DocDur Agile is an open office where Agile Practitioners can ask any question they encounter in practice situations and would like to have some advice or a different perspective. Think of it as seeing a regular doctor have a physical check-up.
If you have questions or requests that you would like the Doc to have a check on, please drop a message on LinkedIn or join the Mastering Agility Discord community!
Sander Dur (host)
Scrum Master, Agile Coach, trainer, and podcast host for ‘Mastering Agility”
Sander Dur is a Professional Scrum Trainer at Scrum.org, podcast host of Mastering Agility, Professional Scrum Master and Lead Agile Consultant, and trainer at Xebia. Besides this, he’s an avid writer for predominantly Serious Scrum on Medium.com. Sander has a major passion for the human side in complex domains. Ensuring a high level of psychological safety, therefore, is a critical part of his work. Organizations in complex domains can only survive when innovating. Innovation can only take place with the right balance between low social friction and high intellectual friction. While most organizations now understand how to apply Agile frameworks, they struggle with the delivery of value. Psychological safety is the next step in this evolution and Sander has a huge drive to help organizations reach that step.
He gained experience as a Scrum Master, Agile Coach, and Leadership consultant in many different top-tier organizations, including Nike and ASML.
Sander is enthusiastic, open-minded, and ambitious. He finds interpersonal relationships and intrinsic motivations very important in team dynamics. Besides his work, Sander loves to spend time with his family, enjoys sports and eating healthy, barbecuing, riding his motorcycle, and traveling.
Let’s connect! Sander is always up for new connections and discussions!
Discord community: https://discord.gg/6YJamBJxUV
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Sander Dur 00:04
Welcome back beautiful people to an all new season of the mastering agility podcast. I hope you’re having an awesome summer you have some time to sit back, relax, as they say re energize that Barry. Thank you again for being here. I hope we can provide you with a lot more awesome inspiring people and podcasts. But before heading into today’s episode, I want to give a massive shout out to the mastering agility discord community, as one of the people in there said we’re putting the unity in community. sounds a bit cheesy. But I think that’s exactly what’s happening. I see people getting together bonding inspiring each other and one of the initiatives, initiatives that came forward by Elizabeth and thank you very much for actually putting this through a screening and mastering agility book club that will launch coming Thursday the 11th and you can subscribe or you can attend an event through joining the mastering agility discord community. I’ll put the link in the show notes. I hope to see you guys there. As for today’s episode, we’re kicking off with Dr. Agile Dr. As I say, Dr. Agile number four, or number three, it’s actually yeah, number three. And then man that Taylor is joining us. Let’s see what problems she wants to put in to the doctor’s office. Man, what can I do for you today?
Amanda Taylor 01:33
Hi. So my first question is, as a new Scrum Master, how do you figure out when the team or developers have an an impediment without them explicitly stating it?
Sander Dur 01:48
That’s a good question. Is there a specific situation where you run into where you ran into this situation where you were like, well, I’m seeing something here?
Amanda Taylor 01:57
Well, I have one team that they kind of during the daily standup, they were like, you know, running through it. Everyone had no blockers. But then, like the following day, during the standup, they would talk about Yeah, today I’m just fixing a problem that we had yesterday, but no blockers again, like nobody wants to identify or state the blockers, how do I like, understand what they’re talking about from wanting to know that there might be a problem. And this is coming from a non technical side, right? So without being a with being a non technical Scrum Master, how do I really help them be able to collaborate better and identify, you know, when there is an impediment or a blocker.
Sander Dur 02:46
I’m actually in the same boat as you are, because I have zero technical expertise never had never will. The things that I’m trying to look at is float and the achievement of sprint goals. I mean, if if you see product backlog items, they have been stuck in the product or in the sprint backlog in the same position that they have been for days. So you get really large cycle time, really long cycle time or throughput, low throughput, low achievement of goals, that would be a signal like there are a latent issues that we need to work on. But apparently, they’re not being brought up and whether the daily Scrum is the right opportunity or the right moment or event to do so. I didn’t ask the scrum master doesn’t even have to be there. But if never, ever, never, anyone actually explicitly mentioned like this is blocking us. This is one of our impediments that we need to work with. Yet you as a scrum master signal that there is an impediment in flow or an impediment in the achievement of those sprint sprint goals. I would definitely make that transparent, either in the sprint retrospective or even before. Have you ever tried that?
Amanda Taylor 03:59
The team that I started, they were more on like a kanban team basis. So they hadn’t had a retrospective in a long time. So when I joined the team, they quickly had one within my onboarding to kind of show me what it looks like. While we were in a place of still building rapport and trying to get to me scheduling all the meetings. So no, I haven’t tried to In a retrospective, but that’s a great idea.
Sander Dur 04:30
You mentioned that they’re using their Kanban team, they’re using camera. But the entire idea. The whole purpose of Kanban is also to visualize the flow that you have, are they for instance using cumulative flow diagrams of where you could observe these kinds of things where you can exactly pinpoint this would be a bottleneck in our flow. There. Apparently we have some impediments over here that you can work with.
Amanda Taylor 04:54
Yeah, they actually have not been using any diagrams. The only thing they use was The JIRA board. So it was really hard to even like, figure out what they were doing and and pick up on their overall goals. Anytime I spoke to the product owner, they were kind of like, vague, but also, they were really running the team and kind of like, driving forward all of the things that the team was doing. So it was really hard for me to like, really immerse myself with that one team in particular. Yeah.
Sander Dur 05:32
How did this or come on board look like? Like, what are the steps that they they had
Amanda Taylor 05:37
11 columns? For? Yeah, a bit overwhelming. They had a column for everything QA, UA, T, QA, complete Oracle, all of the different things that they were doing. And it was just, it made sense to them. So as a new Scrum Master, I didn’t want to, like come in and demand for something that was clear to, you know, anyone was looking because it’s not for me, it’s for them. So if it made sense for them, then, you know, I was comfortable with at least seeing how it worked. In theory, but yeah, we did not, we’ve not gotten far.
Sander Dur 06:23
Do you think? Did it work with something like Work in Progress limit? Or, for instance, if you have those workable, low, separate columns? Is that in progress and done? Or is it just the general so everything
Amanda Taylor 06:38
kind of was in progress, there was one column for it to do. And then like, seven or eight of them, kind of was like in progress, except for the QA complete, and then all the way to the right will be like, fully complete, they did have whip limits that they have explicitly stated in their team working agreement. But I don’t think that they were really truly like, following your adhering to the team working agreement. So like, as a new Scrum Master, my plan was to revisit the team working agreement, at some point just to make sure that we’re all on the same page, and adhering to what we initially agreed on or making adjustments, because, you know, I’m the new scrum master. So I have to also give my input, at least, and like helping them stick to their agreement. So
Sander Dur 07:28
it feels like they’re just doing Kanban and name only and sort of cherry picking. So what I would do in such a situation is really observe, like, what are we supposed to do? What do we want to do? Where do we want to be at? And what’s the gap between that? Are we actually doing what we’re supposed to do? If we’re using Gumball, we should be using it as it should be used. Same with Scrum, if you’re going to implement Scrum, and just run through the mechanics, you’re not going to reap the benefits that any framework is trying to offer you. So we’re basically or they’re trying to they’re shooting themselves in the foot yet wonder Wait a shot came from? And that’s what’s going on here? I would have a good hard look, what’s going on? Why are we not using it as it’s supposed to be used? And what can we do to improve? I think, if she would do that, you would uncover a whole lot of symptoms, behavioral issues, probably impediments in the organizational flow as well. Definitely be my diagnose for this specific question.
Amanda Taylor 08:28
Yeah. So I have a separate team that is very transparent about their blockers. What happens when they do have an impediment, and no one is offering to collaborate with them during parking lot? And they’re not really getting any support from their teammates, and they’re just stuck?
Sander Dur 08:49
Oh, that’s a good question. How do you define team is such a case? Are you actually working as a team, or it just works as a group of individuals that happens to work simultaneously, but yet, doesn’t really try to achieve the same goals? Okay, tell me a little bit more about dynamics in the culture that’s going
Amanda Taylor 09:07
on? Yeah, so there are more of a infrastructure team. So they have a lot of like, all the developers specialize in different things, whether it be like Oracle or testing or any of the other programs. So they’re not very cross functional. And so like, my goal, obviously, ultimately, would be to help them become more cross functional. And so my ideas initially were like doing like a lunch and learn or something like that, where like each developer can kind of teach to their skill, and help the team become more cross functional. But other than that, it’s like everyone feels very siloed in the moment. Sometimes they’re able to help each other and it’s really great when they collaborate. But I remember for example, one developer was just released stuck with something and they brought up during parking lot. And it was like crickets. I took no for what their problem was. So I can talk to the other Scrum Masters in the company to see if anyone on their team specializes in that particular thing. Because cross functionality doesn’t just stick to within that one team. It’s like, we’re all working for the same company, and ultimately the same goal. So I felt like that was okay. But I think it was really frustrating in the moment for that developer.
Sander Dur 10:31
Are they working on the same goals? Like, do they have sprint goals or whatever framework that they’re that they’re using? Are they aligned when it comes to their goals and how to collaborate on achieving across teams
Amanda Taylor 10:44
are within the same team?
Sander Dur 10:46
Within the same team? Yeah.
Amanda Taylor 10:50
Because because their infrastructure, I feel like they all have different things that pop up continuously. It’s not like they’re all working towards one project, or one goal. I remember, like, some of their tickets were like mounting a TV in the board room, or somebody else is working towards the system software update. And they’re all in one team. So it was kind of hard, like, they’re not all working towards the same thing. But they’re all working towards their own tickets and their users user stories that they’re working through. So and they’re working with Scrum framework. That’s what they said. So they hired me send me their scrum master.
Sander Dur 11:31
The thing is, and that’s what I see happening quite a bit is that organizations treat scrum as their silver bullet, their magic wand that’s gonna fit every single issue that might be happening. But if you, for instance, activities like hanging TV in the boardroom, it doesn’t really reside in that complex domain where scrum really thrives. So whether Scrum is the actual good fit use for that, for those things that are trying to solve would be a good question. Don’t have don’t have your organization really think that Scrum is going to solve all their issues. Look at what the issue is that you’re trying to fix and what might be the best fit for that scrum does not fit everything, agreed. And that’s it for today’s episode. Thank you very much again for listening for tuning in. If you liked this episode in the series, please give us a five star rating a thumbs up on whatever platform that you’re using. Share the friends, colleagues, family, any anyone that you feel might benefit from this show and it really helps us tremendously to grow this platform and to grow the show itself. We’re working on a lot more awesome things to do. And one of those things is the mastering agility book club. Please again, join the discord community to attend that those events run by Elizabeth Axavidou. I’ll share the link in the show notes and hopefully, we’ll see you back the next episode. Have an awesome day guys.