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Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

Author: Vasco Duarte, Agile Coach, Certified Scrum Master, Certified Product Owner

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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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Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  This story starts when Dmytro faces the requirement to adopt SAFe. How to help teams learn about SAFe (is training sufficient?) and start working differently. The organizational legacy and inertia become obstacles, but the team of Scrum Masters at this organization was able to help the teams learn how to adopt SAFe. Listen in to learn how. In this episode, we also refer to Lean Change Management by Jason Little, and 7 Rules for Positive, Productive Change: Micro Shifts, Macro Results by Esther Derby.   About Dmytro Balaba Dmytro calls himself one of the most dedicated Scrum Masters/Agile Coach in the world :) On his right-hand he has a tatoo with golden ratio, Fibonacci sequence. After almost 15 years of work in IT management Dmytro found himself balanced and happy. He’s been a full-time Scrum Master for more than 3 years. You can link with Dmytro Balaba on LinkedIn and connect with Dmytro Balaba on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  What happens when a team member who joined as a “gift” from management fails to keep the standard expects from each of the team members? If you add to this, the fact that some team members become vocal about the problem, but others don’t even want to touch the subject, you have all the ingredients you need for massive conflict. What can a Scrum Master do? Listen in to learn how Dmytro, the Scrum Master helped the team get out of this negative spiral.  Featured Book for the Week: Accelerate, by Nicole Forsgren et al. Dmytro’s recommendation is the book by Gene Kim, Jez humble and Nicole Forsgren, Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations. In Accelerate, Dmytro found many inspirational stories and anecdotes that helps him improve the organization and the teams he works with. Dmytro also recommends Scrum, the art of doing twice the work in half the time by Sutherland. In this book he highlights the many real-life examples. Additionally, Dmytro refers to The DevOps Handbook by Gene Kim, a book he describes as filled with technical practices that teams can apply.   About Dmytro Balaba Dmytro calls himself one of the most dedicated Scrum Masters/Agile Coach in the world :) On his right-hand he has a tatoo with golden ratio, Fibonacci sequence. After almost 15 years of work in IT management Dmytro found himself balanced and happy. He’s been a full-time Scrum Master for more than 3 years. You can link with Dmytro Balaba on LinkedIn and connect with Dmytro Balaba on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  Sometimes we need to work with teams that have lost hope. The team might be cynical about future improvements and look at Agile or Scrum skeptically. This was what Dmytro had to face in his team. In this episode, we talk about how to work with a skeptical team, and get them engaged in improving their work. This is a critical lesson for all Scrum Masters, don’t miss it!   About Dmytro Balaba Dmytro calls himself one of the most dedicated Scrum Masters/Agile Coach in the world :) On his right-hand he has a tatoo with golden ratio, Fibonacci sequence. After almost 15 years of work in IT management Dmytro found himself balanced and happy. He’s been a full-time Scrum Master for more than 3 years. You can link with Dmytro Balaba on LinkedIn and connect with Dmytro Balaba on Twitter.
There are few anti-patterns as problematic as the PO that shames the team. Here’s what Andy has learned about that, and also an example of a PO that was able to communicate the Vision clearly and was then available for the team. The Great Product Owner: Communicate the Vision, and be available A Product Owner that is able to communicate their Vision, and is then available for the Scrum team when they have questions might be one of the best Product Owners out there. In this segment, we talk about how those simple behaviors can help a Scrum team succeed. The Bad Product Owner: the PO that shamed the Scrum team When it comes to anti-patterns, there are few that could have such devastating effect as this one. A Product Owner that does not communicate clearly, and then shames the team for not delivering what was not communicated. What is a Scrum Master to do in these cases? Listen in as we explore this anti-pattern with Andy. Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Andy Grosman Andy has spent the past decade in various industries from Fortune 500 to small and mid-sized companies including Healthcare, Finance, Training and has a background in sales/marketing. He currently leads a team of Scrum Masters in the digital space as well as coaches teams. He has spoken at regional conferences and Agile Meetups on team-building for Distributed teams, how to blend Agile and personal productivity strategies, and how to influence without Authority. He used to live by the Waterfall but got bit by the Agile bug and now is spreading the Agile Mindset wherever he goes. You can link with Andy Grosman on LinkedIn and connect with Andy Grosman on Twitter.  
Are you passionate? What is preventing you from finding that motivation and intensity in your work. This is one of the questions that Andy asks us to consider when reviewing our work, and assessing our contribute to the Scrum team.  In this segment, we also talk about the importance of learning how to get things moving, even when we lack the authority. Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Christmas Carol retrospective Sometimes, referring to a familiar experience can help teams find improvement opportunities and generate ideas they would otherwise ignore. In this Agile Retrospective format, Andy shares how a familiar story (A Christmas Carol) can help teams find improvement opportunities and generate improvement ideas    About Andy Grosman Andy has spent the past decade in various industries from Fortune 500 to small and mid-sized companies including Healthcare, Finance, Training and has a background in sales/marketing. He currently leads a team of Scrum Masters in the digital space as well as coaches teams. He has spoken at regional conferences and Agile Meetups on team-building for Distributed teams, how to blend Agile and personal productivity strategies, and how to influence without Authority. He used to live by the Waterfall but got bit by the Agile bug and now is spreading the Agile Mindset wherever he goes. You can link with Andy Grosman on LinkedIn and connect with Andy Grosman on Twitter.
Even when Scrum Masters need to work with teams through a change process, they can be impeded by the organizational structures. In this episode, we talk about the Scrum Master who was part of a separate department, but needed to help the team go through a difficult change. The key? 4 steps that Andy shares with us and get us started.    About Andy Grosman Andy has spent the past decade in various industries from Fortune 500 to small and mid-sized companies including Healthcare, Finance, Training and has a background in sales/marketing. He currently leads a team of Scrum Masters in the digital space as well as coaches teams. He has spoken at regional conferences and Agile Meetups on team-building for Distributed teams, how to blend Agile and personal productivity strategies, and how to influence without Authority. He used to live by the Waterfall but got bit by the Agile bug and now is spreading the Agile Mindset wherever he goes. You can link with Andy Grosman on LinkedIn and connect with Andy Grosman on Twitter.
When things go wrong, it is critical to help the team prepare how the discuss and recover from bad news. The worst that can happen is when teams (and Scrum Masters) just drop “the bomb” of bad news and put the responsibility on others. In this episode, we talk about how to prepare those tough conversations. Featured Book of the Week: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Andy found a new perspective on self-development and team development.  In this segment, we also mention Perfect Time-Based Productivity: How to rescue your peace of mind as time demands increase by Francis Wade, a book that allowed Andy to design his own time-management system, a must-have tool for all Scrum Masters.    About Andy Grosman Andy has spent the past decade in various industries from Fortune 500 to small and mid-sized companies including Healthcare, Finance, Training and has a background in sales/marketing. He currently leads a team of Scrum Masters in the digital space as well as coaches teams. He has spoken at regional conferences and Agile Meetups on team-building for Distributed teams, how to blend Agile and personal productivity strategies, and how to influence without Authority. He used to live by the Waterfall but got bit by the Agile bug and now is spreading the Agile Mindset wherever he goes. You can link with Andy Grosman on LinkedIn and connect with Andy Grosman on Twitter.
Sometimes, in our role as Scrum Master we find teams that are not able to adopt Agile right away. The worst that could happen would be for us to send those teams to “Agile detention”. In this episode, we explore what Scrum Masters can do when their teams are just starting their Agile adoption journey, in organizations where Agile is not yet the standard approach to work.    About Andy Grosman Andy has spent the past decade in various industries from Fortune 500 to small and mid-sized companies including Healthcare, Finance, Training and has a background in sales/marketing. He currently leads a team of Scrum Masters in the digital space as well as coaches teams. He has spoken at regional conferences and Agile Meetups on team-building for Distributed teams, how to blend Agile and personal productivity strategies, and how to influence without Authority. He used to live by the Waterfall but got bit by the Agile bug and now is spreading the Agile Mindset wherever he goes. You can link with Andy Grosman on LinkedIn and connect with Andy Grosman on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  From the user-centric PO to the over-planner PO that failed to collaborate with the team, this episode covers plenty of aspects to keep an eye on when collaborating with your Product Owner. The Great Product Owner: The user-centric Product Owner Great Product Owners have a clear Vision for the product. But there’s a lot more to a great PO than the Vision. In this segment, we talk about the PO who was able to learn from quick releases, and validate their own assumptions about what value might mean for the end customer. Including, finding opportunities to help customers who were looking for a competitor product!  The Bad Product Owner: The non-collaborating Product Owner Usually, a Product Owner that has a clear set of items they want the team to work on would be on the “great product owner” category. But not in this case. Listen in to learn how a PO was good at planning but then failed at the most important thing: team collaboration. In this segment, we talk about the User Story Mapping workshop facilitator guide by Vasco Duarte. Check it out if you want to know how to prepare, and host a great User Story mapping workshop. Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Eddy Bruin For many years, Eddy has been using serious games and learning metaphors to help teams and organizations move forward. He is an Agile and Test Coach with the mission to help teams deliver software people actually want to use while also enjoying their work. He helps teams to enable feedback loops continuously and likes to discuss all agile and test topics over a special beer. He loves to go to (un)conferences on serious games (for example Play14, Play4Agile), and also on Agile and Testing. You can link with Eddy Bruin on LinkedIn and connect with Eddy Bruin on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  Are people asking you for help? This is the question we start Eddy’s definition of success for Scrum Masters. But the conversation does not stop there. We also discuss the role of coaching agreements with the teams, and some of the anti-patterns Eddy witnessed in Agile teams. Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: Storytelling with Story Cubes In this segment, we discuss what might be some of the factors affecting the effectiveness of your Agile Retrospectives. We also discuss how we can use Story Cubes (video example) as a facilitation technique in some of the steps of the standard Agile Retrospective format. About Eddy Bruin For many years, Eddy has been using serious games and learning metaphors to help teams and organizations move forward. He is an Agile and Test Coach with the mission to help teams deliver software people actually want to use while also enjoying their work. He helps teams to enable feedback loops continuously and likes to discuss all agile and test topics over a special beer. He loves to go to (un)conferences on serious games (for example Play14, Play4Agile), and also on Agile and Testing. You can link with Eddy Bruin on LinkedIn and connect with Eddy Bruin on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  Retrospectives are a ceremony where we usually facilitate some prepared games or sessions to help the team gel. But is that the only place where we can use these games, and facilitated sessions? In this episode, we talk about Happy Salmon, a game that helped change a team in one session. They way people interacted, and related to each other was totally transformed. It may sound like a simple change, but this “serious game” can transform your team.  Listen in to learn about other serious games that Eddy uses when helping teams change. We also refer to the 2 truths and 1 lie game. About Eddy Bruin For many years, Eddy has been using serious games and learning metaphors to help teams and organizations move forward. He is an Agile and Test Coach with the mission to help teams deliver software people actually want to use while also enjoying their work. He helps teams to enable feedback loops continuously and likes to discuss all agile and test topics over a special beer. He loves to go to (un)conferences on serious games (for example Play14, Play4Agile), and also on Agile and Testing. You can link with Eddy Bruin on LinkedIn and connect with Eddy Bruin on Twitter.  
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  This team had all the ceremonies in place. They were “doing” Scrum by all accounts. But they weren’t even a team. We explore the “group, not team” anti-pattern with Eddy, and discuss what might be some of the techniques and approaches Scrum Masters can use to help these teams. Featured Book of the Week: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us In Drive by Daniel Pink, Eddy found a new approach to the eternal question of motivation. He found a new paradigm to help him understand the role of managers and management in organizations. About Eddy Bruin For many years, Eddy has been using serious games and learning metaphors to help teams and organizations move forward. He is an Agile and Test Coach with the mission to help teams deliver software people actually want to use while also enjoying their work. He helps teams to enable feedback loops continuously and likes to discuss all agile and test topics over a special beer. He loves to go to (un)conferences on serious games (for example Play14, Play4Agile), and also on Agile and Testing. You can link with Eddy Bruin on LinkedIn and connect with Eddy Bruin on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  When Eddy started his Agile journey he was working as a tester. When he understood the power of the Agile approach, he immediately started telling others about it, and ended up training many of his colleagues in a transition. And through his failure to help the people and teams change, he understood a critical lesson about the role of Scrum Master and change agent. In this episode, we explore that critical lesson, and how Scrum Masters can help their teams change and evolve.  About Eddy Bruin For many years, Eddy has been using serious games and learning metaphors to help teams and organizations move forward. He is an Agile and Test Coach with the mission to help teams deliver software people actually want to use while also enjoying their work. He helps teams to enable feedback loops continuously and likes to discuss all agile and test topics over a special beer. He loves to go to (un)conferences on serious games (for example Play14, Play4Agile), and also on Agile and Testing. You can link with Eddy Bruin on LinkedIn and connect with Eddy Bruin on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  Confidence is one of the symptoms you are in the presence of a good Product Owner, when you add to that the ability to articulate the reasons for the decisions made as well as using data and analysis to support decisions, we know we have a great PO working with us.  We also talk about the consequences from creating an implicit or explicit competition between Product Owners. The Great Product Owner: The confident and articulate Product Owner A great Product Owner will have a clear Vision of their product, but that’s not the only characteristic they exhibit. They can also clearly defend their Vision, using data, and analysis they’ve made. They intimately understand their product, business and customers. As they move away from “guessing” as a practice, they are not afraid to have difficult conversations about the product.  The Bad Product Owner: The Feature Owner anti-pattern Let’s imagine that your company creates an internal competition among teams and Product Owners. What will happen then?  We discuss the consequences on the PO role that Jim has witnessed.  In this segment, we refer to the work by Daniel Vacanti.  Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Jim Sammons Jim is currently a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and works with an amazing team at Insight as an Agile Coach and trainer for their clients around the world. His time as a Scrum Master was awesome and fueled his passion for agility at all levels. You can link with Jim Sammons on LinkedIn and connect with Jim Sammons on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  “Am I making other people better?” is the question that Jim starts his own success retrospective with. We then dive into the “do no harm” rule that Jim applies to his own work, and how to use Retrospectives in our work and reach a successful outcome. We talk about the standards that we must ourselves to, as Scrum Masters. Featured Retrospective for the Week: The Baseball Retro Although there are many possible games and exercises for Agile Retrospectives, in this Agile Retrospective format - The Baseball Retro -, the focus is on creating an analogy of the Sprint to a baseball game. And how we can use this analogy thinking to find opportunities for improvement.  Listen in to learn how Jim prepares and hosts that retrospective.  About Jim Sammons Jim is currently a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and works with an amazing team at Insight as an Agile Coach and trainer for their clients around the world. His time as a Scrum Master was awesome and fueled his passion for agility at all levels. You can link with Jim Sammons on LinkedIn and connect with Jim Sammons on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  When working with change, one of the tools we use most often use is the “community of practice” pattern, where people get together and talk about the challenges they are facing, and discuss possible solutions. For Scrum Masters, this is especially important as we are - Jim reminds us - also leaders in our organisations and must set the example that others can follow. What are you doing to be an example of the change you are supposed to help implement? About Jim Sammons Jim is currently a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and works with an amazing team at Insight as an Agile Coach and trainer for their clients around the world. His time as a Scrum Master was awesome and fueled his passion for agility at all levels. You can link with Jim Sammons on LinkedIn and connect with Jim Sammons on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  As this story starts, the team is buried under technical debt. Why they got there is the topic of this episode’s story. We talk about finding the signs that the team is starting to drown in tech debt, as the recognition of that pattern is the first step to avoid major damage to the team, and the product. In this segment, we refer to the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Featured Book of the Week: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, Jim found a reminder of some practices that are useful for Scrum Masters. The highlight is the process of “decluttering”, removing the mess we often have to deal with in our teams, our backlogs or in relationships between team members. Jim challenges us to find those “cluttered” areas in our work and ask the team: “do you feel overwhelmed?" In this segment, we also refer to Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins. About Jim Sammons Jim is currently a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and works with an amazing team at Insight as an Agile Coach and trainer for their clients around the world. His time as a Scrum Master was awesome and fueled his passion for agility at all levels. You can link with Jim Sammons on LinkedIn and connect with Jim Sammons on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  As we start our journey as Scrum Masters, we are bound to find situations and team dynamics to deal with that we were either not familiar or not responsible for handling before.  Everyone will face one of those situations. In this episode, we talk about one such situation in Jim’s career. There was a pattern of behaviour happening that was destructive to the team, but Jim was unsure how to deal with it. Listen in to learn what he learned from that story, that you can also apply in your team when facing a similar situation. About Jim Sammons Jim is currently a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and works with an amazing team at Insight as an Agile Coach and trainer for their clients around the world. His time as a Scrum Master was awesome and fueled his passion for agility at all levels. You can link with Jim Sammons on LinkedIn and connect with Jim Sammons on Twitter.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  From a weak or lost Product Owner to one that cared deeply about the product, we explore some of the critical contrasts between good and not so good PO’s, as well as how Scrum Masters can help them improve. The Great Product Owner: The Product Owner that cared about the product When it happens, this Product Owner pattern can really help the team succeed. In this segment we talk about the Product Owner that cared deeply about the product. Made the Vision clear to the team and even if she did not know how to write User Stories (she got help from the Scrum Master), or about “limiting the work planned for the Sprint”, she was ready to learn. We also discuss how Scrum Masters can be really powerful allies for their Product Owners. The Bad Product Owner: The weak or lost Product Owner Although Martin has seen several Product Owner anti-patterns (the seagull PO, the absentee PO), the one he wants to highlight is the “weak or lost PO”. This anti-pattern is about the PO being only a mouthpiece for someone else, having little insight into what he asks from the team, and letting the team often without answers to their questions. In this segment, we also talk about how Scrum Masters can help these Product Owners overcome their anti-pattern. Are you having trouble helping the team working 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 Martin Lambert Martin's an agile coach, trainer and scrum master. He’s a Northener making a living in the south of England, and finds great energy and sense of purpose from the agile movement during the second act of his career. Loves the hills and being out on a road bike. And to all the European listeners, he says: "sorry for you know what". You can link with Martin Lambert on LinkedIn.
Read the full Show Notes and search through the world’s largest audio library on Scrum directly on the Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast website.  When it comes to success as a Scrum Master, Martin asks us to consider the “little things”. For example: “how does your team react to adverse situations?” This and other questions help Martin assess his work as a Scrum Master. Listen in to learn about the other questions that Martin asks himself to assess his own success as a Scrum Master. Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Empathy Retrospective In this retrospective format, Martin focuses on helping team members understand their colleagues’ perspectives. We discuss how to “warm-up” the team to this format, as well as how to execute the format. Learn also why this format is important, and what you can expect from it. About Martin Lambert Martin's an agile coach, trainer and scrum master. He’s a Northener making a living in the south of England, and finds great energy and sense of purpose from the agile movement during the second act of his career. Loves the hills and being out on a road bike. And to all the European listeners, he says: "sorry for you know what". You can link with Martin Lambert on LinkedIn.
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Comments (9)

Samuel Lopes

Very good.

Sep 26th
Reply

Dan Matte

Hello Catrine, I'm impressed that you took up the initiative to defuse the conflict that had started to brew up in the team. Better late than never. The signs of being a leader is to always do something about anything going wrong, even though it may not be a matter of concern to us (this was however).

May 1st
Reply

Dominique lin

Very good poadcast !

Apr 30th
Reply

Patricia Ayuso

Hi Vasco, Ajeet. Thank you for your story. I have a question for you. Shouldn't the dev team include everyone involved in the success of the development of the project like designer, copywriter, UX expert...?

Mar 13th
Reply (2)

Mya Z

Great podcast!

Aug 3rd
Reply

Sergei Davidov

Hi Vasco, I really enjoy the podcast 😉. Thank you. I was wondering if you could share the link to Scrum games that kristina mentioned in the episode around measuring?

Jan 14th
Reply

PH TrooperX

That's an insight.

Nov 7th
Reply
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