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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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Nov 9, 2023

Aria Omidvar: The Many Layers to 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.

Aria explores the layers of success for Scrum Masters, highlighting the transformation of team culture. He assesses success through the lens of team self-reliance, self-organization, and ownership of work. Aria's metric for success involves equipping teams with tools and practices that enable them to effectively carry out their responsibilities. This episode offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of success in the role of a Scrum Master.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Making Retrospectives Clearly Different From Other Meetings and Work

Aria shares his preferred retrospective format, emphasizing the importance of a distinct mindset for this higher-order team work. He advocates for creativity and mindfulness, aiming to set retrospectives apart from regular team activities with a specific format he shares in this episode. Aria offers practical tips such as note-taking, root cause analysis, and solution brainstorming during discussions. He underscores the value of critical thinking, focusing on root causes, and showing the path to solutions. Aria's approach promotes effective retrospectives as a catalyst for meaningful team 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 Aria Omidvar

Aria has 4+ years of experience serving as Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach (CSM, A-CSM, CSPO) from single teams to multiple teams and the whole software organization. He's a Software Engineer turned Software Developer turned Peopleware Developer and Agilist.

You can link with Aria Omidvar on LinkedIn and connect with Aria Omidvar on Twitter

Nov 8, 2023

Aria Omidvar: Lessons from a Top-Down Agile Transformation Journey

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.

Aria recounts his involvement in a top-down, multi-layered agile transformation in a company with five teams. Despite management's drive for change, the transformation faced resistance from the teams on the ground. After six months, it became evident that morale and engagement had plummeted, and the desired outcomes were not met. Aria attempted widespread training, but this approach backfired. He learned the importance of focusing on one major change at a time, prioritizing people, and fine-tuning direction for successful transformations. The episode serves as a valuable guide for navigating complex organizational shifts.

 

[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 Aria Omidvar

Aria has 4+ years of experience serving as Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach (CSM, A-CSM, CSPO) from single teams to multiple teams and the whole software organization. He's a Software Engineer turned Software Developer turned Peopleware Developer and Agilist.

You can link with Aria Omidvar on LinkedIn and connect with Aria Omidvar on Twitter

Nov 7, 2023

Aria Omidvar: Friendship or Performance, The Hard Dilemma Scrum Teams Sometimes Face

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.

Aria shares a common team pitfall: sacrificing trust, transparency, and courage for camaraderie. In this case, a team's cohesion eroded as they prioritized friendliness over addressing performance issues. One underperforming developer strained the team's efforts, despite trying to help that team member. The team's hesitancy to confront the issue led to a painful breakdown. Aria emphasizes proactive communication and recommends 'The Hard Thing about Hard Things' as a resource. He underscores the importance of clear warnings and transparent discussions to salvage a struggling team.

Featured Book of the Week: Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by DeMarco and Lister

Aria discusses the profound impact of the book "Peopleware," which predates the modern Agile movement. He notes its timeless relevance, emphasizing its focus not only on software but also on the crucial element of 'peopleware.' Despite lacking current Agile terminology, the book remains remarkably insightful. Aria also references Fred Brooks' "Mythical Man-Month" in his exploration of timeless books that have influenced the Agile movement.

 

[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 Aria Omidvar

Aria has 4+ years of experience serving as Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach (CSM, A-CSM, CSPO) from single teams to multiple teams and the whole software organization. He's a Software Engineer turned Software Developer turned Peopleware Developer and Agilist.

You can link with Aria Omidvar on LinkedIn and connect with Aria Omidvar on Twitter

Nov 6, 2023

Aria Omidvar: Rebuilding Trust In Your Scrum Team, After A Big Disappointment

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.

Aria, a Scrum Master, recounts a challenging situation where his team faced significant changes, including losing key members and transitioning to remote work. He attempted to address the issues through a retrospective but faced resistance in setting up follow-up sessions. This led to a team member deeming the retro "useless," which left Aria feeling disheartened. As a developer and Scrum Master, Aria reflects on the importance of open communication and acknowledges his loss of faith in the team at that time. Ultimately, he grapples with regaining faith in his team, highlighting the complexity of his role in this critical juncture.

 

[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 Aria Omidvar

Aria has 4+ years of experience serving as Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach (CSM, A-CSM, CSPO) from single teams to multiple teams and the whole software organization. He's a Software Engineer turned Software Developer turned Peopleware Developer and Agilist.

You can link with Aria Omidvar on LinkedIn and connect with Aria Omidvar on Twitter.

Nov 4, 2023

BONUS: Embracing Change, A Conversation with Change Leader Susanne Taylor

 

In this episode, Susanne Taylor shares her profound experiences that have shaped her approach to change leadership. From navigating different environments to choosing change willingly, Susanne's life has been a testament to the inevitability and transformative power of embracing change.

Embracing Change: A Natural State of Being

Susanne enlightens us on the essence of change: it's not something we choose, but how we choose to react to it. By reframing our perspective on change, we can shift from a mindset of control and fear to one of adaptability and growth. This change in mindset holds the key to thriving in a world of constant transformation.

As Scrum Masters and coaches, it's imperative to develop certain capabilities that allow us to navigate change effortlessly. Susanne imparts wisdom on slowing down, building trust, setting boundaries, and honing our ability to sense the subtle shifts in a room. Recognizing our own worth and understanding our interconnectedness are pivotal steps in mastering change.

Change Leadership

Susanne advocates for a unique form of leadership in times of change – one that embraces the unknown and prioritizes connection with others. She emphasizes the power of facilitation and reminds us that true change occurs when individuals choose to transform themselves.

Susanne recommends “Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change” by April Rinne, a book that delves into the superpowers needed to thrive in a world of constant change. She also suggests exploring the 'Slomo' podcast and mentions the Inner Development Goals Summit in Stockholm.

Parting Words of Wisdom

Susanne leaves us with a powerful thought: "When you replace 'I' with 'we', even 'illness' becomes 'wellness'". She urges us to practice noticing connections in our lives, highlighting the profound impact that unity can have on our well-being.

About Susanne Taylor

Susanne is a transition coach, which translates to roles as: change management facilitator, organizational development consultant, scrum master, agile coach and community manager. (Often simultaneously.) Susanne has learned to be adaptable and resilient after having lived in Alaska, Japan, Taiwan and now Germany. She is passionate about accompanying people on journeys of transformation. (And she considers herself an introvert.)

You can link with Susanne Taylor on LinkedIn

Nov 3, 2023

Chris Garvey: A Great Collaboration Between PO and Scrum Master, The Enabler For Agile Greatness

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: A Great Collaboration Between PO and Scrum Master, The Enabler For Agile Greatness

Chris reflects on a remarkable Product Owner who previously served as a Scrum Master. Their collaboration was marked by mutual support and a keen understanding of when to lead and when to step back. The Product Owner fostered team involvement in story definition and ownership of implementation. This environment allowed for reciprocal coaching, accountability, and a harmonious working dynamic. Chris emphasizes the delicate balance of knowing when to be present and when to provide space for others in Agile teams.

The Bad Product Owner: Overcoming PO Micromanagement Challenges

Chris discusses anti-patterns related to Product Owners (POs) who become excessively involved. He highlights a case where a PO, with a project management background, sought to micromanage and act as the team's coordinator, hindering self-organization. This approach stemmed from the PO's need to constantly be busy, akin to a helicopter parent. Chris also points out the danger of a PO viewing themselves as the team's savior, even attempting to assist with testing. This situation led Chris to adopt a protective stance, resulting in conflict with the PO. He identifies these behaviors as anti-patterns and acknowledges his own attachment to problem-solving in the process.

 

[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 Chris Garvey

Chris is passionate about people, and creating empowering spaces where people can thrive. He is a coach at heart having been a Life Coach before becoming an Agile Coach. For close to 10 years he has been working in the agile space as a Scrum Master, then Agile Coach, then trainer, and now as an Enterprise Agile Coach.

You can link with Chris Garvey on LinkedIn.

Nov 2, 2023

Chris Garvey: Crafting a Culture of Love for Work, The Real Challenge for Real Agile Leaders

Chris delves into his perspective on success for Scrum Masters, drawing inspiration from a Simon Sinek story about hotel experiences. He aspires to help team members genuinely love their jobs. Success, for Chris, hinges on trust among team members and leaders, enabling them to excel and voice concerns. He emphasizes the transition from stressing about delivery to focusing on high performance. Ownership of work methods and problem-solving is key, as is the ability to step back under pressure. Chris also advocates for creating a safe space to foster open communication within the team.

Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Visualizing Progress with the Speedboat Retrospective

Chris discusses his favored retrospective format, the "Speedboat." He appreciates its visual nature and the ease with which participants grasp it. Using a standard laminated print, he guides teams to imagine their ideal day together. This imaginative exercise helps unlock insights for improvement and encourages team cohesion through the use of metaphor.

 

[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 Chris Garvey

Chris is passionate about people, and creating empowering spaces where people can thrive. He is a coach at heart having been a Life Coach before becoming an Agile Coach. For close to 10 years he has been working in the agile space as a Scrum Master, then Agile Coach, then trainer, and now as an Enterprise Agile Coach.

You can link with Chris Garvey on LinkedIn.

Nov 1, 2023

Chris Garvey: The SPINE Model: Simplifying Change Leadership for Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches

Chris offers us a reflection on a change leadership challenge, acknowledging the failure of linear approaches in that context. He emphasizes simplicity and introduces the SPINE model. Starting with a clear contract with clients and understanding the purpose of the Agile journey are crucial steps. Chris underscores the importance of documenting the "why" and the problems to be addressed before delving into practices and tools. Communication is key, and sharing observations with teams using phrases like "what comes up for me is..." fosters understanding. He advises against seeking future certainty and emphasizes that it's people who must undergo change, not be changed. Ultimately, success is defined by the client, not the coach's agenda.

 

[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 Chris Garvey

Chris is passionate about people, and creating empowering spaces where people can thrive. He is a coach at heart having been a Life Coach before becoming an Agile Coach. For close to 10 years he has been working in the agile space as a Scrum Master, then Agile Coach, then trainer, and now as an Enterprise Agile Coach.

You can link with Chris Garvey on LinkedIn.

Oct 31, 2023

Chris Garvey: A Tale of Two Agile Teams, A Key Lesson on The Impact of Leadership on Team Self-organization

In this episode, Chris shares a pivotal experience managing two teams as a Scrum Master. While one team was granted time to embark on their own agile journey, the other team faced time constraints. Despite having the same coach, manager, and product owner, the teams significantly diverged. A key insight emerged when one tech lead allowed the team space for self-organization, while the other did not. This distinction played a crucial role in team performance. Chris emphasizes the importance of providing support for teams to take ownership and grow, as it doesn't happen naturally without guidance.

Featured Book of the Week: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

Chris delves into the profound impact of The Power Of Now By Eckhart Tolle on his Scrum Master journey, emphasizing its focus on presence and challenging thought patterns. He highlights the gift of being fully present as a coach, offering a unique perspective on trust and conditioning in our thinking processes. The book's influence lies in its ability to open minds to diverse thinking, ultimately shaping Chris's approach as a Scrum Master.

 

[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 Chris Garvey

Chris is passionate about people, and creating empowering spaces where people can thrive. He is a coach at heart having been a Life Coach before becoming an Agile Coach. For close to 10 years he has been working in the agile space as a Scrum Master, then Agile Coach, then trainer, and now as an Enterprise Agile Coach.

You can link with Chris Garvey on LinkedIn.

Oct 30, 2023

Chris Garvey: When Agile Alone Can't Save the Day, Avoiding The Temptation To “Save” A Scrum Team

In this episode, Chris recounts a challenging experience as a Scrum Master in emergency services product development. Faced with exploding software development and delayed deliveries, the team turned to Agile for a solution. The immense pressure led Chris to take the role too seriously, causing a detrimental shift in focus. To top it all, three team members were experiencing burnout. Chris emphasizes the importance of coaching by invitation and avoiding the temptation to micromanage the team. Ultimately, this episode raises questions about leadership's openness to change in such high-pressure situations.

In this episode, we refer to the book Shift From Product To People, a book that explores the need to focus on working with people first, before being able to work with the product.

 

[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 Chris Garvey

Chris is passionate about people, and creating empowering spaces where people can thrive. He is a coach at heart having been a Life Coach before becoming an Agile Coach. For close to 10 years he has been working in the agile space as a Scrum Master, then Agile Coach, then trainer, and now as an Enterprise Agile Coach.

You can link with Chris Garvey on LinkedIn.

Oct 27, 2023

Anna Mbengam: When Roles Blur In Agile Teams, the Product Owner and Manager Anti-Pattern

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: Personal Connection and Growth, The Power of Supportive Product Ownership

Anna shares her experience with an exceptional Product Owner who stood out for his genuine care and personal investment in team members. Beyond professional expertise, he took the time to understand Anna and offered invaluable support in communication and interactions within the organization. This Product Owner's willingness to seek and provide feedback, both positive and constructive, played a crucial role in Anna's growth and development. This episode sheds light on the qualities that make a Product Owner truly great, emphasizing the importance of empathy, mentorship, and effective communication.

The Bad Product Owner: When Roles Blur, The PO Who Was Also A Manager

In this episode, Anna shares the story of a PO that was too involved with the team, bordering on micromanagement. On top of that, this PO had the dual role of PO and manager, leading to confusion for the team. In the planning meetings, the PO interfered with the sizing of tasks. Anna offers valuable tips such as asking questions to highlight the impact of such behavior and providing education with respect. Addressing these patterns involves open communication with the PO, seeking their perspective, and ongoing coaching to support their evolution in the role. 

 

[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 Anna Mbengam

Anna, an accomplished Scrum Master and SAFe Coach since 2018, thrives in diverse industries like Personal Investments, Healthcare, Food & beverage, and Banking. She's authored 5 self-published guides aiding aspiring Scrum Masters, and her mentoring has transformed 200+ professionals into highly effective individuals for any organization.

You can link with Anna Mbengam on LinkedIn and read Anna’s books.

Oct 26, 2023

Anna Mbengam: Prioritizing People And Empowering Teams in the Scrum Master's Absence

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, Anna emphasizes the critical role of a Scrum Master in ensuring team happiness. She prioritizes facilitating self-organization and meaningful interactions among team members. Anna's success criteria extend beyond metrics to encompass factors like continuous improvement, agile mindset adoption, and positive team culture. She advocates for open dialogue and hosts regular one-on-one meetings to gauge individual team members' progress and well-being. Anna also empowers the team to take ownership of the Scrum Master role in her absence, assessing the impact upon her return. 

Featured Retrospective Format For The Week: Start/Stop/Continue, To Help Scrum Masters Listen Better

Anna likes the 'Start/Stop/Continue' retrospective format, as it fosters understanding and alignment within the team. Initially driven to implement sweeping changes, Anna learned the value of stepping back to enable teams to drive their own transformations. This format allows her to actively listen and discern the team's focal points, resulting in more effective and meaningful retrospectives.

 

[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 Anna Mbengam

Anna, an accomplished Scrum Master and SAFe Coach since 2018, thrives in diverse industries like Personal Investments, Healthcare, Food & beverage, and Banking. She's authored 5 self-published guides aiding aspiring Scrum Masters, and her mentoring has transformed 200+ professionals into highly effective individuals for any organization.

You can link with Anna Mbengam on LinkedIn and read Anna’s books.

Oct 25, 2023

Anna Mbengam: Strategies for Aligning Distributed Agile Teams In A Large Scale Agile Adoption

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, Anna shares experiences from a large-scale tech company, detailing the challenges of setting up distributed teams across different products while implementing scaled agile practices. Leadership alignment on the change's purpose was established, but resistance arose due to time constraints for training. Anna advises comprehensive training for all, along with piloting the change with one team. Balancing role transitions and training proved overwhelming, prompting Anna to involve leadership. She underscores the importance of leadership buy-in, advocating their participation in key processes like PI planning and Inspect and Adapt sessions. Supporting team autonomy and experimentation is crucial for successful change management.

 

[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 Anna Mbengam

Anna, an accomplished Scrum Master and SAFe Coach since 2018, thrives in diverse industries like Personal Investments, Healthcare, Food & beverage, and Banking. She's authored 5 self-published guides aiding aspiring Scrum Masters, and her mentoring has transformed 200+ professionals into highly effective individuals for any organization.

You can link with Anna Mbengam on LinkedIn and read Anna’s books.

Oct 24, 2023

Anna Mbengam: Strategies for Navigating Difficult Conversations, Solving Conflicts, And Coaching 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, Anna shares a scenario where a team grappled with a fear of conflict. She emphasizes the need to step back and listen attentively, advising against cornering teams during discussions on sensitive topics. Anna highlights how team members confided in her privately, often about cultural disparities. She offers practical tips, such as gauging comfort levels for public discussions and maintaining confidentiality. Anna advocates for transparency, suggesting collaboration with the Product Owner to demonstrate openness and acknowledge mistakes. Additional advice includes fostering trust, utilizing icebreakers to bridge diverse perspectives, and encouraging active leadership within the team.

Featured Book For The Week: Coaching for Success: Integrating 'The Five Dysfunctions' and 'Agile Coaching'

In this episode, Anna delves into the influential book 'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team', emphasizing its role in recognizing and mitigating detrimental behavioral patterns within teams. She highlights the fear of conflict as a particularly crucial aspect. Anna stresses the importance of active listening and avoiding cornering teams during discussions on challenging topics. Additionally, she introduces 'Agile Coaching' by Rachel Davies as another valuable resource for enhancing team dynamics and performance in agile environments.

 

[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 Anna Mbengam

Anna, an accomplished Scrum Master and SAFe Coach since 2018, thrives in diverse industries like Personal Investments, Healthcare, Food & beverage, and Banking. She's authored 5 self-published guides aiding aspiring Scrum Masters, and her mentoring has transformed 200+ professionals into highly effective individuals for any organization.

You can link with Anna Mbengam on LinkedIn and read Anna’s books.

 

Oct 23, 2023

Anna Mbengam: Rising From Disruption, After The Departure Of A Key Scrum Team Member

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, Anna discusses a critical juncture at a startup where a key developer left, disrupting the team's dynamics. The team struggled to self-organize and lacked expertise after that senior developer left. Stakeholder expectations were high, making the situation even worse for the team. Anna implemented smaller group discussions, fostering a sense of ownership for specific development areas. This led to knowledge-sharing and a collaborative approach to improve performance. The team also sought stakeholder support in hiring. The episode highlights the importance of adaptability, stakeholder collaboration, and teamwork in agile development, especially in the face of unexpected departures.

 

[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 Anna Mbengam

Anna, an accomplished Scrum Master and SAFe Coach since 2018, thrives in diverse industries like Personal Investments, Healthcare, Food & beverage, and Banking. She's authored 5 self-published guides aiding aspiring Scrum Masters, and her mentoring has transformed 200+ professionals into highly effective individuals for any organization.

You can link with Anna Mbengam on LinkedIn and read Anna’s books.

 

Oct 21, 2023

BONUS: The Art Of Crafting User Stories with Christopher Lee

In this episode, we talk with Christopher Lee about his latest book, "The Art Of Crafting User Stories." Christopher shares the fascinating origin story of his book and how principles of product management were applied to its creation. 

Product Development Insights

Christopher draws intriguing parallels between software development and book creation, highlighting two key concepts that apply to both realms. He introduces the concept of "debugging for books" and shares essential tips, like the importance of having multiple content reviewers and utilizing the technique of "Rubber Duck Debugging" for authors. The examples he uses also clarify how his approach to Product Management can help you with software products.

Learning To Empathize With The User

We discuss how understanding the user perspective is a critical skill for Product Owners and teams, and enables them to write better User Stories. Christopher emphasizes the development of perspective-taking and compassion for others, starting with self-reflection. He introduces tools like "The Feeling's Wheel" and explores the concept of uncovering the needs behind user needs, known as "Jobs to be Done."

In this segment, we also refer to User Story Mapping, Google Design Sprints, and the book Radical Candor.

Crafting User Stories: Avoiding Ambiguity

Christopher shares some of the most effective tools to help teams truly empathize with their software users, fostering a deeper understanding that can greatly inform the user story process.

Delving into the actual act of writing user stories, Christopher provides invaluable advice on avoiding ambiguity. He advocates for collaborative efforts with engineering and design teams, using user stories as a foundation. Additionally, he introduces the "Given - When - Then" format for clarity and efficiency.

Navigating User Story Estimation, Other Planning Challenges 

Christopher addresses common challenges in user story estimation and emphasizes the importance of adaptability in Agile and User Stories. He offers strategies to prevent downstream consequences and encourages direct engineer-user interaction for swift feedback.

Prioritization is a critical aspect of planning that Christopher dives into, providing a toolkit of models and methods. He emphasizes the importance of aligning product development with organizational mission and North Star metrics, ultimately honing in on the right end-users.

Expert Interviews, Bringing Different Perspectives On User Stories

Christopher introduces a unique element in his book—expert interviews. These interviews offer diverse perspectives on Agile, user stories, and collaborative work, enriching the reader's experience and understanding.

Parting Words of Wisdom

In a final piece of advice, Christopher underscores that crafting user stories is a team effort, emphasizing that no one person can do it alone.

About Christopher Lee

Christopher Lee is a seasoned Product Management Coach, known for his expertise as a product manager and technology consultant. His insights into the industry are encapsulated in his book, 'The Art of Crafting User Stories', and advanced product management methodologies he created when at Ernst & Young.

You can link with Christopher Lee on LinkedIn and connect with Christopher Lee through the Product Coach Labs.

Oct 20, 2023

Michael Schmidt: When Ego Hinders Progress For PO’s, The Overconfident 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: Building Respect and Trust With The Team, The Skills of a Great PO

In this episode, Michael shares an insightful story of a product manager turned Product Owner, faced with the challenges of a complex, high-tech product. Despite initial uncertainty, she learned to trust her team's expertise and leaned on them for guidance. This shift in approach earned her the respect and credibility of her team. Michael emphasizes the importance of seeking help from the team and highlights this as a key trait of a great Product Owner. This episode provides valuable insights into the qualities that define an exceptional Product Owner.

The Bad Product Owner: When Ego Hinders Progress For PO’s, The Overconfident PO

In this episode, Michael recounts an encounter with a Product Owner (PO) who was overconfident in their skills, while at the same time not providing enough information in user stories, forcing the team to guess what was asked. Despite attempts to offer help, the PO refused assistance, ultimately causing friction. When the situation escalated, the manager intervened, resulting in Michael's departure from the team. Michael stresses the importance of highlighting the impact on the team and offering constructive feedback on user stories. He introduces the "Michael test" for evaluating a PO’s ability to perform in that role.

 

[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 Michael Schmidt

Michael a Berlin-based Agile Coach for teams, roles and organisations around software based product development. Michael invented "the taskboard" on his own, which ignited his working agile by conviction some 13 years ago.

You can link with Michael Schmidt on LinkedIn and connect with Michael Schmidt on Twitter

Oct 19, 2023

Michael Schmidt: Sustainable Agile Practice, A Success Factor 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, Michael delves into the critical question of what success means for Scrum Masters. He stresses the need for individual reflection as a way to grow in that role. For him, achieving a sustainable pace for everyone involved is paramount. He emphasizes regularly assessing if the team is operating in the "green area" of sustainability. Additionally, Michael offers a valuable tip: clearly define the team's playground and set explicit rules for both team members and external stakeholders. 

Featured Retrospective Format For The Week: Fostering Conversations, The Biergarten Retro Experience

In this episode, Michael introduces the "Biergarten Retro," a conversation focused agile retrospective. He emphasizes how this format can adapt to different team dynamics and the importance of active participation. Michael encourages using familiar methods while providing guidance through 3-4 key areas. Choosing this type of environment can foster open conversations, allowing team members to address issues they might avoid in a conventional office setting. Stepping out of routine surroundings promotes fresh perspectives and strengthens team cohesion. Ultimately, the Biergarten Retro serves as a powerful tool in nurturing the well-being and dynamics of 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 Michael Schmidt

Michael a Berlin-based Agile Coach for teams, roles and organisations around software based product development. Michael invented "the taskboard" on his own, which ignited his working agile by conviction some 13 years ago.

You can link with Michael Schmidt on LinkedIn and connect with Michael Schmidt on Twitter

Oct 18, 2023

Michael Schmidt: Leading Change with Trust and Agility, To Help Teams Find Their Flavor Of 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, Michael shares his experiences in leading change within a large corporation. Backed by strong executive support, the co-located team cultivated a positive attitude towards change. They stopped the day-to-day operations for some time, to be able adopt a fresh approach, focusing on efficiency and self-organization. Lively discussions and diverse approaches were encouraged, showcasing that Agile could benefit the entire organization. Trust and flexibility were key, allowing teams to find their own paths within the selected Agile framework. Value delivery was prioritized, and roles remained fluid, emphasizing adaptability in achieving success. Michael's story highlights the power of change leadership and collaborative, goal-oriented practices.

 

[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 Michael Schmidt

Michael a Berlin-based Agile Coach for teams, roles and organisations around software based product development. Michael invented "the taskboard" on his own, which ignited his working agile by conviction some 13 years ago.

You can link with Michael Schmidt on LinkedIn and connect with Michael Schmidt on Twitter.

Oct 17, 2023

Michael Schmidt: When Comfort Stagnates Progress For An Agile Team, The Problem Avoidance Anti-pattern

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, Michael recounts his experience in a company where he went against his instincts due to comfort. The software development environment prioritized being busy over progress. Goal setting and sprint planning were undervalued, and negative behaviors like gossiping prevailed. Michael's attempts to offer help were met with resistance, as the team downplayed any possible issues. This anti-pattern of avoiding talking about problems hindered growth. Through perseverance, Michael learned the importance of trusting his intuition and initiating small, positive changes to build trust and overcome the fear, or dislike to discuss obstacles and problems.

Featured Book Of The Week: Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great, by Diana Larsen and Esther Derby

In this episode, Michael shares his favorite Agile book, Esther Derby’s and Diana Larsen’s “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great". He emphasizes that every practice should have a purpose, instilling a profound sense of understanding. Michael highlights the true objective of retrospectives - not just for change, but for personal reflection. Establishing a routine for reflection minimizes change risks, providing a safe space for experimentation and learning from new approaches. The book's insights resonate with Michael, underlining the importance of intentionality in Agile practices.

 

[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 Michael Schmidt

Michael a Berlin-based Agile Coach for teams, roles and organisations around software based product development. Michael invented "the taskboard" on his own, which ignited his working agile by conviction some 13 years ago.

You can link with Michael Schmidt on LinkedIn and connect with Michael Schmidt on Twitter

Oct 16, 2023

Michael Schmidt: Ensuring Kanban Sustainability Despite The Scrum Master’s Absence

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, Michael shares his experience with implementing Kanban in a software development team. Despite a functional team, the input quality was not good enough, and the team also had too many people taking on the product manager role. Michael collaborated with them, establishing a workflow and introducing a "Ready-kanban" system. Daily product standups were instituted, but progress halted when Michael went on vacation. Upon his return, he discovered no improvements, highlighting a trust deficit in the Kanban process. Michael emphasizes the need for collective ownership and sustainability of the practice, urging reflection on its benefits for lasting success.

 

[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 Michael Schmidt

Michael a Berlin-based Agile Coach for teams, roles and organisations around software based product development. Michael invented "the taskboard" on his own, which ignited his working agile by conviction some 13 years ago.

You can link with Michael Schmidt on LinkedIn and connect with Michael Schmidt on Twitter

Oct 13, 2023

Konstantin Ribel: The Product Owner Turnaround With The Help of Real-Time Feedback By The Scrum Master

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 PO That Looked At Backlog Items As Investments

Konstantin describes for us a standout Product Owner with a strong business focus. This PO viewed work time as an investment, carefully considering the team's use of their time. They treated backlog items as hypotheses, emphasizing the need for validation with real customers. Seeking feedback on these hypotheses and involving the team in refinement and customer reviews were key practices. The team's active participation in feedback cycles played a crucial role in value creation. Konstantin also recommends organizing sprint reviews with customers for optimal product development.

The Bad Product Owner: The PO Turnaround With The Help of Real-Time Feedback By The Scrum Master

Konstantin describes a micromanaging Product Owner who controlled backlog and daily tasks, pushing the team to learn to just be passive. Despite good intentions, the PO needed guidance. Konstantin, observing from a coaching standpoint, intervened by suggesting private feedback sessions and offering real-time behavior insights. The fact that the team worked remotely made the issue even worse. But, with Konstantin’s help, the PO's realization of their behavior marked a turning point. Konstantin advises using real-time feedback and creating a timeline of events to foster awareness and change within the team.

 

[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 Konstantin Ribel

Konstantin drives organizational success through innovative thinking, simplifying processes, and building high-performing teams. With a strong track record in change management and process optimization, he leads agile transformations and applies systems thinking for adaptable, thriving businesses in dynamic industries.

You can link with Konstantin Ribel on LinkedIn

Oct 12, 2023

Konstantin Ribel: The Three Tiers of Scrum Master Success, Team, Multi-team, and 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.

Konstantin outlines three tiers of success for Scrum Masters. Level 1 centers on fostering teamwork and trust within a single team. Level 2 emphasizes collaboration between multiple teams, avoiding silos, and ensuring equitable workloads. Level 3 delves into product-focused success, considering customer-driven value, delivery efficiency, and feedback loops. Konstantin advises bringing teams together through multi-team events and facilitating progress sharing among teams to enhance overall success in the Scrum Master role.

Featured Retrospective Format For The Week: Tailoring Retrospectives, Konstantin's Recipe For Scrum Master Adaptability To Team Needs

Konstantin advocates for adaptability in retrospectives, noting the importance of ditching a pre-planned format if it doesn't suit the team dynamics at the time of the retrospective. He emphasizes the need to prepare each retrospective, as it helps us to be secure if there’s a need to improvise. Konstantin shares the example of a team that received news of an impending change just before the retro, and that prompted Konstantin to focus on the team’s need for a conversation around closure, rather than future improvement. This highlights the value of addressing real-time team needs over rigid adherence to a set format.

 

[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 Konstantin Ribel

Konstantin drives organizational success through innovative thinking, simplifying processes, and building high-performing teams. With a strong track record in change management and process optimization, he leads agile transformations and applies systems thinking for adaptable, thriving businesses in dynamic industries.

You can link with Konstantin Ribel on LinkedIn.

Oct 11, 2023

Konstantin Ribel: A Blueprint for Organizational Transformation With The LeSS framework, A Case Study

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.

Konstantin shares a pivotal change initiative aimed at tackling a complex product in a major automotive company. Focusing solely on change, he collaborated with management and specialists to define the necessary changes. A workshop, led by Konstantin, served as a major catalyst, and triggered collaboration across the organization. Through four months of intensive collaboration, the direction of change was clarified, emphasizing a real organizational shift. The team iteratively simplified a consulting company's proposal, ultimately embracing the LeSS Framework for Scaled Agile. Konstantin highlights the importance of being open to challenges from the organizing, and working to get buy-in, and adopting a political mindset. He advises aligning management with development challenges and cautions against blind framework implementation.

 

[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 Konstantin Ribel

Konstantin drives organizational success through innovative thinking, simplifying processes, and building high-performing teams. With a strong track record in change management and process optimization, he leads agile transformations and applies systems thinking for adaptable, thriving businesses in dynamic industries.

You can link with Konstantin Ribel on LinkedIn

Oct 10, 2023

Konstantin Ribel: Rebuilding Scrum Team Dynamics To Overcome Remote Work Anti-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.

Konstantin recounts a team's struggle rooted in prioritizing individual tasks over collective effort. Daily meetings centered on status updates fostered a fragmented and siloed work environment. The team working remote made the issue even worse, making it hard to have face-to-face interaction and pair-working. All of these patterns resulted in underperformance. Konstantin advises regular team gatherings, emphasizing the importance of on-site collaboration. He underscores the human element, urging teams to function cohesively as people.

Featured Book Of The Week: The Miracle Morning by Hal Erold

In this segment, Konstantin delves into how his morning routine, inspired by "The Miracle Morning," by Hal Erold has profoundly influenced his role as a Scrum Master. He emphasizes the critical link between personal and professional development, crediting the book "Extreme Programming Explained" for its condensed wisdom. Konstantin highlights Kent Beck's mantra of "do more of what works" and expresses a preference for pair working, acknowledging its occasional impracticality. He consistently applies the insights gained from this book, advocating against the anti-pattern of delayed feedback in his work with teams.

 

[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 Konstantin Ribel

Konstantin drives organizational success through innovative thinking, simplifying processes, and building high-performing teams. With a strong track record in change management and process optimization, he leads agile transformations and applies systems thinking for adaptable, thriving businesses in dynamic industries.

You can link with Konstantin Ribel on LinkedIn

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