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TL; DR: Scrum Master Career 2020 Last week, about 30 members of the Hands-on Agile community in Berlin came together to identify opportunities for personal and professional growth for the coming year, using Liberating Structures’ Ecocycle Planning in the process, to further your Scrum Master career 2020. Read on and learn in this post what opportunities you have to advance your career as a Scrum Master or agile coach in the next year. Liberating Structures Created by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz, Liberating Structures cover a set of easy to learn, yet powerful ways to collaborate as a team—even as a (very) large team by Scrum standards—, overcoming traditional communications approaches like presentations, managed discussions, or another disorganized brainstorming at which the loudest participants tend to prevail. Liberating Structures are well suited to improve the level of engagement among participants of Scrum events, thus stimulating the kind of outcomes that are necessary to create learning organizations. Liberating Structures also provide an excellent toolbox to handle Product Backlog refinements or improving the Definition of Done of an engineering organization. Lastly, Liberating Structures are a great tool when large groups come together for retrospectives, self-selection of teams, or—as in our case—to figure out how to advance their careers by crowdsourcing and sharing lessons learned from the Scrum Master or agile coach perspective. Liberating Structures for the Scrum Master Career 2020 The Ecocycle Planning The subtitle of the Ecocycle Planning page summarizes the potential of this microstructure well: Analyze the Full Portfolio of Activities and Relationships to Identify Obstacles and Opportunities for Progress. In my experience, Ecocycle Planning has proven to be a powerful tool for Scrum Masters and agile coaches whenever the need arises to analyze the status quo and identify what factors have contributed to the current stage, both from a positive as well as negative perspective. Regarding the Scrum Master career 2020 question, we were particularly interested in what issues contributed to positive professional standing, starting with education and not ending with tools & practices. As usual, we started with an Impromptu Networking to create a first level of familiarity among the participants. With regards to the time constrictions, we had about 2 hours available, we then moved directly to the Ecocycle Planning, taking the following steps to create lists of activities, practices, and relationships that helped shape the participants’ professional status today. The original instructions were as follows: As an individual: Create a list of activities, practices, tools, relationships, and training that helped shape your professional standing today. Use the worksheet for this purpose. ⏰ 10 minutes. Now, form pairs: Collaboratively, decide on the placement of each of your issues on the Ecocycle worksheet. ⏰ 10 minutes. Next, team up with another pair: Again, collaboratively, decide on the placement of each of your issues on the Ecocycle worksheet. Eliminate redundancies. ⏰ 10 minutes. As a group of four: Transfer your remaining issues onto stickies and place all of them on the large Ecocycle symbol. Cluster with other stickies of the same nature/topic while doing so. ⏰ 15 minutes. Step back to digest the patterns and ask yourself: What activities do we need to creatively destroy (#1) or stop to move forward (#2)? What activities do we need to expand (#3) or start to move forward (#4)? (In other words: is the pattern “right?”) ⏰ 15 minutes. In small groups: Create for all activities in the Rigidity Trap first action steps. Create for all activities in the Poverty Trap first action steps. Discuss all activities where there is no consensus and create first action steps—if possible. ⏰ 10 minutes. Sharing the Results with Shift & Share We then decided to split into six groups tasked with introducing the findings for each zone of the Ecocycle—gestation, poverty trap, birth, maturity, rigidity trap, creative destruction—to the rest of the group utilizing Shift & Share. Please note that you may find identical issues in more than one zone. This inconsistency is a result of the widely varying levels of professional experience of the participants as we valued the inclusion of all Hands-on Agile community members over limiting participation to those with a comparable professional background for more stringent results. I took the liberty to edit some of the suggestions where the author pointed at the right issue; however, he or she formulated the issues in a way that contradicts the respective Ecocycle zone. The results for the Scrum Master career 2020 opportunities are as follows: Gestation Knowledge sharing/meet-up & exchange with other Scrum Masters. Liberating Structures. Scaling Scrum (LeSS). Design Thinking. Blog article writing. Gaining knowledge: Reading (books), TED talsk, listen to podcasts, subscribe to newsletters. Attending conferences. Joining different LinkedIn groups. Poverty Trap Lack of drive. (Original formulation: “procrastination.”) Lack of non-violent communication (NVC). Not limiting work in progress. Contructive work-styles. Birth/Growth Attending Scrum training classes and gaining certifications: PSM I, PSM II, CSPO, CSM, VFQ. Liberating Structures. Learning: Change management, conflict management, coaching skills/a formal coaching education. Creating a community of practice in my company. OKRs. Regular research on agile practices. Agile team facilitation training. Maturity Teaching, coaching, mentoring: Workshops for other departments of your organization, coaching coaches, experience as a Design Thinking coach, branching out into the organization as a Scrum Master. Practice: Encouraging teams to self-organize, walk the talk/be a role-model, getting hands dirty and things done. Continuous improvement: Regular personal retrospectives, gather feedback frequently. (Self-study: There is a wide overlap with issues listed above in gestation and birth.) Formal education: Management training, NLP training. Rigidity Trap Hand-holding engineers. Not letting go but holding on to old job responsibilities. Inadequate working conditions. Creative destruction Clinging to your current position when a new job in a different department or company may be beneficial. Volunteering for extra work and activities. Reinventing the wheel: Hunting for new ideas instead of searching for existing ones. ScrumBut — we do Scrum but made it fit our needs, cargo cult agile. The Slide Deck We Use at the Hands-on Agile Meetup We used the following slide deck to guide the effort during the session. You can download it for your purposes. Attribution Liberating Structures are developed by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. The Conclusion While we did not discover the magic wand that catapults a Scrum Master or agile coach among the rich and famous of our industry immediately, we did though find robust and proven tactics that—if exercised diligently—will advance your Scrum Master career 2020. What opportunities for personal growth and career did we miss? Please share it with us in the comments. ✋ Do Not Miss Out: Join the 6,300-plus Strong ‘Hands-on Agile’ Slack Team I invite you to join the “Hands-on Agile” Slack team and enjoy the benefits of a fast-growing, vibrant community of agile practitioners from around the world. If you like to join now all you have to do now is provide your credentials via this Google form, and I will sign you up. By the way, it’s free. Recommended Reading Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help. Scrum Master Trends Report 2019. How to Get Hired as a Scrum Master.
Dec 9, 2019 Read blog
Can anyone be a product owner (PO)? What’s the best position in the company to fill that role? With Scrum you have one and only one product owner for a given product – not a committee, but the effectiveness of the product owner will vary depending on the PO’s organizational enablement, understanding of the product, and involvement with the Scrum team. An Evaluation Matrix Let’s talk about product owner effectiveness in the context of product knowledge and authority. We will measure authority and knowledge on the matrix below, where authority is the ability to change product functionality and set strategic direction, and knowledge is deep understanding of product strategy and nuts-and-bolts product application. Q1: low knowledge, low authority Q2: high knowledge, low authority Q3: low knowledge, high authority Q4: high knowledge, high authority Quadrant Q1: PO as Order-Taker In this quadrant, the product owner might be a business analyst who is only tangentially involved with the product. This PO has to rely on others for insight and needs approval to change or set directions. In this quadrant, product speed will depend on the decision maker’s ability to make decisions choices and the product owner’s ability to interpret the advice of product experts. A product owner in Q1 runs the risk of working slowly and building something rife with unsatisfactory features. Quadrant Q2: PO as Constrained SME Here, the product owner knows the product strategy and application well, but needs the approval of others to change direction. Though the PO might be a subject matter expert (SME), their ability to pivot product direction will be hindered by their need for approval from others who may not be as knowledgeable as the product owner. As a result, a Q2 PO will struggle getting rapid authorization to make a pivot. A product owner in Q2 will be slowed down but less likely to build poorly-functioning products compared to a Q1 PO. Quadrant Q3: PO as the Empowered Strategist This PO may be a vice president with freedom to set direction and make product functionality changes, but a limited understanding of the detailed application of the product. A product owner in this quadrant may have great strategy without the tactical insights to make the most valuable product. A Q3 PO’s decision-making speed is better than Q1 and Q2, but the risk of building a poor product is still a concern. Quadrant Q4: PO as Mini-CEO As a mini-CEO, the product owner can set product direction and make financial decisions. They are ultimately responsible for the value of the product. In this quadrant, everyone in the organization will respect the PO’s decisions. While this product owner can take advice from others in the organization, their decision is final and the rest of the Scrum team follows their direction. A PO in this quadrant also has the tactical and strategic knowledge to set the right direction. Unfortunately, the person in Q4 may not have enough availability to be effective. The PO here may be tethered to the rest of the organization via a multitude of meetings or a flurry of reports. A PO here might also spend an inordinate amount of time with marketing specialists or customers, leading to insufficient involvement with the rest of the Scrum teams. PO Availability There is a third dimension in our matrix: involvement (availability). An insufficiently available mini-CEO may be tempted to delegate to a representative in Q1 or be forced into quadrant Q3. It is also quite possible for a product owner to be overly involved, crossing the line between describing the business’ needs and actually specifying implementation details. The Scrum guideline on product owner involvement is that the product owner invests enough team to get an acceptable return on investment from the development team. That’s pretty loose, but something that can only be determined by inspecting and adapting the amount of involvement by the PO. Going Forward There are, of course, many other factors that can come into play in determining PO effectiveness. These include the PO’s emotional intelligence, organizational standing, and communication skills. This model is intended to explain the factors that can contribute to product owner effectiveness and provide a guide for selecting effective POs. Fortunately, the agile mindset’s focus on transparency, inspection, and adaptation provides the best answer for moving toward PO effectiveness. Why not use empiricism to enhance empiricism? First, don’t wait to get the perfect product owner, or you’ll never be able to start using Scrum. Start where you are and improve from there. Even an uninvolved PO in Q1 is better than no PO at all. After you have selected a PO, transparently assess their quadrant and involvement and make a plan to develop their behavior, knowledge, and organizational standing toward that of an appropriately-involved Q4 mini-CEO. But don’t just stop when you think you have the perfect product owner with perfect availability. Circumstances change! The perfect product owner today may need further development tomorrow. Continually assess the product owner’s effectiveness while devising strategies for integration and improvement. Sounds like something to consider during the retrospective, doesn’t it?