Scrum Master Sync – Episode III
SMS gives us the opportunity to practice, rehearse, and develop our facilitation skills and experience learning. It gives us a foundation on which we can build our strengths, a safe space to experiment.
Given the current rate of growth and changes in team dynamics, now might be a good time to invest in activities like "Team Canvas." It helps form a guiding concept and team alignment. It's a tool or framework that brings a team together and guides them through the process of defining ways of working.
- Identifying team members and the roles they play. What are the strengths that they bring to the table to help the team and become more aware of each other's weaknesses.
- Bringing the team together around a common goal. Identifying the 'WHY' behind the team's actions.
- Breaking down the purpose into concrete objectives that everyone in the team can agree on. Personal goals raise awareness among team members and reveal individuals' interests and preferences.
- Defining the team's core values and directing how team members collaborate.
- Developing team norms, activities, and agreements that help the team in deciding how to behave and engage as a team.
As a team of Scrum Masters, we decided to try out the Team Canvas activity with one of us facilitating and the rest of us engaging as a team. We chose to sympathize with the participants by putting ourselves in their shoes and brainstorm the types of questions or circumstances that the team may face. How can we best assist in addressing the challenges while maximizing the 120 minutes available?
SMS Case #4: Dry run practice session for the Team Canvas
This was my first team canvas session, and while there is plenty of reading material available online, a live dry run session, similar to rehearsals, can help with such activities.
How to run a team canvas session?
- We got to see firsthand what questions might be asked, and whether or not providing good instruction can help reduce those inquiries and uncertainty.
- We had a feedback session after completing each topic on the team canvas and discussed how the experience could be improved. Our previous topic's suggestions were integrated into our next one, for example: When we first started, the facilitator also participated in the discussion, driving attention away from the facilitating. It was only a quick reminder that this is a team activity; the facilitator can add to the board, but the focus must remain on team engagement. As a result of our previous experience, the facilitator did not participate in the next section, and we were able to see the impact. The team was given proper queues, the discussion was timed, and the team was reminded of the timeframe at frequent intervals. It was beneficial to set a timer.
- During the dry run we also realized that the board's size was insufficient and that the structure needed to be changed to allow more team members.
- Before we began, an instruction frame was added to help the team understand how the session will progress, how they are expected to participate, what the time frame was, and expectations were set. We looked into how we could make it easier for the team to participate.
- For the role and skills topic, we realized that the discussion exceeded the time frame, so we decided to let the participants come up with an elevator pitch. This would make things more interesting, rather than just reading out what role you play and which skills and strengths you bring to the table.
- When facilitating the topic of values, each member added the values that were important to them as independent entities; these were used to prompt a healthy discussion and determine which three core values are most important to the team. This gave us a chance to help the team align with these values. The use of a voting template made it easy to come to a conclusion. We could clearly find the top three values based on the discussion, which was followed by voting.
- In the Agreements and Activities section, it was observed that there were a lot of reparations of the basic agreements. So we decided to add the basic team agreements ahead of time. For example, we decided to avoid technical discussion during ‘daily’ and valuing 15min time box. This helped the team dive deeper and discover unspoken agreements such as taking merge requests seriously and proactively providing feedback, or re-introducing topics that are already in progress to the refinement agenda, if needed.
Facilitation is the art of guiding people through meetings, seminars, and training sessions to achieve a common goal. By practicing and building a feedback loop to include recommendations, a facilitator can enhance his or her skills and become a better facilitator. The major goal of this dry run session was to provide a platform for rehearsing and improving. The short feedback iteration helped us leverage the learnings and adapt making it more effective.
The Scrum Master community has had the opportunity to expand and mature thanks to SMS. This is a perfect example of adopting an Agile mindset. We discuss and deal with actual situations that Scrum Masters encounter. Does your organization believe in building a support system that can assist in the Agile journey?