In this session, we hosted Erik de Bos, a Scrum Master, Agile Coach, writer, speaker, and editor to hear about his point of view on the role of the scrum master, the goals of the retrospective, and how to achieve them, all while having fun!
Erik de Bos: [00:00:00] There we are.
Noa: Okay, great.
How are you doing today?
Erik de Bos: Yeah, yeah. I'm feeling, uh, very good. Had a good, uh, good day. Lots of, uh, fun stuff at the work.
Noa: Ooh. In one day. A lot of fun work.
Erik de Bos: Yeah.
Noa: Yeah. I would you like to share with while we're waiting for people to join? Yeah,
Erik de Bos: yeah, sure. I, um, uh, I designed a workshop for for a huge bunch of stakeholders, the, basically the kickoff and, uh, the main, uh, challenge is to create ownership. So it's how to get a group of stakeholders to, uh, to take ownership so that they really decide how things are gonna get done and having the producton more in the background. So that's, uh, that's a pretty cool challenge.
Noa: Yeah. And all that you're doing remotely, right?
Erik de Bos: Yeah
Noa: That's even harder. Workshops remotely are [00:01:00]difficult. I might prefer to do workshops, uh, on site, but yeah, today's definitely challenging.
Erik de Bos: Yeah, but the worst is when they're hybrid.
Noa: Yeah, that's true. I think we talked about this when we talked, uh, last week.
hybrid meetings are just the worst. I feel like if you have to do a hybrid meeting and it's an important meeting, you need to have it like everyone's sitting in their laptops or so.
Erik de Bos: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Noa: Cool. So, uh, great. So I see more people are joining us, so, but it's just like one minute after the hour.
So maybe we'll give them one more minute. Uh, while we're waiting for people, I would love to start with an icebreaker. My favorite way to start meetings, uh, in general remote meetings especially. Uh, so let me just go to our, uh, board. So if anyone is not familiar, uh, with our Goretro feature board, uh, this is basically a public board that everyone can join, uh,[00:02:00] to add feature requests to Goretro.
Uh, but I'm just gonna use it, uh, for our icebreakers, so, Ooh, haven't seen that one before. Eric, what is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Erik de Bos: Uh, I have one of those carbon, uh, pans and that's my favorite gift cause I really like to, to cook with a lot of fire. So
Noa: Ooh. Got it.
Erik de Bos: Yeah. So for example, when I make, uh, meat, I make sure the pan is, is hot enough that, that I'll have flames.
Uh, so I would have grilled, oh, .
Noa: Do you have like a, how do you say it, like a fire extinguisher thing? on top or it's your, at your own risk.
Erik de Bos: That is a bit of an issue. There's part of the, the wood around the, the stove. I'm going to have to replace it soon. It's getting black
Noa: I think for meit has to be something small. Uh, I, I [00:03:00]think I would take my, um, I have like a vegetable peel that looks like apencil sharpener. Yeah. Uh, and then you can take like carrots and stuff and sharpen them and get like, uh, really cool shapes from carrots and other stufflike that. That's, and it's also a really good, so I think that would be cool.
Cool. Uh, okay. Great. Let me see what time it is. Okay. I think we are ready to, Cool. So, uh, yeah, so, uh, welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us today. Uh, I'm no, uh, from Goretro and I have Eric with me. Uh, we will introduce Eric, uh, even more in just a bit, just a quick introduction of what we're going to be doing today.
So I'm gonna start with a really short intro about, uh, Goretro who we are and what's our goal. Uh, then we're gonna get to know Eric a bit more, and then we're gonna start. If you can call, like start talking. We're gonna start from talking, uh, and we'll hear from Eric a lot of really interesting stuff, I'm sure.
Uh, and then we'll have some time for your [00:04:00] questions. So feel free to add your questions, uh, already if something comes up. Uh, if not, you can wait till the end and if there are no questions, we'll just continue with my question. Yeah,. So depending on how much you like my questions, feel free to add yours.
So, yeah, so go retro. Uh, basically we're a team of developers, uh, that we feel like we share a really, uh, shared challenge with almost any other, uh, development, uh, team. We want to release more, right,faster. We un, uh, like plan too much sometimes. Sometimes we under deliver andwe definitely want to. We started with Goretro
if you're following my webinars, I always say the go retro wasjust the beginning and now is the time to tell you what's the next step. So Goretro. Basically, if you're not familiar with, it's a tool that helps you runreally simple, fun, engaging retrospectives. Mostly remotely. Uh, it really helps also with following up on [00:05:00]action items, creating them and following up.
Super important, of course. Uh, and next week we are going to have a very, uh, exciting, uh, launch. We're going to launch our sprint professional, which will basically help you to manage all your agile, uh,practices in one place. Uh, the main things we are going to release, Uh, withthe launch would be, uh, the capacity calculator.
Uh, we've basically talked to a lot of product managers, scrum masters, uh, team leads, uh, and we found that this is, the planning is a really big pain, uh, for teams. Uh, one thing is understanding the capacity,uh, of each team when you're planning for your next sprint. So our calculator will help you, uh, really easily understand how much time your team really has to work on, uh, reducing all your holidays, PTOs, carryover, unplanned drugs,understanding per developer and overall in the team, and also really get you like a really nice understanding of where your time goes, right?
So we all wanna think that, uh, if we [00:06:00]have 10 days of work, we're developing for 10 days. But no, no one really does that, right? So it's good to know where does this time. As well. So this is one thing. Uh, and the other thing, so we have, uh, in the planning process, we have the understanding, the capacity, understanding the estimations.
So this, uh, for that we have our, uh, planning poker. Which will allow you to add the team. Uh, and I haven't mentioned, but our previous,the capacity calculator will also integrate, uh, later on to Jira. So you'll beable to get all the data from Jira. Uh, and same thing with the planning poker,you'll be able to.
Set your, uh, issues from Jira, from Azure DevOps, uh, with, uh, exporting, uh, importing, sorry, uh, CSVs. And then you can start voting,discuss it. Uh, choose your custom decks. Uh, if you want to revote, uh, all the planning broker. Stuff will be available here. So basically you'll be able to create your estimations really in a fun and engaging way, you know, just like we want to do, uh, with as well.[00:07:00]
Uh, the third part will be not, uh, for this month, but we'll be also to help with the task assignment itself. So that will kind of like close, uh, the whole loop for planning. So super exciting. If you want to hearmore, uh, let us know in the chat. Okay, so Eric, I wrote here like very shortthree sentences about you, but I feel like, you know, uh, we can talk about youfor the whole, uh, 45 minutes that we have here.
Uh, so , just from reading a bit about you as well for our conversation, uh, I would like to start with the last one I wrote here. So you started as an ecologist, so you studied ecology and university. Uh, I find that fascinating. Uh, I would love to hear a bit more about it, but just a bit maybe because. We wanna make sure we also talk Scrum
Uh, you have, uh, 15 years of experience as a developer, uh,and all those titles. Scrum master, agile, coach, writer, speaker and editor. Uh, which one is your favorite, uh, title from all of these?
Erik de Bos: Uh, I, I like be [00:08:00] just a scrum master. I think it covers the rest risk.
Noa: Great. Uh, cool. Anything else you want to, uh, mention about yourself before I start digging, uh, with my question?
Erik de Bos: Yeah,well about the, the, the term scrum master, there's so much confusion about what it means, but I think if, uh, if you look at the, uh, the way it's defined in the scrum guide, it's, it really covers so much more than, than people realize.
Yeah. And, uh, and from, for me, it's, it's, um, it's actually a person that stands outside the, the formal hierarchy of, of an organization and, uh, and connects the, the, the people at the workplace where, where the value is created with the, with the management, with the, with the rest of theorganization. And, and for, it's therefore really important that as a scrum master you have access to the, to the whole.
Noa: I feel like from the way you're describing it, uh, I already hear the challenge. On one hand you are like, [00:09:00] kinda like external to the team, but you need to be like representing the team and within the team, right.You feel like, uh, do you feel like that makes sense? You feel like there's another challenge that, uh, is even more pressing with this one?
Erik de Bos: Yeah. Well, it's, it's, um, I think, I think it's because it, it comes down to. The teams create a value. So that's, that's the most important place to keep, uh, uh,your finger on the pulse. Uh, but often what I realize, especially in, in, uh,in, in normal organizations, , that, that are struggling with with Agile, isthat the, the, the, the, the problems, the solutions to the problems are, uh,outside the teams.
Uh, so it's your challenge to connect them both. Uh, so as soon as I get to know my teams and, and. Analyzed where, where their challenges are,then I see it as my job to go off and, and uh, and tell people how they are getting in the way with the team, for example. Yeah. And that's really challenging. Yeah.[00:10:00]
Noa: Yeah. I feel like it's super challenging because on one hand it's super easy, it's always really, really easy for the team to kind of like blame it on external, blame everything on external factors. Yeah. Uh, but honestly, sometimes it is also related to external. Right. Uh, when you feel, I'm sorry, I'm, uh, surprising you with questions that we didn't talk about before.
No problem. I like where this is going. Uh, so when you feel like, do you feel the need when the teams are like, uh, saying, no, this is because of this external factor, because this to like, kind of like bring them back to like, okay, maybe it makes sense, we need to talk about this. Uh,where, where are we in this situation?
You know, like where, where is our ownership here and where is, uh, where can we take a stand here and let change some stuff?
Erik de Bos: Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think that is basically the, the, the biggest responsibility of the scrum master, uh, to help the team, um, prioritize their challenges. Uh,the ultimate goal is to increase, uh, [00:11:00]The productivity of the team to, to effectiveness of the team, to, to create value.
And, um, as a scrum master, you have to be able to see the team as a system, uh, but also understand how the team is part of a larger system. And help the team to understand what the, the, the, the low hanging fruit are,the, the highest priority to fix. And often you'll start with stuff in the team. Uh, but there will come a certain moment where you realize that, that,that, that there's stuff outside the team getting in the way.
Uh, and then, well, it's, it's basic constraint theory. What's the point of trying to improve with the team when the real improvements are outside the team? It's not gonna make a difference.
Noa: Yeah, you can doit up until a certain point, but yeah, eventually you, you have to handle those as well. Uh, great. I just realized that because I was so caught up in the conversation, I didn't give you enough time to talk about yourself.
So I wanna go back a bit, uh, and I wanna ask a bit, so [00:12:00] you, we talked about what you studied, uh,yeah. I wanna learn a bit more about this. And is it actually related to how you got to be a scrub master or not at all? No. You can share a bit.
Erik de Bos: I, I studied biology because I was really idealistic. I grew up in, uh, in foreign countries, international schools, and then you, you really get a feeling like,like the west is utopia and, and, uh, and everything is so fantastic.
So when I came to the Netherlands to study, I really had a feeling like. I'm gonna be like, uh, uh, Fossi, you know, from gorillas in them is that, that maybe studying the gorillas and, and being a steward of, of, uh,of, of, of the earth so ridiculously idealistic. Uh, but towards the end of my,my studies, I realize that it's all about, Uh, you can be a, uh, a steward ofthe earth as long as people pay you to do it.
So I, I kind of lost my, my idealism and I, I basically decided like, I'm just gonna have fun with [00:13:00]my life. So I became a programmer because as a programmer you're actually being paid to, to play games all day. I mean, building stuff with code is like playing games. But then of course, I ran into all the problems you have with software develop.
And, uh, and me being who I am, I just kept banging my head trying to find solutions, and that's how I ran into, uh, into Scrum. So now
Noa: you're kind of like, so you went from playing games or you feel like now you're like, uh,designing the game or designing like the playground or something like that. Right?
Erik de Bos: No, it's, it's, I, I think I went full circle. I, I rediscovered my idealism because I, I realized that. Agile is a win-win situation. It's, I think it's amazing how you, you can, you have a system, which actually, uh, it boils down to the fact that by making your developers happy, you will earn more money.
And that's just a great idea. Yeah, . I think there's nothing, [00:14:00] nothing more, more, uh, more beautiful than the moment when you get to the point with the teams that they realize that they're in control, that they're kind of like a bunch of artists and they create a masterpiece every, every time. And, and that, yeah, that's just brilliant to see a team, uh, uh, bloom in that.
Noa: Oh, it's amazing how you make software development sound like poetry. . I love that. .
Erik de Bos: That's because I was developer. Long .
Noa: I see that you have a supporter in the chat. That's really cool. Uh, great. Okay, so talked a bit about Scrum already and the role of the scrum master. Uh, going a bit more into retrospectives, what do you say is, uh, your favorite thing about running retrospectives?
Erik de Bos: Uh, the.For me, the retrospective is, is really the moment where together with your team, where you can really sit back and think about what you've been doing and,and, and really take the time to, [00:15:00]to, um, you know, discuss all the crazy ideas you've been having and, and just poke around a bit and, and be creative.
Noa: it's, it' samazing because I feel like a lot of times when I speak to developers, forthem, if you mention the retro, they don't see it as fun or every, they will say everything you said, like, yeah, we need to talk about what we did and how we went. But they feel like it's the opposite of fun. Right. Uh, and, and just yesterday I talked to, uh, a scrum master and she said, yeah, the most challenging part is the funding.
Yeah. Is keeping it fun.
Erik de Bos: Yeah.Yeah. Basically, Yeah. Yeah. And that is, I think that is, I'm really good at just fooling around, making jokes, uh, and of course, energizes help too. Uh,but I think just, just having fun together and making sure that everybody understands it's, it's a free for all. And, and, and you can just, A horse around.
That's, that's what makes it, uh, fun. But it's, it's also really important for the safety because it's, it's almost like [00:16:00] some primitive, unconscious way of, of dealing with, with, uh, the social aspect, uh, of our society. That as soon as you have fun with someone, you trust them, it goes hand in hand. You feel safe with someone.
So that's, that's the way for me, the way it works. And that's why I, I really enjoy being a bit of the, the, the buffoon, uh, In the team,but of course the risk is, uh, it, it doesn't have to get, it shouldn't get out of hand. So it's great to have fun and make jokes, but it's somehow, it should always tie back to the, to the work.
Yeah. You don't make jokes about someone's hair just cause of that, but it's fun to say, yeah, yeah. For example, they, they miss something in the review that you make a joke. Yeah, of course you missed it because you've got so much hair in front of your eyes. , you make a point about something that is, is relevant, but, but for the work.
But at the same time, you do it in a fun way.
Noa: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for making this clarification because I was going to [00:17:00] say that, uh, like what I thought you meant was that you have to like frame it like, okay, we have fun, but we have fun for10 minutes and then we have time to be serious. So you're saying like, no, youcan mix it up, but make sure it relates to the points you want to talk about,
Erik de Bos: right?
Yeah. Yeah. I, I think, um, John, please. He, he, he, um, He,he, I saw a movie of his about creativity, uh, and he said that the difference is that, uh, solem being solemn is what we, uh, uh, confuse with being serious.Mm-hmm. , if you're solemn, you're discussing someone and you're not allowed to make fun of it. Uh, and, and, and what he suggests is you can talk some about something seriously, but make jokes about it at the same.
And that, that I find that very interesting the way he, uh, he explains that and I think it works out.
Noa: Yeah. Yeah. I definitely can relate to that. Um, so do you have like a, [00:18:00] like a tip you wanna share with people on how to make it fun? Um, but like a creative one, not just, uh, the icebreaker,which of course the icebreakers do an amazing job, but something a bit more creative.
Erik de Bos: Yeah. Well, I, I. I don't really make an effort to make it fun. Uh, beyond
Noa: You know, that's kind of like, relates to what I wanted to say was like, imagine not everyone are so, uh, good at like fool around like you are right. They're not everyone has this, uh, this character. So if it doesn't come naturally yeah.
What can you do?
Erik de Bos: Yeah, Ithink, uh, uh, um, What really helps is, uh, is using, um, uh, stuff around you. Uh, so if, especially now with remote, when I design, uh, a retrospective and, and mural, I make it fun by, by, um, adding pictures, adding cartoons, and I'm not really, I'm not building a template. I'm just. Throwing in stuff, [00:19:00] which, which I kind of think of that somehow relates to, to the, to the sprint.
And some, some of it is really farfetched, but that works too because then the team comes in and they say like, what the hell is this ? And they try to explain it and they, and then they laugh.
Noa: So it's, it's,yeah. Yeah, definitely. Images are, are always great. I think also like now we've just added, uh, gifts to our.
Uh, and I see just people are just using it everywhere, and my favorite use of it, I think is having, uh, like a column in the board of asking people to describe something in a gift. Yeah, I think that that always, that always works really well. Yeah. Yeah. I,
Erik de Bos: when I have my, when we start with the Energizer and I ask a question, I'll, I'll ask them to find a picture on, uh, on, on internet and just share it.
Yeah, that just makes it playful. And, and that's a, that's a great step towards, uh, having fun.
Noa: Yeah. You're reminding me that in my, actually my previous work, so, uh, the team [00:20:00] was, uh, global. It was all, all revolt.Uh, and, you know, we needed to just like with, uh, rituals, right? We need to kind of like, uh, increase the team's, uh, you know, like, uh, safety and familiarity.
Uh, so what we've done once a week, uh, in our, uh, daily. We, we picked a topic, uh, and we basically asked, so the topic would be like, I don't like your favorite kitchen gadget. Right. Like the icebreaker. Yeah. And everyone had to put that thing as their background in Zoom. Ah, yeah. So that was always a great way to start.
Everyone is like waiting to see how people show up with what did they show up with. And sometimes like you see a picture and you have no idea what they need. Right. Yeah. Uh, and you basically need to, you're waiting for them to explain it. So it's, it's also like a, a great thing. Yeah. Cool.Cool. Uh, let's see what's, uh, okay, so if I already mentioned a bit, uh,planning, you know, planning, uh, in the beginning, uh, so I would like to hear it from you.
What do you feel like are like the main challenges? [00:21:00] And even more interestingly to me, uh, is do you feel like you need to talk about planning in the retrospective as well?
Erik de Bos: Uh, you mean the sprint planning? Yeah, the sprint planning. Exactly. Yeah, yeah,definitely. If, if it is, uh, if it is a subject that comes up as, as, uh, as something that needs to be fixed, uh, or there is some kind of a problem in the planning, I, I'll definitely talk with the team about it.
For, for me, the, the, I like to focus on, on the system. Uh, simply because I think, uh, if you have a problem with a piece of code or, oryou have, uh, something, something like that, then I, I feel that's an impediment and you should solve it right away because it's getting in the way of your productivity. Uh, small things, uh, you can also just, uh, fix.
Yeah, maybe it's, it's the difference between, um, Solving problems and creating experiments. For me, the, the, the focus of the retrospective is not to solve [00:22:00]problems, it's to create experiments. If, if you, if you try to solve a problem, you're just coming up with, with a solution. So it's kind of, Um, not necessarily obvious, but it's, it's pressing.
It's something that, that needs to be fixed, so just fix it. Um, yeah, you can do that in your daily work. I, I, I expect my developers todo that. Uh, for me, the retrospective is the moment when you really are looking for the serendipity. It's the Ellen Musk moment where you're going to think about something so outrageous.
Uh, that if it works, it's gonna make such a massive impact.It's gonna make you feel like a giant, and that's what the retrospective isfor. That's what you're looking for.
Noa: Yeah. I love that. And I think that, Definitely this sentence of like, don't look for solutions, but create experiments. This is definitely going to be one of my key takeaways from, from this session.
I love this sentence. I wrote doubt for myself. [00:23:00] That's great. I'm, I'm gonna try not to involve you on Musk here, but
Erik de Bos: youknow, he was being, the fact that he came up with the electric cars and, and space. That is changing the city. No, it's, and that
Noa: definitely,there's a lot of great stuff you could say about him this week specifically. I think it's like a bit more sensitive. Yeah, I
Erik de Bos: know, I know. Definitely. I used to be a fan of him, but I'm, I'm, uh, I don't like him so much anymore.
Noa: sure what he's doing. Yeah. I feel like it's a bit related to what you said in the beginning that I think like he feels like everything is like a playground, right?
Erik de Bos: Oh, is that me? Uh, gone.
Hello? Oh, okay. I'm still here. ? [00:24:00]
Noa: Yeah. Okay. The video is stuck, but I can already hear you. Oh, back. So that's good. Do, do you want to maybe try like, uh, uh, disconnect your, uh, Cameron, bring it back. So
Erik de Bos: I was the one that was gone. Yeah. That's weird because my, okay.
Noa: I think, I think the problem is with my internet.
Am I moving?
Just for a second? I'm going to switch. Okay.
Okay. So I just, the problem is just with me, Eric.
Erik de Bos: I'm on, I'm on Linux, so I, I have quite a bit of faith on my system,
Noa: Okay. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to post my next question and you'll hopefully answerit. Yeah, sure. And we'll see. We'll, I hope that it's, it's fixed on my end. [00:25:00] So let me just see what I wanted to ask you about. Okay. So I, uh, if you can hear me well, then can you talk a bit about how you're generating action items from your team for your entering the action items from your team?
Basically getting the ideas, uh, and getting them to get ownership. Yeah.
Erik de Bos: For me, for me, the whole point of the retrospective is to create action points. I will make that clear to my teams. Um, I will make clear that, that that's, that's the whole idea. If we don't have an action point, then um, we don't have anything to, to do and experiment with.
Uh, and I think that, um, that is a very important step in creating that ownership. Um, I'll sort of help them to really figure out how to create an action point. Um, it's easy to start with, with what's going wrong. People can always think about things that, that go wrong. Uh, but the next step is, okay, so how are we gonna fix it and how are we going [00:26:00] to.
Test whether it's, it's, it's, uh, it's having an effect. It's almost a little bit like, like writing a user story. You want acceptance criteria. Um, and of course I'll, I'll try to not to make that formal most of the timethe, the acceptance criteria that they're implicit, I'm, I'm not interested in,in, in formalizing it.
I'm just interested in, in creating the awareness, uh, that that is the whole point.
Can you hear me
Noa: okay? Yeah, Ican hear you. Sorry it's going back and forth a bit, but I can hear you . Uh, great. So did you see that, someone asked the chat, I dunno if you can see the chat. Uh, how do you deal with teams that don't think they, uh, think they don't have action points? Right. That don't think they have action
Erik de Bos: points?
Yeah. Yeah. Well, um, That, that is, first of all, that is your job as a scrum master to, to, to help [00:27:00]them reach the point where they have action points. Um, you, you wanna create an experiment and you include the, the team in that, if that's unclear, for example, with, with new teams, then we talk about empiricism.
Uh, we talk about the whole idea that if you wanna improve something, you're gonna try something and you wanna measure if it works. Um,so. It usually becomes kind of obvious. Um, yeah. And if, if, if that doesn't help, then, then I can, I can sometimes try to give examples of possible action points that you could use that that really helps bit of an inspiration.
Um, and in my experience, eventually, The team gets the, the,the idea and then it, it just goes. Um, yeah, and I think beyond that, if, if, if you are really having trouble getting that, that understanding through, then maybe there's. More going on, uh, than, than you realize that there's something in the, in the organization, which is, which is having an [00:28:00] impact on, on how the teams, um,experience their, their self organization, the, the freedom to actually fix their own system.
So then my advice would be to, to look around in, in the rest of organization, see what, what kind of, uh, problems you might find there.Yeah, I see. Another question, uh, about the, the size of the experiment. Well,it's, it's a little bit, uh, like the, like refinement. Uh, you want to have action, an action point.
An action point has to be, uh, actionable. So by focusing on the, on the action points, you, you automatically have to create an experiment that is, uh, Has the right size. Uh, and that doesn't mean that you can't have a very big experiment. You can have an action point that is, that that carries on for a number of sprints.
Uh, but you just have to be aware of, of of the, the, the way the action point has to be measured, the [00:29:00]way it's going to impact the, the system. So with my team, sometimes we can have two or three action points going on at the same time, two or three different experiments simply because of the, of the, of the level they are,they're working at.
Uh, I can give an example. Um, I had a team that was having, uh, trouble, uh, with their capacity. They, they had a very unreliable velocity. So, uh, at a certain moment we had three different experiments going on. Uh, we had an experiment where we, in the sprint planning, we, uh, we tried to break down the, the user stories we had.
To make them as small as possible. Uh, but at the same time, we had a, an experiment where in the refinement we focused on, uh, improving our user stories. So the sprint planning was having happening every sprint. Uh, so we can evaluate every sprint, but the backlog refinement that happened much, it[00:30:00] had a much more long term effect.
So that we, we checked, uh, a few months after starting with the experiment.
Noa: Thank you, uh, Eric.
Erik de Bos: That sounded quite complicated. I hope everybody got the, the, the ideas .
Noa: Yeah. No, I, I, just a second
Okay. Sorry. I switched your phones now. I can hear you really well. Yeah, yeah. Again, I Okay. See that they also got it. I think this is a really great point, and, uh, by the way, one idea that we, I actually came up with while I was talking to Eric exactly about this topic. Uh, is to actually create a column.
After you already create the discussion, start talking about, uh, what you know, like what should you find, uh, action items for what you wanna solve or create an experiment for, if I'm using Eric's words, uh, is to add at that point, add a column, uh, in the board and ask people, like, give a people, the people, the team, a few minutes to [00:31:00]come up with ideas.
Then we can actually even vote on them and try to come up with, understand together what experiment they actually want to try. And that's really like getting them creative. It's a difficult one, but I think it's a really interesting experiment about creating experiments. .
Erik de Bos: Yeah. Yeah. I, I usually spend, uh, a minimum amount of time, uh, Talking about the problems we have, I'll often just have, you know, like five minutes share post-its, and then we'll dot vote and the rest of the retrospective, I'll just work with the team to see how we're going to set up the experiment.
Noa: uh, yeah,that's, that's good. Let me see. Wait, so we covered all the questions we have so far, right? I think we did. Cool. So let me go back to my questions. Uh, sowhat else did I want to talk about? Okay, so, uh, Really interesting article that I read from you. You were talking about the difficulty of defining the metrics for Scrum Masters.[00:32:00]
Uh, yeah. Uh, so I wanna, so I think that really it's just like we're measuring the team, right? It's really important to measure, uh, even if it's just for ourselves, uh, as Scrum masters. How are we doing? Right? Uh, can you share a bit about how you are measuring yourself or what kind of metrics are you using for that?
Erik de Bos: Um, to be really honest, I, I don't. I, I, I mean, I, I, I studied ecology, I learned statistics, uh, and when I started out as a scrum master, I spent a lot of time trying to measure stuff and using a hell of a lot of statistics to try to make sense of the data. Um, and I kind of got to a point where I was figuring stuff out, but the amount of effort I had to put into it was ridiculous.
Um, and eventually what I started realizing is, We practice empiricism in, in agile, but um, The whole idea of doing [00:33:00] agile is that we're operating in a very complex world and it is really hard to measure stuff. That's the whole way, the reason why we do agile. So I realized that measuring things is, is only a, uh,a tool and it's.
Relatively unreliable tool actually. Uh, I prefer to really rely on the intuition of, of, of, uh, of my teams. Um, if, if I wanna find out,if I'm doing a good job, I'll just ask them and we'll have a conversation because I mean, if you think about it, empiricism, it all sounds great. But where is empiricism practiced?
It's practiced in science where you have experts who. A lot,most of their time trying to design experiments where they freeze all possible parameters so that it can measure one or two. Um, or you have it in, in industry with, uh, the industrial revolution where you have, uh, a, a system which is, which is perfect [00:34:00] to measure parameters because you have so much control on it that you can really manipulate the parameters.
And that just doesn't apply to, to, um, to a complex system. It doesn't apply to, to software teams. So, I mean, if, if, if my management, um,asks me, uh, how the team is. I'll never talk with them, uh, show them reports, velocity and all that stuff. I'll invite them to one of our meetings so we can have a conversation.
Um, so I, I think, I think that's, uh, it's almost like that some misunderstanding. Everybody understands that we do agile because the world is too complex. But I think people think that it only applies to the work we.But Agile goes a lot further. It applies to, to the way we communicate, to the way we, we evaluate each other, uh, and, and in agile.
We really have to understand that there's other ways of doing things. Trust. That's why trust is so [00:35:00]important, because I want my manager to trust me. I'm doing my best and I'm professionally enough to to evaluate myself. And keep learning. Uh, and I, I have the same trust in my teams. Uh, I expect them to do their best, uh, and I expect them to, to hold each other to high standards.
Noa: Yeah, I agree.And I think, I think one of the questions I actually had, uh, that I just skipped because, uh, it was basically how do you generate like the safe space,right? Where you can actually talk about stuff. So we talked about it a lot in the beginning about creating fun, uh, and all that. So I think that's really,really great.
Erik de Bos: A perfect example. Um,
Noa: Sorry. Yeah, it's good. No, no. Go,
Erik de Bos: Go ahead. I, I, I, I, uh, I, one of my, uh, uh, best experiences was at a small startup. Uh, we had, uh, four teams, uh, and it's was really great. We had a, [00:36:00] it really felt like the whole organization was a team, but of course, money was an issue. So failing a sprint, uh, youknow, not delivering whatever.
It was a serious. Uh, and I got this reputation that I was atmy happiest when we screwed up a sprint. So I would actually just, uh, you know, jump around in the, in, in the hole and say, yeah, we, we, we screwed up.Uh, and, and eventually my boss, he came up to me and, and because he, he, he thought it was a bit irritating.
And then I explained to him that what was happening was two things. Uh, I was teaching the team to fail. Uh, to accept the fact that sometimes you, you screw up. But at the same time, I told them that is the moment when you really learn something. You know, me as a scrum master, I can tell my team how to do stuff, but then it's, it's my thing, it's my, my responsibility.
I kind of become a manager. But having the [00:37:00] team fail and then realize it for themselves, that is a lesson they'll never forget.
Noa: Yeah, I, I definitely agree with that and I think it really ties to what, uh, I was talking to, uh, in our previous talk with David, where he said that the team needs to know that they have space to fail.
Yeah. Right. Uh, if they don't know that they have the space to actually fail, they're too scared to, to run these experiments you're mentioning, to try out different things, to talk about something that maybe they did wrong or, you know, they need to improve. So I think that's really great. I'm checking if there are any questions.
We haven't answered that yet. Yes, you can. What's your opinion on using Agile for short term projects rather than products?
Erik de Bos: Yeah, I've, I've, uh, the startup I was just talking about. We, uh, we worked with, uh, with short term projects. I, the shortest project we, we did was we, uh,was three months, uh, and we worked Scrum and it was, it was fine.
Basically every. Project had its own [00:38:00]product. Uh, and we worked in projects because basically the, the client would ask us to, to build something and we would build it in, in usually between three and nine months. And then we would switch to another, uh, project, but eventually we would come back to the, to the original project.
Noa: Great. Thank you for that. Uh, we only have like a few more minutes, so if anyone else has any other questions, uh, please, uh, add. Now, uh, I think what I wanted to askthat I haven't asked yet, uh, is about, uh, how do you, so there are two challenges that are like, um, opposite. Uh, once on one head, I hear a lot of people talking about how, uh, their team doesn't talk during the meetings.
Uh, and on the other hand they talk too much, uh, or they're someone that talks too much. Uh, so how do you handle, uh, any of these things and. Part I really would love to hear about is if you ever had like this crazy moment of like, just [00:39:00] like a really long silence Yeah. in a meeting. And how do you, what do you do with that?
Erik de Bos: I, I love, uh, long silences . I, it's, it's just, um, I, I'm really aware of it. It's something I, I, I learned earlier on as a scrum masterto, to sort of be zen about it. And um, and I realized, Those awkward silences.The team is suffering and they're really, it's, it's like a game of chicken .Uh, and, and, and the fun thing is whoever budges first, they get the ownership of the conversation.
So, so for me, uh, just letting those awkward silences until the team speaks up, that's just brilliant. I really enjoy that that.
Noa: Yeah. But like,like someone said here, it's a. Yeah. Yeah. So you need to, you need to feel confident enough that the silence is okay. Right. And the team will eventually,someone will have to Yeah.
The [00:40:00] game of chicken. Right. I love that. Yeah. And for
Erik de Bos: The situation where people talk too much, uh, I, I, I always use liberating structures. Uh, and, and that means I work with time boxes. Uh, and usually I,I don't let people. Discussions, conversations, we just work with post-it. Uh,so I'll, I'll, I'll use a one, two for all to, to talk about the, the problems.
Uh, I'll use a one, two for all to discuss the, the solutions. Um, and, and I'll, I'll let the conversation, uh, take off when we're getting to the, to the real point when we have all the information and when we've narrowed it out enough. That it, then, um, then it's important to have that conversation. But by that time, because you have given everybody the chance to,to contribute, uh, everybody's involved.
You've got the engagement. So then, um, it, it's more balanced usually.[00:41:00]
Noa: That's good. Thank you. Uh, I think we are out of time. Uh, so Oh, just a second, just one last thing I wanna share. If I just find the right screen here it is.
Yeah, I just found that. So going back to the presentation, what I wanted to just talk about, uh, in two weeks, exactly two weeks, November23rd, we are going to have, uh, our next session, uh, I'm going to, uh, have,uh, as a guest, UETA our VP of product. Uh, very excited about this, and we are going to talk about becoming a Sprint Pro, uh, basically using all of our, uh,sprint professional, uh, tools that we're going to release, uh, very soon.
Uh, so everyone's definitely welcome to join us. Going to stop the screen so I can see this. Um, sorry, I didn't get the last comment.
[00:42:00] Liberating s
and yeah, we are going to, This, uh, this session to YouTube. Hopefully the sound is good because I've had some trouble, uh, with the sound here. Uh, and I'm going to send it, uh, to everyone here. Uh, so yeah, thankyou very much, uh, Eric.
Erik de Bos: Yeah, it was fun. Thank you guys for having me.
Noa: Thank you. Any last thing you wanna say, Eric?
Erik de Bos: Yeah, it was, it was fun. It, uh, I, I, it was way too short. .
Noa: Well, we might have to invite you again.
Erik de Bos: I'm always happy to join you guys. And thanks for everyone.
Noa: Thank you for joining. Yeah, have a great day everyone. Bye-bye.