December 9, 2019

Scrum Master Career 2020 — Using Ecocycle Planning to Identify Opportunities

TL; DR: Scrum Master Career 2020

Last week, about 30 members of the Hands-on Agile community in Berlin came together to identify opportunities for personal and professional growth for the coming year, using Liberating Structures’ Ecocycle Planning in the process, to further your Scrum Master career 2020.

Read on and learn in this post what opportunities you have to advance your career as a Scrum Master or agile coach in the next year.

Scrum Master Career 2020 — Using Ecocycle Planning to Identify Opportunities

Liberating Structures

Created by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz, Liberating Structures cover a set of easy to learn, yet powerful ways to collaborate as a team—even as a (very) large team by Scrum standards—, overcoming traditional communications approaches like presentations, managed discussions, or another disorganized brainstorming at which the loudest participants tend to prevail.

Liberating Structures are well suited to improve the level of engagement among participants of Scrum events, thus stimulating the kind of outcomes that are necessary to create learning organizations. Liberating Structures also provide an excellent toolbox to handle Product Backlog refinements or improving the Definition of Done of an engineering organization. 

Lastly, Liberating Structures are a great tool when large groups come together for retrospectives, self-selection of teams, or—as in our case—to figure out how to advance their careers by crowdsourcing and sharing lessons learned from the Scrum Master or agile coach perspective.

Download the ’Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide’ for Free

Liberating Structures for the Scrum Master Career 2020

The Ecocycle Planning

The subtitle of the Ecocycle Planning page summarizes the potential of this microstructure well:

Analyze the Full Portfolio of Activities and Relationships to Identify Obstacles and Opportunities for Progress.
Scrum Master Career 2020 — Using Ecocycle Planning to Identify Opportunities

In my experience, Ecocycle Planning has proven to be a powerful tool for Scrum Masters and agile coaches whenever the need arises to analyze the status quo and identify what factors have contributed to the current stage, both from a positive as well as negative perspective. Regarding the Scrum Master career 2020 question, we were particularly interested in what issues contributed to positive professional standing, starting with education and not ending with tools & practices.

As usual, we started with an Impromptu Networking to create a first level of familiarity among the participants.

With regards to the time constrictions, we had about 2 hours available, we then moved directly to the Ecocycle Planning, taking the following steps to create lists of activities, practices, and relationships that helped shape the participants’ professional status today. The original instructions were as follows:

  1. As an individual: Create a list of activities, practices, tools, relationships, and training that helped shape your professional standing today. Use the worksheet for this purpose. ⏰ 10 minutes.
  2. Now, form pairs: Collaboratively, decide on the placement of each of your issues on the Ecocycle worksheet. ⏰ 10 minutes.
  3. Next, team up with another pair: Again, collaboratively, decide on the placement of each of your issues on the Ecocycle worksheet. Eliminate redundancies. ⏰ 10 minutes.
  4. As a group of four: Transfer your remaining issues onto stickies and place all of them on the large Ecocycle symbol. Cluster with other stickies of the same nature/topic while doing so. ⏰ 15 minutes.
  5. Step back to digest the patterns and ask yourself: What activities do we need to creatively destroy (#1) or stop to move forward (#2)? What activities do we need to expand (#3) or start to move forward (#4)? (In other words: is the pattern “right?”) ⏰ 15 minutes.
  6. In small groups: Create for all activities in the Rigidity Trap first action steps. Create for all activities in the Poverty Trap first action steps. Discuss all activities where there is no consensus and create first action steps—if possible. ⏰ 10 minutes.
Ecocycle Planning to Identify Scrum Master Opportunities at Smava, Berlin 11/2019

Sharing the Results with Shift & Share

We then decided to split into six groups tasked with introducing the findings for each zone of the Ecocycle—gestation, poverty trap, birth, maturity, rigidity trap, creative destruction—to the rest of the group utilizing Shift & Share. Please note that you may find identical issues in more than one zone. This inconsistency is a result of the widely varying levels of professional experience of the participants as we valued the inclusion of all Hands-on Agile community members over limiting participation to those with a comparable professional background for more stringent results.

I took the liberty to edit some of the suggestions where the author pointed at the right issue; however, he or she formulated the issues in a way that contradicts the respective Ecocycle zone. The results for the Scrum Master career 2020 opportunities are as follows:

Gestation

  • Knowledge sharing/meet-up & exchange with other Scrum Masters.
  • Liberating Structures.
  • Scaling Scrum (LeSS).
  • Design Thinking.
  • Blog article writing.
  • Gaining knowledge: Reading (books), TED talsk, listen to podcasts, subscribe to newsletters.
  • Attending conferences.
  • Joining different LinkedIn groups.

Poverty Trap

  • Lack of drive. (Original formulation: “procrastination.”)
  • Lack of non-violent communication (NVC).
  • Not limiting work in progress.
  • Contructive work-styles.

Birth/Growth

  • Attending Scrum training classes and gaining certifications: PSM I, PSM II, CSPO, CSM, VFQ.
  • Liberating Structures.
  • Learning: Change management, conflict management, coaching skills/a formal coaching education.
  • Creating a community of practice in my company.
  • OKRs.
  • Regular research on agile practices.
  • Agile team facilitation training.

Maturity

  • Teaching, coaching, mentoring: Workshops for other departments of your organization, coaching coaches, experience as a Design Thinking coach, branching out into the organization as a Scrum Master.
  • Practice: Encouraging teams to self-organize, walk the talk/be a role-model, getting hands dirty and things done.
  • Continuous improvement: Regular personal retrospectives, gather feedback frequently.
  • (Self-study: There is a wide overlap with issues listed above in gestation and birth.)
  • Formal education: Management training, NLP training.

Rigidity Trap

  • Hand-holding engineers.
  • Not letting go but holding on to old job responsibilities.
  • Inadequate working conditions.

Creative destruction

  • Clinging to your current position when a new job in a different department or company may be beneficial.
  • Volunteering for extra work and activities.
  • Reinventing the wheel: Hunting for new ideas instead of searching for existing ones.
  • ScrumBut — we do Scrum but made it fit our needs, cargo cult agile.

The Slide Deck We Use at the Hands-on Agile Meetup

We used the following slide deck to guide the effort during the session. You can download it for your purposes.

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Attribution

Liberating Structures are developed by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

The Conclusion

While we did not discover the magic wand that catapults a Scrum Master or agile coach among the rich and famous of our industry immediately, we did though find robust and proven tactics that—if exercised diligently—will advance your Scrum Master career 2020.

What opportunities for personal growth and career did we miss? Please share it with us in the comments.

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Recommended Reading

Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help.

Scrum Master Trends Report 2019.

How to Get Hired as a Scrum Master.