April 5, 2016
Challenge the way you work. Stay happy & productive!
Let’s continue to explore together how you can challenge the status quo and the way you work. After seeing 2 useful methods for the Product Owner | Business Analyst | Product Manager role, you will find in this article techniques you can apply if you are a Scrum Master.
Scrum Master challenges
Wearing the badge of Scrum Master, you are interested to improve collaboration in your team, to help removing impediments, to facilitate and to offer guidance to the team members. In the quest of keeping all these in a balance, you may encounter yourself in the following situations:
- You are looking for new ways to run retrospectives as the current ones are not too productive or fun
- You struggle with identifying impediments & their roots or to frame the current issues
- You want to be exposed to new ways of keeping track of the work and have access to the information in one glance
- You want to improve your coaching skills
You can experiment various techniques to overcome these challenges. If not used until now, here’s 3 you can start with:
If you are also experimenting with different techniques & practices to challenge the way you work, let us know in a comment below.
The Starfish Retrospective is a simple, yet powerful tool to better understand what can the team do better. Using this technique, you can:
- quickly identify the techniques & practices your team should Start, Stop, Keep, Do Less or Do More of these
- give the team a focused approach for continuous improvement
- offer a clear overview of the way the team works
Briefly, draw 5 spokes in a flip chart paper, diving it into 5 segments. Label them Start, Stop, Continue, Do More, and Do Less. Ask the participants to write their proposals on sticky notes and put them in the appropiate segment. After clustering stickies that capture the same idea, dot vote on suggestions to try.
√ Start: the team members can introduce new techniques or suggest new things to try that will bring more value to the overall project or increase the speed of the delivery.
√ Stop: here are included activities and practices that either don’t bring value, are not very helpful for the team or they don’t improve the quality of delivery.
√ Continue: in this segment, team members post information related with all the good things on the project and they wouldn’t want to change.
√ Do more: focuses on aspects, techniques, practices, technologies etc. that the team find useful, but they are not taking full advantage of it.
√ Do Less: marks practices and techniques that require more time or are not very helpful in the given context.
By repeatedly asking the question “Why”, you can identify the layers of symptoms which can lead to the root cause of a problem. This technique will:
- help you quickly uncover the root of a problem, so that you can deal with it once and for all
- obtain useful insights for solving simple and complex issues
- offer a deep understanding even in complex environments
Brief: to apply the 5-whys technique, divide the participants into small groups (<= 4) and give each group one of the top identified issues. One person of the group should ask the others “Why did that happen?” repeatedly to find the root cause or a chain of events. The answers they give should be recorded. Afterwards, let the groups share their findings.
Checklists have proven to be highly effective in many domains, from medical field to the aviation one. As a Scrum Master, you can also benefit from using checklist to:
- help you clearly map a wide range of activities, no matter the role, to save time
- improve the work routine in a reliable manner
- you can create your own reliable tools to never miss a should-be-done step for achieving good results
Checklists can cover:
- engineering practices
- readiness of specs
- level of doneness
- meetings facilitation
- sprint planning
If you are looking for an example of checklists usage, you can find more here.
You can practice these techniques and more also by attending workshops:
- Advanced Scrum Master Skills Workshop
- Management 3.0 – Hands-on Leadership Workshop
- Improving Business Process with Value Stream Mapping Workshop
You might want to acquire new skills or improve your current approach by attending one of the following:
Let us know what other challenges you encountered. We’ll be glad for you to find practical solutions to your needs in the following communications. Stay happy and productive!