Ask a Professional Scrum Trainer - Scrum for Leaders
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 Scrum.org 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 episode of Ask a Professional Scrum Trainer Yuval Yeret answers the audience's pressing Scrum questions focused around leadership, how leadership and Scrum Mastery are intertwined, and how leaders can engage with Scrum. Yuval is co-author of the Scrum Guide Companion for Leaders.
Eric Naiburg 0:12
Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening, depending on where you might be around the world. I'd like to welcome you to today's webinar or today's what we call ask a professional scrum trainer. My name is Eric Naiberg and I'll be your host today and joining me is Yuval Yeret, who is one of our professional scrum trainers and he will be the expert at answering today's questions. Let me take you briefly through some introductions and then we will get started. So quick guidelines, your microphones will be muted throughout the session is recorded and we will have the slides available or the the if any, any video but certainly the audio available within the next 24 hours. Please submit your questions via the q&a box down at the bottom. This way we can record these in any questions that you've all is not able to get to. He can get to them via email later, if you send with through the chat they get lost. So please use that q&a box. Real briefly for those of you new to scrum.org, who is scrum.org were founded by Ken swaybar, the Co creator of Scrum. He is our chairman and founder and Ken continues to lead scrum.org As an organization, we provide thought leadership like these webinars to help you and help you grow training. You've all been one of our professional scrum trainers, certification and ongoing learning, all based on our mission of helping people and teams solve complex problems. With that, I will let you Yuval introduce himself and we can get started.
Yuval Yeret 1:48
Thanks, Eric. Always great to be here and answer questions curious to see what questions the audience has. Um, so yeah, I've been a an agile practitioner since 2006. got introduced to Scrum and Kanban. And in recent years, I've been helping people trying to make sense of Scrum, Kanban and other techniques, how to achieve agility. More recently, it's been a focus on helping people in domains that aren't the classic stomping grounds for Agile and Scrum people like Gillette biotech firms taking scrum outside of its comfort zone. But wherever I went, which ever companies and people I talked to, there's always been this feeling that in order to really achieve agility, Scrum at the team level needs to be supported, but by the right sort of leadership by acts of leadership at all level. So earlier this year, I've had some conversations with with Dave West at Scrum.org. And we've written together this companion to the scrum guide that talks a bit more about the leaders perspective to Scrum. And, you know, I'm excited to answer any questions related to that, and questions in general that come up today.
Eric Naiburg 3:29
Awesome. Thank you, Yuval and with that, let's get to your questions. Again, please use that q&a tab down at the bottom of your screen. And we can get started. Let me stop my share. Because you don't need to have this up all the time. This way you can get a full view of Yuval starting off. How do you define leadership? We hear the word leader all the time, right? It's a scrum master leader do I do you have to be a C level to be a leader? How do you define leader?
Yuval Yeret 3:59
Yeah. So we need that can see two definitions. One is the everybody is the leader. Definition. And I really think everybody needs to be a leader at certain points in time and at certain activities, specifically within Scrum. You know, the scrum master is the leader. The product owner is the leader of the product developers are leaders for things that happen within the team. But there was a vacuum in the scrum guide when it comes to leaders outside of the team that have a role in supporting the team helping the organization achieve agility. So in the guide, what we are in the companion that we wrote, we define leaders as people that are outside of the scrum team. It can be an HR manager People manager, department heads can be the CEO can be people at different levels. They don't have to be executive leaders, but they can be. The important thing is that from the scrum guide perspective, they don't see themselves as a concrete role on the scrum team. They are external to the scrum team. They might be a stakeholder for a scrum team, they typically will be. Does that make sense? It does.
Eric Naiburg 5:30
Thank you, Yuval. And let's keep going. That's great. I think that's helpful. And if people have questions about leader and how that's the sign, please feel free to ask them. First question we have as an Agile Coach, how do you ask leaders who don't seem to want advice or coaching about agile issues, if they want to talk, especially if they don't engage with the lower levels?
Yuval Yeret 5:57
One of the one of the powerful tricks that I use as an Agile coach is to connect to these people's within the what's in it for them. If they don't really care about whether their teams are successful, or not agile or not, if they don't really care about the agility of their organization, they're they're not going to engage. But most people that I encounter these days do care about that. They do care about being more competitive, they do care about whatever buzzword, the they call this, whether it's a digital transformation or time to market or whatever. They relate to these things. And by talking to them at the language that they resonate with, we can get them to be interested in what's needed for their teams and their people to actually achieve those goals. In the, in the scrum.org. world, we have the evidence based management framework ABM, which is really designed to talk at that level to talk at what are the business results that we're achieving? Are we improving our ability to innovate our time to market? Are we happy with the current value that we're providing in the market? Is there an unrealized value or unrealized potential that we're trying to, to achieve? Is there a gap that we're trying to close in, we use Scrum or whatever agile approach in order to close these gaps in order to improve our ability to innovate and our time to market? And that's language that leaders typically resonate with, at least in my experience.
Eric Naiburg 7:52
Awesome. Thank you, Yuval. The next question, this is a bit of a software question, I think, but I think it's one that comes up quite a bit. Would you consider architects if not on the scrum team, as a leader? How do you best support them? How do you best support the team's decisions around architecture and so on? Yep,
Yuval Yeret 8:15
I definitely see architects as leaders. And from my perspective, they also need to be leaders who serve I, the most effective architects I've I've seen are people that see their role as growing and nurturing developers on teams that think about architecture, the right way that know how to balance the needs of forward thinking, architecture, in balance with emergent design, being a leader doesn't mean that they do everything that they control things from the Ivory Tower, it means that they're available to people, they provide guidance, they provide alignment on what's important to us. They show the way while still creating a lot of space for teams to have the autonomy and agency around figuring out exactly how to align with that architecture.
Eric Naiburg 9:21
Great. Thank you, Yuval. I think anybody can be a leader. And that's, that's, I think, what's interestingly, Leadership isn't a title. Right? Leadership is something that people do and something that that others respect someone as as well. As people, as you're saying, people have to take on that role. People have to consider themselves in that role a bit as well is they're working through things and not just not just not just doing the work sometimes. Yeah,
Yuval Yeret 9:56
I think, you know, it's interesting that We, we talked about the leadership role. And I think learning from the scrum guy that made the transition towards accountabilities back in 2020. I think leadership can be seen more as everybody's accountability at different points in time. You don't need to have a business card that says, I'm a leader. I'm in the role of the leader to take on a leadership stance in the relevant times. Absolutely.
Eric Naiburg 10:32
So Harsha has a good question. So what is the Scrum Masters role in enhancing leadership at different levels? What can they do? Do you have some advice for how the scrum master can can support leaders and in enhance that leadership across the across the organization?
Yuval Yeret 10:55
So, let's look at two aspects of this within the scrum team. I think it's pretty pretty easy to see how the Scrum Masters role is to coach the different accountabilities the different players on the team to step up and lead in the relevant times to coach the product owner in leading from a product perspective, providing a vision, using product goal to to guide the team on where to focus. They have a role in coaching the developers on the team to step up and not expect to be told what to do. Sometimes the Scrum Masters way of doing that would be to just actively do nothing, which might be uncomfortable, especially if they're used to being a leader themselves being a manager themselves. Stepping into that role of growing people as leaders might be uncomfortable, but it is something that a good scrum master, a professional Scrum Master would do when it comes to conversations outside of the agile team. Scrum Master could for example, take you know the companion guide that we wrote that provide some opportunities for leaders outside the team to reflect on how they show up how they interact with scrums, events, artifacts, accountabilities and have conversations with these people about how to effectively show up as leaders.
Eric Naiburg 12:37
Great, thanks for that. And I will, I'm gonna post a link to that white paper in just a moment. So what if What are the key skills that a traditional leader needs to change in order to operate efficiently and effectively with agile teams? And I know we talked a lot about this and you teach the professional agile leadership course quite a bit. We talk a lot about those things and have how folks need to understand what their teams are doing. What are some of the those skills that you teach leaders to change that mindset? It a lot of it's not about skills, a lot of it's about mindset and how they think and act as well. Thoughts that Yeah,
Yuval Yeret 13:22
yeah, the most important thing I think, is feeling comfortable with not calling the shots all the time. feeling comfortable with this centralizing control, and figuring out spending much more time achieving alignment on what's important, and clarity on what's important to us, without controlling the details. Let's use OKRs. For example. OKRs are a buzzword these days. We talk about them as you know, ways to define to map strategy to execution and a lot of leaders use OKRs in their organization. When you look at OKRs one of the important things about them is the fact that they are an alignment framework. They provide the direction of what are we trying to achieve without controlling all of the details without telling people exactly how to do stuff. In this way, by the way, leaders could learn a lot from what we're trying to teach product owners, product owners, provide a product goal provide, you know the product backlog to the team. They focus on the what and the why they learn to give the team the space to respect the team's ability to figure out how to fit You're out how much they can actually achieve. That interesting relationship between developers and product owners is something, something that we can actually apply at the fractal scale higher or in the organization or elsewhere in the organization. So a trick that, you know, I use a lot when talking to leaders is everything that we've learned that works for us. at the team level, even if we use different names, even if it doesn't map one to one, the principles still apply the organizational scale. Great.
Eric Naiburg 15:39
Can you elaborate on the leaders as stakeholders? And this is an interesting question. Specifically, the scenario that they give is, if the end user and decision maker the check writer, if you will, is in a business group separate from the IT leadership in the IT group that's doing the work? They they're asking, would it conflict if a leader in the IT group proclaims themselves as a stakeholder and potentially manipulating the work in progress and quite possibly the product owner? So I think what they're kind of getting at here is, can I be a stakeholder as well as a leader within the organization? And then how I guess as to me, this isn't asking the question, but but how I would kind of phrase this a little bit more as, as a Scrum Master, what would you do to help protect the scrum team from from someone who's both a leader and the stakeholder pushing their leadership too much?
Yuval Yeret 16:39
Yeah. I will. So the way I look at this question, and we talk about that, in the companion is one of the very crucial ways that leaders can serve their organization and serve Scrum teams is designing the right agreeing on the right products, the right product goals, the right teams that support these products in the right sets of stakeholders for these products. So somebody in the organization would need to step up and be a leader and figure out okay, for this product that has these product rule that we set up, you know, a scrum team for or set of Scrum teams work and be a Nexus can be whatever way you you scale or even just one team. This is the set of stakeholders for the team. And this is our the set of expectations from the stakeholders. And somebody should be able to drive a conversation with the stakeholders around managing expectations. Stakeholders shouldn't feel like they're in control of the product, they should respect the product owner to lead that product. But that requires an act of leadership in the organization in choosing the right product owner, setting up the right environment where that product owner is respected, and empowered to have the agency to drive the product. If that is in place, then the product owner should be able to have effective conversations with stakeholders, whether they're from business, whether they're from it, whether they're from anywhere, and gather their feedback, and do the right thing for the product. The problem is that in a lot of organizations, we don't set up the product owner for success, we choose the wrong product owners. And we don't really have those conversations with stakeholders from business from it from wherever around what to expect, they might still feel like they're calling the shots. And, you know, the product owner is not He's not God, they don't have endless power. Sometimes the stakeholders, you know, will drive some very important decisions. But we should create a situation where there's alignment, some level of alignment, at least between the stakeholders on where to go before an organization that has no alignment between business it on where to go. That's a leadership challenge that somebody would need to step up and address the role of the product owner the role of the Scrum Master. What scrum would do for us at the minimum is it would surface that misalignment. It would bring it up we would see in the sprint review for example, that you know there's no alignment on where to go and that would be an impediment that would be at somebody's doorstep, that somebody's you know, table to do something about. What we're talking about today is those leaders that will need to do something about these sorts of impediments that cannot really be addressed at a team level.
Eric Naiburg 20:20
And I think from a product owner perspective, you need to be a good facilitator too, right? So as a product owner, it's not just about listening. It's about facilitating those conversations. It's about working with you think about a small company, working with your CEO, your CEO is a stakeholder, their leader. They're an influencer. But they have to hopefully respect the product owner to make decisions. At the same time that product owner needs to facilitate those conversations to make sure we're on the same page. That CEO is also the in theory, the check writer, right? And in having those conversations, building that trust is so critical. The scrum master can help facilitate some of that. But I think to me, the product owner needs to take on some of that role as well. And the product owner isn't just I think there's some misnomers, right that we talked about myths and myth busting all the time, that the product owner isn't just a requirements management person. Right? They are, they are a leader, and they need to facilitate with other leaders and stakeholders. Not just customers, but also the not in users, but also the other leaders within the organization as other stakeholders within the organization. Next question, this might be a little bit broad, but I'm going to ask it anyway. What are the wait? What are some of the ways that would allow you to improve in leadership? Do you have some guides, I guess, for leaders, to help them improve? help them do better? How can they better support? The teams that they're leading?
Yuval Yeret 22:07
I would say that one immediate thing that comes to mind is connect to your teams, ask them, you know, what do they need be stewards for? For these teams, there's one client I'm working with, which is investing heavily in the concept of stewardship of we are there as leaders, they even have, you know, a whole organization that includes people and operations that's there to be stewards of people's success. It's, it starts with the mindset of, you know, we're reversing the pyramid. I'm not on top of people, I'm not above people, I'm supporting them, I'm holding them up, I'm creating an environment where they can succeed. Most leaders, when they start to have that mindset, when they start to ask questions, like, you know, what, what do people like, in what's going on here? What do people kind of struggle with, they get the right ideas, if you need some, some more. One thing that I love to do is to facilitate a retrospective that's focused on autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Get a couple of people from, you know, across your organization can be escaped exercise can be just meaning, you know, teams, and watch Daniel Pink's Drive video, a 10 minute video, and then have a conversation with people around. What are we doing here that's really unleashing people's autonomy, mastery and purpose. What are the things that we're doing right now that are impediments to people's autonomy, mastery and purpose? And get some ideas from that? Have a conversation around? Okay, what's the small thing we can try? And do we have that liberating structure 15% without, you know, changing the whole wall? There's something we could do right now. What could we do to improve things a bit? Try something, see evidence whether it's working or not, and try something more. If that sounds to you, like maybe let's set a product goal of improving the environment that people can work with, maybe start to create the product backlog around maybe a scrum team around that then you're are thinking the right way about this?
Eric Naiburg 25:03
Great, thanks, Yvonne. I think we've got a couple of more pure scrummy questions, if you will, as well. I want to take Alan asks any thoughts or any feedback on how teams using multiple sprint goals rather than one? How they can handle that? Is it a good idea? Should they? Should they do something different? And assuming? And I'm gonna assume from Alan's question that they want to do this? Do you have any suggestions on how to best handle it?
Yuval Yeret 25:33
Yeah, I'm imagining that they don't necessarily want to do this is just the reality of what's going on for that team, the main thing, I mean, generally, what we say is the team should have one sprint goal at a time because that's, that's much more focused. It drives collaboration, it's much easier for the team to actually achieve something if they're focused on it. But a lot of teams struggles with struggle with this, because they're pulled in many different directions. What I like to do is to use this as a signal to have a conversation around, are we set up for success? If once in a blue moon, we need to work on multiple things on this team? Fine. But if on a consistent basis, we have a team that is pulled in different directions, as people that are working on different things, then it brings up a question around, do we have the right teams? And to bring this back to the topic of today, the topic of leadership, somebody needs to step up and think about are we set up effectively? Again, the leaders role, somebody's role in an organization that is working on multiple products, trying to achieve multiple things, is to have a conversation around, are we spread too thin? Is is it possible to be to have everything be strategic? Going back to OKRs? For example, we cannot have an endless number of OKRs, we should have only a few that we're really focused on? Can we set up teams that are really focused on a product goal? Are we set up that way right now what needs to change for us to be able to set things up that way? In a sense, the fact that the team is not able to agree on a cohesive sprint goal is signal that Scrum is providing us to reflect on our setup on are we using are we set up effectively to achieve our strategic goals? Do we even have strategic
Eric Naiburg 27:57
goals? Shiva. So although the scrum guide tells us to use the retrospective effectively, some organizations tend to skip the retrospective. How can you lead a retrospective effectively as a scrum master? And how do you orient people toward it to see the value now, to me, if we're not retrospectives if we're not looking at how we work, we're not really ever improving changing? Do you have some thoughts and ideas around that? Yeah,
Yuval Yeret 28:33
I definitely agree that if you're not continuously improving, you're probably leaving some opportunities on the table, especially because the environment were using Scrum in most work that happens these days happens in a complex environment in which we don't necessarily know what's the best way to work. We don't necessarily have the right approach for things from the get go just taking the scrum guide taking, you know, a professional scrum class will get you somewhere from a process perspective. But you need to tweak it. You need to be able to react to things that you learn while doing the work. What I what I typically see is organizations that try to skip the retrospective, because they're not able to convert the thinking the time they spend retro respecting to some actionable improvements on the team. And that might be because they're not focused in retrospective. They try to change too much stuff, or they focus on changing things that are beyond their horizon. What I would start with is thinking about how would I facilitate a retrospective that converges towards something actionable, something that's within our scope of control as a team, that we can actually see meaningful change on within a reasonable time, ideally, within our next sprint. And something that we're excited about. It should be something that as a team, we're really passionate about changing. If you have a team that doesn't care about improving anything that's not passionate about making changes to how their work, then you need to dive deeper into what's going on. Maybe you know, there's this buzzword these days that people are using quiet tweeting. That's something you might need to do something about, if you're a scrum master, if you're a product owner, if you're a leader, you need to think about how do I engage people in doing the work here? It can I you know, create some excitement about the mission, can I create more pervasive product goals for what this team is working on? People rarely think their way of working is perfect. So there's typically something very close to the surface that's in the way of an effective retrospective that you can tap into and tweak.
Eric Naiburg 31:40
Great, thank you, Val. So Diana asks, What should leaders consider when thinking about whether agile or Scrum is the right transformation to set off on their department? Or on their part of the organization? Do you have some guidance there? I know you do a lot of transformations, you're working with some some big companies even out well outside the software around that. So you've got a lot of a lot of experience and advice I think you can probably bring here.
Yuval Yeret 32:06
Yeah. My experience is that regardless of the domain, the context, the first question leaders need to ask themselves is what's broken? What, you know, why would we need to change? I talked earlier about, you know, EBM, are we happy with the results of our product here? Are we happy with our time to market? Do we feel like we're able to innovate effectively? Or do we have a lot of friction and waste and nothing seems to get done, and it's all mired in technical debt? On top of that, the question that we ask is, what's the sort of work that we're doing? If we're doing complex work that's rife with volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity, when we constantly learn whether what we're doing is useful or not, where we're constantly getting surprised by the results of our work and whether features are actually valuable. That is an environment that requires empiricism. That is an environment that requires us to close fast feedback loops. When we agree that there's some dissatisfaction with the way we're currently doing things. And we need empiricism to close faster feedback loops. Then it makes total sense to try and figure out okay, can we use something like Scrum or another agile approach, whether it's Kanban, or anything else, or scrum with Kanban to actually bring this empiricism to how we're working? And yeah, I think that's, that's, that's let's, let's pause here.
Eric Naiburg 34:05
Great. Thank you, well, what are some tips on how to facilitate or drive an organization from Agile to delivery to Agile culture, and at the end of the day, agile is all about it's much more about a culture change if the, it's not just about delivering something, but it's about how we think how we act, the trust that built the values that are put in place and so on. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Yuval Yeret 34:36
Yeah. It's kind of, we sometimes call this doing Agile versus being agile. I'm struggling with the premise of the question a bit to be honest. Because not not because it's not a an important topic of agile delivery versus agile culture. It's because what I've seen in the past is that when you don't have the Agile culture of empiricism and self management and continuous improvement and growth mindset, it's very, very hard to achieve agile delivery. It's possible to have agile theater to have, you know, all of the right names for things to the facade of being agile, or doing Agile. But it's very hard to really achieve agile delivery, closing fast feedback loops, learning about what's useful, adjusting, inspecting and adapting. And I think that's where I would I would focus my facilitation or leadership. Going back to if an organization really cares about competing faster, being more effective achieving business agility, we want to call it that, then we can have a conversation around why that is basically impossible. Without having the right culture. We can look at examples of organizations that really achieve agility. They tap onto autonomy, they tapped on to alignment without micromanagement, they really understand how things like the scrum values are crucial in working effectively with Scrum. So those are the conversations that that I have. There are my experiences that leaders, most leaders don't really, I mean, there are the leaders that really care about the sort of culture agile culture that we talk about, they care about it already, you don't need to do much to convince them to set up an organization that works this way. The leaders that don't already that haven't already bought into the the tenants of an agile culture, the way to bring them on board is to connect it to business results to connect it to why you would be limited why you're not able to compete as effectively as an organization that is doesn't have the right sort of culture. They will they won't do it just because an agile culture is school. That's been my experience.
Eric Naiburg 38:01
And you have to bring real world examples that they can understand and relate to. directly to them. It's not just you know, you can't keep using the blockbuster example for as an example, because, okay, yeah, I'm not blockbuster, I can change. I'm not my technology, or whatever, my business isn't being completely changed. But there are things that are happening in even just in today's you know, looking at it at a at a micro level, the fact that people are leaving jobs more than they ever left before, well, how can we better retain people? What can we do to keep them happier, so that we're not losing our top talent, and keeping people together? And I think there's a lot of examples that can be pulled from there, you know, you don't have to go to the big ones. You know, there's a lot of smaller things that can be be used within those conversations. Yeah, I
Yuval Yeret 39:00
agree. I think one of the most important things we could do as coaches as consultants, as people that are advising leaders, on you know why and how to become more agile as an organization is to connect to their language to the things that they care about, whether it's things in the news that they are worried about, that, you know, are happening in their industry, whether it's stuff that that is in their language, whether it's stuff that's specific to their company, that you want to talk to, they would relate much better to things like that. Then to you know, agile language, in a vacuum and partner with people inside the organization. There are people inside their organizations that know what these leaders really care about, if you're inside an organization, you should focus a lot of energy on having empathy for where the leaders are, what are they looking for? What are they worried about? Why do they lose sleep? What's important to them? Create a map of where they are, and meet them where they are.
Eric Naiburg 40:25
Yep. Absolutely. Thanks. Yeah. Well, we've got a couple more scrummy questions, if you will. Haley says we're in the process of, of taking traditional operations teams and splitting out improvement and development groups from within them. As we do this, we're starting to think small, simple, which is more important if we can have only one or the other for a period of time a product owner or a scrum master. Any thoughts? They're
Yuval Yeret 41:00
interesting. It's like choosing, it's like asking a parent, who's their favorite child? I guess it really depends. On the context, I'll play the consultant. frequency depends on the context. If first of all, let's remember that the scrum master and product owner are accountabilities, you don't necessarily need to hire a person or choose a person that will do that full time and will have that on the organizational chart or on their business card or LinkedIn profile. somebody on the team or in their organization could wear that hat, you know, have that accountability for the team. And that's something I think, regardless of what you do, somebody should see themselves as the product owner for each team focused on the product goal, even if they do that. You know, when our weak, it's better than nothing. And I think, in the context that you're talking about, somebody should see themselves as the leader that's focused on the effectiveness of this team. Somebody should be doing that. And one of the things that we and again, I'll bring this back to the, to leadership, because I think a lot of these situations relate to leadership, a leader could step up and be a scrum master for these teams, and act as the person that's focused on the effectiveness of these teams. But that doesn't mean that they need to facilitate the events that they need to, you know, do all of the things that we classically associate with the scrum master. They would be a leader. That's their, it sometimes to support the team. If we have a set of people that really understand Scrum, and can quickly self organize and work effectively, we might not need too much support from the scrum master. If the organization is very much into Scrum, maybe we won't need that much leadership from the environment that Taylor is, you know, talking about, I think that sort of leadership is definitely needed. And similarly, if the product goal is very clear, and the team can figure out a lot of what's needed to work towards achieving that product goal, and there's lots of clarity on the product, maybe we won't need too much. Or a product owner that would be very hands on and engaged with the team. On the other end, there might be a situation, the result of having a product owner that's not very hands on, it's not very engaged might be that we're spending all their energy and driving in the wrong direction. That would be the conversation that I will have with this organization as they're trying to figure out how to use Scrum. What are the problems that we're trying to solve? And designing you know, who should be wearing which are taking on which accountability to really succeed using Scrum. I mean, we're using Scrum not to say we're using brown we're using Scrum to solve problems. Hopefully.
Eric Naiburg 44:57
That's a great point you've I think remembering that a Scrum Master does not have to be full time on one team, a scrum master can span across those different teams. They're there to help. They're there. They're there to support and serve those teams. To me, if we don't have a product owner, how are we prioritizing things? Is it just a year, you don't want to do product ownership by democracy, because it might be the most popular thing, but maybe not the most valuable thing that we're going to work on. So product owner is ownership is critical in that way. And for this team to work and really work together, having somebody that seemed to have those scrum master accountabilities is helpful, but you know, we get this question a lot. I manage a bunch of different teams firstname.lastname@example.org. And looking into support, people left as a scrum master have to be dedicated full time to a single team to answers now. They need to be available when they need to be available and be a part of that. Does the product owner have to be 100%? Tied to you know, every meeting every event, every activity, no, they can't be if they're doing that, then they're not talking to customers or not talking to stakeholders and not integrating with the organization. So I think there's some opportunities for this to have both of those types of accountabilities it, it can live in many ways across that as you're as you're moving forward. You've got some other some other questions coming in. So it's another scrummy. One, this is always an interesting one. And, and I think it's okay to ask this because it kind of ties to start to titled leadership because I see this a lot. And I know you and I are both going to be at a project management conference coming up in a couple of weeks in the Boston area. Someone asks, How is a scrum master role different from a project manager? I've written a couple of articles about this one, but I'll let you. I'll let you take this. You've all Yeah.
Yuval Yeret 47:13
So the classic it depends on the project manager, right? There are some project managers that see themselves as servant leaders that make choices like teaching coaching, creating autonomy and self management as their way to achieve success on your project. The traditional definition of project management the one you learn I mean, I I'm not a PMP but the one I kind of hear about and see in or in classic organizations and people that are in this space the classic project manager, managers the work managers, you know, scope budget timeline, how do things you know, work to achieve a certain predefined goal. A scrum master should be focusing on coaching the team the scrum master is like a coach, a leader, servant leader who serves the team. In being effective the scrum master doesn't own the scope doesn't report up to management on what's the situation with a project or a product. Generally in Scrum, we try to avoid projects and move towards products. One difference being that we don't necessarily know what the scope would be upfront, we know what the goal would be. And we're working towards achieving that goal by trying out different things. implementing some ideas from the product backlog, inspecting and adapting based on the results. So a scrum master leaves review, autonomy, empiricism, self management, continuous improvement. Project Manager, managers to a certain scope feels like they're the one single renewable NEC for what's going on in their project. I think they're actually there's also an interesting comparison between the project manager and product owner. I do see a lot of classic project managers some of the best TSDS out there have been project managers. In the past, they've seen that the they've seen a couple of things. They've seen that planning. You know, having a perfect plan from the get go executing to a plan doesn't really work in the real world. And the environmental volatility and certainty that uncertainty that we're seeing, they've seen that the results that you can get when you have talented people that know more about the work than you do, the results that you can get by them actually understanding the goal being aligned to a goal and having clarity on where to go and having freedom and agency to actually manage themselves. You get better results, you sleep better at night, you work less hours. So a lot of these people that came from project management have switched the way that they're working and are focused much more on scrum mastery or product ownership.
Eric Naiburg 51:04
Yeah, it's interesting, because I'll get that question. And I'm sure we'll get the question at this conference in a few weeks. So I'm a project manager, my company's going Agile. What does that mean, for me in my high give the typical, I guess, consultant answer, which is it depends. The best Scrum Masters. It's more than just skill, it's who they are. It's personality. They have to care about people they have to be be amazing at their coaching and helping and mentoring and teaching and all these things. And I've met some amazing project managers that just don't have that mindset. And there's many other things that they can do in an agile organization to take advantage of their skills and their capabilities. It doesn't mean that they they instantly go in the project and to scrum mastery, just like you said, product owner might be a better place. Often the PMO doesn't necessarily go away project management, things don't just go away in an organization, because they're moving into more agile approach. So you have to start asking the question of yourself, what is what am I best that what are my skills? And what is my mindset? And how can I help support, but it's not it's certainly you know, a scrum master is not a project manager. And if if the organization or the Scrum teams treating the scrum master, as a project manager, something needs to change. Because then we're not self managing, we're not working together, we're not getting the value out of out of the scrum master as well. Another question, we've got time for probably one or two more, what exercises questions stories can be used with top executives to not be in charge as they wrote. And to trust the PIO? Trust that product owner, especially when the product owner is good and remains an order taker? And we see this in organizations where the leaders, the executives just push the product owner to be a backlog manager, not really a product owner? What are some of the things you can do to help change that and then help evolve that evolve? Yeah.
Yuval Yeret 53:16
So I can see two things happening here. The leaders need to give the product owners need to take sometimes leaders are willing to respect delegate give the space for the product owners, but the product owners are used to being order takers, and they you know, just don't take stuff. So you need to be sensitive to what's really going on. Let's answer the core question here though. One technique that I really like to use, and we use this in the professional agile leadership class as well is the delegation poker. There's a whole set of there are several techniques like the delegation, poker, the leadership ladder is another one that David Marquette created, all of them basically create a language that you can use to have a conversation with leaders around different decision areas. And how are we currently approaching that area? Are we telling people what to do? Are we having conversations with them about what's the right answer? Are we really delegating to them? And also having a conversation around what's the right or what's the way we want to treat these decision areas? Do we want to decentralize the control here? What would be the benefit of that? What would be needed in order to achieve that do we need to create more clarity, do we need to grow people skills? Do we have the right people in place to actually delegating that way? Sometimes I see leaders who are afraid of delegating to product owners, because they didn't choose the right product owners, because they didn't create an environment where there's clarity on what's the product goal with clear, passionate, intrapreneur intrapreneurial product owners that can really take a product and run with it. And that shouldn't be the thing that that leaders talk about. The conversation can start with, you know, how are we delegating right now? And how would we like to delegate? What might be the benefit from that? Where does the conversation take, you can be all over the map. And be we're not set up effectively can be, you know, we need to provide alignment, more clearly about what's important to us, we need to have a conversation maybe about product goals. One of the benefits of product goals is that's a conversation that leaders can really have with product owners, if there's clarity, on the product goal that the team is running with, and the product owner is running with. Maybe there's less need by these executives, these, these leaders and stakeholders to micromanage what's going on to achieve that product goal. Awesome. Thank
Eric Naiburg 56:34
you all. And I want to be conscious of everybody's time here. We're about at time. I'm not sure we have enough time for for any more questions, you've all will take, take a look at all the other questions that we didn't get too and try to respond to them the best he can via email and get back to you on those questions. And there are certainly still some sitting here and waiting to be answered. With that. I want to say thank you. Thank you for your time today. You've all the great conversation. Thank you to the audience. And if for your questions in probing that that conversation and making it happen. Come on back. We're right. We run these once a month, sometimes more than once a month. keep learning keep coming to the scrum.org website as we continue to improve it and add more functionality capability in resources for you all to help learn, grow and evolve. And with that again, thank you have a great, safe day. And thank you again. You've all Thank you, Eric. It was my pleasure. Bye.