January 7, 2019

More Physical and Digital Tools for Scrum Masters and their teams

A couple of months ago I blogged about some of the tools and toys that live in the trunk of my car. I take these along everywhere I teach and coach. Since posting, people have suggested additional items that just must be in my toolbox.

Time Timer Plus

Time-boxing is an important component of Scrum. It provides focus towards a goal and prevents you from over-analyzing things. We use time boxes extensively in each Professional Scrum class.

This lightweight, large timer helps visualize the time-box clearly to the class without having to juggle tools on screen.

Thanks: Evelien Roos and Just Meddens for this tip.

Logitech R800/700 and Spotlight

I'm using a trusty old Logitech Wireless presenter R800/700. It's easy to use, has a laser pointer that works no matter what you point it at and has a built-in timer that can be used to warn you when you've been talking for far too long.

The R800 is the US version which is equipped with a green laser pointer. Green lasers are illegal in Europe, so Logitech sells the R700 with a red laser.

It works on two AAA batteries which last for months.

The Spotlight is Logitech's most recent wireless presenter. It requires additional software on your machine and uses sensors to "shine a spotlight" on the part of the screen you want to highlight. It can even act as a magnifying glass.

It has a built-in battery and fast-charges over USB-C. Nowadays that means you always have a full charge at hand and won't have to juggle any batteries.

Thanks: Laurens Bonnema

Super sticky post-its

Most training rooms - and let's face it also most team rooms - have only a few spaces where normal post-it notes will stick, let along stay up for a substantial amount of time.

On top of that, many companies try to save money by buying white-label sticky notes. In some cases these have so little sticking power that they will fall off even a decent whiteboard within hours.

Using the proper technique to pull stickies off a stack helps, but what really helps are Extra Sticky post-its from 3M.

Many scrum trainers and agile coaches will teach you how to pull stickies from a stack. I teach this very simple rule-of-thumb: not up, not side, but down: up-side-down.

You can find these post-it notes in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors.

Tingsha Bells

When I'm working with larger groups it can be hard to quickly return the attention to me to give further instructions, provide a hint or simply signal then end of a time-box.

In experienced groups it can often be enough to simply raise your hand and wait for all participants to respond to the cue. In less experienced groups pair of Tingsha bells also does wonders. Their sound pierces even the loudest crowds.


In class ELMO stands for "Enough, Let's Move On" and participants can hold up an Elmo doll to do a subtle intervention and get the group back on topic or track. I've started using these small vibrating Elmo heads. They're small, lightweight and have a high fun-factor:

When discussions are taking too long, even after subtle signalling you can sometimes see these little buggers fly through the room to intervene a little less subtle :).

This was part 2 in a series of tools for Scrum Masters, Trainers and Coaches. You can find part 1 here. Are there any tools or toys you'd want to add in a future post? Reply in the comments or send me a tweet!