Two Techniques that you, as a Scrum Master, can use to get participants engaged in the first 5 minutes of any Scrum Event or meeting (Facilitation series 2 of 6)
Note: This is Part 2 in the series of blog posts where we will talk about different facilitation techniques. If you haven’t read Part 1, we encourage you to read it first here – What is the most common meeting format, and how you can use that to have effective meetings? Our intention behind writing this series is that once you learn and apply these facilitation techniques, you will witness true collaboration. “True collaboration” means conversations in your meetings lead to new ideas or decisions. In short, the series of blog posts will help you make your meetings more effective. A successful meeting can only happen with preparation. Many times Scrum Masters are under the impression that if they are timeboxing the meeting or event, then the meeting or event is bound to meet its objectives. Well, nothing can be farther from the truth. Well, nothing can be farther from the truth. You don’t win an Olympic medal by just showing up. It would help if you prepared for it and, most of the time, prepared for years. Thankfully you don’t have to spend years preparing for your next 30 mins meeting. Nevertheless, depending upon what you are trying to achieve, the stakeholders involved, frequency of the meeting, a Scrum Master has to spend some time preparing for the meeting. It’s Show Time So, as a Scrum Master, you have prepared for your meeting enough. You have taken care of the logistics as well as supplies. It is now time to start your meeting. The very first thing that you do is greet each person individually. If the event happens face to face, you shake each person’s hand. Greeting each person helps establish a connection with the participants and sends a message that you respect each member and value their expertise and wisdom. Greeting each person is another instance where you practice “Respect”, one of the Scrum values. Lights, Camera, Action! To start the meeting, you first ask the team if they are ready to start. This simple question does lot many things. Ice-breaker or Check-in The objective here is:- Let’s talk about two techniques you can use as Ice-breakers or for Check-in in your Scrum events or meetings. Technique 1. Agreements This technique sets a tone and expectations near the start of the meeting. This activity also allows you as a Facilitator to create the right atmosphere or culture for the meeting. This technique also helps in creating a shared responsibility. The output of this technique is that it helps the participants know the boundaries of the meeting and acceptable behaviours. Here are the steps you can follow to execute this technique and achieve an agreement. Some suggestions for the list of agreements Technique 2. Fast Pass Fast Pass is an incredible technique to use at the start of the meeting. The method provides people who arrive early with something to do. You can use this technique to connect participants personally or through content related to the meeting. Here are some suggested questions to connect participants at a personal level: Below are some suggested questions to connect participants through content related to the meeting: Conclusion As Aristotle said, “Well begun is half done.”. Focusing on starting your meeting using a good check-in or ice-breaker goes a long way in ensuring the success of the meeting. You must pay attention to the Starting phase of the meeting to impress people with how the meeting went or what you achieved out of the meeting. Try the above techniques and share with us your favourite check-in techniques. Also, please share your experience when you tried any of the above methods.
What does a day in the life of the Scrum Master look like?
Scrum Masters who are new to the role often wonder how a Scrum Master is supposed to spend their time. The problem gets compounded when you are transitioning from a Developer Role. As a Developer, you have a list of items (Sprint Backlog or Product Backlog) from which you can pick and start working. On the other for a Scrum Master, you must constantly explore and figure out what you can do to make the team more effective. Let us go through what activities a Scrum Master will perform during the day. This Blog post will help you plan your day. Please let us know in the comments if we need to include any activity. Daily activities of a Scrum Master As a Scrum Master, you serve the Scrum Team, the Product Owner, and the Organisation. Therefore your activities must touch all three. A good reflection exercise is to check what activity you did for each of these during the day. For example, if you couldn’t find an activity for a Product Owner, a good question is, “Am I neglecting to serve the Product Owner?”. Your morning will start with casual conversations with team members. The conversations typically involve greeting and checking with team members about what’s happening in their lives and family. Overall this is how you get to know your team members better. Post the above conversations; you get to attend the Daily Scrum. Based on your observations and impediments shared by the Developers, you prepare a plan on which team members you wish to engage during the day and for how long. The planning will also involve scheduling problem-solving sessions. You might have blocked some time to prepare for forthcoming training, which you would have planned for the teams based on your team’s training needs. A good tip is to ensure that your training covers different aspects of Scrum, Lean Thinking, Flow Practices, etc. You should also prepare the Facilitation plan for the upcoming Scrum events. Your day will also include scheduled one-on-one Coaching Conversations with a Developer or a Product Owner. Your day could also include a one-on-one conversation with leaders. Remember, as a Scrum Master, you also serve the organisation. Depending upon the stage where your team is in their Agile Journey, you might have to facilitate many Scrum Events to ensure that the developer and product owner are learning from you. Many times a Scrum Master is asked to support another team which has just started adopting Scrum. In this situation, your calendar will have you facilitating many of this team’s Scrum events to ensure that things are running smoothly. The idea is that the new Scrum Team can drive these events themselves after a month or so. Your day also includes facilitating meetings across different teams to discuss dependency management or lessons learned. Don’t forget to include some time for reflection where you are jotting down your observations on different individuals, their behaviours, taking notes on the system’s voice, etc. Depending upon the culture and structure of your organisation, you might have to prepare reports to present team progress, impediments faced by the team, and request for help from the team at various executive forums. If your organisation has adopted an Agile Maturity assessment tool, then you have to plan for activities related to assessing the Scrum Team’s and organisation’s maturity. Once again, the idea is to coach the Scrum Team towards higher maturity levels. You will also have to work with businesses to coach them on Scrum and Agile ways of working. The work will involve spending time with the product owner and their colleagues from the business side. Scrum Team is also responsible for experimentation. As a Scrum Master, you might have to spend time mentoring them on experimentation. For example, are the teams doing any experiments, do their experiments have a clear hypothesis, etc.? The above list is by no means exhaustive. A Scrum Master day is very dynamic. As a Scrum Master, you must ensure that your day is guided by making the team effective and serving all three – Scrum Team, Product Owner, and Organisation. An excellent reference that talks about the list of thing that a Scrum Master must focus on is The Scrum Master checklist (https://scrummasterchecklist.org/). We intend to cover the above in a separate blog. Do let us know what activities you do as a Scrum Master in the comment section. Scrum Masters who are new to the role often wonder how a Scrum Master is supposed to spend their time. The problem gets compounded when you are transitioning from a Developer Role. As a Developer, you have a list of items (Sprint Backlog or Product Backlog) from which you can pick and start working. On the other for a Scrum Master, you must constantly explore and figure out what you can do to make the team more effective. Let us go through what activities a Scrum Master will perform during the day. This Blog post will help you plan your day. Please let us know in the comments if we need to include any activity. Daily activities of a Scrum Master As a Scrum Master, you serve the Scrum Team, the Product Owner, and the Organisation. Therefore your activities must touch all three. A good reflection exercise is to check what activity you did for each of these during the day. For example, if you couldn’t find an activity for a Product Owner, a good question is, “Am I neglecting to serve the Product Owner?”. Your morning will start with casual conversations with team members. The conversations typically involve greeting and checking with team members about what’s happening in their lives and family. Overall this is how you get to know your team members better. Post the above conversations; you get to attend the Daily Scrum. Based on your observations and impediments shared by the Developers, you prepare a plan on which team members you wish to engage during the day and for
An Alternative format a Scrum Master can use to get their Daily Scrum event back from boring to more exciting and effective.
I have observed while working with Teams that the Daily Scrum Event becomes a chore after a point. Team members settle down into a routine. Every team member answers the below three questions (or some variation) and moves on: 1. What did I do in the last 24 hours? 2. What am I planning to do in the next 24 hours? 3. Is there any blocker that is preventing me from achieving my plans? As a Scrum Master, you must consistently reinforce that each event in Scrum is an opportunity to inspect and adapt. As per Scrum Guide, Daily Scrum is an opportunity to inspect progress towards the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary. In other words, the Developers must assess whether they are on track to achieving their Sprint Goal. Accordingly, they should add or remove items from their Sprint Backlog. The Daily Scrum is also a chance for them to adjust their plans for the next 24 hours. I have also observed that many Scrum Teams think Daily Scrum is a Status update meeting. If you also think this is the case, then either you don’t have information radiators or your information radiators are not working. What is the point of buying licenses for tools like JIRA etc., if they are not conveying the information needed? Here is an alternative format to make your Daily Scrum more effective The simple rule of 5 “You don’t need to prove to me that you’re busy. I know you’re busy”. ● Michael Pryor, Co-Founder of Trello Joel Spolsky created this method, Co-Founder of Trello when he was running Fog Creek (now Glitch) and StackExchange. He realized he could not answer the question of whether the team was working on the company’s big priorities. In the words of Joel himself: “I think a lot of times people are working on a long list of little things and don’t know what the company’s big priorities are either,” So what is this “Rule of Five” method? Joel realized that all he wanted to know from his team was a list of 5 things. These five things turned into the Rule of Five. Given below is the list of Five things which each team member must answer: 1. Two tasks they were currently working on. 2. Two tasks they plan to work on next. 3. One task that people might expect them to be working on but they weren’t planning on doing. What are the benefits of this “Rule of Five” method? ● The foundation of being Productive is staying focused. Focusing on just two tasks at a time helps the team members to go deeper into specifics. It also prevents others from asking questions not related to your current focus. ● It inherently produces a transparent roadmap. When you list the two tasks you will pick up next after you finish your current task, that’s an excellent personal roadmap or, at the very least, a good plan. ● It also increases team communication. When you mention one task that others expect you to work on but you don’t plan to work on and the reasons behind it, then it helps the rest of the team to understand why the task won’t be completed soon. Merge this “Rule of Five” method with an update to the Team’s Visual board. To make this “Rule of Five” method even more potent, align with Team’s Visual board. Each team member should have only two tasks in progress and two functions in the To Dos assigned to themselves. The method automatically keeps the Work in Progress limits in check. Once the team follows this discipline, the Team’s Visual board visually represents the big picture. We request Scrum Masters to practice this “Rule of Five” in their next Daily Scrum and share their experience with us in the comments section. You can read more about the “Rule of Five” method here – https://bit.ly/3vEWhxa. ‘
This Is The Best Book I’ve Ever Read On Becoming a Great Scrum Master
There are a lot of books about learning Scrum and getting better at being a Scrum Master.
And I’ve read many of them.
But the best book on becoming a Great Scrum Master I’ve found is “Scrum Mastery” by Geoff Watts.
For a few reasons:
What is the most common meeting format, and how you can use that to have effective meetings? (Facilitation Series – 1 of 6)
This is a series of blog posts where we will talk about different facilitation techniques…