team, they should not regress but continue to thrive. To achieve this, he believes in constantly reinventing himself within the team and transferring his skills and approaches to team members. Takunda shares a tip on strategically pulling back by occasionally allowing someone else to take over certain responsibilities, such as facilitating sessions. We also discuss using "do you mind..." questions as a way to empower team members and encourage their active participation. This approach fosters collaboration and growth within the team while ensuring continuity in the scrum master's role.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Reverse Brainstorming, Avoid Failure by Preparing For It In Advance!

In this segment, Takunda discusses his favorite retrospective format called "Reverse Brainstorming." He highlights that as humans, we tend to focus more on negative aspects than the positive ones. In this retrospective format, the team reflects on how they could do things poorly or become the worst performing team. By deliberately considering the negative scenarios and imagining how things could go wrong, the team can uncover potential pitfalls and identify areas for improvement. This format encourages the team to think creatively and critically about their processes and helps them explore different perspectives to enhance their performance.

 

Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox! 

 

About Takunda Noha

Takunda is a seasoned change agent. He specializes in turning dysfunctional teams into high performing teams.

You can link with Takunda Noha on LinkedIn.

Jun 7, 2023

Takunda Noha: How to Convince the Organization for Cross-Functional Collaboration to overcome Missing Deadlines and Integration Problems

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, the focus is on the challenges faced in a delivery factory where multiple teams are required to collaborate in order to deliver a feature. However, these teams were siloed and lacked collaboration, leading to missed deadlines and integration problems. The first step was to gather facts and data to identify the causes of delays. The next challenge was to create a vision for a cross-functional team, but faced resistance from other teams. Persistence was key in convincing the organization to adopt a cross-functional approach. Although the team faced initial failures, the advice is to have a thick skin, learn from failures, and try again. To help understand and navigate this type of challenges, Takunda recommends the book is Team Topologies by Skelton and Pais, who have been previous guests on the podcast

 

As Scrum Master we work with change continuously! Do you have your own change framework that provides the guidance, and queues you need when working with change? The Lean Change Management framework is a fully defined, lean-startup inspired change framework that can be used as the backbone of any change process! You can buy Lean Change Management the book at Amazon. Also available in French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.

 

About Takunda Noha

Takunda is a seasoned change agent. He specializes in turning dysfunctional teams into high performing teams.

You can link with Takunda Noha on LinkedIn.

Jun 6, 2023

Takunda Noha: From Paper to Practice, Addressing Accountability and Discipline Issues in Agile Projects

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Takunda shares his experience as the scrum master for a team that supported the HR department and developed an HR platform. While the team seemed successful on paper, they struggled with discipline and frequently missed their sprint goals. Takunda attributes these challenges to a lack of accountability for not delivering on promises. He recommends the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, which helped him understand and address these issues, emphasizing the team's avoidance of conflict and lack of focus on results. He highlights the importance of ensuring that the team feels alive and engaged.

Featured Book of the Week: The Servant Leader, How to Build a Creative Team, Develop Great Morale, and Improve Bottom-Line Performance by James Autry

In this segment, Takunda discusses his transition from being a project management professional (PMP) to a scrum master, which he describes as a significant change. He recommends the book The Servant Leader by James Autry, highlighting its impact on his understanding of the scrum master role. The book emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in building connections and unlocking influence. Takunda shares that this book helped him develop a deeper understanding of how to effectively serve his team. In this segment, we also mention another recommended book, How to Win Friends, And Influence People by Dale Carnegie, which provides insights into building relationships and fostering positive interactions with the Scrum Master’s critical stakeholders.

 

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 Takunda Noha

Takunda is a seasoned change agent. He specializes in turning dysfunctional teams into high performing teams.

You can link with Takunda Noha on LinkedIn.

Jun 5, 2023

Takunda Noha: From Ego to Collaboration, Embracing Scrum and Overcoming Resistance

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

In this episode, Takunda shares his journey from being a project assistant to becoming an assistant project manager in an Agile transformation process. He discusses how a coach introduced scrum to his organization, challenging the traditional ways of working. Takunda emphasizes the importance of managing ego and addressing failure openly. He recounts joining a new team just before the COVID-19 pandemic and discovering that team members were scattered throughout the building. He tried to bring them together physically but faced resistance. The team seemed uncomfortable during stand-up meetings and quickly returned to their previous locations. Takunda advises talking to line managers to explain the situation and meeting the team where they are. He also shares the challenges of justifying his decisions and negotiating with managers. It is essential to understand what aspects might upset others to avoid unnecessary conflicts.

 

Recovering from failure, or difficult moments is a critical skill for Scrum Masters. Not only because of us, but also because the teams, and stakeholders we work with will also face these moments! We need inspiring stories to help them, and ourselves! The Bungsu Story, is an inspiring story by Marcus Hammarberg which shows how a Coach can help organizations recover even from the most disastrous situations! Learn how Marcus helped The Bungsu, a hospital in Indonesia, recover from near-bankruptcy, twice! Using Lean and Agile methods to rebuild an organization and a team! An inspiring story you need to know about! Buy the book on Amazon: The Bungsu Story - How Lean and Kanban Saved a Small Hospital in Indonesia. Twice. and Can Help You Reshape Work in Your Company.

 

About Takunda Noha

Takunda is a seasoned change agent. He specializes in turning dysfunctional teams into high performing teams.

You can link with Takunda Noha on LinkedIn.

Jun 3, 2023

BONUS: From Scrum Master to Engineering Lead, how to prepare the transition with Tim Bourguignon

We start this episode, reflecting on Tim’s journey of realizing the importance of working collaboratively and embracing agile methodologies. Tim noticed early on that he drifted to teaching and providing assistance to others rather than actively developing software. After a while, he moved to consulting in Agile, and in that role, he noticed recurring patterns and struggled with unclogging processes that seemed to be missing something crucial. Over time, frustration set in. He felt like he was fighting an uphill battle and highlighted the disruptive nature of Agile, which aimed to uncover and solve problems but often revealed bigger and deeper underlying issues.

The big problem with Agile adoption, and what we can do to prepare for it

With time and experience, Tim realized that leadership was a crucial factor in the team's success. He observed a recurring pattern where leadership was either blocking progress or not fulfilling their role effectively. This realization led him to recognize the significance of leadership's involvement and the impact it had on the overall performance of the team. 

From developer, to coach, and finally to leader: learning to help teams at all levels of the organization

Tim shares his journey at WeMaintain and discusses the challenges of scaling while maintaining agility. Before joining, and during the interview process, Tim already sought to identify the problems he could help solve but couldn't pinpoint a specific issue. His boss expressed concerns about managing fast growth while staying agile. Initially, WeMaintain had two teams working efficiently from a backlog, releasing frequently, and measuring their progress. But, they wanted to grow the company without resorting to a traditional approach of multiple teams working on the same problem, which often led to communication issues. Instead, they advocated for compartmentalized teams with strong ownership and defined success metrics for each team based on specific business streams. Each team had the necessary skills and accountability to achieve their success metrics, ensuring a shared responsibility for success.

From coach to leader, and the critical lessons learned on the way

Tim reflects on the differences between his current approach and what he observed in the past, when he was the coach trying to help teams and organizations. He emphasizes the importance of taking personal responsibility as a leader when facing problems within a team. Previously, their clients would assume that the leaders were right and focused only on changing the teams, and he wanted to avoid that anti-pattern at all costs. Tim shares the tip of starting with leadership and establishing a clear vision, emphasizing the impact of lacking a clear vision and passionate individuals on the organization. When it comes to reflecting on our performance, Tim recommends evaluating oneself against the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto and highlights the necessity of enabling developers to communicate directly with customers to foster agility.

Scaling with Agility: Building Compartmentalized Teams and other strategies for growing companies, and staying Agile

Tim’s current focus is on stream-aligned teams and metrics. Tim recommends the book "Team Topologies", whose authors have been guests on the podcast. Tim also shares the tip of asking teams to create a portfolio of metrics that demonstrate they are working on the right things. Various teams have found interesting metrics to track their progress. The PDCA cycle and DORA (DevOps Readiness Assessment) metrics are mentioned. The guest highlights a positive sign of organizational health, with a rate of 1.5 deployments per day across the entire product group. They suggest having frequent discussions with people throughout the organization and implementing practices like showcasing Monday morning deliveries and sharing post-release messages on Slack as early documentation for stakeholders. The book "Accelerate" is also recommended for further insights into metrics.

In this final segment, we also refer to Extreme Programming.

Jun 2, 2023

Frederik Vannieuwenhuyse: The Power of Purpose, Unveiling the Qualities of a Great Product Owner

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

The Great Product Owner: The Impact of an Absent Product Owner on Agile Teams

In this episode, Frederik introduces a product owner who is absent and unresponsive, leading to challenges for the team. The lack of interaction and participation in Scrum events becomes demotivating, and the team starts seeking excessive upfront details, leading to slow and cumbersome planning. This absence may be due to the PO's busyness or other roles they hold. The episode provided tips such as talking to the PO to understand the situation and sharing the vision for the PO role. It emphasized the importance of explaining to the PO why their presence is critical for successful collaboration and achieving shared goals.

The Bad Product Owner: The Power of Purpose, Unveiling the Qualities of a Great Product Owner

In this segment, John - the PO -  is portrayed as an exceptional product owner who prioritizes purpose and outcomes. He possesses a clear vision of the product's purpose and utilizes it to guide decision-making for the backlog. John effectively aligns stakeholders and the development team by communicating the product goal and emphasizing the "why" behind their work. He excels in identifying the target customer and ensuring the product meets market needs. John collaborates with the team, facilitates stakeholder involvement, and holds them accountable for decisions. The episode highlights the use of impact mapping as a valuable tool for goal-oriented decision-making. John embodies the qualities of a great product owner, driving the success of the product through purpose-driven leadership.

 

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 Frederik Vannieuwenhuyse

Frederik is a Certified Team and Enterprise Coach at the Scrum Alliance. He works and lives in Belgium. He is part of the company iLean. Frederik has worked as Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach. He works with teams and leadership to improve collaboration, flow, and learning. Frederik co-organizes the XP Days Benelux conference - this year, in 2023, the conference has existed for 20 years. He is also a regular speaker at local and international conferences.

You can link with Frederik Vannieuwenhuyse on LinkedIn.

Jun 1, 2023

Frederik Vannieuwenhuyse: From Process to Habit, How to unlock Scrum Master success

Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website: http://bit.ly/SMTP_ShowNotes.

Frederik focuses on the team's ability to adopt Scrum as a habitual way of working. For Frederik, success is defined by the team's ownership of Scrum events and their ability to handle obstacles independently. The team displays a strong drive to achieve collective goals, working autonomously and taking initiative in solving problems and driving improvements. The importance of creating alignment with a shared objective is emphasized, while highlighting the team's self-sufficiency and proactive nature. Ultimately, the episode underscores that a successful Scrum Master empowers the team to work effectively and continuously strive for improvement.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: What?/So What?/Now What?

In this segment, Frederik discussed his favorite retrospective format, "What/So What/Now What?" He highlighted that this format not only aids in retrospective conversations but also serves as a reflective model for teams to evaluate past events and identify areas for improvement. It encourages critical thinking by focusing on facts during the "What?" phase, inviting participants to make sense of the information in the "So What?" phase, and ultimately identifying actionable steps in the "Now What?" phase. Frederik mentioned that this retrospective format is also part of Liberating Structures, a collection of facilitation techniques, and is based on the ladder of inference. Overall, the "What/So What/Now What?" retrospective format offers a structured and effective approach to foster team learning and continuous improvement.

 

[IMAGE HERE] Retrospectives, planning sessions, vision workshops, we are continuously helping teams learn about how to collaborate in practice! In this Actionable Agile Tools book, Jeff Campbell shares some of the tools he’s learned over a decade of coaching Agile Teams. The pragmatic coaching book you need, right now! Buy Actionable Agile Tools on Amazon, or directly from the author, and supercharge your facilitation toolbox! 

 

About Frederik Vannieuwenhuyse

Frederik is a Certified Team and Enterprise Coach at the Scrum Alliance. He works and lives in Belgium. He is part of the company iLean. Frederik has worked as Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach. He works with teams and leadership to improve collaboration, flow, and learning. Frederik co-organizes the XP Days Benelux conference - this year, in 2023, the conference has existed for 20 years. He is also a regular speaker at local and international conferences.

You can link with Frederik Vannieuwenhuyse on LinkedIn.

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