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Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast
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Scrum Master Toolbox Podcast

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

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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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Sometimes, new teams are formed where some team members still have “legacy” tasks in their to-do lists. When that happens, it is the responsibility of the team (with the help of the Scrum Master) to figure out how to handle that work. There are many options to handle that situation. What is not ok is to let it grow, and spiral out of control. Teams own tasks, not individuals, therefore the Scrum Masters should help the team understand that legacy tasks are a team issue, not a personal issue. In this episode, we refer to the concept of T-Shaped skillsets for individuals, and the Agile Retrospective format called “pre-mortem”. About Katy Cabral & Joseph Contreras Katy has over 14 years of software delivery experience, serving in roles ranging from analyst to developer, project manager and for more than 6 years, also Scrum Master. Her Scrum experience has been mostly with distributed teams working across multiple time zones. She hopes to someday have the opportunity to travel to meet her colleagues in China, but for now, Katy enjoys reading about creative methods to keep her team engaged. Joe is an experienced scrum master, who strives each day to help and coach his squad to continuously improve how they work so that they can be awesome. Joe is also a scrum master chapter lead at Fidelity Investments.
A common anti-pattern Scrum Masters encounter in their teams is the inability to say “No!” This becomes an especially impactful anti-pattern when the team is unable to say “No!” to the Product Owner. When that happens we run the risk of allowing the team to ver overwhelmed, and eventually decrease the quality of their work. In this episode, we discuss that anti-pattern and how Scrum Masters can help Product Owners and teams to avoid that from becoming destructive for the team. 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. Featured Book for the Week: Scrum: the art of doing twice the work, in half the time by Sutherland & Unmarketing, Scott Stratten This week we have a tag team for guests and therefore we have two books to discuss. Katy recommends Scrum: the art of doing twice the work, in half the time by Jeff Sutherland. That book helped Katy understand better her role as a Scrum Master. Joe takes a different approach and recommends a book that is not about Scrum or Agile: Unmarketing - stop marketing, start engaging by Scott Stratten. This book helped Joe understand better the team he is working with, which is a marketing team. In this episode, we also refer to Who the Hell Wants to Work for You?: Mastering Employee Engagement by Tim Eisenhauer and Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators by Patrick Lencioni, a follow-up to a regular recommendation on the podcast: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. About Katy Cabral & Joseph Contreras Katy has over 14 years of software delivery experience, serving in roles ranging from analyst to developer, project manager and for more than 6 years, also Scrum Master. Her Scrum experience has been mostly with distributed teams working across multiple time zones. She hopes to someday have the opportunity to travel to meet her colleagues in China, but for now, Katy enjoys reading about creative methods to keep her team engaged. Joe is an experienced scrum master, who strives each day to help and coach his squad to continuously improve how they work so that they can be awesome. Joe is also a scrum master chapter lead at Fidelity Investments.
When we want to help the teams we work with, sometimes we go too far. In this episode, we share a story of a Scrum Master that did just that, only to find out that it is critical that the teams take ownership over the solutions they choose to implement. No matter how much experience we have, as Scrum Masters, it is ultimately the team that needs to improve and live with their choices. About Katy Cabral & Joseph Contreras Katy has over 14 years of software delivery experience, serving in roles ranging from analyst to developer, project manager and for more than 6 years, also Scrum Master. Her Scrum experience has been mostly with distributed teams working across multiple time zones. She hopes to someday have the opportunity to travel to meet her colleagues in China, but for now, Katy enjoys reading about creative methods to keep her team engaged. Joe is an experienced scrum master, who strives each day to help and coach his squad to continuously improve how they work so that they can be awesome. Joe is also a scrum master chapter lead at Fidelity Investments.
There’s many insights to be had from looking at how Startups and Lean Product businesses develop software and bring products to the market. In this BONUS episode with Ash Maurya we learn about Lean Product Development from the author of Running Lean, one of the first published books around Lead Product Development. Developing a book, the Lean way When Ash got started he was not a famous author. He started a blog. By publishing his ideas on that blog and collecting feedback he understood the importance of the ideas that he was sharing and ultimately wrote his book: Running Lean: ITERATE FROM PLAN A TO A PLAN THAT WORKS. In the blog, he shared his learnings from trying and failing at product development. From those blog posts came a book, but also a new tool, the Lean Canvas. Lean Canvas, a better business modeling tool The Lean Canvas came from Ash’s own experience and learning when trying to define, design and launch products and new businesses. Lean Canvas is a 1-page business plan template that helps product developers come up with the key ideas or assumptions on which their business and product depend on. Ash adapted the Lean Canvas to improve the Business Model Canvas, developed by Alex Osterwalder. The Lean Canvas replaces elaborate business plans with a single page business model. Lean Product Development: Agile made real Lean Product Development is about iterating your product and business idea over time. From plan A to a plan that works, as Ash puts it. In that aspect, Lean Product Development became the embodiment of the original Agile idea of iterative development. We can argue that Lean Product Development continued what Agile started, but failed to realize: applying Agile as a philosophy of business and to all aspects of business, not just the software development process. How Ash followed his own advice: Lean Stack, a Lean Product company It is particularly fitting that Ash followed his own advice and applied his ideas to developing his own business. Lean Stack is a company that Ash created to market a Lean Canvas tool as well as to serve as the “home” to develop many more Lean Product Development tools. In this episode, we discuss some of those tools, but you can find many more at Lean Stack, which has a free trial for you to get familiar and learn about Lean Canvas. Going beyond Running Lean, the book: Scaling Lean Later on, a few years after publishing Running Lean, Ash wrote and published Scaling Lean, where he collects new tools and solutions to the most common problems he’s seen in the field when applying Lean Product Development. In that book he specifically discusses Lean metrics, and how to communicate ideas using leading metrics, not trailing metrics. We discuss why “revenue” is not a good metric for Product Development (even if it is a critical metric, albeit “lagging”). In this segment, we also learn about Ash’s new book the upcoming book on Product Discovery where he introduces new tools such as the Customer Forces, a new canvas for Lean Product companies to use when developing their products. Resources for further study For those interested in learning more about Lean Product Development, Ash recommends the Lean Analytics and Lean Customer Development books, which explore specific aspects of Lean Product Development not discussed in the Running Lean or Scaling Lean books. About Ash Maurya Ash Maurya, is a serial entrepreneur and author of the startup cult classic Running Lean, pairs real-world examples of startups like Airbnb and Hubspot with techniques from the manufacturing world in this tactical handbook for scaling with maximum efficiency and efficacy. This is vital reading for any startup founder graduating from the incubator stage and product developers working for growth businesses. You can find more about Ash Maurya at LeanStack.com where you can also find a free trial for the Lean Stack product.
We explore the technical-dictator Product Owner anti-pattern and also talk about how great Product Owners get ready and come prepared for the meetings with the teams. The Product Owner pattern for the week When Product Owners come prepared to the meeting, you know they are doing their job well. They bring numbers, the rationale behind certain decisions, maybe even different options for priority to be chosen based on the feedback from the team. In this episode, we refer to the work by Jeff Patton and Jeff Gothelf, who’ve both been on the podcast before. You can find Jeff Patton’s Podcast episode here. You can find Jeff Gothelf’s podcast episode here. The Product Owner anti-pattern for the week Many Product Owners come from a technical background. This means that they know a lot about the technical aspects the team needs to consider. However, when the PO starts to question the team’s estimates or decisions, that’s a recipe for failure. Listen to how Nick handles that situation, and get some tools and practices you can apply right away! 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 Nick Vitsinsky Nick as more than 10 years in IT started from QA Engineer/Waterfall after two years realized that there should be a different approach to how to develop and ship the software. His philosophy and mindset is: “find out Agile and make it own moto”. He focuses on that on a daily basis. You can link with Nick Vitsinsky on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Vitsinsky on Twitter.  
Is the team providing feedback openly to each other and stakeholders? That’s one of the key success questions that Nick asks when evaluating his own success as a Scrum Master. That leads him to find approaches to help teams open up and share their perspective on the work. In this episode, we also refer to a paper on how to help teams improve their performance. It is based on the same principle that top athletes apply every day: pushing, then resting. A cycle that is guaranteed to improve performance over time. Featured Retrospective Format for the Week: The Island Expedition metaphor format Nick likes to focus on creativity for the retrospectives he facilitates. He’s found several metaphor-focused formats that work, but one he especially likes is The Island Expedition. Metaphor-focused formats help the teams be more creative by taking them out of their regular context and pushing them to imagine themselves in a different context. About Nick Vitsinsky Nick as more than 10 years in IT started from QA Engineer/Waterfall after two years realized that there should be a different approach to how to develop and ship the software. His philosophy and mindset is: “find out Agile and make it own moto”. He focuses on that on a daily basis. You can link with Nick Vitsinsky on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Vitsinsky on Twitter.
Scrum Masters that move onto organizations that are just in the start of Scrum adoption may find that it is not an easy process, even when you have top-management support. In this episode, we talk about what goes wrong when we focus on change from the top, and forget that the teams (whom we work with), might be against the change. Top management support is not enough for Scrum adoption! About Nick Vitsinsky Nick as more than 10 years in IT started from QA Engineer/Waterfall after two years realized that there should be a different approach to how to develop and ship the software. His philosophy and mindset is: “find out Agile and make it own moto”. He focuses on that on a daily basis. You can link with Nick Vitsinsky on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Vitsinsky on Twitter.
When adopting Scrum, some organizations focus on the process, the meetings that come with Scrum. But, unfortunately, they also often forget about the meaning and the reason for those meetings, ending up just renaming the old meetings with new names. This anti-pattern is common, and we should be able to detect it and counter it in our organizations. In this episode, we discuss how to detect and reverse the “same meetings with different names” Scrum adoption anti-pattern. Featured Book of the Week: Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo In Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo, Nick found a book filled with practical tips that help Scrum Masters (and managers) to work with the team every day, and make their work easier. In this episode, we also talk about the source for retrospective format ideas: Retromat.org; and about a book that inspires Nick every day: The Little Prince by Saint-Éxupery. About Nick Vitsinsky Nick as more than 10 years in IT started from QA Engineer/Waterfall after two years realized that there should be a different approach to how to develop and ship the software. His philosophy and mindset is: “find out Agile and make it own moto”. He focuses on that on a daily basis. You can link with Nick Vitsinsky on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Vitsinsky on Twitter.
Scrum Masters work with teams every day. The way teams feel about the work they do is extremely important for them to be engaged and motivated. However, sometimes we overlook that and fail. In this very personal story by Nick, we learn about what happens when Scrum Masters overlook and even ignore the motivation and engagement of the team. About Nick Vitsinsky Nick as more than 10 years in IT started from QA Engineer/Waterfall after two years realized that there should be a different approach to how to develop and ship the software. His philosophy and mindset is: “find out Agile and make it own moto”. He focuses on that on a daily basis. You can link with Nick Vitsinsky on LinkedIn and connect with Nick Vitsinsky on Twitter.
We explore the absent Product Owner anti-pattern and discuss a case when it was OK to have the Product Owner also play the role of a developer in the team. The Product Owner pattern for the week We often hear that the Product Owner cannot be a developer at the same time. However, in some cases, that’s not a problem. In this episode, we talk about the Product Owner that was also a developer, and what made that PO a great PO despite the dual role. The Product Owner anti-pattern for the week When the Product Owner is too busy, the team suffers. In this episode, we talk about the anti-pattern of the absent Product Owner, and how Scrum Masters can help the team and the Product Owner in that situation. 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 Mili Shrivastava Mili has more than 12 years of experience in the software industry. Loves to spend time with her family and is a big fan of outdoor activities like hiking and biking. You can link with Mili Shrivastava on LinkedIn and connect with Mili Shrivastava on Twitter.
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Comments (8)

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
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Dominique lin

Very good poadcast !

Apr 30th
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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
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Patricia Ayuso

Ajeet Singh Good point Ajeet thank you.

Apr 19th
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Ajeet Singh

Patricia Ayuso Hi Patricia, ideally yes, but in real world every setup has its own dependencies and challenges to deal with so it differs and is contextual.

Apr 10th
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Mya Z

Great podcast!

Aug 3rd
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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
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