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Scrum Masters: So Much More than Facilitators

 What is a scrum master? Many of us have heard the same definitions…process facilitator, teacher, coach, servant leader. While these are all important aspects of the scrum master job, these attributes fall short of describing what the role really means.


In a nutshell, the scrum master role is focused on cultivating engaged, productive, high performing teams. They influence without authority, lead processes over projects, and guide based on a set of values versus a set of numbers. The scrum master role is not easy, but it is one we need now more than ever.


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Win Back Employee Engagement

“We have to stop the churn on our teams.”

“I have no idea how our work connects to the bigger picture.”

“We have too many dependencies.”

“The constant reorgs are keeping us from finishing work.”

These are actual comments we’ve seen on TeamHealth radar assessments. We’ve been hearing a lot about employee disengagement in recent years. Are these disengaged employees? Not yet! They’re still telling you what’s wrong. 

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Effective Facilitation as a Scrum Master

What is a Scrum Master anyway?

Scrum is hard. Well, the idea is simple enough: Make a plan, execute the plan, and inspect and adapt as you go. However, executing Scrum well is a significant challenge for many teams and organizations. While there are a number of factors that may influence whether or not a team is ultimately successful with Scrum, the effectiveness of the team’s Scrum Master stands out as perhaps the most critical. So, that said, what does a Scrum Master do that is so valuable? 

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Leadership Myths - Part 2

In part 1 of our two-part series on Agile Leadership Myths, we busted three of the more common tales we have seen prevalent in organizations. Today, we’ll look at three more of these tales of tradition and put them to the test.


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Leadership Myths - Part 1

Search for leadership books on Amazon, and it will return over 60,000 results. Search for agile leadership books, and you get over 2,000 results. This sheer volume indicates how big the appetite is to grow our leadership capabilities, and deservedly so.

Try to imagine any organized grouping of people being able to function without skilled, competent leadership. The more complex the goals become, the greater the demand for courageous leaders.

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What We Learned from over 4,600 Teams about Improving Team Performance

At AgilityHealth®, our team has always believed there’s a relationship between qualitative metrics (defined by maturity) and quantitative metrics (defined by performance or flow) for teams. To prove this, a few years ago, we adjusted our Agile team assessments to gather both qualitative and quantitative data. Once we felt we had
sufficient data to explore through our AgilityHealth platform, we partnered with the University of Nebraska’s Center for Applied Psychological Services to undertake a review. The main question we wanted to answer was: What are the top competencies driving teams to higher performance?

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Introducing Enterprise Business Agility

When we think of agility, we often think of agile teams. The word "agile" probably conjures up a mental image of kanban boards, sticky notes, and standup meetings. Many companies today have adopted agile practices on their development teams, and those teams have benefitted as a result. They now have increased collaboration, shorter feedback loops, and frequent deliveries. Teams are now able to get more work done quickly, but the problem is the environment around them hasn't really changed. Siloed business units are still competing for teams' time. Conflicting priorities flood team backlogs, leaving them overwhelmed, uncreative, and unclear on their strategic direction.

Teams have become agile, but the organizations around them have not. This is a problem because companies today are trying to do more than ever. Markets are dynamic, customer demands are immediate, and the pace of change is accelerating. In order to stay relevant in today's marketplace, the entire enterprise needs to become agile.

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How do you improve team maturity?

At AgilityHealth®, we believe healthy, high-performing teams are the most mature. Healthy teams are those that are sized appropriately with skilled team members who understand their roles and what is expected of them. These teams are able to self-organize around the work and members are T-shaped, which enables each to contribute to the work. 

High-performing teams take these items even further and work together to find creative and innovative solutions while breaking the work down into smaller increments of value they then deliver on schedule. Improving team maturity takes time and it begins with measurement.

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5 Key Areas to Focus when Measuring Agile Teams

There are numerous ways to measure the success of Agile teams within an organization. Some companies rely on metrics tied to the team’s performance, such as how many story points are completed over a sprint or how few escaped defects the team’s work creates. Another way to gauge the success of a team is by looking at their churn rate, or the stability of the team. Still another measure is often focused on feedback from the team’s leadership and internal or external customers.

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What is an Agile Assessment?

For organizations implementing or that are already using Agile, assessments focused on asking the right questions provide insights that indicate what is going on within teams, product lines, portfolios or throughout the enterprise, whether team members are in the office or distributed. Agile assessments create transparency for leaders by identifying obstacles to remove and opportunities to grow. As a result, teams can reach their highest potential and organizations thrive in their Agile transformation journey.

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