Team Building Mental Models

TL;DR: Team Building Mental Models

Team building has always been a challenge, not just since the advent of agile frameworks and the resulting emphasis on self-organization, engagement, and achieving a valuable objective. This post covers four team building mental models — or concepts — that have proven useful in understanding the context of creating agile teams: from Taylorism to Tuckman to Lencioni to Dan Pink.

Team Building Mental Models — Age of Product

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Hiring: 38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters [PDF and Video]

Scrum Master Hiring: Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Agile Practitioners is No Exception

Maybe, “Agile” in general is a management fad and not trend at the moment. But what we can say for sure is that Scrum has become very popular for software development purposes. A seasoned Scrum master is nowadays in high demand. And that demand causes the market-entry of new professionals from other project management branches, probably believing that reading one or two Scrum books will be sufficient.

If you are looking to fill a position for a Scrum master (or agile coach) in your organization, you may find the following 38+9 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my thirteen years of practical experience with XP as well as Scrum, serving both as product owner and Scrum Master as well as interviewing dozens of Scrum Master candidates on behalf of my clients.

So far, the this Scrum Master interview guide has been downloaded more than 14,000 times. sc

38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions, Fourth Edition 2018

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Webinar #9: Sprint Review Anti-Patterns [Video]

TL;DR: Webinar Sprint Review Anti-Patterns

The ninth Hands-on Agile webinar sprint review anti-patterns addresses twelve anti-patterns of the sprint review—from death by PowerPoint to side-gigs to none of the stakeholders cares to attend.

Webinar Sprint Review Anti-Patterns — Hands-on Agile Webinar #9

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📅 Agile Camp Berlin 2019: April 26–27, 2019

Save the Date: Agile Camp Berlin 2019

The Agile Camp Berlin 2019 will happen from April 26 to April 27, 2019 and the Agile Camp Berlin 2019 venue will be the Evangelische Schule Berlin Zentrum right in the middle of Berlin.

📅 Agile Camp Berlin 2019: April 26–27, 2019

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Speaking Truth to Power — Taking A Stand as an Agile Practitioner

TL;DR: Speaking Truth to Power

Do you need an emergency fund as a change agent—whether you are acting as Scrum Master, Product Owner or agile coach—because conflict is inevitable, but change is not?

In my experience, speaking truth to power, pointing at the emperor’s new clothes and the reality in the trenches, is necessary a trait for every change agent — including Scrum Masters and agile coaches — in organizations that lack strong leadership.

Learn more, how this form of professional honesty can backfire when the incumbents, privileged by the existing system, strike back.

Speaking Truth to Power — When the System Strikes back

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Webinar #8: Scrum Master Anti-Patterns [Video]

TL;DR: Webinar Scrum Master Anti-Patterns

The eighth Hands-on Agile webinar Scrum Master Anti-Patterns addresses twelve anti-patterns of your Scrum Master—from ill-suited personal traits and the pursuit of individual agendas to frustration with the team itself.

Webinar Scrum Master Anti-Patterns Hands-on-Agile Webinar #8

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Solving Impediments as a Team

TL;DR: Solving Impediments as a Team

The main message of the retrospective was clear: there are too many interruptions by stakeholders and the senior management. The interruptions impeded the flow of work through the team. Consequently, achieving the sprint goal had been at risk several times in the past. Moreover, the team missed the sprint goal twice recently. Solving impediments as a team has become a necessity.

Learn more on how to tackle impediments as a team by running experiments and iterating on the solution.

Solving Impediments as a Scrum Team Interruption Buckets v2 — Age of Product Retrospectives

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Scrum Master Duties, Serving a Single Team (Survey Results)

TL;DR: Scrum Master Duties, Serving a Single Team

Scrum Master Duties: supposedly, a great scrum master serves only one scrum team — that's at least a popular narrative in the scrum community. Nevertheless, there is also a loud voice that doubts that approach: what would you do the whole day - with a single team? Aren't they supposed to become self-organizing over time? And if so, does the scrum then need a scrum master 24/7?

As I worked for years as a product owner on scrum teams without a dedicated scrum master-which was working well-I was curious to learn more about that question, too. Hence I ran a survey in late June and early July 2018, the results of which are presented here.

In total, 261 scrum masters participated in this non-representative survey in the two weeks before July 5th, 2018. 19 participants chose not to provide their consent to Google processing and to store their answers. Hence their contributions were deleted, resulting in a sample size of 242 responses.

Scrum Master Duties, Serving a Single Team (Survey Results) — Age of Product

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Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns

TL; DR: Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns

Learn how individual incentives and outdated organizational structures — fostering personal agendas and local optimization efforts — manifest themselves in scrum stakeholder anti-patterns which easily can impede any agile transition.

Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns by Age-of-Product-1650

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Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations 2.0

TL;DR: Agile Failure Patterns — Why Agile is Simple and Complex at the Same Time

Agile failure seems to be increasingly more prominent nowadays despite all the efforts undertaken by numerous organization embarking on their journeys to become agile.

The funny thing is: Who would disagree that the four core principles of the Agile Manifesto

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

— are derived from applying common sense to a challenging problem? Moreover, that the application of those principles might be suited to fix numerous organizational dysfunctions and reduce an error-prone and complex social setting to maybe just a complicated one?

Age of Product: Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations

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Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help

TL;DR: Scrum Master Anti-Patterns

Scrum Master Anti-Patterns: The reasons why scrum masters violate the spirit of the Scrum Guide are multi-faceted. They run from ill-suited personal traits and the pursuit of individual agendas to frustration with the team itself.

Read on and learn in this final post on scrum anti-patterns how you can identify if your scrum master needs support from the team to up his or her agile game.

Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help — Age of Product

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28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns

TL;DR: 28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns

Scrum is a practical framework to build products, provided you identify in advance what to build. But even after a successful product discovery phase, you may struggle to make the right thing in the right way if your product backlog is not up to the job. Garbage in, garbage out – as the saying goes. The following article points at 28 of the most common product backlog anti-patterns – including the product backlog refinement process – that limit your Scrum team’s success.

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Hiring: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

TL;DR: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions That Will Benefit Your Organization

This second publication in the Hands-on Agile Fieldnotes series provides 42 questions and answers for the Scrum Product Owner interview.

Image from age-of-product.com

Co-authored with Andreea Tomoiaga, 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters represents the most important learnings of our more than 20 years combined hands-on experience with Kanban, Scrum, XP, and several product discovery frameworks. We have worked as Scrum Product Owners, Scrum Masters, agile coaches, and developers in agile teams and organizations of all sizes and levels of maturity.

We have each participated in interviewing dozens of Scrum Product Owner candidates on behalf of our clients or employers. The questions and answers herein are what we have learned.

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Agile Metrics — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

TL;DR: Agile Metrics

Suitable agile metrics reflect either a team’s progress in becoming agile or your organization’s progress in becoming a learning organization.

At the team level, qualitative agile metrics typically work better than quantitative metrics. At the organizational level, this is reversed: quantitative agile metrics provide better insights than qualitative ones.

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Food for Agile Thought #174: Agile Feedback, Disrespect, Prime Directive, Systems Thinking for PMs

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #174—shared with 20,147 peers—focuses on making sense of feedback with the epic new EPIQ model; we talk about a Scrum value that also applies to managers, and we reflect on the prime directive and the magic it provides.

We also address the importance of product design principles; we add systems thinking to our product management toolbox, and we learn how best exploit the opportunity of a rewrite.

Lastly, we appeal to efficiency freaks to finally realize that slowing down speeds up everything in software development.

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #173?

Food for Agile Thought #174: Agile Feedback, Disrespect, Prime Directive, Systems Thinking for PMs

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Food for Agile Thought #173: Agile Common Sense, Agile Team Building, Product-Oriented Engineers

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #173—shared with 20,138 peers—focuses on agile common sense as we learn more about the history of ‘agile’ and what defines the learning space that makes it successful.

We also get better at cycle time scatterplot diagrams, what conditions product teams require to support hypergrowth, and why leadership is not always about having a plan.

Lastly, we learn five encouraging ways how to engage the engineers in creating the product beyond its mere coding.

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #172?

Food for Agile Thought #173: Agile Common Sense, Agile Team Building, Product-Oriented Engineers

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14 Sprint Review Anti-Patterns Holding Back Scrum Teams

TL;DR: 14 Sprint Review Anti-Patterns

Are we still on the right track? Answering this question in a collaborative effort of the scrum team as well as internal (and external) stakeholders is the purpose of the sprint review. Given its importance, it is worthwhile to tackle the most common sprint review anti-patterns.

Scrum Anti-patterns Guide: 14 Sprint Review Anti-Patterns

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27 Sprint Anti-Patterns Holding Back Scrum Teams

TL;DR: 27 Sprint Anti-Patterns Holding Back Scrum Teams

The sprint, yet another scrum event where you can find plenty of sprint anti-patterns to make your life as a scrum team harder than necessary. Learn how to identify and overcome them.

Sprint Anti-Patterns: 27 examples holding scrum teams back – Hands-on Agile

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