Agile Podcast: Agile Coaches' Corner

Ep. 27

Podcast Ep. 27: Deep Dive on Scrum Values with Sam Falco

Episode Description

In today’s Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast episode, host Dan Neumann is joined by AgileThought colleague and return guest, Sam Falco. Sam is an agile coach and certified Scrum professional with an extensive background leading agile development teams. A few episodes ago they discussed Scrum and empirical process control. Today they’ll be doing a deep dive on Scrum values.

One of the problems many people tend to face with Scrum is that it can feel very mechanical. But luckily, there is a solution to that. There’s a statement in the Scrum Guide that the successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living by five values; the values that drive Scrum. These values truly put the heart in Scrum — and they’re exactly what Sam will be talking about today. Tune in to learn what these values are, why they are so critical to the success of Scrum teams, and how to apply these values. Sam also gives some examples of where he’s seen these values be really present (and, where they haven’t) in a Scrum team and the effect that it has on the organization overall.

Key Takeaways

The five values that put the heart in Scrum:

  • Commitment
  • Courage
  • Focus
  • Openness
  • Respect

Why these values are so critical to Scrum teams and how to apply them:

  • You need commitment to stay on track with Scrum.
  • Openness and courage are key to having transparent and honest communication.
  • Stay focused on the work of the sprint and the goals of the Scrum team.
  • Staying focused on the sprint goal helps to eliminate distractions.
  • Don’t get distracted by side projects and focus on the main task at hand (Sam recommends using personal Kanban boards).
  • Respect all members of the Scrum team to be capable, independent people.
  • Show respect by showing where you have dependencies with the Scrum team.
  • Show respect by not expecting everyone to know what you know.
  • With openness and courage: share the whys, share the issues you ran into, how you overcame them, and where you need to escalate them.

How to strengthen these values in your Scrum team:

  •  See where they’re present and figure out where they can be strengthened.

  • Bring it up in a retrospective and have some deeper conversations about it.

Mentioned in this Episode:


Sam Falco’s Book Picks:

Like what you heard? Check out our podcast page for more episodes full of interesting discussions, agile insights, and helpful resources.



Intro: [00:00] Welcome to Agile Coaches’ Corner by AgileThought, the podcast for practitioners and leaders seeking advice to refine the way they work and pave the path to better outcomes. Now here’s your host, coach and agile expert, Dan Neumann.

Dan Neumann: [00:17] Welcome to this episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner. I’m your host, Dan Neumann and today Sam Falco and I are going to be doing a deep dive on the Scrum values.

Sam Falco: [00:28] Yes, we are.

Dan Neumann: [00:29] Yes we are. And before we do though, we need to do the official disclaimer that these are my opinion and Sam’s opinion, not necessarily those of AgileThought or other companies or other people.

Sam Falco: [00:39] That is correct.

Dan Neumann: [00:40] We are duly disclaimed Sam.

Sam Falco: [00:42] Yes, we are.

Dan Neumann: [00:42] We can have some fun now.

Sam Falco: [00:44] Let’s go.

Dan Neumann: [00:45] All right. We talked about empirical process control and Scrum a few episodes ago and now we’re going to go somewhere else.

Sam Falco: [00:55] Right. So one of the problems that a lot of people face with Scrum is that it can feel very mechanical and um, there is a solution to that. Uh, there’s a statement in the Scrum guide that the successful use of Scrum depends on people becoming more proficient in living five values. The values that drive Scrum, and I want to talk about those today because they put the heart in Scrum, we have talked about gamifying Scrum as a way to get people engaged. We talked about empirical process control is what makes Scrum get stuff done. So let’s talk about what puts the heart in Scrum.

Dan Neumann: [01:32] All right and those five values are going to be commitment, courage, focus, openness and respect.

Sam Falco: [01:38] That’s correct.

Dan Neumann: [01:40] All right. Yeah. And I think to your point about putting the heart in Scrum, there’s a lot of times when people are trying to, well, how long should the, how long should we set aside for the retrospective? How much time should we take for a sprint review? How much time for planning? People get really focused in on kind of the, the laws or the letter of the law and they’re kind of missing the values are missing the mindset behind that. Right?

Sam Falco: [02:06] Yeah. It’s, it’s goes beyond the rules. It’s interesting. The Scrum values have always been what makes Scrum work. But they’d weren’t formally added to the Scrum guide until, I think two iterations ago that they added them as an explicit section in the Scrum guide. It’s not a very long section, but Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland wanted to make it clear that it’s not just a rules set, there is more to it. And so they put those in there and I’ve been using them ever since then. I’d of course encountered them in various books, but when they put it in the guide, I was working for a company and they had asked me to do some training of some engineers in Scrum and these engineers were a little resentful that they were being asked to sit through training of something they thought they already knew really well and to be honest, they were following the rules pretty well and they did know what the artifacts and the events were for. So that was great. But then I opened with an exercise on the Scrum values and it actually made them rethink what they were doing and uh, kinda got them to open up a little bit about why they were doing what they were doing. And, and I think that was a valuable addition, not just because it made my life easier, but because it really helped them to talk about some things that they hadn’t really gotten into before.

Dan Neumann: [03:33] Yeah. So the first one listed in the Scrum guide is that of commitment. And one of the things I see is, and we’ll talk about the Scrum teams themselves, having some commitment to the framework, but I’ve seen a lot of organizations, they get really twisted up on, well, this might not work or that might not work. And so they want to start manipulating the Scrum framework in situations where it’s not necessarily going to be a problem. I don’t know if that makes sense. But you know, there’s this fear, oh, well we can do Scrum, but there’s really, you know, we can’t break the work down into two weeks sprint or we’re going to do Scrum but you know, we need to, we can’t really dedicate capacity for a Scrum Master or we’ll do the daily Scrum once a week or those types of things. Yeah. I, and I think the concern comes from the legitimate places and exposes other challenges within the organization that leads people to want to work around those challenges instead of having the commitment to go after them and figure out what’s really behind, uh, the desire.

Sam Falco: [04:44] Yeah. And there’s, I mean everybody has said this, so I’ll say it: Scrum does not solve your problems. Scrum shows you where your problems are. You’re supposed to fix the problem. And unfortunately with Scrum as with many other types of frameworks or methodologies, whether they’re a heavier weight, what tends to happen is people are shown the problem and it’s scary. It’s hard. They start thinking we can’t solve it. So I just said they just drive around it, drop the thing that shows you the problem. I had a friend in high school who solved the problem of her check engine light being on by putting a piece of electrical tape over it.

Dan Neumann: [05:28] I almost bought a car that she probably owned.

Sam Falco: [05:33] Yeah. And the thing was she couldn’t afford to take it in to have it fixed and she didn’t want to see the light. So she, you know, wasn’t ignorance. It was just like, I can’t do anything about this. This is frustrating. So I’ll put this over that. Uh, and I won’t see it. So I think people do the same thing with Scrum is, well we’ve just shown that we have some problems getting to done, so we’ll just drop the artifact or we’ll drop the sprint review or will the worst, we’ll stop doing the retrospective because we need the time to get stuff done. Really? You can’t spend three hours and you’re going to get enough done in that three hours to justify not doing the retrospective. So we’re talking about commitment. We’re also talking about courage to face up to an issue and solve it.

Dan Neumann: [06:23] Yeah. I want to continue on the courage conversation in a second. As I was talking about commitment though, and we talked about commitment to Scrum, there are instances where Scrum isn’t the right framework. And there are, there’s an interesting site that I came across recently. Agnostic agile and it’s really, yeah, of course, you know, it’s got its own manifesto cause that’s what we do. Yes. And it kind of acknowledges, hey, you know, here’s, here’s the agility stuff. And the agile manifesto was written not with a particular framework in mind, but with lots of different agile methods. So you don’t have to do Scrum, but if you’re going to do Scrum, you know, committing, to the framework and committing to the team and team members committing to each other to try. There’s a, there’s a lot going on there. So disclaim the Scrum part now. Yeah, there you go.

Sam Falco: [07:16] No, I, I agree. And going along with that, a lot of times I will see people say, well we don’t want to do Scrum. Let’s do Kanban. And what it turns out is they just don’t want to do the discipline of Scrum. It’s not because Kanban is the right framework. It’s actually because Scrum is the right framework. They’re just afraid of doing it or less charitably too lazy to do it.

Dan Neumann: [07:37] And note side note about Kanban. Holy Crap. Is that disciplined. I mean the people that do Kanban and do it well are fanatical about measurement and improvement.

Sam Falco: [07:49] Right. And so what I’ve seen is teams will say, oh, we don’t want to do Scrum. We’re going to do Kanban. And what they mean is they’re just going to get a bunch of stuff in progress and track it on a board. While they’re not enforcing WIP limits, they’re not doing any of the other things that makes Kanban its own discipline. The first time I ever worked with Kanban with a team, we had been using Scrum. And the problem was that we had so much production support work that was coming in for a variety of reasons that we couldn’t plan a sprint that wasn’t going to get blown up by something. So we adopted Kanban, but we adopted work in progress limits. We had a regular input queue, uh, in, uh, in procure replenishment meeting to look at our backlog. And I know we’re getting off the topic of the values of Scrum, but to, to your point, Kanban was incredibly disciplined and it allowed us to get back on track so that we then could look at it and say, is okay, now that we’ve, we’ve got the product where we need it to be and we convinced some people that, you know, leave us alone and we’ll get things. Can we get back to Scrum?

Dan Neumann: [08:58]  So the openness part on the disruptions, it’s fairly common to have teams say we’re disrupted, we’re disrupted, we’re disrupted, can’t do it, can’t do it, can’t do it. But there is no transparency created. There’s no openness or measurement of here are the x number of things, the 10 things the 15 the hundred things that disrupted us this week, this sprint, this month. So that then the system can be examined and maybe something can be done about all those disruptions. Right. And so it’s kind of going from the analog war stories of all the disruptions we have to having the courage to make it transparent. So be open about where all those disruptions are coming from.

Sam Falco: [09:49] You know, that’s the kind of thing that can be brought up in a sprint retrospective. And if these are things that are beyond the team’s capacity to control, the Scrum Master should take the lead and doing something about it, escalating that outside if it really is something that needs to be communicated to the organization as a whole, you could discuss it in a sprint review. Here are things that are really causing us problems. Do you want us to be able to deliver good product to you? Then help us fix this.

Dan Neumann: [10:21]  And that openness in the sprint review is where I see the phrase sprint demo really lacking. The sprint review is so much more than a demo.

Sam Falco: [10:36] Yeah, we talked about that last time. So I think it still holds, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s key to communicate beyond here’s what we built. Do you like it?

Dan Neumann: [10:50]  Yeah. And so that’s where that openness part comes in. So when teams are starting to think about, hey, what should we or shouldn’t we be doing at this event that’s at the end of the sprint and called the sprint review. Are we embracing the value of openness and, and do we have the courage to, in some cases go, you know, the emperor has no clothes over here. You know, we, maybe we did fail to deliver a bunch of stuff we thought we were planning to, let’s share the whys, let’s share the issues we ran into. How we overcame them, where we need to escalate those. Yeah. It goes way beyond the mechanics then of uh, here are the eight bullets of things that should happen in the sprint review.

Sam Falco: [11:31] Right. And this point to another thing that the Scrum values are not just for the Scrum team. The entire organization needs to be aware of and adopt these values. That it’s important to make Scrum work, that everybody values openness, that everybody values the commitment and the courage, the focus, the respect. Because if it’s just the Scrum team doing it, just as when we have our Scrum team inside an organization that has not adopted an agile mindset, they will quickly become frustrated if we have a team that is living the Scrum values, but everybody else is not, there’s going to be problems.

Dan Neumann: [12:08]  Yeah. That openness requires the safety to be open about it. And in highly politicized organizations that would, uh, that takes a lot of intestinal fortitude.

Sam Falco: [12:25] Yeah. I’ve been very fortunate in my career that most of the places I have worked have valued that. They have wanted to hear the bad news if it was important. Um, one of my, the CEO of one company I worked for, he would always say, if you have good news and bad news, I want to hear the bad news first because that’s the thing that I need to do something about. And you could tell him really bad news and your head would not go on the chopping block for it. It would be this is data, this is important information. Let’s see what we can do about it and examine it because it’s there rather than, how dare you tell me bad news. I don’t want to hear that.

Dan Neumann: [13:02]  Agreed. So we’ve, we’ve covered, uh, to some degree, commitment, courage and openness that leaves us focus and respect.

Sam Falco: [13:11] Yes.

Dan Neumann: [13:12]  Choose your poison.

Sam Falco: [13:16] But they’re not poison, Dan.

Dan Neumann: [13:19]  Ah, well played, well played. Choose your anti poison.

Sam Falco: [13:23] Let’s talk about, lets leave respect for last and maybe I’ll sing a little Aretha Franklin for you. Let’s talk about focus because that is, uh, that’s really difficult. Everyone focuses on the work of the sprint and the goals of the Scrum team is what it says in the Scrum guide. And that’s a simple statement. But what does it actually mean?

Dan Neumann: [13:55] For me, I find that a lot of times there’s that lack of transparency, but what is actually happening? What are the, what are the product backlog items that are in the sprint? Are the acceptance criteria clear? What is in, what is out? So, so that we are able to focus on meeting the acceptance criteria, you know, agile value of maximizing the amount of work not done or agile principle and how do we focus on doing just what’s necessary to get that PBI over to done to be included in the increment.

Sam Falco: [14:31] Sure. Uh, it’s real easy to want to gold plate things. I mean, it’s fun sometimes to what can I get this? What else can I get this to do or hey, you know, I’m in this area of code. I can do this other thing that I know it’s in the backlog and I know it’s not in this sprint, but I can do it right now. Well it may not be the most valuable thing to do, we want to focus on just what’s in the sprint goal. And that’s another factor that you want to consider is the sprint. What’s in the sprint goal? The classic three questions of the daily Scrum are not just what did I do yesterday? What am I going to do today? Are there any impediments? But there’s another part of that. It has to do with the sprint goal. What did they do yesterday to help the team get to the, to the sprint goal. And so focus is all about keeping, keeping your eye on that and being aware of what work will not help you get there. And if you start running into trouble, start getting rid of some of that stuff that doesn’t matter because it doesn’t have to do with the sprint goal.

Dan Neumann: [15:33]  When the sprint, sorry, when the daily Scrum starts to feel really mechanical and status reporty, often it’s an example of a lack of focus where we start talking about, or the team starts talking about all the, the status of everything in the backlog or everything in the sprint backlog and not really focused on, hey, here’s, here’s the action. Here’s the stuff I delivered in the last 24 hours. Here’s the stuff I’m going to be delivering in the next 24 hours. Here’s where I need help. It goes on this wandering, hey, let’s let’s do a, how are we doing on this one and this one and this one, whether they’ve moved or not.

Sam Falco: [16:14] Right. And, Oh God, I had one guy who would, he would tell you what he had for lunch. I mean, it was everything and it was really hard. If you didn’t cut him off, he would take up a whole 15 minutes by himself. And he took a lot of coaching. I kept having to talk to him after. Hey, remember this is what we’re here for. And it even came up in retrospective more than once. Hey, uh, I’m not gonna say his name just in case he listens to the show. He probably knows who he is, but nobody else needs to. He’s one of the smartest guys I know, but he would just tell you everything. Uh, and that was not what the purpose of the meeting is.

Dan Neumann: [17:01]  It might be fun sitting down and having a brew and kind of hearing about, you know, the lunch escapades. But yeah. Not, not fodder for the daily Scrum.

Sam Falco: [17:09] Yeah. Um, so no side work is part of focus and then just keeping your eye on that, on that spring goal.

Dan Neumann: [17:19]  Side work you say? Tell me about that side work.

Sam Falco: [17:23] Oh Gosh. So um, but we used to call shoulder tap where someone comes over and says, hey could you, you know just taps the developer on the shoulder and says, Hey, could you just do this one little thing and really help me? Um, that’s one way that that manifests a, some ways it can manifest is just developers just get really interested in something and they go chasing rabbits. We had a guy on one of my Scrum teams who, really smart guy, but he had to have everything and he would, when he gave you something, it was bulletproof. I was doing some QA and you could not find a problem with it, but it was more than was needed because he would nail down everything and just go down all these beautiful little trails as code was too good. I guess too pretty.

Dan Neumann: [18:27]  One of the ways the focus can be a little bit of a challenge for me, I don’t know if that’s true for everybody in the world, but uh, it is for me, and I find that having a task breakdown for myself really helps with that focus. And so, you know, regardless of whether it’s, you know, if you’re a Scrum team member on the Scrum board or whether you’re doing some kind of personal Kanban or just your to do list, it’s like, hey, here’s the thing that I’m working on now. And it’s, it’s visible. It’s like, oh yeah, that’s, that’s the thing. I’ll go do that, move it, and then go back to the list for the next thing, lest one, go to and, uh, you know, get lost in the, um, the latest escapades of Washington.

Sam Falco: [19:09] Yeah. It’s something that I’m gonna, I’m gonna go off on a little tangent here myself. Someone to lack focus for a minute, but my pet peeve of mine is when apps change their colors and icons. So recently office for my ios changed all the colors. So what happens is I go to open up an application and I can’t find it because I’m looking for what used to not be there. And then I get distracted and I go off chasing rabbits. So, um, I don’t know, that really doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re talking about and is an example of lack of focus.

Dan Neumann: [19:42]  Did one pill make you bigger and one pill make you small?

Sam Falco: [19:46] Yes, yes. Ah, good stuff. Yes.

Dan Neumann: [20:04]  So yeah, so there’s the focus of the daily Scrum. The focus of the sprint itself, we’re establishing a sprint goal. We’re making it explicit. We have the product backlog items with their acceptance criteria that are explicit as well. And it’s lots of lots of focus there. And as well as the shoulder tap thing, you know when it can be tricky with positional power, but when you’ve got the shoulder tap it can be, hey, here’s all the other stuff that I’m doing already. Yeah, let’s, you know, how does your new requests fit in with all of these? Because I know people will pretend to multitask, but it’s just grabbing context switching, which is brutal.

Sam Falco: [20:43] It is. Because then you get into the problem of attention residue. You were doing thing, you tried to switch to another thing and part of your mind is still back on that original problem in it. It means you’re not as effective at either problem. Right then. So yeah, focus is important and that is one of the reasons why I often recommend personal kanban boards, especially if you’re in a disruptive environment where people are walking by. It’s really helpful to have that up on your desk. So, uh, one place I worked, the woman that I was reporting to was really keen to make sure that she understood what people were doing so that if you had anything she could do for you that you know, you needed, she could help. But it was a little, she woud come over and say what are you working on? So I had a Kanban, I could just point, this is what I’m working on. And actually she, once I put that up, she never asked, what are you working on? She’d come by, look at the Kanban board and if I was on a call or something, she’d give me a thumbs up and a question, you know, the little questioning glance and I’d give her a thumbs up back. And if I needed something I’d waive her over. Uh, so it was a great communication tool that helped me focus on what I was doing because I will go off on tangents.

Dan Neumann: [21:54]  And with Scrum teams having a, a meaningful backlog, having well defined PBIs, having a Scrum board and sprint reviews that can, I know it takes time, but that saves a phenomenal amount of energy with answering the questions. So what’s the status on this? What’s the status on that? What’s the status…You’ll die that way. So just make it transparent.

Sam Falco: [22:17] Yeah. And organizations that have physical task boards and Scrum boards up on the wall, it’s great for management if they’re doing that walk to see what’s going on to people just walk by, look at the look at the thing and say, oh, this team’s on track. Um, that’s great. Here’s what they’re working on. I love using the sprint goal that way too. To just post that on top of your Scrum board so that again, management can see what’s this team working on? Also helps with elevator pitches when you run into someone and they say, what is your team working on? You can just tell them the sprint goal. So that really helps with focus, uh, and helps with transparency as well.

Dan Neumann: [22:55]  I want to talk about this respect thing.

Sam Falco: [23:01] Okay, what do you want to say? I would say lets take a look at what the, what it says in the Scrum guide, Scrum team members respect each other to be capable, independent people. So it’s a very particular type of respect that we’re talking about here.

Dan Neumann: [23:20]  Yeah. It’s uh, you know, it is about the professionalism and I think being able to share where you do have dependencies is really important. So worst case scenario, a Scrum team member is not comfortable declaring a weakness or a limitation or a need for assistance and they flounder, which will quickly, uh, damage the respect that their teammates have for them. Building a reputation for that person, doesn’t deliver.

Sam Falco: [23:54] Right. Right. And part of that respect is that not expecting everyone to know what, you know, we’ve all had different experiences. Um, we, we have, uh, even if we’ve been working in the same area, maybe you know, that’s a, a library you’ve never worked with. Okay, that’s not, that you’re a bad person or you’re a bad programmer. Or that you’re in some way deficient, you just haven’t experienced that. Okay, great, let’s do something about it. If you need to use it, let’s help you get up to speed. So that’s part of that respect.

Dan Neumann: [24:26]  I do think it creates a bit of a challenge that we expect Scrum team members to be capable and independent and then we’re asking them in the daily Scrum to identify places where they need help or impediments they’re having. And I, I just, I kind of think that that creates a potential conflict.

Sam Falco: [24:45] Well, capable doesn’t mean omniscient. We’re expecting them to be capable and independent, but that doesn’t mean we’re expecting them to know everything, um, that’s going on. So or that they that, yeah, I mean it’s, it’s all about learning. Um, I don’t think that’s, I don’t think that’s a conflict at all.

Dan Neumann: [25:06]  I just wonder about the, how that factors into people who are seemingly reluctant for some reason or another to identify impediments or to identify where they could actually use help with, with some folks, with another team member coming into assist or?

Sam Falco: [25:25] Yeah. I mean some of it is, there may be conflict. People are not always comfortable with conflict. God knows I struggle with it. Um, it’s, it’s hard. And so there’s a little fear there. And I think what respect is saying is that we try to keep that in mind, that we know that’s going to be difficult and okay, so if you need some help dealing with that, maybe you go to someone privately, you go to the Scrum Master and say, Hey, you know, I’m really struggling with this person. Uh, and we just don’t seem to be able to communicate. Can you, can you sit and facilitate, um, that, that is respectful as long as it’s not slagging someone behind their back.

Dan Neumann: [26:10]  One of the activities we did when kicking off a team was the, an exercise called what I can offer and what I need which is exactly that. You know, each person on the team, on a little sheet of paper, here’s, you know, it’s a silent writing activity. Here’s what I can offer to the team. And they would identify that. So an opportunity then to discover some strengths or some abilities that your teammates have that otherwise might not have come up. And then here’s what I need from my team mates. And so as an agile coach for this team, like one of the things I needed from them was a little bit of this courage and curiosity, which curiosity’s not one of the Scrum values, but I need people being curious and willing to participate in this adoption of Scrum for that team. Um, and then, but it created a lot of, I think, a lot of opportunity for empathy and, and understanding and respect for, hey, here’s, here’s this person’s skill. Here’s what this person brings to the table. And then, oh, I see maybe how I can support them as well.

Sam Falco: [27:10] Yeah. Yeah. And I can give an anecdote. Also a way that respect kind of manifested and it had to do with conflict. I was on a team and there was, um, an analyst on the team who was really struggling with how we were setting up because we were just pinning this project up and something I said irked her and she said, you are the least agile, agile coach I’ve ever met and I could’ve been really offended by that. But I recognize that everybody has their own perspective. And I was truly curious as to what she meant by that. So I said, tell me how, and we started talking and then it got a little heated and we both kind of looked at each other and I said, let’s, let’s start drawing on the whiteboard because then we were facing the whiteboard, not each other. And we worked through the problem. I understood her perspective, why she felt I was being too rigid and we worked through the problem. We actually found a solution that neither of us had thought of in the first place because I respected her as a person, as the Scrum guide says, uh, to be capable and independent. I knew she wasn’t just trying to get under my skin. She was frustrated about something and, and we worked through it and we had a great working relationship as a result of that.

Dan Neumann: [28:29]  That’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing. So we’ve got the Scrum values of commitment, courage, openness, focus and respect in an ongoing journey. So for those people who are on Scrum teams or working with Scrum teams, really taking a chance to, to dive deep on those and see where they’re present and where they can be strengthened.

Sam Falco: [28:50] Yeah. If you’re wondering about that, bring it up in retrospective. Here are the Scrum values, are we doing these? Is there one we need to work on together as a team? You may be surprised what you find and that can lead to a deeper conversation and a better Scrum team.

Dan Neumann: [29:05]  I like asking the question for some examples. So similarly, on the values here, give us some examples where they’ve been really present and maybe some examples where they haven’t because a lot of times within organizations or within teams, you’ll end up with the spectrum. Here’s one that was really awesome where he really nailed the value and here was the exact opposite. And so then you’ve got some rich fodder for a conversation.

Sam Falco: [29:33] Right. And that was how I introduced them to that team I was talking about earlier that had never seen that and were a little resentful. I said, here are the values, here’s what it says. I just gave them what it says in the Scrum guide. I didn’t give any elaboration on it and I just said get, get in pairs and talk about, and I had them drop slips of paper with and told them to talk about a time when you’ve seen this and if you really can’t think of a time when you have talk about a time when you wish you had seen it.

Dan Neumann: [29:58]  Yeah, that’s another good imagine. Imagine that it had happened in this scenario. How would that have been different? Yeah. Cool. Well our time has flown, at least for me, Sam.

Sam Falco: [30:07] It has, yeah. I’m stunned.

Dan Neumann: [30:09]  I’m going to tease a couple upcoming episodes that we will have. We have a, a practicing psychologist who works with sports teams, with athletes. So I’m hoping to, uh, explore Tom Izzo’s coaching behavior in the recent, uh, tournament that happened where he just been berated one of the freshmen players coming off. So I think it’ll be interesting to explore coaching and maybe some of the differences with the agile coaching versus kind of athlete coaching and so we’re going to explore that, and then we have a signer of the agile manifesto that we are just busy guy, but we’re gonna get that one in here too in the next couple of weeks.

Sam Falco: [30:50] Yeah. Really looking forward to that.

Dan Neumann: [30:52]  I won’t name drop. We’ll do another time. Okay. All right. Well, Sam, what are you reading these days on your either fiction or nonfiction? Continuous learning journey?

Sam Falco: [31:03] Been pretty much strictly nonfiction lately. I am working towards becoming a professional Scrum trainer, so I’m doing a lot of reading to improve my knowledge of Scrum and really become to grips with it. Uh, one thing that I read and re-read, “The Servant As Leader,” by Robert Greenleaf, since we talk about servant leadership a lot. Uh, and I’d love to talk about that sometime with you about, there’s a lot deeper conversation to be had than we often do because there’s a very deep, profound concept. And then I just started reading, um, “Agile Project Management With Scrum,” by Ken Schwaber. And this is a book I should have read long time ago. And last time I was on the show, I, uh, I teach you about having not read 1984 before. And so I’m reading this realizing, okay, I don’t have a leg to stand on because this is something that I should have read. And, uh, so I apologize.

Dan Neumann: [31:58]  That was my first Scrum book. It was, and I, and, um, you know, that my introduction to Scrum was, you know, the, the big boss at the company who was not a consultancy, but he was like, hey, we’re doing agile. We’re going to use Scrum and it’s going to be two weeks sprints and go. I liked that was the training, uh, “Agile Project Management With Scrum” was kind of my, um, that was my first book and helped me a ton understand what these Scrum thing was you’re going to be using.

Sam Falco: [32:29] Yeah, I love that it’s just, it’s just a case study after case study. And what again is just appalling to me that I haven’t read it before and I was, there were so many times when I thought if I could just get some case studies on Scrum, well it was in a book that had been recommended to you and has been on your reading list for a decade.

Dan Neumann: [32:43]  Yeah, it’s a skinny book. Those are my favorite. So I, I also, uh, because we were having this conversation on servant leadership and really want you to understand that more deeply. The “green leaf,” a brochure, which is like 60 pages printed, like that’s a length I can consume. And “Agile Project Management With Scrum” was not too heavy a book either for me. So there’ve been agile books where I’m like, that was 500 pages of my life I will never get back. It’s, you know, and we’ll make that list public. But um, yeah, so “Agile Project Management With Scrum” is definitely one of the valuable books that I’ve read.

Sam Falco: [33:20] Yeah. You read anything?

Dan Neumann: [33:23]  Nope.

Sam Falco: [33:26] You’re a busy guy.

Dan Neumann: [33:27]  Well that’s not an excuse. It’s just a matter of priorities. Everybody’s busy. I have been running a lot and I don’t know, I tend to do a lot of thinking when I’m running. I’m not, uh, uh, an earphone’s playing music for the most part kind of person. Um, but yeah, I consuming a little bit of a agile podcasting and just kind of enjoying, enjoying the scenery and the, the, the pace of running. Keeps me, keeps me saneish. There’s lessons in there. So my uncle had gotten inducted into the Alpena, which is a city in Michigan, the sports hall of fame up there. And uh, he was kinda talking, he’s a, he’s an endurance athlete. He’s done, um, he started with marathon and then went to 50k 50 mile, 100 mile, and he’s even done some dabbling in 24 and 48 hour endurance events, which wow. Yeah. When marathoners introduce him as you won’t believe what this goofy bastard does, like it’s just a special kind of goofy. Um, but his thing, one of the things that his very short, uh, acceptance speech was about like when he gets to the line, he just wants to keep moving until he gets to the finish. And I think there’s a lot, um, a lot for Scrum teams for people in general in that, because you know, the marathon distance, you don’t master, the marathon distance. It’s 26.2 miles and you can have a plan and that’s cute. But stuff happens when you’re out there and that’s so much like software. Yeah. Yeah.

Sam Falco: [35:04] Well, if you’ve never read the short story, “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner,” by Alan Sillitoe, I highly recommend that it is about a working class kid who doesn’t have a lot of prospects and he turns to running, long distance running as a way to work out some of his, uh, emotional and physical problems. Uh, really a moving story. There was a film I think in the 60s, but um, the short story is worth reading.

Dan Neumann: [35:36]  I’ll have to check that one out. The other thing that brought to mind for me is in what I think it might’ve been in the book “Endure,” uh, which is, uh, it’s consumable but it’s a lot of science about running and it talks about how the American runners tends to approach racing differently than, than African runners do in that a lot of American runners will have decided what their time is going to be before they even start the race. And whereas, um, some other cultures, there’s so much potential upside to winning that the flaming out partway through because you went out too hard is okay. So for, for a lot of, um, I want to call them armchair runners because it takes a lot still, but for a lot of runners, it’s deciding what you’re going to do before you go in as opposed to going in, going as hard as you can and you know, maybe you have your best day and it’s amazing and maybe you flame out on the side of the road, but, um, you know, you, you’ve gone with all you can. And so I think that’s an interesting mindset too. There’s a little bit of waterfall, something in there, which just kind of having the plan all laid out for what you’re going to do as opposed to just going for it but I may be overthinking it. But with that, until next time, Sam.

Sam Falco: [36:55] Take it easy.

Outro: [37:00] This has been the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast brought to you by AgileThought, get the show notes and other helpful tips from this episode and other episodes at

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Dan Neumann

Principal Enterprise Coach

Dan Neuman is the Director of the US Transformation and Coaching practice in the Agility guild. He coaches organizations to transform the way they work to achieve their desired business outcomes.

With more than 25 years of experience, Dan Neumann is an experienced Agile Coach with a deep knowledge of Agility at the team and organizational levels. He focuses on achieving business outcomes by shifting both mindset and practices, resulting in a disciplined, yet practical approach to solving problems.



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