April 30th, 2014

What more (or less) should I be doing?

I regularly get people ask me for tips on how to be a better leader or ScrumMaster. "What more can I do to help the team get better?" they ask me. This is a great question, and one that every leader should ask themselves regularly. It's also a question that the best leaders ask the team itself - "What more can I do to help you improve?"

A subtle variation of this that can lead to profound changes is "What can I NOT do to help the team get better?". Sometimes the best thing you can do to help a team is to NOT do something. Don't solve their problem, don't answer their question, don't remove that impediment, don't fill the silence, don't update the artefact, don't stand at the front of the room in the retrospective, don't be the one to capture the team's thoughts on the flipchart.

The desire to help is a great thing, a leader who wants to enable and facilitate the team is a great thing. A team that can do this for themselves is even greater. And sometimes (note that I said SOMETIMES) as a ScrumMaster the best thing you can do is focus on the long-term growth of the team rather than give them a short-term fix of your help. 

This can be scary. It can feel wrong. It can seem cruel or manipulative. Leaders can get addicted to the feeling of directly enabling the team, just as the team can develop a sense of addiction to a great facilitator and conflict resolver. And you must pick your moment carefully. You don't want to ruin your relationship, lose the trust of the team or indirectly cause them to fail. 

One tip is to genuinely believe in the capacity of the team to take on the challenge and make sure the team are aware of your belief in them before setting your challenge. A second tip is to then ensure there is a full and proper review of it all, building up their own self-belief.

What do you think your team could start taking some ownership of? What could you let go of? How could you make this happen?

Category:

Scrum / scrum master

Tags:

#scrummastery / Enabling / Leadership / Scrummaster / Self-organisation / Servant-leadership

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February 14th, 2014

Scrum Coaching Retreat Workshop

I have teamed up with the Scrum Alliance Coaching Retreat to offer a 50% discount to my 1-day Scrum Mastery workshop for people attending the retreat. The workshop will be run in the same venue as the retreat on the day before the retreat starts. Regular tickets are £500, with early bird tickets available until April at £400 and those booking on the retreat (which I would thoroughly recommend by the way) will pay just £250. Details are on the website here and you can book on here... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master

Tags:

Coaching / Retreat / Scrum Alliance / Scrummastery / Training

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February 4th, 2014

The Three T's of Teams

I tweeted recently that "#ScrumMastery is about becoming great at using Scrum to help create great teams who create great products and services" and I was asked to expand on that. Well, my expansion is probably too much for 140 characters so here's a blog post instead... I get to see a lot of teams. A lot of teams who are doing Scrum - or, to use their words, doing "Scrum-ish". Most people, when I ask them how it's going say things like "Yeah, it's OK" or "not bad", sometimes things like "frustrating" or "could be a lot better". Most teams are doing OK but they aren't doing brilliantly. They are doing a lot better than they were before they were using Scrum, though, and that could be part of the problem. Comparatively speaking things are a ... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master

Tags:

#scrummastery / Development / Engagement / Scrum / Scrum Mastery / Self-organisation / Teams / Trust

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February 12th, 2013

The One Where The Developers Wouldn't Test

The Geckos were coming towards the end of the sprint (day 28 of 30) and were having their daily scrum in the morning. The team were standing around the sprint backlog board and were taking it in turns to update the rest of the team on what they had been working on and their plan for the day. An extract from the conversation: “Guy & I have finished coding the photo upload feature and have handed it over to Roxie and Eve to test” Christian said “and that’s us done for this sprint so we are probably going to make a start on the ratings feature from the product backlog to give ourselves a bit of a headstart for the next sprint. Obviously we have no impediments because I’m finished! Hooray!” Christian then... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Cross-functional / Developer / Scrummaster / Tester / Testing

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December 13th, 2012

Towards a Definition of a Great ScrumMaster

I often get asked about a Job Description for a ScrumMaster - recruitment companies certainly haven't nailed this one yet - and also do a lot of coaching of ScrumMasters. There really isn't a great definition of what a ScrumMaster is or what makes a great ScrumMaster so I started writing down examples I have seen of great ScrumMastery in an attempt to move towards a definition of what a great ScrumMaster might be. I will expand on some of these in future blog posts: They are written in a particular format with both sides of the statement illustrating a positive example of ScrumMaster behaviour and the second part of the statement illustrating what, in my opinion, lifts someone from a good ScrumMaster to a great ScrumMaster. The  A good... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master

Tags:

Scrummaster / Team Dynamics

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January 13th, 2012

Are you an ADAPTIVE ScrumMaster?

As a Certified Scrum Coach (CSC) I do a lot of work with ScrumMasters in organisations who are looking to find new ways to engage their teams and move their Scrum implementations forward past the basic Scrum framework. When Coaching ScrumMasters I recommend they try to become more ADAPTIVE. As you might have guessed from the fact that the word is capitalised, it is an acronym for a number of behaviours. Following on from my blog post about ScrumMasters getting RE-TRAINED, an ADAPTIVE ScrumMaster: Helps the team to hold themselves ACCOUNTABLE Leads the team to DIVERGE before they converge Helps the team take ACTION to improve Asks POWERFUL questions to make them think about the root cause of their challenge Encourages the team to TRY someth... read more

 

Category:

Games / Scrum / scrum master

Tags:

Accountability / Adaptive / Advanced / Agile Adoption / Asm / Divergence / Elephant / Experimentation / Involvement / Scrum / Scrummaster / Training / Visibility

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June 29th, 2011

The One Where The Release Plan Was Unacceptable

Overview Xander, the ScrumMaster for the Blockheads team, had just finished leading them through release planning of the highest priority section of Product Backlog for the OPAL project. The team was fairly new and had little concept of their velocity plus the project was fairly complex and, after 4 hours, the Blockheads came up with a plan of 6 sprints to complete this release. Heleena, Xander’s manager, who had been observing this new practice of agile planning pulled Xander to one side. “Six months? That’s ridiculous. We can’t afford to take six months to get this release out.” She said “Well we do have the option of deploying any time after sprint three so we could call this two releases really”... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Planning / Product Owner / Release Planning / Scrummaster / The One With

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April 27th, 2011

The One Where The Team Was Working On Everything At Once

Overview Half way through the Sprint the team are having their Daily Scrum. The team take it in turns to share with their colleagues what progress they have made and what they plan to work on today. There are a couple of impediments that get added to the Sprint Backlog and Ashley, the ScrumMaster promises to pick up – one with an external vendor who is not supplying the input file in the correct format, and another with Operations who still haven’t provided a correctly configured staging environment. The team glance at the Sprint Burndown which shows they are roughly on track and the team are about to leave the Scrum room when Ashley asks a vital question: “Are we actually OK here? I feel worried but you guys seem fine wit... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Backlog / Burndown / Impediments / Scrummaster / Team / The One With

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November 30th, 2010

The One With Two Daily Scrums

Overview On my first day coaching a new team they invited me along to their Daily Scrum first thing in the morning. They had been using Scrum for a couple of months and had a great “Scrum room” with glass walls on all sides and a lovely view of the lake. On one wall they had their Sprint Backlog, on another they had the Sprint Burndown and on another they had the outcomes from the last retrospective. Everybody was there on time and even Annika, the Product Owner, was demonstrating her commitment to the team by being present. There were a few quick greetings before the team members stood in a circle and took turns to update their colleagues on their progress, confirming the view that the Sprint Burndown was indicating their good... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Burndown / Daily Scrum / Product Owner / Scrum / Scrummaster / The One With

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October 18th, 2010

The One Where Everything Was Signed Up For In Sprint Planning

Overview Eve, the newly minted ScrumMaster was facilitating her first sprint planning for the Jalapenos team on Project Lhasa. She had worked hard with Lilia, the Product Owner, beforehand to make sure the product backlog was well organised, prioritised and understandable and the team had reacted well. The first part of the sprint planning meeting included some planning poker to estimate the top 20% and some good conversation emerged between the team and Lilia. The team committed to 28 points of product backlog (8 items) and were now in the second part of the meeting, where the team work out how they are going to turn those 8 items into potentially deployable functionality. Clinton, Tania & Kurt were around the whiteboard with a stack ... read more

 

Category:

Scrum / scrum master / ScrumMaster Stories

Tags:

Commitment / Planning / Sprint Planning / Task Board / Tasks / The One With

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