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Ask a Professional Scrum Trainer - Pawel Kalkus (Poland) and Mihai Olaru (Romania)

February 28, 2024


Scrum has been in existence for more than 25 years as a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex products. While it is lightweight and simple to understand, it can be difficult to apply effectively. The Ask a Professional Scrum Trainer series features Professional Scrum Trainers (PSTs) in a live session, answering your most pressing questions regarding the challenges and situations your Scrum Teams are facing.

In this  session of Ask a Professional Scrum Trainer Pawel Kalkus and Mihai Olaru  answered listener questions about Scrum and they discussed the Scrum Master accountabilities, Product Ownership, metrics, agile transformation and more!



Lindsay Velecina  0:03  
Welcome to the community podcast, a podcast from the home of Scrum. In this podcast we feature professional scrum trainers and other scrum practitioners sharing their stories and experiences to help learn from the experience of others. This episode is a previous recording of our live ask professional scrum trainer series, where a live audience asks questions of professional scrum trainers. We hope you enjoy this episode. The morning good afternoon. Good evening, wherever you're located today. Welcome to today's Ask a professional scrum trainer. I'm Lindsay Villa Cena with and I will be your moderator today. And we are very fortunate to have two professional scrum trainers with us today. We have Powell caucus and Mihai lavars. So welcome to you both. And thank you so much for taking the time today to answer listeners questions and let's get started. So, just very quickly about We are the home of Scrum. We were founded by Ken swaybar back in 2009. Our mission is to help people and team solve complex problems and we do so through our professional scrum training. We have over 350 Professional scrum trainers globally. We also offer professional scrum certification as well as lots of ongoing learning opportunities. Learning does not stop once you leave the classroom but we are very big on encouraging you to continue your learning. There are a lot of free ways to do so on the website and with webinars like this one and we hope that today's session plays an important part in that. So with that, I will hand it over to our speakers to introduce themselves.

Pawel Kalkus  1:56  
Hello guys, nice to meet you by Pavel Coco's a Polish BSD. I worked work mostly on the Polish market. I run trainings all over the world, especially now in the remote setting. I am an Agile coach, agile consultant, mostly specialized in media banking, worked a little bit in logistics as well. I started as a project manager. So I have a fairly good understanding of the difficulties connected with the transitioning process. At the moment focusing on the training aspect of Scrum, I really enjoy teaching people about it, love it. At the same time I run my own training company. And I'm just happy to be here with you today. answering the questions.

Mihai Olaru  2:45  
We're happy to have this. Okay. Hello, good morning. Right. Good afternoon. Good evening. This is me Hi, Rolando speaking. I'm a PhD since 2020 21, I think December two years ago. So I was starting as software and telecom engineer about 20 years ago. And I worked with different companies developing mainly digital product. been leading teams and starting using using Agile since 2006, approximately having accountabilities and Scrum Master product owner and then an Agile coach. I teaching and coaching people and teams towards a better use of agility. In Romania, we have a business established for pm access to which we provide our service. And I'm very happy to have you all here for this session. Thank you.

Lindsay Velecina  3:57  
Awesome. All right. So now is the time that we are going to invite you to enter your questions into the q&a. I'm going to stop sharing, so I can see the questions. Let's see. This is pretty big question. So this question comes from Anders in our organization manage management wants to adopt the agile approach using Scrum. I am the first Certified Scrum Master. Even though we have 8500 employees. However, top level management still wants a classic Gantt chart depicting all major milestones in the years to come. How have you been working with this and other organizations? I assume it's a common challenge. Me Hi. Do you want to start with this one? Yeah,

Mihai Olaru  4:57  
yeah. So Anders, thank you for The question, there are environments which actually tackled company wide organizational change, like like the one you're talking about all the time. So this is very distressful time for organization trying to try to change the way they're doing business or the way they're operating or trying to provide value to their customers. And scrum master, as an accountability is actually to be responsible for teaching agility and helping organizations go this way or using empiricism throughout their entire value chain. Right, not not not just working with teams. So it's, it's a common problem or idea that that Scrum Masters should should look into how organization gets get better at this. There is however, little information in your in your question to get you started somewhere. But I would I would try in this situation to talk to maybe your business stakeholders who took the decision on on on this and tried to find out more about the reasons why they're looking at this this transformation, and trying to help them by learning together with them. what the benefits are, and which which steps to take. However, you want to take take on this as well.

Pawel Kalkus  6:36  
Yeah, if I may add something. I agree with me i That's that's a big one. In terms of in terms of the scope of the question. My experience is because I've been in places like that, show that. I don't want to simplify that. Absolutely. But it all boils down to the, the management's understanding of the domain in which we operate. So if if, as a scrum master, you can build you can have a conversation with the management, about the fact that, you know, what type of problem are we dealing with, if it's a complex problem with with a lot of unpredictability, a lot of uncertainties or a lot of risks. It it will be an easier argument to support the introduction of Scrum. Scrum is an empirical process that helps you deal with all of those unpredictable, uncertain circumstances. And it might make, it might make sense for them. At the same time, you could also try and figure out if in the past that detailed Gantt Chart planning have worked, because that might also be a source of arguments to support the hypothesis that having a more iterative, incremental approach, being able to adapt the plan on a multiple, you know, on a regular basis would make more sense from their perspective. So just to be like, more very specific I would potentially start with with with his direction.

Lindsay Velecina  8:04  
Right, thank you. I hope this helps Anders and if you have any follow up questions. Um, feel free to add them. Okay, so next question. Is an anonymous question is an Agile coach the same was the scrum master hobbled Do you wanna take this one?

Pawel Kalkus  8:30  
It's sorry guys. And my connections a little unstable. So if you could pick this

Mihai Olaru  8:36  
one, I could take this. Okay. Yeah. Sorry. Strong accountabilities, right. What we know in when we look in the scrum guide only cover three accountabilities, right, we're only talking about product owners, Scrum Masters and developers. And there is a reason right. We also have a lot of, let's say, dependencies to the outside of the team or the organization in large, right. So that doesn't mean necessarily that there isn't such organizational role as an Agile coach. But from scrum perspective, what a Scrum Master does is not only accounts for the accountability, internal accountability of team effectiveness, but also usually helps the whole group working with a team like other teams stakeholders business relates to what what the team is building and help them learn empiricism and use it to get to their final valuable results. So to me, I would say the scrum master is actually helping the organization throughout without this interfering with any other external role or organizational structure that the company may have decided to use and and typically, when if and I help organizations do this, I work as a scrum master trying trying to improve the Agile way of working.

Pawel Kalkus  10:17  
If I can add something to this one, as Mihai stated, you know, Scrum framework does not outline a roll like that. Although the industry does, and so you can, you can, you will most likely come across an Agile coach, agile consultant, figures like that, ultimately comes down to the question of what that person is accountable for when it comes to scrum introduction, we have a clearer picture that that it's the Scrum Masters job to introduce the scrum as defined in the scrum guide. And when you will dive deeper into the accountability of a scrum master. It's much more than working with a team as me has a semi high status. So in essence, just to make the answer very short, oftentimes, I found out that the way that the company interprets an Agile coach is essentially very similar to how we should understand the role of a scrum master. So a scrum master is essentially an Agile coach. Having said that, the market has its own approach to this. And oftentimes the Agile coach is perceived as some other maybe higher role in the organization. It's not available in the scrum guide, Scrum guide stays, that is the scrum master job to take care of the of the entire organizational design essentially.

Lindsay Velecina  11:32  
Great, thank you. Right. So the next question here. Thanks for the opportunity. You're welcome. I am a scrum master for multiple teams and one of the teams has front end and back end team members. We can't work on the sprint goal effectively, how should we approach the situation to perform more efficiently in the long run?

Pawel Kalkus  12:02  
That's an interesting question. Thank you for that. And then it's also a common doubt that I encounter when when working in organizations or running trainings. And I think it requires a little bit more more research, we will need to figure out what those teams are working on at the moment and also what the definition of the product is. Because if you if you if you start with a good definition of the product, you'll find out that the scrum team should be able to deliver a valuable, useful piece of functionality at the end of the sprint. That's valuable from the perspective of the stakeholders of the customers. And so we should find a way. And I know I realized that might be difficult, but we should find a way to complement each other to collaborate to deliver something valuable as a combination of the front end and back end work within a sprint. Initially, that might be difficult. My experience is show that it also requires some some amount of coaching, sharing experiences from from other companies potentially when you work with a team like that. But ultimately focusing on the value delivered by the end of the sprint from the perspective of a customer should help the team come up with a definition of work that would make it possible.

Lindsay Velecina  13:16  
So great, thank you. Again. Go ahead.

Mihai Olaru  13:20  
If I'm to add something, I think this is a situation where maybe we can call this a feature team right with people actually being capable of building rather more valuable outcome on their own without having too many dependencies outside the team. So you can also look this at this as an opportunity. Scrum also allows using component teams as well, like people building a front end and back end separately maybe in different teams, but that would require those dependencies between the teams be resolved during the sprint. So at the end of the sprint, each team can contribute to a single increment, right. So my my advice is also look at this from from the positive aspect. Are we having less dependencies? We do that by having all the skills inside a single team and how you can actually benefit from it.

Lindsay Velecina  14:19  
And Pranab, the person who asked the question actually elaborated a little bit and said that my approach is to start with smaller user stories so the team can become a full stack.

Pawel Kalkus  14:32  
Definitely, and just adding a title up to what Mihai said I would also say that from a measured point measurement point of view, a way to convince others to do this type of work is to is to look at the cycle time for example, how long does it take you to deliver a fully full feature the end and if it takes multiple Sprint's because of the dependencies of how the or how the teams are structured, that could be an argument supporting collaboration or intensive integration throughout the sprint

Lindsay Velecina  15:02  
Great, thank you. Anything else to add on that wonder? Should we move on?

Pawel Kalkus  15:07  
Moving on? Okay.

Lindsay Velecina  15:09  
Um, just a little announcement for people here that are live on the Zoom, if you can please add your questions to the q&a box and not in the chat, that would be really helpful. Because that's how the questions are captured. Seems like a lot of people are just putting them in the chat. If you can, please move those questions over to the q&a. That would be great. All right. So what is the role of a scrum master and convincing a business owner who is not convinced with a product produced during a sprint review? So what should a scrum master do?

Mihai Olaru  15:49  
So very good question. So we're looking at value. Everything that scrum promotes is actually a way to get more often to good value being released and used eventually by the people who paid for it, or by the end users, people who actually consumed right, the product that the team produces. And I would, I would talk to the business owner or whoever assesses the result of the team's work at the end of this sprint. That business owner wouldn't Yeah, if they're not pleased or convinced about the product, what is really the value to them? Maybe Maybe there is more to get from a conversation with such stakeholders. So I don't think it's a scrum master role, though, to prioritize or get into maybe decisions, we have a different accountability for that in the team, but working with the product owner, which actually has this accountability, and that stakeholder would get them probably more. Let's say synchronized, right? What value is expected from the team?

Pawel Kalkus  17:15  
Towards here, I totally agree with me Hi. So starting from the value, how value is being perceived and defined, that would be a good option here. Just just as a short side topic, you could look into EBM evidence based management as a way to define measure value and how we progress towards delivering value. Ultimately, it's the discussion that the product owner should have with the with the business stakeholders. Definitely Scrum Masters help could be valuable here facilitation in facilitating that process could help. But at the end of the day, we have to remember that Scrum is a lot about discovery. And so I would try to find out why is that business stakeholder unhappy? Maybe there were some experiments that failed. And we have to remember that failure is you know, we have to treat failure with a healthy approach meaning failure is a is an opportunity to learn something. And again, it all comes down to the fact whether we had a discussion about how to deal with complex problems and that Scrum is a tool to deal with those. And sometimes we, you know, we try different things, they might not work. But we need to constantly reevaluate whether we are heading in the right direction and EBM could be a good, good such a good suggestion here.

Lindsay Velecina  18:32  
Can you elaborate a little bit more on evidence based management,

Pawel Kalkus  18:36  
evidence based management, it's a framework that scrambled org created a while ago. It offers us a number of perspectives on how you can perceive the market value of a product. And also the organizational capabilities to deliver that value. So it introduces four, four value areas, we call them that way we look at the current value that the product is delivering. We looked at the market potential that we have that's called unrealized value. We look at the time to market which is essentially a tool to help us figure out how fast are we delivering value to the market and then also our ability to innovate to generate new valuable elements of the product it requires. It's a full day training, but it is a useful tool for product owners and for SCRUM masters to help the organization understand that. Ultimately, when we entered the world of product delivery and dealing with complex problems, we have to try out different things and then measure the results. And that's the way to measure those those results.

Lindsay Velecina  19:45  
Thank you and I did drop a link to a page with information about EBM and a link to the guide is in there as well. Feel free to check that out after the session. All right, so let's move on to the next questions. So, I have a question about prioritization in the backlog regarding risk and value. So the question is high risk and high value or low risk and high value?

Mihai Olaru  20:14  
Nice. Nice question. Can I take it? Yeah, sure. So I think it's always good to ask ourselves, why do we want the things to go? Right faster? Or have things done? prioritized, ordered in a certain way? And yeah, of course, we touched on value is it's obvious that high high value items would be something of an attraction, right? And something you want to get in front. But also, even before we get into the risk question, value alone couldn't kill could not tell you everything that you want, right from, from a prioritization or ordering perspective, think about the effort put into creating one item that's high value, right? So it's high value, but how for how long would the team work on it, trying to build it, right? So maybe it's two items that A and B that have the same amount of value attributed to them, right, and there could be some some other metric or some some other criteria to to pick from to similarly valuable items. So I call this maybe effort, but it could be called costs, or whatever the company is spending on right building that feature. So in our most in our cases, it's somehow related to the forecasts that the team presents based on how fast they can do it. So if one of the items could be done in two weeks, and another one could be done in two days, well, they having the same value, you would also pick, probably thinking of which one is actually faster, right? So maybe high value and low costs. That could be one answer. And risk wise, I think it's also high risk, right? Because if it's high risk, it's finding out some something about a highly risky situation. You even treat that risk, like I don't know, decrease its probability of happening or decrease its impact by doing something about it. Or you could actually eliminate the risk altogether by doing something quickly. Or even if you find out well, this is still risky, or still a big problem list. At least you have more knowledge about it. So for me, it's a three, when I talk usually talking about this is maybe high value, high risk and low cost. Those those other criteria would be for for higher priority or higher order.

Pawel Kalkus  23:01  
I would just add that from the product owners perspective, you know, accountability person being being accountable for ordering the product backlog, you will take multiple things into account when when when building that order. Value risk effort, Justice Mihai stated, sometimes development cohesion, for example. I think the key thing here is that the context matters, sometimes it might, the decision might lead you towards going into the low risk thing, because of the fact that you need to get to the market with something sooner. And you don't want to take the risk. From my perspective taking on as we say, I think there's a saying like that swallowing a frog or something like that, at least in Poland, sometimes you might want to take the high risk option, because you want to identify as quickly as possible. What's behind that particular product backlog item? How can we mitigate that risk? And so you will take that step. Ultimately, it comes down to building transparency around the choices that we make, what are the potential consequences that is a conversation that the product owner would have with with stakeholders building that understanding?

Lindsay Velecina  24:12  
Awesome, thank you. All right. So moving along. So this next question, these questions are great, they're, they're all across the map. So, if if an organization is not practicing scrum as a whole from end to end, then it is not Scrum. How can very large organizations who are so grounded in the traditional approach to project management and recently built capacity of agile with some of its staff transformed to scrum entirely without dropping the components and rules of Scrum?

Pawel Kalkus  24:51  
I can take this one. Well, first of all, I think my approach is that when you know We have a big organization and I worked in in some some large corporate environments. Introducing scrum in a full throttle manner might be might be impossible, that doesn't necessarily mean that we will not be using Scrum. So my experience has shown that oftentimes, a good way to start is to create something that sometimes we call it scrum studio, which is just a dedicated environment, maybe around one product, like a little bubble inside of which scrum happens as it's meant to be. And then with the flow of time, when people around it stakeholders will notice that this this operational model works. And it brings a lot of value in terms of the quality of the product, the customer satisfaction, but also the predictability that we get out of that. When you compare it to a using, you know, like a long term planning model predictive approach. When that happens, then most likely, we will get a green light to enlarge the bubble and introduce other products into the, the entire picture. And I've and I've used that approach, when I worked in the banking industry, a global bank, in locally here in Poland, and we use that approach at the mall. And that was a number of years ago, I left the company since then, but I came back with with some training opportunities. And I can see that the transformation process went essentially went through the roof. They're They're huge right now. And then scrum has been adopted in multiple other places within the organization. So start small and then build on top of that based on the results, because this is how you build trust with the with the management who makes the decision to throw out scrum to other areas.

Lindsay Velecina  26:42  
I love that that's really great advice with building the trust and start starting small for sure. All right, so next question here. So as developers often when breaking down user stories into tasks, we get asked, How long will this take? How do we translate an estimate of effort, story points and parentheses to an estimate of time?

Mihai Olaru  27:10  
I mean, so, typically, this this is a situation that most of the teams who actually try to use a different approach to time estimation have like, of course, some teams still can use single point estimations or approach their I don't know assumptions of how things would take using time. And that is still a possibility, though, we've learned while working with our teams that are some some things are not very stable related to those time estimation. So in time, more options or opportunities of answering this type of question, questions emerge. So historically, probably know about the relative sizing right and things like T shirt sizes or story points and those were for some time useful, but many people wonder well, are these actually translatable to typing the answer is no, they actually relate to work complexity and I even advise when when I have this type of discussion, I even advise against turning it to any kind of forced sort of rule of mapping story points to time, because those would make the actual relative sizing effort and useful right. And with time even even better, even better approaches emerged. And the latest trend and what we see from most of the teams and the one providing or benefits to answer this, this better our derivatives are coming from the flow metrics used mostly by combating but also by Scrum teams who manage their workflow with with common metrics and using common metrics like cycle time, how much time does it take from entering the process flow up until something gets delivered? Or throughput? How many work items are we being able to pass through our working flow and delivering per unit of time for example, per sprint or work item age or how many days this this item has been? In our work process with how many work items or we are in process right now. So using those flow metrics right from from from common, actually help forecasting even dates or answering questions like what I need to be done better, because they involve rather statistical approach rather than just some, some numbers, run on on Password, and how this work. Maybe you want to take a deeper look into it. People using these type of metrics, flow metrics, rely on Monte Carlo simulations like statistical simulation based on work history with those work, item metrics I just explained. And based on those, they actually simulate, like, throwing a dice for everything that could happen in the future. So many times like 10,000 20,000 100,000 times simulating situations or possible situation based on the actual game history and generating answers like, well, with probability of about 80%, you could be finishing this work by then, if you want a higher probability that that analysis that Multicharts in Michigan can give you a probability for a 90% chance or if you're less more flexible about it, maybe you want some some lower level of probability, you can you can look at it again. And what happens when stakeholders who asked that type of question when they see the data, and they understand it based on actual team history work, and it's based on also statistics, data and math, right? Things things are generating using your own data and relying on statistics, they generally tend to be more trusting in those information. And what I learned from one of our colleague POCs is, well, how do they know? Okay, things are going the right way. Because even 85 or 90% probability doesn't mean, obviously, this is not predicting, it's just forecasting still. So a way to answer this is maybe, maybe if you want even a better forecast, join us for the end of the next sprint. Right when we have some more work done. And so this way, we have more data to run our analysis against, and you will be able to give you even a better forecast.

Lindsay Velecina  32:28  
That's great, thank you. Right, we hope that helps. Right? This question here? What is the relationship between the product owner and Scrum Master on a scrum team? In other words, have does a scrum master help product owner and vice versa? Pavel Do you wanna take this one?

Pawel Kalkus  32:51  
It's, it's a loving relationship, you know, full respect. No, but in all seriousness, the two should should work really hand in hand. From a scrum master perspective, we have to remember that. Ultimately, our accountability is to make sure that the team is as effective as possible. And that will mean that we will serve the teams or the product owner, look for different opportunities to remove impediments, and make the environment around the team. Easier from a perspective of collaboration of the product owner, what some of the things that you could be expected. The product owner could expect from you is for example, being the source of knowledge in regards to the different techniques and practices when it comes to defining the product product goal product vision, facilitating product discovery workshops, helping out with the with defining product backlog items. This is one of the ways you could you could interact with the product owner. The other way is to make sure that the product owner understands that he is essentially one of the key elements in the whole empirical process, because he is the one accountable for value maximization. And so just making sure he understands that concept of continuously reevaluating the direction through delivering done increments, obtaining feedback, interacting with stakeholders, this is also a key key thing here and the scrum master will often have to sort of remind the product owner of how the whole model works. I will also say that from a scrum master perspective, it's also important to look at the surrounding of the product owner, look at the different people that interact with him how they interact, whether there is some pressure being applied. Oftentimes, you know, the scrum master has to engage if there's I've been in situations like that where there was some aggressive directive behavior towards the product owner when some of this They call this question the authority of the product owner. This is when the scrum master needs to engage because ultimately something is, you know, something wrong is happening to the to the scrum configuration here. So you need to engage in and help the product owner out. Why would you want to add anything here? Yeah, actually,

Mihai Olaru  35:17  
I do. And I remember situations when, when this happens, sometimes product owners are not necessarily familiar with building products empirically, or using Agile approaches, right? Or what Scrum is, or how the role of the product owner influences the success of the team. And actually, in the scrum guide, we could you can find some items or accountabilities, right, relating to what the scrum master would need to do to help the product owners get better at this, right. So, for example, talking to them about empiricism, and how a product is being built incrementally, right and iteratively. And how does that help with what would be a good thing to have them? Always an open discussion? Also, Scrum Master could be of much help, as Pavel suggested, while product owner is interacting with different sets of stakeholders coming, let's say, with some facilitation techniques, or things that they could add from a communication perspective. But there's, there's another way, really in which a scrum master serves the product owner as well, by talking to the team about how important it is to have very short sometimes and concise product backlog items. Sometimes my experience at least sometimes the team require like, hey, we need to have everything prepared and have all the details upfront, like I don't know when we did the one year cycle software product development in waterfall, right. So the scrum master needs to work with a team to make them understand the importance of concise and limited information in a rapidly changing environmental and bureaucratic environment. So there are many ways in which they can then collaborate. And

Pawel Kalkus  37:27  
the recent, the most recent example of a nice conversation I had when I was running a advanced an advanced class for product owner was I heard a lot of frustration when it comes to how disengage the developers were in the product development process, just expecting following to what you said, you're just expecting the product owner to come up with everything right. And we were talking about the large scaled environment, multiple teams, a single product owner, a lot of work for that product owner, because that person at the same time was a one of the senior directors. And so one of the ways as a scrum master can help is to is to help the team understand that they have a lot, they have a huge influence over what it is that they you know, we will be introducing you to the product. And being a set of specialists, the you know, the product owner would love to hear the input from them. That ultimately contributes to a better way to deal with complex problems because you're essentially generating more ideas. And you're not only relying on one person's creativity, so so maybe following down that path would also be a useful thing for a scrum master to to do.

Lindsay Velecina  38:44  
Awesome advice. Thank you. All right. So do you think Scrum Masters a full time job or the person as who has the role can also be a technical specialist and the date that

Pawel Kalkus  39:01  
I can I can take this one. Okay, great. That's an interesting question like and I'm among the PSDs that sort of joined the community and also started applying Scrum. I will say my career started in a little later than we originally just the scrum master role was often coupled with the developers role. Now at the moment, like my experience is show that first of all, we need to make sure that we are providing value to the team so so we could we could elaborate on how the scrum master could provide value, but that might be a full time job. Especially if you're getting engaged on an organizational level as well. Remember, as a scrum master, you should work with a team maybe with two teams and depending on their maturity level, that involves a lot of observation data acquiring. So you need space for that. When you when you join the organization organization will also have expect that you contribute towards other areas within the organization take part in the community of practice around training sessions interact with stakeholders build understanding of how the empirical process works, that all requires time. I'm not saying it's, you know, it's it's impossible to sort of combined roles. But you have to remember that if you're if you're a technical specialist, if your work as part of the developers group in the team, you might be inclined, you might feel the pressure to spend more time contributing to the to the product development, and that will take your time away from being a scrum master and acting as a scrum master. So there is a, there is a some sort of a balance that you need to find out here. We have anything you wanted to add to this one, or are we jumping to the next question? Yeah,

Mihai Olaru  40:50  
I think, yeah, things are very, very common experience that you see, maybe developing the team or helping with a team with a scrum master accountability as well. It happened to me in my teams where I worked for many times. That happened. I don't think there is any. I don't know. Confusion about this or, or really, something against the situation is just maybe when that person would have accountabilities or responsibilities for the team's success during that sprint, reaching the sprint goal with both accountabilities as a developer and as a Scrum Master, I think maybe it would be a good idea to prioritize the scrum master. Right when he's both because they're all developers that through self management would actually help finish the development work or whatever the developers have to complete the from the perspective they should not forget that their accountabilities from, from this perspective. So I don't see a problem for this next developer scrum master, sometimes I depending on the size of the team, for example, the situation currently going in that I see quite an opportunity for that.

Lindsay Velecina  42:18  
That's great. Thank you. Thank you both. That was good advice there. So this question here from an anonymous attendee, we're currently going through organizational changes, these changes determine that we will migrate to the product of another company that we're merging with, instead of continuing to build the product that we've been working on for about a year and a half. As a product owner, what is the best way to shift that focus and convey this to developers without losing motivation? Since they feel as though their work has been lost? How do we motivate the team to go forward?

Mihai Olaru  42:59  
Have fun, right? So I feel Yeah, this is a subject that maybe a business situation like a merger or so would could bring and it's somehow feels unnatural, right? Because two products generally working separately now have to merge and some some part of it need to be replaced with another, and motivation in these cases, is dropping, right? So we have to look at ways to overcome it. From from motivation perspective, what we know from the studies being run, I know Daniel Pink's work as well the drive book is that typically with with environments that rely on knowledge work, right, so the work that we do regarding information and product development. So, motivation is actually stimulated by a few factors that are more intrinsic motivators than I don't know rewards and punishments, external ones, and one of the intrinsic intrinsic factors for motivation in that theory is the purpose. Right, there are other others like autonomy and mastery, but regarding this question, I would I would like to highlight the importance of showing the purpose to the team. So while being engaged in developing a product made sense for a while, but if the business configuration or the business approach changed, and the purpose like where do we want to get or what's the highest value possible we can offer with this product has now become a different aspect is is very important to communicate that purpose. Very clear and open to the people in the gym. Once they get behind that purpose and the They have your trust as product owner should be reaction to actually support the initiative. Even if in this situation, I totally understand that it shouldn't be a massive effort right from from your side and maybe the organization's Pearlmaster as well to work with them to improve, right? How are they feeling about it?

Pawel Kalkus  45:27  
I agree with with me Hi, a tough case. I've never been in a situation like that, to be honest with you. But something that pops into my head, when I consider the different teams I worked with the different products I worked with, I would also relate to the purpose, the sense of purpose, maybe just being able to climb a level higher. And looking at the whole thing from a higher perspective, going back to the why behind why we you know, what, why we're doing what we're doing, essentially, there's a, there's someone on the other side, with a specific need a specific problem. And if we look at it from that perspective, you know, it might make sense to change the products or to change the technology or to do multiple other to go into multiple other areas. I've I've, I've heard nice story that sort of illustrates that when the new product owner took over a set of teams working on a medical product. And the way to build that direction was, was instead of giving them some sort of a narrative, he played a short clip, showcasing a child that struggled with some sort of mega medical condition. And then after playing that, he went back to the developer saying, you know, this is why we do what we do, we want to make life of people suffering without condition, easier, we want to make it possible for them to travel normally to live a normal life. And maybe just looking for something inspiring. Again, being building that sense of purpose, would be a way to cope with this one. But I also think, you know, we have to admit in a situation like that, we have to admit that it is a difficult situations, sometimes there's no need to hide the truth or pretend that that's, you know, nothing wrong happened. Sometimes it's also it also comes down to the business, it might have been a better business decision from a financial point of view. So.

Lindsay Velecina  47:24  
Awesome, thank you. All right. Moving along, we have time for a few more questions here. So trying to get through as many as we can. So do you have any advice on working with distributed teams, specifically as a scrum master based in one country, and then the developers based in another, this person is looking for advice on handling cultural differences, to achieve open communication and transparency, while also creating an effective team, and tributed team advice.

Pawel Kalkus  47:58  
I think that's that's, that's a pain we all get nowadays, right after the pandemic. And And studies show that even though individual production productiveness went up, the team team worked in collaboration suffered. Some of the experiences that I have, and those are pre pandemic experiences with with teams spread all over the world was from a scrum master perspective, the person interested in the team bonding, having a good a good atmosphere within understanding each other is to build a supportive argumentation to talk with management, so that the management spends some money into bringing the people together, occasionally, once everywhere, because because you could, you know, you could try and simulate that environment of connecting with the other person having a conversation online, there are different tools, like we were heading that way with, with the different solutions being worked on, in fact, Facebook, for example, but ultimately, when you get a group of people together, and that's my experience from working in a global company, we brought the entire team for one week, which was a fairly big cost. We brought them together. And then we spent five days within that week, working, just continuing working on whatever was part of the sprint backlog, but also having additional workshops, getting to know each other. And then after the after the day's worth of work. Those of us who still had energy we could go out for for a nice meal, something like that. And I remember one things stuck, stayed with me after this one. I remember that. One of the people approached me afterwards and that person said, you know, after that week, I feel like I'm more confident. I will be more confident in the future mentioning that I'm not handling something I cannot deal with something. I'm struggling with something because of the fact that I now feel more secure within the team. I can be more vulnerable with the team. This is trust, and the only way to build trust which is the prerequisite for an effective team. The only way way to do it is you have to gradually do like you have to integrate, communicate with others integrate with them closely and just relying solely on Slack written written communication via slack or email that will not do the work, unfortunately.

Mihai Olaru  50:15  
So I totally agree with Pavel on this on the importance of actually meeting the people you're working with remotely. So even if you cannot work together for a long time, just maybe doing a bit of work sprint together, or just, I don't know, planners printed list and get get out after the event, get out a bit and know each other, even at a personal level, like who we are as people other than the professionals in work. And I remember when that happened for me, because I used to be working pretty early in the 2000s, with some distributed agile teams that had offices here in Bucharest, but also in Santa Clara in near San Francisco, right. And when we travel there and get the feedback integrated directly from the people who were working in and trying to explain what's happened and how we see things and how the differences of approach were working, I think it's something like a click range. So when you're actually interacting with with people directly, and thereafter, after we came back, right, is just a few weeks or sprint working together. But after that, we went back to our original place, right. And there was still no discussions remotely, right. But since then, I think, when I don't when we had a call, right, it seems like it's it's a person calling before that it was a problem calling you. So now now getting to know each other as people rising, realizing they're actually people involved in the will to actually write to help someone figure out something is an enormous help. So yeah, I totally agree with with Kevin on this. Yeah, let's let's get together at least for limited time, if we can.

Lindsay Velecina  52:22  
That's great. Thank you. Right, we have time for maybe one or two more, I thought this question was interesting. How do you explain to someone what business value is?

Pawel Kalkus  52:35  
That's, that's a nice one. You want to take this one? Yeah, I

Mihai Olaru  52:39  
think you already started sparkling. Right.

Pawel Kalkus  52:41  
I have I have? Well, again, you know, how do we explain to someone with a business business value is ultimately it comes down to the to the customer outcome, and also the impact on the company's finances, I would say if it's if it's not a private company, if it's a public company, we're looking at at how our solutions contribute to the overall well being of people using them. And you can measure that multiple ways. EBM that we mentioned is just an indication of a direction but depending on the industry that you worked in, it will differ I want to give you a very specific example. When I worked in the in the media industry for a very long time, we would we would build major websites for the for the biggest media outlets in the country, we would spend a lot of time analyzing how long would people interact with after after visiting our website, how many page views that they would make a how many of the visitors would leave the website immediately after they entered that's called bounce rate. Those particular metrics are very specific to this to this line of business. When I worked in banking, we would look at entirely different things. When I worked in E commerce, we would look at how many people do we lose in the in the process of purchasing a product. And ultimately, you have to ask yourself first of all, from an organizational perspective, where's the money and how that contributes to our overall score. That could be part of your goals, business goals, but also the customer experiences is crucial here because the better the customer experience, the more likely customers will be able to return. And one of the things that is not often not often mentioned is the employee happiness, how happy are people working on the product delivering the product, because the more enthusiastic they are about it, and you can also measure that the more likely they are to create awesome solutions contribute to the product and that you know, ultimately that will lead to better by better market results. That's just my take on it.

Mihai Olaru  54:49  
Great power. So yeah, I thought you would go in again to the four key value areas right in In the work, but what I'm thinking even even extra from, from what you said, and what from what evidence based management guide brings, maybe there's value even in things that do not relate to money, maybe there could even be value in societal benefits that the product produces. Like, I don't know, cleaning the air, or getting a better life for whoever lives on this planet, right? Or we're improving, I don't know, confidence or the capability of people to learn or get better at what they do. So it's a such a wide term that for each, I think product initiative needs to be very carefully looked at. And this is what we have an accountability for this, right? If I'm a product owner, and product owners are not robots or AI, or something like no put in some data, and they will just just look through that data and generate a formula for forgetting your I don't know, key metrics or whatever, then they have judgment, they can analyze the market, they can, they can look at other ways that people could could use the product and benefit benefit from it. Apart from from those, maybe, which would be just just more money, right. So yeah, just to

Pawel Kalkus  56:19  
make an example that comes into my head, I recently had learned from a group of people joining from one of the city councils in Poland where I work, and I was really, you know, happy and enthusiastic to see them because that, that that means that Scrum is now being introduced into fields and areas that, as you said, are not necessarily connected to increasing the income of the company, right? When we introduce scrum to handle different things within the city council, it means that the focus is on making the citizens happier. So we're looking at solutions like making the air cleaner, maybe there are some solutions when it comes to the mobile applications we can introduce to help people rent electric bikes, for example, stuff like that, that will make that will reduce the traffic congestion and things like that. So that this this type of things happens everywhere. And we are now seeing how the scrum application is being used to make make our lives more pleasant, basically. So it doesn't necessarily come down to money, as you said.

Lindsay Velecina  57:29  
Thank you both for that. All right. So I think we're coming up on our time, where there are some questions that we did not get to. So I will share those with me Hi, and Pavel. And we will figure out a way to address those. Thank you all so much for coming and bringing your questions. And thank you, Pavel and Mihai for sharing your insights. This was a great discussion, and I am sure the audience got a lot of value out of it. And that's it. i So thank you, everybody. And we hope to see you again on the session soon. And just so that the audience knows, Pavel and Mihai, what's the best way for the audience to stay in touch with you?

Pawel Kalkus  58:16  
I guess you could reach me, the easiest way is to find me on LinkedIn. Feel free, feel free to drop me a message on LinkedIn. I would say you know, you could check out my local company website, but the URL address of it will not tell you anything. So let's leave it out of the picture. So the LinkedIn would be the best option. Just wanted to express my gratitude for all the questions. Thank you. Thank you guys for for trying out Scrum. And you know, I'm holding my firm's think keeping my fingers crossed, that you will find value in it. And also thank you, Mihai, for for joining me for that session. It's been a pleasure to exchange ideas with you on the go.

Mihai Olaru  58:57  
Farther and thanks, Lindsay for for all your support and to the participants, wonderful participants sharing so many questions which were absolutely constrained to answer in a short time, but when we follow up in return for more, and yeah, let's let's let's connect Right, right. Linking I think is best.

Lindsay Velecina  59:19  
Okay, awesome. All right. So thank you everybody, for taking the time and we hope to see you again soon scrum on


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