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Professional Scrum Trainer Spotlight: Yuval Yeret

January 11, 2024

In this episode of the Community Podcast, Dave West chats with Yuval Yeret, a Professional Scrum Trainer at The discussion covers Yuval's background in DevOps and product development, emphasizing his passion for agile and empiricism that has developed over the years. Yuval highlights the use of Scrum, Kanban, and OKRs, emphasizing transparency and flow.

The conversation delves into scaling Scrum and OKRs in non-traditional environments, such as marketing and biotech, with a focus on integrating Agile and Evidence-Based Management for improved OKR implementation and scaling. Yuval advocates for systemic change to achieve effective collaboration.

The discussion also touches on the Agile movement's shift from practices to bigger problem-solving, with a pivot toward focusing on value, outcomes, and organizational response. Dave West underscores the significance of concentrating on value and outcomes within Agile practices.




Dave West: 0:19
Hello, welcome to the community podcast. I'm your host, Dave West CEO Today's podcast is focused on the journey or one of our professional scrum trainers or PST, Yuval Yeret that has joined our podcast today. Welcome to the podcast, Yuval

Yuval Yeret: 0:39
Great to be here to talk to you again.

Dave West: 0:41
Thanks for Thanks for coming. Well, I listeners really like to know where you're speaking to us from where are you speaking to us from today?

Yuval Yeret: 0:52
Greater Boston area, I think you're familiar.

Dave West: 0:58
Not that far away from from me, isn't it funny that we see each other more frequently electronically than in person, but the nature of the world that we live in today? Okay, so a gray and cold Boston afternoon we're talking to you talking together. All right, let's start let's start talking about why we are here. Tell us a little bit about your background.

Yuval Yeret: 1:28
So I used to do dev SEC ops, before there was a even the name for that before DevOps was even a thing back in the 90s in the Israeli Air Force. So my original story is in it. And over the years, I've also done work in product development in the storage, networking world, multiple technology startups back in Israel. And some of the time was in the trenches. Some of the time was mixing work in the trenches and leading teams leading teams of teams. So VP engineering, those types of roles, that's, that's my background. In the last 15 years or so, I've been helping others improve how they develop products, and eventually how they run and develop their businesses.

Dave West: 2:42
And it's interesting, so you sort of developed a passion for this, from what I've observed this sort of empirical approach to effectively delivering value to customers, when would that be so like, if you're going to have a T shirt printed with your mission in life? Would that sum it up? Or have I completely misunderstood that?

Yuval Yeret: 3:05
I mean, to be honest about it, when I you know, if we dive a bit deeper into the journey i i encountered agile back in 2006 I don't think I had empiricism in mind as the solution to the problems that we were facing at the time. But I was looking for ways to deal better with uncertainty and and complexity of building products without really knowing how you know, how they're gonna work and how to fit everything together and whether the clients customers would really benefit from what we're building I found scrum I've learned to later found Kanban you know, over the years, I've done work at scale with companies like Siemens and HP and cyber Ark and entail a lot of that work was in the space of actually driving Kanban into the enterprise scale and into product development when it was used more for maintenance and operational things at the time. So more into the space where scrum traditionally placed. And in 2017 when when, you know when when you in the team invited me to become to become a professional scrum trainer and help bring flow into the professional scrum world. To be honest, that's when empiricism had the explicitly become a much stronger part of my belief system for what makes you know, all of those agile behaviors and flow behaviors tick what what makes them work? Why why are they so powerful? So the brainwash definitely worked.

Dave West: 5:21
Well, thank you. It is interesting, I, we also got a lot out of that brain washing experience just for our listeners, you Val was heavily involved in the development of our professional scrum with Kanban, the Kanban guide, and that we that we provided and also really working with our community to introduce the ideas of low to our community and provide that consistent terminology and understanding about how Scrum and Kanban and flow can all work together, which has certainly opened my eyes to what real transparency meant, including the use of a banana skin, but we will talk about that maybe a little later. And that always sticks in my mind. But the reason why I brought that up and and even though this is perhaps a little bit of a surprise, I didn't mean it to be a trap. But it's because I think that's a really interesting, you call it brainwashing. But you came from very much a transparency flow perspective, and then added that empiricism to it. And, and I think that's a sort of mission that you've taken upon yourself. So tell us a little bit about, you know, the, some of the things you're exploring around that sort of mission, particularly or, you know, OKRs, scale up scaling and the like, yeah,

Yuval Yeret: 6:46
so in parallel to my work on scaling using Kanban, and flow and Scrum. Those were the years that safe became a big player in the space and I started looking at, do I believe it's useful? What, what I like about safe smile, what needs to be improved. And my take on that, which, you know, might be controversial to some people, I still have, you know, arguments with others in the professional scrum community and the Agile community. But my take is that when you look at the challenge that many organizations have of making the transition from traditional to more evidence based management and empowerment, and all of the good stuff that we believe in. One effective way to manage that change is through evolutionary change. And safe seems to have figured out useful patterns, both from a commercial perspective as well as change management perspective to actually help you along the way. And that's the way I've been using it. I've been using it to help enterprises to help companies manage that tough change from traditional and opinion based and fun, functional focus and activity based cultures and operating systems to evidence based management and slow, it's not the typical way that people look at safe. It's not the typical, you know, if we're honest about it, a lot of people don't look at scrum as an approach towards empiricism. They just look at it as a way to micromanage I still remember and I, you know, I still remember that clients, in the early days of me, you know, actually coaching others, he was the VP r&d for a startup in Israel in the project management space, specifically, one of those modern project management tools. And he confided in me saying, I really, really love Scrum. Scrum gives me, you know, a good excuse to micromanage my people. That's not necessarily the answer that you want to hear from people that are really, really into Scrum. But there's a lot of that out there. There's a lot of classic project management, and classically, you know, management, period, style hiding under the facade of Scrum and unsafe and my mission is, I don't know, to help help evolve some of these people, some of these organizations towards healthier ways of working that actually have more of a chance to deliver value. And you know, the same happens in the OPR space you mentioned OKRs. OKRs are another management technique that has a lot of potential if you actually include empiricism and empowerment, and transparency as part of it. But you see so many organizations that just don't get it. So

Dave West: 10:20
I think that what I've, you know, I've been working with you now since 2017. You have Alan. And what I really love is that combination of transparency and empiricism outcome, what are we? What do we really the why, why, why? Those two things when you apply them to professional Scrum, obviously, create or to scrum creates professional Scrum, again, creates that, that that not only that more effective way of working but also ultimately delivers more value. You're exactly right now, Scrum can be a great way of telling people what you know, to work faster. And I think that's what you experienced that first or early exposure to scrum in Israel. So tell me a little bit about the way you're going with some of these ideas and what really excites you. You know, we talked a little about scaling, we talked about OKRs talked about flow. But I'm curious as to what you know, what you're sort of what you're seeing in the market, what you're what you're really doing today. Yeah.

Yuval Yeret: 11:35
So one other aspect of my journey that helps explain where I'm going is that so over the years, there's this balance between my belief in evolutionary change and being pragmatic about these ideas on one hand, really believing in empiricism, empowerment and flow, but on the other hand, not being dogmatic about how to achieve them, and what base this is come real useful when trying to tackle non traditional environments for Scrum and Agile, beyond, you know, software development, whether it's marketing, whether it's razors in Gillette whether it's a biotech environment, where we're not just talking about Scrum in the technology and big data aspects, but also in how to actually change the way the wet lab works and the journey to find beneficial cups IDs. That work expanding my view and brought me to this space of OKRs and, and intrapreneurial operating system and scaling up I've been more exposed to how organizations and companies are managing themselves and is open some interesting opportunities that I'm, you know, exploring for how to actually leverage all of all of our, the pillars of Scrum, the spirit of Scrum in those environments, so for example, OKRs. I mentioned OKRs are a framework for alignment it could be and is intended to be used as an operating system for a company that's trying to achieve results in the space of uncertainty and aspiring to deliver value on bets. But a lot of people are implementing OKRs, like traditional project management. So my mission, you know, right now is to figure out ways to inject scrum Enos, evidence based management, agility, into how people are implementing OKRs and help them fix or accelerate their OKRs. Similarly, people that are using intrapreneurial operating systems of one sort or the other could also benefit from evidence based management. And I most of them aren't even aware of what we have in that space. So that's, that's where I'm trying to play these days. Yeah,

Dave West: 14:53
it is kind of interesting that your evolution you're sort of God Ernie through where you came from the flow stuff, then the information of empiricism. And then obviously, the scaling ideas, the safer. You're an SP, see, see what I can never get below

Yuval Yeret: 15:17
and SP so that's it. That's it,

Dave West: 15:19
I always get confused. Sorry, sorry. Apologies for that your your fellow. And you know the way you brought that in? Isn't it interesting that's led you to the sort of ultimate kind of business challenges of, hey, how do we get clear objectives? How do we build an organization that pursues those objectives with a result by us? And then how do we inspect and adapt that continuously to evolve us to do a better job of both understanding the objectives, but also the results that come from that, and then the solution that we delivered to create the results? I think that's an interesting journey, that at the end of the day, empiricism, transparency, clearly understood objectives, dealing and then dealing with the challenges of scale, it sort of brings us all to this point where we have to start building empirical organizations at the end of the day. Yeah.

Yuval Yeret: 16:22
I mean, when I look at it, in retrospect, it almost looks natural, to be honest. I mean, if you look at what we should be doing as true leaders who serve our teams, as, you know, Scrum Masters. If we are good at building effective teams, you know, at some point, we'll realize that the impediment is outside the team that the impediment is systemic that in order to achieve flow, we need to look upstream and downstream, we need to figure out the right topology in between teams, we need to tackle some scaling questions, right. And whether it's through safe, large scale, Scrum, Nexus, whatever. It's all about figuring out ways to make collaboration, more effective and less needed, to be honest. How do we create cohesive teams, and at some point, you realize that actually, in order to deliver value, it's not even, you know, just the software or technology that you need to work on. There was this orthopedic network up in Maine, the good folks at Spectrum Health Care. And, you know, what we've done there is we've established a team of teams that actually involve people both from technology so from it, as well, as people that were no clinical professionals and finance people and admins and marketers, they were all intermingled on Scrum teams and teams of teams and using some, you know, safe practices like big room planning, PII planning and trying to build business solutions together. And to me, that's a natural involution. If what you're focused on is delivering value, if what you're focused on is just to Scrum, you won't necessarily get there. If what you're focused is doing things within the confines of your political fiefdom in the organization within your function, you might not get there. But if you're applying the systemic view, and you're really focused on your customers, and what they need, and creating value, eventually or getting there. I, I believe that the industry will get there over time. It's just, you know, it's a journey that requires cultural change and political, you know, maneuvering inside organizations that there's a lot of impediments to doing that. But that's what makes it interesting. But you

Dave West: 19:09
do have to have a clear idea of where you're going. And you need that transparency along the way, to help you see how you're progressing against that. And I think that's what you bring. And that's what you're focused on, if I'm putting words into your mouth here. Because without those two things, I don't think we will get there as an as a society as an industry as a series of organizations, whatever the unit is, I actually think that if we are so concentrating on our fiefdoms, and on our areas and trying to optimize these areas, if we don't have that transparency, and that clear line of where we're trying to get to, in terms of business outcomes or objectives, if we're using OKRs I don't think we'll ever get there, honestly, and I, I think that ultimately is the thing that excites me about our conversations. because that is the pursuit that I'm interested in.

Yuval Yeret: 20:05
Yeah, I believe this is the future of where we're going. I see a future where it's less about the practices and the mechanics. And they're still important and the skills to and the skills that are needed for you know, managing backlogs and owning a product and facilitating effective events and effective teams, all of these are important. But focusing on them too much, might actually hurt your transparency towards what's the bigger problem that that you're trying to solve? So I think we're in for an interesting couple of years of reckoning around what's the focus of the agile movement of agility? So it's interesting to be on the front lines.

Dave West: 21:04
Yeah, I mean, I completely agree. I wrote a blog called has agile stalled, really, to highlight the fact that I think Agile is about to pivot to be exactly what you're describing, value, outcome, whether it's OKRs, whether it's scaling, whether it's flow, whether it's empiricism, whether it's Scrum, whatever you call those things, but ultimately, that's going to be our focus. And this the outcomes that matter. And it's the ability to build organizations that respond to those outcomes in an effective way. So I'm, I'm glad you're on this journey with me as well. And thank you for spending the time I could talk for hours to you about these topics. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your journey to become a professional scrum trainer.

Yuval Yeret: 21:53
Like you live. Thank you for the opportunity.

Dave West: 21:57
Okay, everybody. Well, that was Yuval at talking to us about his journey to become a professional scrum trainer, you heard how maybe the focus that he's applying of these ideas is in the non traditional spaces, the impact of the empirical process or the infection of the empirical processes. He described it a few years ago to his journey and how that's become front and center in his merging of OKRs safe, the ideas of Scrum and the ideas of flow. This has been a community podcast. I'm your host, Dave West. Hopefully you've enjoyed today's conversation. Please listen to future conversations. And there's a great archive of some really interesting talks with PSTs and others around the industry about really our journeys that we're all on. Thanks, everybody. Scrum on

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