Global Scrum Gathering London 2018 Recap

Global Scrum Gathering London 2018: Recap Part 1 – Teams, ScrumMasters and Product Owners

After my premiere last year, I again visited the one of two yearly Global Scrum Gatherings in Europe. Again it’s been incredibly inspiring even though not one single session topped last year’s Closing Keynote by Lyssa Adkins. Nonetheless I want to share the outlines of the sessions I joined at this Global Scrum Gathering and add some more in-depth information or links.

This post will focus on the Teams, ScrumMaster and Product Owner track, whilst the second post (Global Scrum Gathering London 2018 Recap Part 2) will focus on culture, values, leadership and scaling.

I’ll start with overcoming fear of rejection when asking questions – which is something I would have wished for during the first two years of my ScrumMaster career. Intercultural aspects of teams is something I learned about quite early, but it’s even still growing in importance in our modern international work setups. The third talk was super valuable for me, as what I do is moderating meetings and workshops or facilitating collaboration various ways: Learning about the core protocols was great!

Last but not least I’ll write about my conference highlight from the viewpoint of a PO: Jeff Patton’s session will help me support Product Owners in their line of work.

What I learned from 100 Days of Rejection – Jia Jiang

Creating better ScrumMasters

Starting with one of the day 2 keynotes: Rejection Therapy with Jia Jiang. He started with a nice (but awfully sad) anecdote about rejection in his school years and continued with being inspired by Bill Gates and wanting to become an entrepreneur himself. (By the way: Sign up for Bill Gates’ newsletter here! Now!) Jia faced rejections all the time. To better cope with it, he started what he called Rejection Therapy: 100 days, 1 challenge a day from small requests to crazy things. It’s all on Youtube, just go here and pick a random number between 1 and 100:

Key takeaways of the talk were, that often rejections are a result of the ask not meeting the other parties needs (duh!). Another advice was to offer alternatives after a rejection. People are more open to a second ask, as they’ve already declined the first.

The best one though:

Just ask! If you’re not asking, you’re already rejecting yourself! Be fearless*!

*not shameless

SGLON18 sketch notes - Power of Rejection

As a ScrumMaster, this is an important quality. We want to improve things. Often our requests are rejected. Should we stop asking though? Of course not! ScrumMasters should continuously improve:

  • Themselves (hard, but at least you get less rejections)
  • Teams (harder, as your peers might reject some of your ideas)
  • Organizations (hardest, as you might meet the fiercest resistance)

Keep asking!

The Cultural Factor in Scrum Teams – Fabian Schwartz

Creating better ScrumMasters

The title of Fabian Schwartz’ session was misleading: It wasn’t so much about team culture, as I had expected, and more about (inter!)cultural factors of teams. We learned about Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory

Low Power Distance PDI High Power Distance
Collectivism INV Individualistic
Feminine MAS Masculine
Low Uncertainty Avoidance UAI High Uncertainty Avoidance
Short term Orientation LTO Long term Orientation
Restraint IND Indulgence

and particularly how (higher) Power Distance decreases productivity whilst (higher) Individualism increases productivity. On a bell curve multicultural teams are both the least and the most effective. Least, when their cultural differences impede collaboration. Once these differences have become accepted (and used!), the facilitation of which is a ScrumMasters job, they quickly become the most effective.

We quickly got to work ethics (not as an intercultural factor!), but as an important factor within teams. With a simple example Fabian Schwartz showed how essential it is to deal with the free riders:

∅ Performance Free Rider Average Performer High Performer
3 1 3 5
2.7 1 3 4
2.2 1 2.7 3

Over time, if not sanctioned, free riders will pull down the performance, first of high performers, then the average will decrease and even the (okay!) average performer is being pulled down.

I have experienced this before. As a team and as a company we dealt with the problem to everyone’s (including the free rider’s) satisfaction. I’m still not in favor of solutions of big consultancies where the lowest performing 20% are being fired regularly. But in teams these situations need to be addressed. All in all this was a good session: I could relate, I learned something new, we all got a book recommendation →

SGLON18 sketch notes - Cultural Factor in Scrum Teams

High-performance Teams: Core Protocols Psychological Safety and EI – Richard Kasperowski

Creating better Teams

Richard Kasperowski started with asking the audience to describe the best team they’ve worked with in one word. The predominant term was: TRUST.

Then he delivered the in my opinion best session of this Scrum Gathering, since it was

  • inspiring (yes, others did inspire, too)
  • insightful (yes, I also learned from other sessions)
  • immediately actionable (applying the core protocols in an offsite 2 weeks after the conference is awesome!)

In short the Core Protocols provide some easy to apply practices to get an upwards spiral started to boost productivity:

Positive Bias → Freedom → Check in → Personal Alignment → Investigation → repeat

SGLON18 sketch notes - Core Protocols for Psychological Safety and Emotional Intelligence

Read more about this: Kasperowski wrote a book about the Core Protocols, which I’ve added to my reading list (the non public “To Do” part). For beginners like me the original online sources by the McCarthy’s are super helpful already! Edit: Link is broken by now. Here’s a new good source.

Be a Balanced Product Leader, Not a Feature Broker or Product Dictator – Roman Pichler

Creating better Product Owners

After SGDUB17 this was the 2nd session I’ve seen of Roman Pichler. Unlike the previous one, this one didn’t impress me much. Probably that is because

  1. I sooo very much agree with everything he said and
  2. none of it was new to me

As Roman Pichler is a fierce champion of spreading good Product Ownership, his session was about POs and their struggle between being a mere Feature Broker (proxying empowered people’s requests without adding value) or becoming a Product Dictator (deciding every single thing oneself). Both extremes of the scale don’t yield the best outcomes. Balanced Product Ownership is key:

  • Feature Brokers need to empower themselves
  • Product Dictators need to empower others

Here are my sketch notes:

SGLON18 sketch notes - Balanced Product Ownership

Experimentation – Jeff Patton

Creating better Product Owners

Jeff Patton is just legend. User Story Mapping has become a widely spread agile practice and his equally named book is even recommended in Product Owner Trainings.

At this Scrum Gathering he hosted a session where the agenda had just stated “Experimentation”. Nothing more. One word. Still (and rightfully so) he attracted an audience big enough to get the room quite crowded. His blow-by-blow account on Product Development started with Kent Beck’s quote of the first user story he encountered:

“I type in the zip code and it automatically fills in the city and state without me having to touch a button!”

What made this session so incredibly valuable again was the great mix of teaching and coaching whilst having the audience workshop participants work actively on the exercises provided.

Not only the content (Product Ownership from scratch, User Story Essentials), but also the way it was presented was amazing. Jeff was drawing whilst speaking, so the audience could visually follow him every single step of the way.

In the practical exercises we were filling

  1. one Opportunity Canvas
  2. our Learning Plan for given opportunity

In an attempt to make even clearer how important it is to learn what users want and to learn how to build a product people are willing to pay for, he said:

So let’s stop (only!) measuring Velocity. Let’s start measuring our Learning Velocity. Here are amazing sketch notes of Jeffs session:

Because we ran out of time (aka we couldn’t finish all the scope) for the session, he recommended two books on the topic (he didn’t recommend his book, but I added that for completeness):

Here’s my full curriculum – what hasn’t been addressed in this post will be covered in the next one, so stay tuned!

Monday Tuesday Wednesday
😉 What I learned from 100 Days of Rejection – Jia Jiang
Creating better ScrumMasters
Keynote: The Psychology of Creating a High Performing Culture – Damian Hughes
Creating better ScrumMasters
The Cultural Factor in Scrum Teams – Fabian Schwartz
Creating better ScrumMasters
ING’s leaders, what were they willing to give up? – Leonoor Koomen
Creating better Leaders
Be a Balanced Product Leader, Not a Feature Broker or Product Dictator – Roman Pichler
Creating better Product Owners
High-performance Teams: Core Protocols Psychological Safety and EI – Richard Kasperowski
Creating better Teams
Agile Culture: The Number One Leadership Challenge – Sabine Canditt, Rickard Jones
Creating better Leaders
Experimentation – Jeff Patton
Creating better Product Owners
Delivering a High-Performance Agile Organization – Michael Sahota
Creating better Leaders
Teal, is it time to reinvent organizations? – Tobias Mayer, Antoinette Coetzee, Simon Powers
Scaling Scrum – Jeff Sutherland, John McFadyen, …

Questions? Remarks, comments? Let’s discuss below!

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