entering a new organization as a scrum master

Podcast Ep. 119: Entering a New Organization as a Scrum Master with Sam Falco & M.C. Moore

entering a new organization as a scrum master
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Episode Description:

This week, Dan Neumann is joined by two fellow AgileThought colleagues, Sam Falco, a Principal Trainer, and M.C. Moore, a Team Agile Coach.

Together, they explore the topic of Scrum mastery — specifically, being a Scrum Master new into an organization. There’s a lot of excitement — but also many potential pitfalls — that come with entering a new group as a Scrum Master. And as someone who joined AgileThought just six months ago, M.C. Moore, in particular, has a lot of experience in this area. He shares his top tips on what to do as you enter a new organization to build trust and vulnerability, how to break the ice with a new team, how to navigate the challenges that come along with entering a new organization that may be doing Scrum differently than you’re used to, and more.

Be sure to tune in as M.C., Sam, and Dan offer their insights on what to do when you enter a new company (that you won’t find in the Scrum Guide).

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Key Takeaways

  • Tips for a Scrum Master that is entering a new organization:
    • Start by listening (we al have preconceived notions but it is key to listen first)
    • Be open to changes and be ready for a journey
    • Set expectations and prep for change
    • Have an openness to learn and hear from the team (especially with their “whys”)
    • It is important to get feedback from a team when you step into a new culture
    • It is also key to share (ideas: share a mind map about you, hold an AMA session, etc.)
    • Hold fun/game events (helps break the ice and brings teams together) — anything that brings the teams closer and have them see that you’re human too are great in helping you all work toward the same goal(s)
    • “If you’re not having fun in the team, there’s a problem somewhere.” — Dan Neumann
    • Show vulnerability — vulnerability is a huge component of trust, and trust is the foundation of healthy conflict (if you don’t have healthy conflict, you just have conflict)
    • Reach out to get to know who they are; show a genuine interest and ask about themselves
  • Tips for a Scrum Master that is new into an that is doing Scrum differently than what we’re used to:
    • Pick and choose your “battles”
    • Ask “why” and counter with your “why” for those that have only learned Scrum halfway (“Is this working for you?”, “Are you getting value out of this?”, “Or what value do you expect to be getting out of this?”)
    • You need to crawl before you walk (oftentimes, people end up putting themselves in a bad spot because they see areas for opportunities and try to take on too much, too quickly, which creates resistance)
    • Start with (if possible) at least a couple of hours going over the Scrum framework and the “whys” of it so that the team/s understand
    • If you are not able to start with the above statement, teach as you go (it’s important to take pauses and go through the fundamentals rather than rush everyone through and overwhelm the team/s)
    • The most successful team start-ups start with the person who would eventually become the Product Owner saying, “We’re not delivering, would Scrum work? Can you come talk to my team?” Blocking off the entire afternoon, and inviting everyone (including stakeholders) so that everyone is on the same page
  • Tips for Scrum Masters around lifelong learning vs. learning Scrum once: 
    • Lifelong/continuous learning is crucial, especially in a setting where you’re moving from one organization to another
    • Continuous learning provides you with that “reset” when you entire into a new organization because you’re always staying current with industry knowledge
    • It’s easy to become comfortable if you’ve worked with your current company for a while but it is part of your evolution to progress forward and stay current
    • Read books and stay inspired
    • Go outside your four walls (such as attending virtual meetups or joining a Scrum Masters Guild) — the infusion of external ideas into your organization is invaluable
  • Differences in being a Scrum Master new to an organization working in a scaled environment vs. a not-scaled environment:
    • Many differences are organizational in nature
    • Working with a standalone Scrum team you’ll have a bit more flexibility to do things differently

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcript [This transcript is auto-generated and may not be completely accurate in its depiction of the English language or rules of grammar.]

Intro: [00:03] Welcome to the 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: [00:16] Welcome to this episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast. I’m your host, Dan Neumann, and pleased to be joined by two colleagues today. Uh, Sam Falco, a principal trainer. And we’re off to one of those starts Sam Falco principal trainer here at AgileThought and M.C. Moore a team agile coach. Thanks for joining guys. And M.C.’s first time his debut appearance on the agile coaches corner podcast. Thanks for being brave M.C. This is the mess you got into.

M.C. Moore: [00:50] Thank you. I look forward to being here with you.

Dan Neumann: [00:54] That’s wonderful. The topic we’re going to explore today is about Scrum Mastery and specifically being a Scrum Master new into an organization. And MC, This is a topic that you shared and is kind of relevant to your, your current experience.

M.C. Moore: [01:12] Yes, it is part of now it’s now part of my agile journey.

Dan Neumann: [01:15] I love it. Um, what’s what’s what, what jumped out to you? What’s what’s uh, why what’s the why for, for wanting to explore this?

M.C. Moore: [01:25] Well, for me, um, I think there’s, there’s a lot of talk, a lot of the groups that I’m a part of. Um, there are a lot of folks that want to break into, uh, being a Scrum Master and I think that’s wonderful, but I think there’s a whole nother group and especially with the pandemic and all of the change that’s happened, people that are moving from company to company or possibly industry to industry. Um, and I thought it would be a good idea to share and hear what you guys have to say. And I can add my own personal experience, uh, from, from these last few months, uh, working out at AgileThought.

Dan Neumann: [01:58] Yeah. Sam and I’m sure you’ve, you’ve had the experience of being Scrum Master at one place and then off to other places and entering as well.

Sam Falco: [02:08] Yes. I was Scrum Master for one company for many years, and then they ended that product line, laid us all off. And I went from knowing everything about my team, knowing everything about the organization I was in and everything I needed to know about the product domain I was working in to knowing none of those things. And boy was that difficult. I had to learn everything very fast, very quickly.

Dan Neumann: [02:32] Yeah. It, it, you know, it’s, um, it’s a completely new experience with, with, uh, all the excitement and potential pitfalls that come with entering, entering a new group. So, um, let’s, uh, scenario then when you, when you’re coming into an organization, you’re a Scrum Master and maybe you get there and you look and you go, huh, that’s different. That’s not how we did it. So talk a little bit, maybe MC about, um, showing up and realizing it. They’re saying Scrum, there may be calling the events by their Scrummy terms. Uh, but there’s something different there.

M.C. Moore: [03:12] You know, I think part of it for me, uh, both now, and I had worked with, uh, multiple different Scrum teams at my previous organization, but I always like to start by listening. Um, and, and even though I may have pre preconceived notions, uh, conceptions of how I think it should work. Part of the process for me has always been about, about listening. There are things that I can learn. I think there are things that the team can certainly learn. And one of the things I told, uh, I mentioned to the team and one of the first sessions, uh, daily Scrums that I led, uh, with the team was guys, um, I I’m, um, I’m myself, I’m me. Um, there are things that I’m going to do differently. There are things that I’m going to focus on as a Scrum Master that your old Scrum Master didn’t and vice versa. So please be open to the change and let’s, let’s go on the ride together. And that’s worked, worked out pretty well so far.

Dan Neumann: [04:03] So setting some expectations that, you know, I’m MC and, and, you know.

M.C. Moore: [04:09] The change is coming, um, not all of it’s bad. Um, there will be things that, again, the team can teach me and there are things that I can share with the team as well, based upon my previous experience.

Dan Neumann: [04:21] Yep. So an openness then to, to also, you said, start by listening, which is wonderful. It’s a great place to start and hearing from the team, maybe some of the whys that are behind that.

M.C. Moore: [04:32] Exactly. Especially as Sam had mentioned before coming into a new organization with a different culture. Uh, so many things that you just may not know, uh, stepping into the role, it’s important to, to get that feedback from the team as well. Yes,

Sam Falco: [04:48] I have. I agree with you MC there is an additional thing you start by listening, but you also can profit from starting by sharing. One of the companies I came to, I discovered actually during the interview process that in six months they’d had three different Scrum Masters who joined the team, then we’re immediately looking for other work. They basically took it as a stop gap. Oh, I can do this. And while I move on and they were shell shocked and they were basically afraid of getting to know someone new. So in addition to having one-on-ones with them, where I listened to them and listen to their concerns, I did a, an ask me anything session. I created a map, a mind map of about me basically. Um, I got the idea out of one of Juergen Apellis books. I’m not sure if I just pronounced his last name correctly or not, but there were categories for education, work, life, family values, et cetera. And I just had stuff on, I said, put that up on the screen. I said, for the next half hour, you can ask me anything about what I’ve put on here and I will answer truthfully. And so you get to know me and they zoomed in on a few things that I would not, I would have ignored, but that was what they wanted to know. And that gave them the sense that I was going to be open with them. And then that help them be open with me.

M.C. Moore: [06:19] Excellent. And I, and I’m too a big believer in consistent persistent teams. Um, and that includes your Scrum Master and your Product Owner. Um, I think for me, one of the things that helped to break the ice and, uh, bring the teams together, something that I’ve done for quite a while are my fun and game Friday events, you know, it helps with the bonding, so anything to, to bring the teams closer and to have them see that you’re real and human and have, you know, things that, that, that are out there and we’re all working toward together. Uh, it’s, that’s a great point.

Dan Neumann: [06:55] So I can imagine somebody might be like, wait, what fun and games Fridays, we just knock off and don’t do work on Friday. Maybe you can expand on what to, uh, what do you do on a fun end game Friday?

M.C. Moore: [07:05] For me, it’s, it’s a way, uh, I like Fridays because it’s a great day of the week, week. It’s kind of the stepping off point to the weekend. I do like to do something that is completely outside and away from work. It does not detract, you know, from, from what we want to accomplish for the day. We usually take about the last 15 minutes after our daily Scrum is completed and, and play an activity. Um, and, and I use those as opportunities to kind of reinforce some of our agile and Scrum fundamentals. Um, there’s, there’s a, there’s a learning. And in each one of the different exercises that we do, and we learn a little bit about one another and we laugh a bit, um, and it really helps to get the weekend off to a great start.

Dan Neumann: [07:45] That’s super cool. Yeah. And you’d mentioned laughing. That’s one of like, if we could come up with a metric about healthy teams, like counting laughs during events, you know, it’s not a rolling joke fast, but if you’re not having fun in the team, there’s a problem somewhere, you know,

M.C. Moore: [08:02] That’s. And for me, as I stepped onto a new team or any homies step into a new team, it’s it’s to break down and to break the ice because it gets to be kind of kind of tense. Um, people are feeling you out, you’re feeling the team out, um, and when you can laugh, um, it helps in that, that transitional process.

Dan Neumann: [08:21] I think it does. And just, there’s something about entering the group. That’s there’s, I think there’s an important art and probably some science to it. So we talked about a couple of things. One is sharing, so you’re, uh, you know, not your deepest, most personal secret, um, you want to, but that’s, that’s a good way to weird people out real fast, you know, but, but an appropriate level of sharing, uh, an appropriate level of giving an opportunity for other people to share.

Sam Falco: [08:52] Right? The reason I did that was essentially, I was making myself vulnerable in a very small calculated way, showing that vulnerability was acceptable to me. And vulnerability is a huge component of trust. Trust is the foundation. If you don’t have trust, you can’t get to healthy conflict, right? There’s sometimes you can do, when you go into a team, you say, wow, there’s no conflict on this team. If you really dig in, you find out that it’s an artificial harmony. People don’t have the trust to speak up and engage in conflict. And then that causes some other cascading problems. So I was not sharing for the sake of sharing, but to demonstrate that vulnerability is acceptable, vulnerability will not be taken advantage of. And then that encouraged others to do the same thing. And then by, by not taking advantage of their vulnerability, but, uh, helping them show that to me, show that to the other members of the team, because in that situation, there was, there was a lot of friction from the shell shock of the previous Scrum Masters leaving so rapidly in succession, and then people not knowing how to relate to each other because these past Scrum Masters had not spent the time on the team dynamics that were necessary to get them beyond that, to use Tuckman’s model forming and storming phases, uh, into something approximating a performance team.

M.C. Moore: [10:30] I agree. I really liked that, that notion of trust and, uh, continuing it, uh, within the team. I think for me, one of the things that has worked well, um, as I’ve stepped onto new teams, is to reach out, to get to know people and to ask them who they are and ask about them and, you know, showing a genuine interest. Um, those are the kinds of things that help to foster and build that trust as well.

Dan Neumann: [10:55] A lot of, a lot of that being new then empathizing with where they’re at doing some appropriate level of sharing and vulnerability, um, seeking to build those individual relationships, uh, super important, even though they’re not, you know, in the Scrum Guide, you’re not going to see the Scrum guide say, here’s what to do when you enter it, enter the team. So that’s awesome. Hopefully some, some good takeaways for folks there. What about a scenario, you’re a Scrum Master. You walk into a room and you go, Ooh, that’s, that’s, that’s not how I recognize Scrum. Uh, we don’t do retrospectives cause they were wasteful. Um, we do 45 minute daily Scrums. Uh, sprint planning is an hour because, you know, we want to get in and get out as fast. Some of those, some of those things that you walk in, you go, Ooh, that there might be some opportunities here from a mechanics. What, what have you guys seen work as far as kind of handling that, that difference or that gap when entering into a group?

M.C. Moore: [11:54] Well, I think, uh, for me, um, so much of it is kind of picking your battles, you know, uh, obviously they’re going to be somethings that are more important and more pressing for the team. Uh, and that, that observation, that listening kind of comes into play. Um, I think I couple that with the Y uh, for me, um, there are times when people, as they’ve gotten started in Scrum, they learned it, but they learned it halfway or maybe they learned it all the way and they’ve gotten lazy. They’re there in any number of things that may have happened. So I tend to come in with, uh, uh, asking why, um, and then explaining why, uh, on, you know, the counter, um, it’s, that’s why our Sprint plannings are so important. That’s why we conduct a retrospective. That’s why, um, so that, so that people will understand and we don’t do it just for the sake of doing it.

Sam Falco: [12:45]
I agree. And in addition to asking, why is this working for you, right? Are you getting value out of this? Or what value do you expect to be getting out of this? So I think I’ve told this story on the podcast before, probably in the, one of the first couple of episodes that we did, but I went in and I’m watching things. And I, we go to the first of the Sprint reviews that I’m there to see. And I knew something was going to be up when I saw that the title of it was Sprint demo. And it was only a half an hour for a two week Sprint. And we went in and, you know, developers filed in stakeholders, filed in, sat around the edges, lights went down, developers did their thing while stakeholders barely paid attention, unless they heard their name called. And then everybody got up and filed out. And I said, interesting. Tell me about how you arrived at that practice. And it was something, I think you just said it like, we wanted to make sure this was fast. I’m like, well, do you find this practice valuable? Not really. Would you like it to be valuable? And then we went to the Scrum Guide because to MCs point, this was a product owner who had had no training in Scrum, just you’re a product owner used to be a project manager, but we are now agile. So here you’re a product owner. And that means you do what you used to do, but you also have sprint demos, went to the Scrum Guide, talked through the section on sprint review. This is why we do this. And she started thinking, ah, that’s the value I’m supposed to be getting. And so we were able to make little changes a little bit by a little bit to get the organization on board with, we’re going to spend a good chunk of time doing this, but it’s not just a dog and pony show.

M.C. Moore: [14:31] That’s a really good point there, Sam, those, those little changes. Um, I think sometimes people end up putting the sales in a bad spot because they see areas for opportunities and try to take on too much, too quickly. And again, it creates resistance within the team. So it’s, it’s the got, gotta crawl before you can walk out of the thing, picking your battles, introducing small changes, seeing how it works. Um, all, all great points

Dan Neumann: [14:58] As far as, um, too much too quickly. Do you see that as a, an opportunity also when, when launching new teams and I think of a scenario so new to an organization is one thing, maybe new, new to a team or a particular, a brand new team would be another one kind of figuring out which elements of Scrum. I don’t want to say what y’all is, cause you want to, you want to do Scrum. You want all the stuff of Scrum there. Um, and actually this is a little bit kind of nodding back to the principles versus practices, podcasts that Sam and I were doing, like, where do you start?

Sam Falco: [15:33] I have spun up a lot of teams from scratch and I’ve always started with, well, I have always wanted to have the opportunity started with at least a couple of hours of going over the Scrum framework and the why’s of it so that they understand it’s part of the team formation activities. And when I haven’t been able to do that, we have run a ground very quickly because what we’re doing these things, but we don’t know why. So I prefer to start with, Hey, let’s all sit down and figure out not just what we’re going to do, but why are we doing this? What’s the value that we’re supposed to get out of it so that it gets them on a good footing for doing it well, right from the get go.

M.C. Moore: [16:17] Agreed. I tend to, uh, know in a setting like that teach as I go. Um, so we, we step into the various, uh, Scrum events. We talk them through. I explain the why, but, um, I’m trying to teach, trying to add a little bit too often that the teams that I’ve had to spin up, it’s like the saying, it’s welcome to the team you’re late. Um, so we’ve not had the luxury of being able to really sit down and pause and go through the, the fundamentals it’s it’s got to go. And so I use those opportunities to teach as, as I go and, and as we come up, come up to a, another Scrum event, gives me an opportunity to explain the why, and then we kind of dive into it.

Sam Falco: [17:02] I want to add on to that. Yeah, that’s, that’s true. Like sometimes you don’t have that time teach as you go. And I do a little of that as well. I give them the overview, but I’m continually teaching, especially in the early sprints, another factor. And I was just thinking, as you were talking, the most successful team startup, I have had started with the person who would eventually become the product owner saying, Hey, we’re not delivering would Scrum work. Can you come talk to my team for an afternoon? And he blocked off the entire afternoon, but he didn’t just invite his team. He invited his stakeholders. And so everybody understood the stakeholders understood. And so there was a lot less resistance to, I have to sit for how long in a sprint review. They understood. We’re going to block out two hours for a two week sprint in this case sprint review. And here’s why you’re supposed to be there, what you’re supposed to be doing and the value you’re supposed to be getting and providing. And that collaborative relationship started from right off from the beginning. Um, so that made things a lot easier and that team came out of the gate and it’s the only team that I’ve ever seen that achieved their first sprint goal entirely. Like they got it done. It was high quality and they even achieved their entire scope, which is rare. So that was a good example of starting up with education.

Dan Neumann: [18:30] So as a, as a Scrum Master is entering an organization. Sometimes there’s a big difference in maybe how current, the thinking around Scrum would be in a previous episode, Sam and I were talking about the agile project management with Scrum book that I pulled off my shelf over here, uh, from 2006 and I read through there and I go, Ooh, yeah, things have changed in the last 15 years from a Scrum framework standpoint. So, um, maybe you could share some of the, your thoughts around, you know, lifelong learning versus, um, you know, uh, having learned something 10 years ago and, and not evolved it since then.

M.C. Moore: [19:22] Sure. Dan, I, um, I’m a big believer in that lifelong learning. Um, I think it’s important and especially in a setting like this, when you’re moving from one organization to another, um, it helps you to, to reset and to be able to take on that new challenge because you’re staying current with industry knowledge. I think we can become comfortable. You know, if you’re working as a Scrum Master for your current company and you’ve done it for quite a while, sometimes we’ve become a little complacent, uh, as well. Um, but, but this is part of the, the evolution, the process that we go through so that if that opportunity comes your way, you’re able to, to move and you’ll be current. I mean, unfortunately for some folks, if, if they don’t stay current, it becomes, um, you know, something that pops up in an interview. So you never even have that opportunity, um, to make the transition.

Sam Falco: [20:15] I remember interviewing for a job. And one of the things they asked was what are you reading lately? And fortunately, I’m constantly reading. So I forget what book it was, but it was a current one that had recently been published. And I had picked up on some things in the interview that mapped to what I was reading. And I was able to say, well, I’m reading this book. And this problem that you talked about might be able to be addressed by this pattern that this author is describing. So if you hire me, we might try this. Well I got the job. And I was told later that the entire interview came down to that moment that, wow, this guy is constantly learning and he’s already thinking about how he can make our teams better. And they brought me on board.

Dan Neumann: [20:59] It’s interesting to see how some types of books are almost ubiquitous. And I, I had the, uh, the opposite of a positive experience I was interviewing for a position. And basically the question was like, so, you know, tell me about your first 90 days. And me I’m like, I don’t know. I prepared a lot of stuff mentally for that interview. I had no idea what they were talking about. Right. Didn’t know, there’s a book called 90 days. Um, I also learned that critiquing the interviewer was not an effective strategy versus because I mean, in transparency, I thought, well, if you, if you wanted a presentation based on what my first 90 days would be, it would have been helpful to kind of know that ahead of time. And you know, that was not appreciated, but I think we’re both happy that that didn’t work out.

Sam Falco: [21:51] I think, um, another like tangential to what MC raised was sometimes organizations themselves get this attitude that they don’t need to go outside and learn anything new, that everything we, especially large companies, I worked for a very large organization that had, well, we have our internal community of practice. We have, we, we had a consultant come in and teach us things and okay, great. And the funny thing is I would suggest something, there’d be a little resistance to it, but sometimes I’d say, well, let’s try this and Oh, wow. Sam’s a genius. I’m not a genius. I just read stuff, I go to meetups, I hear things. This is not, I forget specifically what practice spurred this. It might’ve been pair programming and I didn’t come up with this. I’m borrowed it from someplace. And I didn’t even know that it would work here. I just thought let’s try it. And I would say to the other Scrum Masters, Hey, you know, you could do this too. Come with me. No, no, no. We have our internal community practice. Yeah. Well, how, how far has that gotten you?

Dan Neumann: [23:05] I see that with, um, with organizations, especially smaller ones, you have some big organizations, they can have a heard of agile coaches internal to the organization, and that’s great. God help you if they’re not getting outside your four walls, uh, right. But a smaller organization who maybe has five or six Scrum Masters, please go outside your four walls, go, meetups are all virtual. You can attend one at any hour, anywhere in the world, anytime right now. Um, and just having that, that infusion of external ideas into your organization is, is super valuable.

M.C. Moore: [23:43] No, I agree. I’ve had the luxury of being able to reach out meetups from London, through Texas out to California. And what’s really interesting, um, is getting those different perspectives from different people. It’s all good information, but different people kind of focus, uh, on, on different, different ways. Um, you know, forming or getting involved in a, in a Scrum Masters Guild is, you know, something that really helps to build me up, um, and therefore helped to build, build up the teams that I work with, uh, on a regular basis. You know, those kinds of things go a long way.

Sam Falco: [24:22] Yeah. MC is that Scrum Masters Guild. And so I want to put a plug in here. I’m part of the group that runs the Tampa Bay, Scrum Masters Guild. And we meet the first Wednesday of every month. We’re having one so next week, next Wednesday night, I started going to the Guild right after it was started by our colleague, Adam Ulery. And my Scrum understanding knowledge took off. It was exponential growth in my career as a result of that. So if you’re in the Tampa Bay area, you can go on, meetup, look for Tampa Bay agile. You don’t have to be in Tampa Bay. Obviously it’s a virtual meetup, but this month’s topic in fact is going to be or next month’s topic is going to be, how do you want to grow your Scrum skills in 2021? That’s the kind of thing we do.

Dan Neumann: [25:13] That’s super cool. Yeah. And so that, that continuous learning adventure, and I, I feel like I generally am a continuous learner, not the degree to which Sam or MC I’m thinking, but I’ve also found transitions is really big catalyst for like, Oh, now I need to brush up on, on X, Y or Z. So, um, opportunities there and transitions. Let’s shift a little bit. Uh, there are some organizations that are having single teams working on single products, and then some organizations are scaled so many teams working on the same product and needing to coordinate their delivery of value. What differences have you guys seen as far as, uh, being a Scrum Master new to those in a scaled versus a not scaled environment?

M.C. Moore: [26:03] Um, a lot of the differences, uh, probably will be organizational, uh, in nature. Um, working in that, uh, team of teams working, you know, uh, toward a product. Some people might call it bureaucracy, but it is what it is. Um, whereas, you know, working with a standalone Scrum team, you have a little bit more flexibility, um, to do things you know, differently. Um, so it’s, it’s another consideration, you know, obviously you, you you’re being hired into that role. So obviously you have some experience doing it, so that should hopefully make it an easier transition. Um, I did notice that because more of my experience, uh, prior to was working a scaled setting and to come back and work with more standalone teams was refreshing. Um, because again, it wasn’t as click, click, click, um, as you sometimes experience in those settings.

Sam Falco: [26:56] Yeah. My transition went the opposite direction. I started out in single team Scrum. Went to an organization that was just beginning to ramp up. And so we had to build the scaling on our own and I was woefully uninformed about scaling. So it was really hard for me to give some advice, looking back the scaling, we didn’t use a scaling framework. We didn’t use safe. We didn’t use any, any of the previously built ones. We just sort of said, well, what do we need looking back? Because it was not just me. It was a couple of other Scrum Masters. We put our heads together and we came up with something that worked for that organization that actually incorporated the things we needed to do. How do you get teams talking? How do you manage dependencies between teams? How do you plan at a portfolio level? Somehow we managed to put that together. I left that organization for company that was using SAFe, and that was a huge culture shock for me because SAFe does actually make some changes to the way Scrum works. That to me were, well, I’ll say it. I felt that they were abominable. Like I just thought this was a violation. This isn’t agile. And I went, I went full, like, this is horrible. You shouldn’t be doing this. And I had to take a deep breath step back and go, okay, I see why this is happening. And I see the need for these things. And maybe I should be a little less judgmental. I must be honest. I should be a lot less judgment.

Dan Neumann: [28:24] Where’s the fun in that? No, so yeah, so, so not judging. Uh, and I also think it’s important to kind of figure out where the autonomy is. I think maybe Esther Derby was the first person I heard use the term bounded autonomy. So within this, or in this realm of decision-making, you are autonomous. And when you’re in a scaled environment, um, sometimes that boundary shifts. So if we are in a program of work, um, maybe we agree to a certain practices with backlog refinement. How do we signal that things are actually ready so that we, when we roll it up, we get our perspective on that. We agreed who maybe some general guidelines about how big something we call a feature should be, or how big a story should be, or do we use epics? And so, where, if you’re a team by yourself, I mean, you could call them cats and dogs, and it doesn’t matter if they’re in the product backlog, you could deliver them, but you start talking to weird things about your product backlog in a scaled environment, lots of confusion. So with our time today, we talked about Scrum Masters, being new into an organization, talked about some of the entering the group, building trust, showing some vulnerability to help enable trust. We then talked about how to navigate some of the challenges where an organization’s maybe calling something Scrum, but it’s not quite Scrum. Or maybe you’re learning that some of the things I thought were Scrum are off base as, as a Scrum Master entering an organization. So kind of picking your battles, finding out where, where to nudge and how much to change, and then, uh, explored lifelong learning and, uh, scaled versus not scaled and, and kinda how that factors in. So reaching back to lifelong learning, what’s on your lifelong learning journey these days, Sam and MC what are you reading?

Sam Falco: [30:18] I’m still plowing through the book. I’ve mentioned the last couple of times discovered to the learners. So getting a lot of value, I sell it. I make it sound like it’s a chore. I’m still absorbing. I’m still rereading that. But separate to that, another area of interest for me is creativity and how creative people work. And so I’m reading a book called a handful of earth, a handful of sky, the world of Octavia E Butler by Lanelle George. This, I thought it was a biography when I saw it. It’s a new release, but it is less a biography than a study of how Butler who was a, an award-winning science fiction writer, visionary, literally genius, because she was a MacArthur genius award winner, how she shaped herself and her own creative path. So it’s, it’s sort of a story of how she became Octavia E Butler rather than a biography of her. And it’s really moving.

Dan Neumann: [31:17] Very cool. Thanks for sharing. What about you MC?

M.C. Moore: [31:21] Um, you know, I, I joined, uh, through one of the meetup groups, um, that I’m a part of joined a book club. Um, and we are currently, we just start, we had our first session last Saturday. Um, it’s a coaching agile teams by Lisa Adkins, um, kind of a foundational document. Um, really good read though, um, where we’re going to slice the book into multiple sessions. Um, and it’s always good to get other people again, it’s, it’s not only reading the book, but I’m getting other perspectives of other Scrum Masters that are part of this book club. So I think it’s a, it’s a twofer for me, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Dan Neumann: [31:59]
I love it. Yeah, I’ve used that book. Uh, it was a coach development program at a client and we use that book kind of chapter by chapter and paired it with some exercises to really, um, some intentional practice to drive those things home. That’s awesome. I did realize I’ve actually been working on reading something because again, I know, right. Bam just fell out of his chair. Well, it’s, it’s long God, it’s 20 hours of audio book. Um, it’s called console Wars by Blake Harris, how Sega and Nintendo and the battle that defined a generation. Um, and one of the things that I find interesting is just how fast some of the things in those organizations happened. Obviously it’s, it’s a long story about Sega and Nintendo and back and forth, but, you know, they decided to, they say, God decided they were going to drop the prices one night because they got the scoop that Nintendo was going to announce a new price drop the next morning. So Nintendo or Sega of America spent the night redid their price, the program, their sheets, et cetera, for a show and beaten Nintendo to the punch. And it’s just, uh, it was really astounding to see how fast they were able to move. And so thinking of agility, responding to change over, following a plan, um, there’s some really interesting examples of how, how Sega was able to do that in some cases. So, yeah, that’s, that’s my little book. So Sam, MC, thank you very much for, for joining and contributing so much to this episode.

Sam Falco: [33:34] Always a pleasure.

M.C. Moore: [33:35] Thank you, sir.

Dan Neumann: [33:36]
For our listeners, for you, our listeners, uh, thank you for listening. And if you don’t mind hopping out to your favorite podcast source of choice and dropping your review, we’d very much appreciate the help and having other people discover the agile coaches corner podcast. Thanks for listening.

Outro: [33:54] This has been the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast brought to you by AgileThought. The views, opinions and information expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and the guests, and do not necessarily represent those of AgileThought. Get the show notes and other helpful tips for this episode and other episodes at agilethought.com/podcast.

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