Why Your Next Scrum Master should be a Peace Studies Major

location_city Washington schedule Oct 15th 04:15 - 05:00 PM place Room 6 people 15 Interested

As an undergrad, when I declared my self-designed major to be a combination of Peace Studies and Information Technology, I remember my friends asking me, "What are you going to do with that? Mediate conflict between computer nerds?" Now, as an Agile Coach and Scrum Master, I find myself regularly doing just that (and I love it)!

While it can certainly be helpful for a Scrum Master to understand your AWS architecture, it is far more important for your Scrum Master to understand your organization's people architecture. They need to know how things are supposed to get done and how things really get done. They need to know how to create psychological safety inside the team while protecting them from interactions outside the team that may undermine that safety. Most importantly, they need to understand how the people in the organization "fit" together and how to mediate the inevitable conflicts that will arise when these parties have opposing goals.

In this interactive session leveraging real stories from the trenches, I will show how the non-technical, liberal arts Scrum Master can help your teams thrive by understanding an organization's people architecture to effectively anticipate, uncover, and mediate conflict between opposing parties in a productive manner.

No matter what you studied in college, you are welcome and encouraged to attend this talk!


Outline/Structure of the Experience Report

  • Introduction
  • "People architecture over AWS architecture": The case for a liberal arts Scrum Master.
  • A (Very) Brief Introduction to Conflict Resolution
    • By the book: "Five Steps to Conflict Resolution"
    • The Ugli Orange Case Study: Understanding Interests vs Positions
    • Reality
  • An Interactive, Real-life Example (aka "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth...")
    • Preparing for the Meeting
      • Understanding Incentives and Perceptions
      • Identifying Allies
      • Preparing Participants
      • Establishing and Communicating a Common Goal
    • Facilitating the Meeting
      • Knowing Your EQ
      • Defusing Initial Tension (aka 'What to do when the meeting starts with a lot of swearing.")
      • Leveraging Allies
      • Re-focusing on Shared Interests
      • Collaborating to Define a Plan
    • Meeting Follow-up
      • Communicating Agreements
      • Building the Non-adversarial Relationship
  • Discussion
    • How much time does this take to do it right?
    • How does this fit in your organization?
  • Additional Resources

Learning Outcome

By the end of this session, participants be able to better understand where the non-technical Scrum Master "fits" in their organization and why they are an important asset for helping to anticipate, uncover, and mediate conflict between opposing parties in a productive manner.

Target Audience

Scrum Masters who were liberal arts majors or anyone who is trying to make the business case for non-technical Scrum Masters in their organization


schedule Submitted 2 years ago

Public Feedback

    • 10 Mins
      Lightning Talk

      In this lightning talk, we explore the 5 attributes to look for in a ScrumMaster:

      • Knowledge - Deep knowledge in Agile and Scrum
      • Experience - Deep experience with Scrum teams and in Agile environments
      • Coaching - Deep understanding of Coaching concepts and techniques
      • Facilitation - Deep understanding of Facilitation concepts and techniques
      • Servant Leadership - Deep understanding and desire to enable success for the teams and the organization

      From there we look at the ScrumMaster's progression for removing impediments and addressing issues:

      • Did we talk about it in the Retrospective?
      • Did we discuss the impact?
      • Did we identify root causes?
      • Did we come up with solutions?
      • Have we tried the solutions?
      • What were the initial results?
      • What are next steps from here?

      We use the steps above to ensure:

      • Our teams are not making the same mistakes time time after time
      • Our teams are not having the same issues arise time and time again
      • Our teams are not stagnating but rather are getting better over time

      This session will arm session attendees with what to look for in a ScrumMaster and discuss how the SM uses the impediment progression to ensure we have a continuously improving team.

    • 45 Mins

      Want to find the perfect Product Owner? It's easy, all you have to do is find one with the time to do the job, the power to make decisions, the knowledge to make smart decisions, the interest in doing the job, and the Vision to build the right product. Easy, right?

      Via a story, the session will start by exploring 5 key attributes of being a Product Owner:

      1. Bandwidth
      2. Power
      3. Knowledge
      4. Interest
      5. Vision

      After that discussion, we do an exercise to identify what a Product Owner does day to day. The debrief will identify the balance a Product Owner must have in working with stakeholders, end users, customers AND working with the Scrum team AND product backlog refinement. We will also touch on client/vendor relationships and identify if the PO should come from the client or the vendor (and how technical should the PO be).

      The session concludes the attendees being given a Product Owner persona scoring template. The attendees can use this template to score their Product Owners and we will discuss how to identify their Product Owners areas of strength and gaps areas.

    • Brian Sjoberg

      Brian Sjoberg - What Has Caused Your Retrospectives to Suck and What to do About it

      Brian Sjoberg
      Brian Sjoberg
      Agile Coach
      Excella Consulting
      schedule 2 years ago
      Sold Out!
      45 Mins

      Have you sat through a retrospective that feels like Deja vu? Didn’t we already come up with a plan to fix this thing we are talking about, AGAIN! Are you in yet another blame/complain session with no apparent way to fix the complaint? Time and again this happens in retrospectives and before you know it, the team thinks they should cancel them altogether because they aren’t effective. Fortunately, there are clear steps you can take to fix this and make your retrospectives highly effective.

      In this session we will cover the common patterns that typically lead to ineffective retrospectives. The downsides to the team when retrospectives are ineffective. Then I will give you a very effective format to follow along with some different techniques to help get your retrospectives to be very effective.

    • Maria Fafard

      Maria Fafard - The Secrets of Coaching for Scrum Masters

      45 Mins

      You are a passionate and a dedicated Agilist. You have heard that in order to truly empower and motivate Agile teams and individuals, you might need to learn how to function as an Agile coach, but you are not sure where to start. What does Agile coach do exactly? What is the difference between a Scrum Master and an Agile coach? How can you elevate your coaching skills? And how can you become an Agile coach when you grow up?

      Join us to learn how to grow your coaching competencies, differentiate yourself among your peers and take performance of your teams to the next level. I will be sharing the story of my own journey from being a Scrum Master to being an Agile Coach and what I learned along the way.

      The speaker is a ICAgile Certified Professional in Agile Coaching (ICP-ACC) and Agile Team Facilitation (ICP-ATF), an ACC (Associate Certified Coach), a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF), and a graduate of Georgetown University Leadership Coaching program.

    • Adrienne Rinaldi

      Adrienne Rinaldi - Coach the Coach | The Coaching Backlog

      Adrienne Rinaldi
      Adrienne Rinaldi
      Agile Coach
      CapTech Consulting
      schedule 3 years ago
      Sold Out!
      45 Mins

      You’re a new coach. Now what? This session will help you get started on an agile transformation assignment with a coaching backlog. This session will inform new coaches on “where to start” as an Agile Coach. The session will begin agile transformation challenges followed by common agile impediments, conditions for success, an agile readiness checklist and a coaching backlog including Epics, Features and Stories.

    • Matthew Holtry

      Matthew Holtry - How Trello Saved My Marriage

      45 Mins
      Experience Report

      I am a Scrum Master and my wife is a Product Manager. You would think our wedding vows were posted in Trello complete with detailed acceptance criteria, but we actually managed to avoid implementing Agile practices in our daily personal lives for the first few years of our marriage.

      And then we had a baby. And a partially finished do-it-yourself home renovation project. And two full-time consulting careers. And a commute. And a "to do" list that only seemed to get bigger every time we looked at it. Soon enough, the white board on the refrigerator wasn't big enough for all the thing we wanted to get done. And our WIP was out of control!

      So there we were… It was time for Trello.

      If this story sounds familiar, please join me to hear about Trello saved my marriage. In particular, I will share personal experiences about:

      • How breaking down home renovation projects helped us have a shared understanding of how long something would really take to get done.
      • How Sunday "Sprint Planning" helped us align expectations (and schedules) for the week.
      • How a simple column titled "This Week" significantly reduced stress and helped us manage our own expectations.
      • How color-coding items on the board helped us balance "work stuff" with "fun stuff" (and how our rule for at least one fun thing per week kept us sane).
      • How using Trello at home actually helped us in our consulting jobs. (Bonus win!)