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Category Archives: Agile Concepts

Questions a Scrum Master Should Ask Before Joining an Organisation 


Each minute of our life is a lesson but most of us fail to read it. I thought I would just add my daily lessons & the lessons that I learned by seeing the people around here. So it may be useful for you and as memories for me.

Having been a Scrum Master for several years and having led 3 large and many small Agile transformations, I have come to appreciate the Scrum Master role more than anything else. Depending on the organizational setup, organizational maturity and Scrum maturity the Scrum Master role can be very challenging. Even if organization is conducive of Scrum, the role is challenging. 

Starting a new role as a Scrum Master for any startup or new organisation can be daunting. Whether you are new to the Scrum Master role or have a wealth of experience, joining a new team means getting up to speed with new people, processes and products. 

A smart scrum master needs to ask appropriate questions before joining a company. Before coming to a decision, the scrum master should clearly evaluate the current situation within the startup.

The scrum master role has been gaining popularity with the widespread adoption of Agile. Startups adopt Scrum at an ever earlier stage and look for professionals to help them out. There are some important questions a scrum master candidate can ask to find the right startup company for their skill set.

In order to get a good idea of how your new Scrum team are operating, I have collated list of questions for you to ask. This list of questions covers all the various topics you are likely to want to know more about, so gather your new Scrum team and ask away!

Here are list of favourite questions for candidates to ask *employers* when interviewing as a Scrum Master:

– What is the biggest challenge Scrum team(s) are currently facing?

– What Is Your Current Software Development Process?

– How much support does the scrum teams have in the organization?

– Why Are You Hiring a Scrum Master and Not a Project Manager?

– How do your team(s) currently feel about working with Scrum?

– How will we validate the success of this team and the product they’re going to build?

– Is the Product Owner empowered to make important decisions?

– What do you think will be this Scrum Master’s biggest challenge?

– What support from a Scrum Master is most important to you?

– Does each dev team currently have a Scrum Master and Product Owner?

– What is the Product Owner’s take on agile product development and planning?

– How would you rate the organization’s Agile or Scrum maturity on a scale of 1-5? Why did you give that score?

– What do you see as the biggest opportunities for your Scrum team(s) to improve?

– How big are your dev teams? How many developers and testers are on your dev teams?

– How many teams does each Scrum Master manage in your organization?

– What Is the Leadership Style of your organisation ?

– How long have the team(s) been working with Scrum?

– Is the team cross-functional enough to deliver a valuable increment?

– What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?

– How does the company practice its values and the values of Scrum?

– What’s the attitude of the company’s leadership towards Agile and Scrum

– What’s the last thing your team disagreed on, and how did you resolve that disagreement?

The answers to these questions will give an overview of what to expect upon joining a startup company. A good scrum master should be able to identify the situations where a startup needs a project manager instead of a scrum master and not take on unnecessary responsibilities.

 Do you have any go-to questions you always like to ask?

Please feel free to share your story and any lessons you learned, experienced, you came across in your life in the comments below. If you enjoyed this or any other posts, I’d be honored if you’d share them with your family, friends, and followers!

If you wish to follow my journey outside of my writing, you can find me on LinkedIn and Facebook

 
 

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Retrospective ideas to try with your team


Each minute of our life is a lesson but most of us fail to read it. I thought I would just add my daily lessons & the lessons that I learned by seeing the people around here. So it may be useful for you and as memories for me. 

Retrospectives are popular in the team-working world of the Lean & Agile community. The purpose of the sprint retrospective is to find areas for improvement. The meeting sets out to identify potential pitfalls and past mistakes while finding ways to avoid them in the future. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on what was successful and therefore should continue.

Retrospectives are used frequently to give teams the opportunity to pause and reflect on how things have been going and then, based on those reflections, identify the improvements they want to make. Conducting Retrospectives frequently and regularly supports a team to continuously improve their performance — but what’s the best way to go about it?

Whether you are an experienced scrum team or brand new to agile retrospectives, switching up your techniques is a great way to ensure your team never has to sit through another boring retrospective. However, with so many retrospective techniques out there to try, picking the one that best fits the unique needs of your team can be hard. 

Here are top retrospective ideas that you can add to your Scrum toolkit.

Liked, learned, lacked, longed for (4 L’s) If you are part of a team that thinks the only failure is not learning, then this is the technique for you. 4L´s is the perfect retro technique for teams at the end of a project or between projects. This technique has the team explore what happened in a current sprint or project but also what they hope will happen in future sprints. For organizations that want to remain agile and consistently evaluate processes and find a long-term solution to a systemic issue, 4Ls is an easy way to collaborate and strive for continuous improvement. 

Sailboat  sailboat retrospective will help any team struggling with staying aligned from sprint to sprint. A ship sailing to the island paradise sets the stage for valuable open discussions at the beginning or middle of a project. Sailboat discussions improve team alignment and provide valuable feedback on project goals, issues, and assets. Get everyone on board! 

Speedcar Speed Car is a simple activity for helping the team identify things that make them move faster, and things that slow them down. This is a common retrospective activity for data gathering. It is an alternative to keep the team engaged while slightly changing the format.

Starfish (smalllarge) This agile technique dives deeper into team habits by examining what to start doing, stop doing, keep doing, do more of, and do less of. Use this technique when your team is in need of a systems overhaul or needs more innovative ideas of workflow. Starfish works best for long-standing teams or projects in the process where teams are a bit more familiar with each other. 

Stop, start, continue Start, Stop, Continue is one of the most popular retrospective techniques, and for good reason. Whether you are using the traditional Scrum sprint model or just starting to implement retrospective Start Stop Continue is a great way to examine the systems and habits of the team, as well as reprioritize team goals. 

Mad, sad, glad When your team is feeling burnt out or emotionally drained, or even if something is just a little off with morale, a Mad, Sad, Glad retrospective can give you the insights you need. Particularly effective in the middle of larger projects this retrospective template gives managers insights into what team members need to remain happy in their workplace. A simple column-based retrospective, this agile technique will have teams focusing less on specific goals and on the emotions of the team. 

Token of appreciation This is a great activity for acknowledgement, increasing the team morale and putting the team on a good mood. A tasty advice is to use a box of chocolates as a token of appreciation. Participants pass the box around and give a chocolate as they appreciate their colleagues. It works both as an opening and as a closing activity for a meeting.

Drop-add-keep-improve  DAKI technique is a way for Scrum team members to think about what they should stop (or drop) doing, what they should start (or add) to their processes, what they should continue doing, and what they should keep.  Continue often refers to processes, and keep frequently refers to tools.  Remember to ask team members to consider  individuals, interactions, processes, tools, and their Definition of Done when participating in the Retrospective. 

One word retrospective The one-word retrospective technique is often considered as a checking exercise, to get the team members ready for the retrospective. But if the team has major problems, then this one-word exercise check-in and the discussion that follows is the retrospective! It is an effective way for the team to discuss what is hampering them, and agree on how to deal with it and get it out of the way. And that is what retrospectives are all about!

KALM (Keep, add, more, less) KALM is a retrospective activity that fosters the conversation about current activities and their perceived value. It helps team members understand each other’s perceived value off such practices. This is a common retrospective activity for data gathering. It is an alternative to keep the team engaged while slightly changing the format.

Team Happiness Radar Organizations around the world are beginning to recognize the importance of mental health and happiness on overall team productivity and lasting success. Running regular Team Happiness Radars can help you recognize the team’s morale and recognize points of improvement. When done in combination with a column technique, this retrospective can help your team create lasting culture changes. 

Lean coffee style Don’t have a specific goal or topic for the day’s retrospective? You need Lean Coffee, another agile favorite, is a basic template to use when you don’t know what to do, but still want an effective retrospective. The Lean Coffee agile retrospective has teams examining the status of the team’s assignments and looking into where issues are developing and what hold-ups are preventing the team’s momentum forward. By discussing common topics of concern the team can create relevant action items for improvement on a range of topics. You never know information can spill out in a Lean Coffee retrospective session.

Below are the list of references and also If you are interested to try more Retrospective ways, please find the below links.

Retrospective Techniques

100+ Sprint Retrospectives Ideas

FunRetrospectives

Remote and Distributed Retrospective Meetings

14 Types of Ideas for Sprint Retrospective Formats

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you follow an agile framework for project management or not, a retrospective meeting acts as a fantastic opportunity to pause and reflect. Your team will gain a comprehensive view of every increment, and quickly identify areas for continuous improvement. The quality of work delivered to the business will be stronger, productivity will increase, and so will the happiness of your team.

The Sprint Retrospective is extremely useful when used correctly.  After every Sprint, the team identifies at least one improvement idea to focus on during the next Sprint.  Remember, even minor improvements can result in an astonishing amount of change over time – so don’t neglect this valuable process!

Need more retrospective ideas? Keep following my posts on Agile.

Please feel free to share your story and any lessons you learned, experienced, you came across in your life in the comments below. If you enjoyed this or any other posts, I’d be honored if you’d share them with your family, friends, and followers!

If you wish to follow my journey outside of my writing, you can find me on LinkedIn and Facebook

 
 

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