Looking for a Scrum Master

What to look for when trying to hire a Scrum Master.

Everybody has a picture in their mind of what their ideas should be like. Just like grocery shopping, we expect that tomatoes should be red and taste like a tomato (unless you like green tomatoes). Highly recommend deep fried green tomatoes for anyone looking to try something different. I digress from my point. When I look for Cheetos to snack on I want them to be crunchy and have a cheese flavor. When you buy generic Cheetos or knock off Cheetos, you are rolling the dice and might end up with a sub par fake Cheeto. If that didn’t resonate with you, then try buying knock of cola and expect it to taste like Coca-Cola. Just isn’t the same.

Here in Minnesota, we love to fish for and eat Walleye. It’s our state fish and something we are proud of. A few years back, it was being reported that local restaurants were advertising Walleye dinners but actually serving Zander. Zander is a fish that is not local to Minnesota, but looks and tastes just like Walleye. You can’t tell people they are eating walleye when in fact they are eating Zander. Thats an outrage and a form of “bait and switch”. Yes that was a fishing pun and I’m damn proud I came up with it.

This is what makes hiring a Scrum Master difficult. Everybody and their dog can get a Scrum Master certification. That doesn’t mean they understand what agile servant leadership means. Matter of fact, it is often very difficult to find someone who had a good understanding of the role. Often Agile is easy to understand and even more difficult to master. Just as people dining at restaurants thought they were getting Walleye, instead they where tricked with Zander. Just like in the business world, companies can be tricked by Scrum Master certifications. In this podcast we give some advice on how to a true (or semi true).

That ain’t no walleye son.

Interview with a Business Agility Coach

Podcast Business Agility Coach

We interview a good friend who has shared our agile journey and our agile beliefs. Her name is Erin and she recently became a Business Agility Coach. What does a Business Agility Coach do? Listen and find out the answers to these questions:

  • What does a Business Agility Coach do?
  • DO you follow a certain type of agile methodology?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How have you made things better?
  • What challenges/skepticisms have you faced?
  • Who do you find more annoying – Doug or Jack?
Jack, Erin and Doug

Projects projects projects

Projects projects projects podcast – #35

This was a fun one when I sat down and started to brainstorm ideas on what relates to our latest podcast about projects projects projects. I believe this should be very relatable to everyone reading this. In our daily lives we take on several things during the day or week that we need to juggle at home.

I’m picturing my week right now. I need to set my schedule and get into a routine for the upcoming week. There is the laundry and meal prep on the weekends that needs to be done in order to prepare for the week. During the week I need to plan around busy schedules to have dinner plans set. Now that doesn’t seem to bad, but we also need to determine when to podcast. So the Scrum Under Siege crew needs to get something on the books. Sometimes it feels a little overwhelming, but the best way to get through everything is to take small task and complete them. Eventually I establish a cadence that I can use to determine what I can accomplish.

So many projects so little time

Now how does this relate to our latest podcast? Well sometimes you are going to be at work and assigned several projects. Part of it is understanding why it happening. Most cases this will be out of your control. Part of it is establishing a cadence so you can help determine when your work will be done. We have helpful tips in the podcast to help talk through a lot of this. Check out the episode above.

I ain’t got time to agile

Podcast about part time agile.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemon aide”. Thats a beautiful quote. If more people believed in that quote, more people would be happier. Don’t let life completely dictate your fate. For instance, I love to fish. Do I have time to fish a lot? Nope. Do I have an awesome fishing boat? Nope. Do I understand all the specifics about fishing like lure colors and water temperatures? Nope. That doesn’t stop me from fishing when I get the chance. I also have realistic expectations when fishing. Catching fish is not the goal (but it does help when the fish cooperate). The act of fishing is the goal.

Fishing is about the experience.

Sometimes you might find yourself on a side project where the team has very little capacity. You probably won’t have the time or resources to do all the cool agile stuff. Don’t let that stop you from trying. Listen to the podcast about some things to think about if your team is running agile as a side project.

On a related note, the “I ain’t got time to agile” title is a play on worlds from arguably the great action movie ever made –> Predator. I’m a child of the 80’s and this movie hit all the notes for me. Guns. Alien. Special Forces. Movie quotes. Arnold. And finally Jesse The Body! The Body was a pro wrestler and he gives the best line of the movie imo. Check it out.

Alabama ticks are the worst.

No Scrum Master available ATM

What to do when team does not have a Scrum Master.

What does not having a Scrum Master compare to in real life? I was just wondering that myself. One thing that comes to my mind is cooking. As like many of us aim to have more home cooked meals, we learn its not easy. I myself have aimed for a lifestyle change where I focus on controling what I’m eating. With so many convenient choices at our finger tips, its easy to look at apps like: DoorDash, PostMates or Uber Eats and select something from a local favorite resturant and order it. The only catch is that you will be paying a premium to get it delivered and less control of what goes into your food.

What I learned on my own is that not having a plan for dinner will result in failure. I often have wondered how people who love cooking know what to make. So I turned to the Food Network to see what they were making and to see if I could borrow any recipes. I watched a show called Chopped on the Food Network. I admired how they could take random ingredients from a basket and make something that looked exquisite. Now I really wish I could afford to hire a chef to teach me about different flavor profiles and combination that I could use on my own. I wouldn’t complain if they taught me to mince, dice and filet like they do. However I don’t have the budget allocated to allow for that.

Easy to make egg bites

My next best option was checking out the old interweb to find recipes that I could follow. They were simple enough and easy to follow. I was able to make some really good dinners without much effort. As every new cooking lesson passes, I do learn more about The difficult part of all of this was the need to pick up specific ingridents that aren’t available in your pantry. Their is a upfront cost that needs to be put in to buy herbs and spices that will be the staple of every ingrident that I use. This similar to working without a Scrum Master. Expect to stumble along the way with your Agile team, but doesn’t mean you can’t have success. Check out our latest epsiode where we will give you advice.

Release Planning

How to build an estimated release date.

I had time to reflect on what our blog post would be this week. This was because I just went on vacation with my family. I’ve been going on a summer vacation for decades with my family (yes that makes me feel old but it’s the truth). I do what everybody does when they pack for vacation. You think about what you will be doing and try to pack accordingly. I know fishing will happen and hopefully I’ll catch a fish or two. So I always bring my fishing rods, tackle box and net. We always get a round of golf in so I can’t forget my golf equipment. Last but not least, who can forget about the hot tub. So that means bring a swim suit. 

Look at that fish

Regardless of when I fish or golf or swim I know I need the everyday stuff. We all do. Clothes, shoes, toiletries and don’t ever forget the phone charger. Needless to say I forgot my razor and my net for fishing. Happens to the best of us :).

This dude forgot to pack his razor.

For family vacations you will be required to plan and communicate schedules to everyone demanding information on whats happening. Similar to large corporations that want their Agile teams to give an estimated date for when they think something will be done. That helps with the budget, coordinating cross dependencies, and scheduling upcoming work. Use the tools agile has given you along with your common sense to build the release plan. Check out latest episode above to hear about what you can do with your own team.

Edward Edgecase

How to handle edge cases that distract from story mapping.

We struggled to come up with a good topic for the blog this week. That was until we had snapchat up and were watching stories on “fails”. Then it hit us, some guy shot a firework out of his mouth (Video below).

Guy Shoots Firework Out of Mouth

There is no way the firework company thought this was a valid use case for anyone would do. I’m sure after this video the company added a disclosure to the firework saying please don’t shoot fireworks out of your mouth. This is a lot like story mapping out what your users are going to do. Its easy to watch videos like this and think that its valid to explore all the paths that a user might use the product the wrong way. It will not end up helping solve future issues. Users are often unpredictable in how they may try to do something. So remember, the core idea about Agile is to get something out there and get feedback on it. Then you can incorporate some of those items that will come up after the product launches. If you want to hear us talk about tips and tricks in our latest podcast about edge cases, then listen to the player above.

Stop the solutioning

Podcast about staying on track when story mapping

We just did a fantastic episode (above) about story mapping and how to keep your team focused. If you ever have tried to multitask, then the thing that will resonate with you is that its hard and often it leads to both task not ending well. Now story mapping can be similar to multitasking if you aren’t focused on the right thing. The reason you do story mapping, is for the team to figure why and what you want to build without getting into the low level implementation details.

Don’t talk to your buddy. Just sing and scream with the band.

Now in my personal life, this reminds me about something that took place a few months back with my nephew. We decided to go see The Pixies and Weezer. We caught up on stuff as we went to the concert. We had a few good conversation and a couple laughs over a beer while we sat and waited for the bands to start playing. We were excited to hear the bands even though we only knew a few songs from each band. Once they started playing, we decided to focus on the music. Sure we could have tried to a have a conversation during the concert, but we would’ve had to yell at each other. That would have dampered our experience at the concert, and we would have missed the music and had a lousy chat. It’s similar to trying to solution while story mapping. It’s ok to talk about some solutions during times you feel stuck, but concentrate on the core part of the discussion which is what you want the user to do. If you want to hear about our thoughts, listen to our episode above.

Now back to the concert, it was amazing and I had a blast! Live music has an energy that is fantastic to experience in person. Favorites songs at the concert were Gouge Away and Say it ain’t so. If you aren’t familiar with the bands above, I recommend you check them out: Doolittle and Weezer (Blue Album). One of my favorites as a new comer coming onto the scene is Flora Cash. If your looking to have a blast and some fun with your friends, I would recommend bands with a Irish flair like Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly. Great stuff.

Personality Disorder

Listen about how to avoid some pitfalls when creating personas.

Have you ever wondered if you’re getting into the “weeds” when planning something? I have. This feels like almost and everyday thing. I do have one example in mind and its fantasy football.

With the NFL draft finished and team mini camps just about to start, I have started to think about the upcoming Fantasy Football season. Much like last year, when I was watching highlights of rookies who could potentially take me to the championship round and give me bragging rights for winning the league. How did that work out for me last year? Last year I spent time watching the whole NFL draft and making notes of potential rookie Running Backs and Tight Ends that could be a great addition to my potential roster. I made notes on what NFL defense may have been upgraded with new pass rushing pieces drafted. I wanted to be prepared last year, so I drafted in every spot via mock drafts. I developed a sense for who I could draft at each position.

At the end of the fantasy draft I was super excited as I felt like I put a top lineup in place. Much to my dismay, the first week I scored the 2nd most points but I played the person who scored the most points. That would foreshadow what the season would bring. It turned out that I would finish 9th out of 10 in the league. This is in spite of scoring the 3rd most points. My real weakness was focusing so much on value that I ended up drafting injury prone players. This resulted in my fantasy season being a disappointment. My number 1 goal for the upcoming fantasy football league will be focusing on value picks who have a history of durability.

Now what does this have to do with our latest episode? Our latest episode is about personas and we talk about similar experiences of focusing on the wrong things. When trying to figure out your customer, focus on what they want from your product and narrow it down to a few customers. Check out our episode above if you want to hear us give our own take on what is impacting your team from creating effective personas.

These two idiots did no research and won their league!

Roadmap estimating

Podcast on roadmap estimating

People do estimating everyday without even knowing it. The majority of the estimating is done at a high level so it’s kind of odd when you run across people who struggle with this at work.

For instance, I do this almost daliy in my everyday routine. Just recently I created my own high level roadmap. Two years ago, I was looking at my house and noticed that a section of my cedar siding needed to be replaced. I had no clue where to begin. So I did what most people do and went to YouTube to get a feel for how difficult it was. I came to my own conclusion that it was a couple day at home project for myself. I just had to remove the old siding, buy new siding, hang the new siding, prime it and than paint it. YouTube was right. It was easy.

Last year I noticed that I should replace the cedar siding on the other side of the house. The work indeed would be more dificult with more edges and the need to do angled cuts. I figured I could tackle this. I said to my self: “few nights after work”. Much to my own delight it didn’t take that long. It was a semi weekend weekend with a few nights after work commitment. Much to my chargrin, the angles were super hard to cut. On the bright side of things I was able to utilize my experience from the last time I did the siding.

I gave this job a medium estimate

When spring finally arrived, I looked at the house once again to determine I wanted to update the siding by my garage. This was going to be the biggest job I would take on to date. The job required longer pieces of siding and more angles. I was trying to talk myself out of doing the work, but I knew I really should. I figured this would be a full weekend and maybe a few nights after work. Now what does this mean to me? With how short summers can feel and trips already planned. I’m planning on tackling this job in the late summer after vacations are over and the fall is fast approaching. I knew if it was a smaller job, I would have taken the work on now.

Agile road map estimating is similar to making decisions in your own personal life. Listen tour latest podcast where we give some great tips and tricks about how to estimate your road map for your company utilizing the team.