I’m a Certified ScrumMaster®! What’s Next?

Congratulations!  You are a Certified ScrumMaster®!  CoLeadTeam’s Dee Rhoda reflects on what happened after she passed the online quiz and downloaded the Certified ScrumMaster® badge. 

After about a year in the role of Scrum Master, you will have had a multitude of new experiences.  Because of opportunities to put the basic knowledge from the CSM® into practice, you may have even more questions than answers about what you should be doing.  I know that was the case for me.  When I took on my first Scrum Master role, I was fresh out of CSM® training.  I had all the basic knowledge and like most new CSMs, I focused on the Scrum Framework and making sure that the team was adhering to it.  And, that is a great start!  

What I began to notice from the team as we were closing in on the later part of our first year together, was a need for deeper coaching and facilitation from me as their Scrum Master.  The team members were past the forming stage of team development (Tuckman Model) and well into the storming phase. This is where I needed to step up my game as Scrum Master and work in a focused manner on the conflict and competition that was starting to surface.  People were beginning to feel more confident and courageous in expressing their opinions and that was great!  But, without advanced skills and techniques in facilitation to help guide the team through conversations and collaboration, the team floundered on decisions and had trouble agreeing on goals. 

As a team matures, an effective Scrum Master maintains a strong, yet neutral coaching stance.  Because the team was working towards the Norming phase of Tuckman’s team development model, I needed to coach these diverse individuals into becoming a team -  not simply existing as a group of individuals. A cohesive Scrum team recognizes more completely their individual uniqueness and how those individual talents, skills and interests could come together and focus on common goals. 

When I stepped into the role of Scrum Master, I was prepared with foundational Scrum knowledge to serve the Development Team, Product Owner and Organization.  I realized that if I was going to continue to better serve them and help them improve, I needed to continue to improve my own skills.  Sound familiar – continuous improvement?

Advanced Scrum Master skills are what I needed to improve: coaching, facilitating, team-building. I also recognized that I needed to get additional education on how to “scale” Scrum in the larger organization that I was serving.  In team level Scrum, the Scrum Master is focused on Scrum for a single product Development Team, Product Owner and how that fits into the larger Organization. When applying Scrum@Scaleâ the role of Scrum Master is still focused on helping the teams with discovering ways to continuously improve, impediment removal, and increasing communication across teams.  The difference is that as Scrum is scaled in larger organizations, there can be up to 125 teams of 5 team members!  It is critical in these environments for leadership to form an Executive Action Team (EAT). The EAT is critical to Scrum’s success in a scaled environment.

So, the question for Scrum Masters out there is “What’s next for you”? Do you want to build up your skills, knowledge and toolbox to better serve your team as a coach and facilitator?  If so, I strongly encourage you to take the next step and sign up for the Advanced-Certified Scrum Master® Class! If you want to better your education regarding scaling Scrum I highly recommend Scrum@Scale®.

CoLeadTeam is one of the only organizations that can offer both Scrum at Scale® and Advanced Certified ScrumMaster®

  • Jan 22-23: Scrum@Scale® (early bird pricing available only through 1/8/18) Register
  • Jan 25-26: Advanced Certified-Scrum Master® Register

Secret Confessions of a New Product Owner

My 2017 Fail: Input vs. Feedback


Next week I celebrate my one-year anniversary at Collaborative Leadership Team (CoLeadTeam). I was given the tremendous opportunity to be their Product Owner. It has been a hectic year filled with success, arguments, tears, and growing together as a team.

In December, we took a few days to reflect on 2017 and plan for 2018. Our Scrum Master, @Dee Rhoda facilitated a conversation that had us share what we want to do differently in 2018. My one good change (kaizen) that I offered up was “To get better feedback from the team while refining the backlog”. This would help me make sure that I was putting CoLeadTeam in the best possible position to succeed. I felt very comfortable that I was planning to work on the highest value item for CoLeadTeam.

Wow, was I wrong.

Let me preface this with sharing two of our team working agreements:

  • Be radically honest
  • Be uncomfortable

After sharing my kaizen, one of my colleagues said to me “You are good at asking for feedback, but you are not good at asking for input. There have been many times this year that you have gone off and done something and then brought it back for us to react to with feedback.”

“But isn’t that the same thing -  feedback and input?” I asked.

My colleagues educated me by saying:

  • Input is proactive – You are seeking input before you act or make a decision
  • Feedback is reactive – Something has been done or decided upon and now our feedback may be limited because of some of the previously made decisions.

Nobody was mad or disappointed in me. I am still employed. We assume positive intent so whenever one of us gets a bit rambunctious with a task we all know it is with the best intentions for the organization. My colleagues gave me this feedback because they care about me. For that, I am forever grateful.

To conclude the conversation, I committed to the team to use more precise language when talking to them. That way they could give me the best input or feedback based on the need. Our product backlog will benefit from this which should guide us to a successful 2018.

Let me also clarify that asking for input is NOT the same as asking for permission.  As the Product Owner, I am empowered in every sense of the word.  Asking for input is not a promise that I will act upon the input. My job is to take all of the input, weigh those items against one another or put them together into something I bring to the team to deliver. 

Calling all Product Owners: How are you doing with this? Are you seeking input or asking for feedback? How does the team feel you are doing? If you don't know, ask them! You are on the same Scrum Team. You all have the same goals: A successful product, happy customers, and a thriving organization.

Leave a comment on what you are going to focus on as a Product Owner in 2018.

Yes, this was a fail, but my colleague @ChristianAntoine has a great video to help remind us what F.A.I.L. really stands for. Spoiler alert: It is not a fail. It is learning!

Are you ready to accelerate your Agile and Scrum journey in 2018? CoLeadTeam has the foundational and advanced programs to support your career and organizational goals. We are one of the only organizations that can offer both Scrum at Scale® and Advanced Certified ScrumMaster®

  • Jan 22-23: Scrum@Scale® (early bird pricing available only through 1/8/18) Register
  • Jan 24-24: Advanced Certified-Scrum Master® Register
  • Jan 29-30: Certified Scrum Product Owner® Register

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About the Author:  Tom Auld is the Product Owner, COO, and Agile Coach and Trainer for the Collaborative Leadership Team (CoLeadTeam). CoLeadTeam is the premier Agile Consultancy providing certified and customized training classes, enterprise coaching, and individual mentoring that will set up your organization to reap the benefits of Agile and Scrum. Connect with Tom on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @CoLeadTeam & @tcauld.