Metaskills – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept

Let’s start with ‘Myself’ dimension. Each element of this dimension represented by a dice which you can roll every day of Sprint and choose the aspect you are going to take. The first dice is for metaskills. Scrum Masters shall be able to take the metaskills of teaching, listening, curiosity, respect, playfulness, and patience.

Teaching

Teaching is embracing the wisdom, ability to advise people, be a good mentor. Your knowledge and experience on different frameworks, concepts and practices are your ground here.

Listening

Listening is a critical skill to be able to learn from the feedback and choose the right approach. We as human beings are not listening enough. Too often, we jump towards the closest solution and ScrumMasters are not any different. Good listening is a prerequisite of being a great facilitator, coach, and leader.

Curiosity

Being curious helps you not to take sides. Be open to different situations and solutions. Find creative and innovative ways of approaching things. Working with team and organizations is a complex task. It requires different skills in order to address the complexity.

Respect

Respect will help you to build trust and create safety environment. Respect different opinions, who knows what is right and what is wrong. At the level of a complex system, it’s hard to assess. Openness and transparency are your best friends here.

Playfulness

It’s going to be a long journey, so make it fun. Bring the metaskill of playfulness to your day to day work. Take the same approach as if you were playing the strategic game. It is just a game, so enjoy every single day of it, don’t get frustrated when you don’t win the first day. The good game shall take some effort to play well.

Patience

You have unlimited time as ScrumMaster, there is no hurry. You are not responsible for delivery, nor the short-term goals. Your goals can only be seen long-term when the teams are getting self-organized and high-performance. Only then people can see the ScrumMasters are doing the right job. You will never be finished, as Agile is not a destination, but a star on a horizon. There is always a better way, there is always a need for great ScrumMaster to guide us on our Agile journey.

The #ScrumMasterWay concept

When I first time decided to write my new book The Great ScrumMaster: #ScrumMasterWay I have a clear picture in my head of what I have to write about. I wanted to share what I learned on my ScrumMaster journey, offer you hints on how to avoid problems, bottleneck, falls during the way, and give you an advice on how to become the great ScrumMaster. To make it consistent learning path, I combined all necessary elements which must be used to successfully get to the great ScrumMaster journey into the #ScrumMasterWay concept. At the beginning of my writing, I had only independent pieces. When I started to write the book, the elements clicked together and created the coherent whole of the #ScrumMasterWay concept which I’m now presenting in brief at a separate website and in the Great ScrumMaster book: #ScrumMasterWay which has been published in January by Addison Wesley.

The concept is formed from my personal hands-on field experiences as a ScrumMaster and Agile enterprise coach which I got during my 15+ IT and Agile journey.

In the following blog posts, I’m going to introduce the core elements of the #ScrumMasterWay concept. The #ScrumMasterWay concept is shaped in two dimensions: ‘Myself’ and ‘The world’. The first dimension is dedicated to your own mindset, attitude, and personal growth. They help you to develop yourself as a person and become a great ScrumMaster. They consist of four building blocks: Metaskills, Learning, State of Mind and Leadership. The second dimension is dedicated to the outer world represented by your team, broader product group or the entire organization. The great ScrumMasters shall be able to work at all three levels of the world dimension and use a mixture of all different aspects of Myself dimension elements.

I hope the #ScrumMasterWay concept will help you to start your great ScrumMaster journey and help your organization to be successful in nowadays constantly changing the world.

The #ScrumMasterWay concept series:

  1. The #ScrumMasterWay concept
  2. Metaskills – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept
  3. Learning – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept
  4. State of Mind – Myself Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay concept
  5. Leadership – Myself Dimension – #ScrumMasterWay concept
  6. My Team – The World Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay Concept
  7. Relationships – The World Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay Concept
  8. Entire System – The World Dimension – The #ScrumMasterWay Concept

Top 10 Agile conferences to attend in 2017

Top 10 Agile ConferencesI travel & speak at many conferences each year. Here is my list of TOP 10 conferences for 2017:

  • #1: ACE! (Krakow, Poland) – May 11-12, 2017. Innovative form & great atmosphere.
  • #2: AgileEE (Kiev, Ukraine) – April 7-8, 2017. Interesting speakers and nice audience.
  • #3: Agile Prague Conference (Prague, Czech Republic) – September 11-12, 2017. An awesome program, collaborative atmosphere of open space format, good value for money.
  • #4: Big Apple Scrum Day (New York, NY, USA) – May 1, 2017. Enthusiastic community, great space.
  • #5: Agile Leadership Day (Cologne, Germany) – March 2o, 2017. Strong speakers with Agile Leadership experience.
  • #6: SGDUB – Global Scrum Gathering Dublin 2017 (Dublin, Ireland)  – October 30-November 1, 2017. Talk to Scrum practitioners, join coaches clinic, get hands-on experience.
  • #7: Agile Testing Days (Potsdam, Germany) – November 13-17, 2017. Interesting keynote speakers, deep insights in testing.
  • #8: LeSS Conference (London, UK) – September 13-14, 2017. Large Scaling Scrum (LeSS) Practitioners share their LeSS experience.
  • #9: SGCAL – Global Scrum Gathering San Diego 2017 (San Diego, CA, USA) – April 10-12, 2017. Meet people who are around Scrum from the beginning.  Great coaches clinic and open space.
  • #10: Agile 2017 (Orlando, FL, USA) – August 7-11, 2017. Top Agile conference for the size and speaker selection. It’s a huge event which is unfortunately very expensive.

The selection is based on my personal preference and experiences from those events.

Other conferences to consider this year:

(Please share your suggestions with us and we add them to the following list.)

 

Scrum Transformation Journey

As one of the CSTs – Certified Scrum Trainers – I’ve got a unique opportunity to travel around the world during the last two years and teach Scrum at a variety of businesses, organizational environments, and very different cultures. I must admit that Scrum is awesome as it is universal. You can apply it to software, hardware, marketing, HR, executive teams and be rapidly successful, significantly better, change the way of work and become the best of the greatest. The flip side of the coin is, that despite the easy way how Scrum is defined, there are still companies, teams and individuals completely failing to understand what Scrum is and therefore failing to implement it.

I draw this picture to illustrate that becoming Scrum is a journey. You can’t just do Scrum, you have to embrace it. You have to become Scrum yourself first. It’s often not that straightforward as we’ve been got used to the traditional processes throughout the history, but at the same time, this is the very best strength of Scrum. Once you master it, it becomes the part of your life. It’s not just a process, it is a way of living.

Scrum Transformation

 

Technical Scrum

First, let me say explicitly that “Technical Scrum” is not Scrum. It only pretends to be Scrum. It’s a camouflage. However, it might be the necessary first step in certain organizations to move to the real Scrum. How do you recognize Technical Scrum? People “do” Scrum. They are looking for ways how to remain the same as they used to be. They are eager to get checklists of practices which need to be done, in order to do proper Scrum. Therefore Technical Scrum is all about estimations techniques, burn-downs, measuring velocity. The very important metric would be individual utilization, so they usually insist on time task estimates, capacity calculations, and time-sheets to be filled. They have identified new roles, but in reality, they just renamed the traditional roles and didn’t change the behavior. Scrum meetings are usually long and felt redundant. Managers use Scrum to micromanage.  The overall team focus is on “how”. The team is not any team but a group of individuals working on similar items. The individual accountability matters. They are looking how to split responsibilities instead of how to collaborate to achieve the goal. Product Backlog is usually a to-do list where most things have to be done.

Scrum Mindset

In the real Scrum, your team understands the mindset and they are “living” Scrum. They take it as the way how to focus on customers, how to innovate, how to collaborate. The estimates, efficiency, and utilization become quite unimportant, as they focus on delivering value to the customer and overall long term results. The first step here is usually “Team Scrum” where the development team becomes a real self-organized and cross-functional team which works together. The team creation process produces a huge trust internally among the team members but also externally to the organization. It’s the first tiny ‘snowball’ which afterward starts the whole transformation and creates forces to change how we run our business and how the organization itself is structured.

The “Organizational Scrum” builds on top of the values we experienced at team level – openness, transparency, and trust which leads the organization to be more business driven, flexible, and open to innovations. The business slowly starts to be picking up and the organization has to follow the rest. At this time, the snowball is big enough to attract the rest of the organization. At that time, you are truly Agile.

Such transformation can take years. It’s not uncommon that companies are falling back and restarting the whole initiative again. It’s hard. To succeed you need a good reason for change and courage. Eventually, every company has to change as the word is getting more complex and fast. The same way as industry revolution changed the way we were hundred years ago, the complexity of our current life is changing us now. To succeed in a long term, we have to be more flexible and dynamic – more Agile.

Thank you for your support!

Few weeks back I asked you my friends, colleagues, and people from the Scrum community, to support me during the Scrum Alliance Board of Directors elections. I want to use this opportunity to thank you for all the support you gave me and let you know that I’m officially in the board, my period as a member of Board of Directors of Scrum Alliance officially started January 1, 2017.

I’m honored to be elected to the Scrum Alliance Board of Directors, because it’s where the strategic direction of the organization is decided. We have responsibilities to the entire global membership, and promoting cooperation and transparency will help us strengthen the adoption and implementation of Agile and Scrum. Increasing our strategic and dynamic range requires leaving our comfort zones, and that’s what I teach and practice.

My experience training and transforming organizations has shown the importance of respect, integrity, and openness. I’m passionate about creating better communities, with a work and life environment that brings happiness as well as success.
Thank you all for the support and I’ll do my best to help Scrum Alliance and the whole Scrum community to be achieve its mission of transforming the world of work.

AgileNEXT podcast

Thanks to AgileNEXT team – Daniel Gullo and Stephen Forte – for recording a podcast with me at Scrum Gathering.

During the session we discussed the following topics:
Scrum Master as Agile Coach, Kaizen in Scrum, Agile Brands and Scaling, Community Involvement, and finally my new book The Great Scrum Master which was published by Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn) in January 2017.

Enjoy the listening.

My new book: The Great ScrumMaster: #ScrumMasterWay has been published by Addison-Wesley

The Great ScrumMaster: #ScrumMasterWayAt the beginning of the last year I finished my new book called The Great ScrumMaster: #ScrumMasterWay. At first I self-published it and the book was available for Kindle at Amazon and as a limited series in full-color printed version. I was very happy to see that the book was selling well and also that I got an excellent feedback from readers. My excitement was even bigger when Mike Cohn, one of the Scrum legends, accepted my book into his Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn) and the book was published by this excellent publishing house in January 2017. Thanks, Mike. It was a lot of work and I’m really pleased to work with so many great professionals from Addison-Wesley (editors, graphics, language corrections) to achieve such a wonderful result – the book which I have now finally in my hands.

The Great ScrumMaster: #ScrumMasterWay by Zuzana 'Zuzi' SochovaIt was a long journey for me to embrace Scrum and write this book. Ten years ago, when I joined my first Scrum team as a developer, I didn’t like it much. It was an awkward way of working, I thought. I was just as resistant as most of my current clients who are at the beginning of their Agile journeys. It was something new and different. And however hard our Agile coaches tried to explain it, I didn’t really get it. Six months later I was appointed to the ScrumMaster role. Lacking any other experience than as a team leader and developer, I ended up being a “Scrum team assistant” and a bit later a “Scrum team mom.” It took me a long time to realize why Scrum is so powerful and that it is all about the ability to enhance self-organization.

Only then did I realize that we were all missing a good explanation of the ScrumMaster role. Later I described it using the #ScrumMasterWay concept that I’m going to share with you in this book and which finally gave ScrumMasters the answer to their most common question: “What will the ScrumMaster do once the team is self-organized?”

After coaching many ScrumMasters at companies and teaching a lot of CSM and CSPO classes, I can say that an answer like “Move to another team,” “Do nothing,” or “There will always be some work needed” is not good enough. ScrumMasters are lost in the same way I was lost at that time.

It has never been so easy to become a great ScrumMaster, so let me invite you on the journey and you can learn from my experience and mistakes. This book is the best starting point to embrace the ScrumMaster role. I hope you will enjoy reading it and will find it useful and easy to apply in your work and that you will become a great ScrumMaster too.

Finally, I would like to use this opportunity to thank Linda Rising for her nice words in foreword. Does that all makes you curious? You can find more details at dedicated book pages greatscrummaster.com. The book is now available at Amazon, InformIT, and Barnes & Noble Bookstore to name at least the few most famous sites. I hope that you would like it. I appreciate your comments and reviews and if you like it, please help me to make other ScrumMasters great by recommending it to your friends and colleagues!

Review bazaar

One of the most interesting advanced techniques how to run Sprint Review is the Review bazaar where there is no official Sprint Review meeting, but we run it as a bazaar where different teams are showing their work simultaneously. What’s happening is that each team is creating a space where they show the product to anyone who shows up. They give them opportunity to try the product, touch it, and experience it. There is no presentation, no need to stay if the functionality is not interesting.

Review bazaar is quite advanced technique as organizations are often obsessed about control and centralization is their second nature so it takes time until they feel comfortable enough to let it be decentralized. If we go back to the purpose of the Sprint Review and think about how we can get the best feedback to our product, you realize that it can actually serve this purpose much better than traditional Sprint reviews. However without openness and trust, Review bazaar is never possible.

To make it short list – if some of the following feels familiar…

  • Your Sprint Reviews are too formal,
  • People are not giving you a feedback,
  • Most of your stakeholders coming to the Sprint Review are not interested in every feature so they find the review too long,
  • Sprint Review is too long,

…you might like to try the Review Bazar. You will realize that it has very different dynamic and the feedback you get if much more valuable.

Only estimate when it makes sense

Many Scrum teams are asking at the classes how shall we estimate Backlog Items / User Stories? They seem not to be happy with my reply that you don’t need to estimate at all in Scrum. I try to explain. Estimates can be useful. But in that case something has to happen as a result of the estimation process. I give you few examples of such good situation:

  • Based on the estimate Product Owner decides on priorities. From the two same value stories we prioritize the smaller first as that value is cheaper.
  • Based on big effort estimation we talk about how we can split the Story so we increase the ratio (value/effort).
  • Based on the estimation Product Owner decides not to invest into that Story and remove it from the Product Backlog.
  • We had a good discussion during the estimation process which results in common understanding of the functionality (sometimes all team members feel they understand it, but once we start estimation – for example Planning Poker – we find out that we all have a different functionality in mind).
  • Learn some useful insights from other team members about it. I.e. that testing is going to be very difficult, security is a huge risky issue here, etc.

If nothing from above is applicable, and you only use it to fill estimation box in your tool, you may stop wasting your time.

Finally to estimate when the release will to be done you can better use number of stories done per Sprint than any estimates = guess.

Product Owner is an investor

Product Owner role is usually more understandable for companies that the ScrumMaster role. After all, companies have someone responsible for the product or business. So that’s the candidate. The problem starts when we deep dive into the role understanding and find out that Product owner shall not only understand the business but needs an authority to say “NO”. If you don’t, we mostly end up being late, with stress and low product quality.

How the Product Owner shall decide on priorities and how shall they know when to say “NO”? Overall it’s simple. Apply simplicity rule. It’s already in the Agile Manifesto as one of the principles. ‘We maximize the work not done.’ It has its roots in the research saying that 60% of a successfully delivered product is never or rarely used. So why do we keep investing into those features. Isn’t it waste? It is. But it’s hard to say no, so Product Owners keep prioritizing those features. Instead they shall act as investors and evaluate if the expected benefit will be paid off. If yes, do that. If not, let’s start a conversation or a negotiation with the customers about what else can we do to help them with what they need. The functionality they asked for are just one option how to achieve it.

Who is the great Product Owner?

  • The great Product Owner is an investor – imagine you would invest your own money into functionality you prioritize for the next Sprint.
  • The great Product Owner must have an authority to say NO.
  • The great Product Owner must be good at communication, always search for another option how to deliver maximum value to the customers with least possible effort.
  • The great Product Owner shall understand that your customers (internal stakeholders, users, … ) have wishes. Those wishes often contradict with each other so you can’t make them all even if you have unlimited resources. It’s up to you to decide where the highest value is, and skip the rest.
  • The great Product Owner must have business knowledge about the product and understand the customers – it’s not a technical role.
  • The great Product Owner shall have a time to spend with the team to build good relationship with them, and to make sure your team understands the purpose of the product/release/Sprint.

If you don’t have all those, don’t worry. But eventually that’s who you shall become as a Product Owner.