Agile Mentors Podcast

Agile Mentors Podcast

Practical advice for making agile work in the real world

The Agile Mentors podcast is for agilists of all levels. Whether you’re new to agile and Scrum or have years of experience, listen in to find answers to your questions and new ways to succeed with agile.

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#60: Breaking the Agile Déjà Vu: Tackling Recurring Anti-Patterns with Reese Schmit

August 09, 2023     39 minutes

In this episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast, Brian welcomes Agile coach Reese Schmit who shares her tips for breaking recurring anti-patterns in teams and organizations through the power of the why.


In this episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast, Brian is joined by Agile Coach Reese Schmit to discuss identifying and tackling recurring Agile anti-patterns in teams and organizations. Reese shares her valuable insights on the significance of understanding the "why" behind Agile practice and avoiding the trap of "cargo cult Scrum." Listen in as she shares her tips for fostering transparency, collaboration, and trust among team members and how rediscovering the purpose behind Agile practices can lead to a world where people are excited and happy about their work.

Listen Now to Discover:

[01:10] - Brian sits down with guest Reese Schmit, a coach, trainer, and mom, from the Agile 2023 Conference in Orlando, to discuss identifying and tackling recurring Agile anti-patterns in teams and organizations.
[03:10] - Reese talks about her revelation during an open jam session at the Agile 2023 Conference, where she realized the prevalence of the same anti-patterns across different teams and organizations over the past 15 years.
[05:04] - Brian and Reese discuss the frustratingly common situation of organizations claiming uniqueness but facing the same Agile challenges.
[06:19] - Reese highlights the misguided approach of blindly adhering to Agile frameworks like Scrum without understanding the principles.
[06:38] - Overplanning and white-knuckling the backlog = irrelevant user stories and wasted efforts.
[07:25] - Reese shares her journey as a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) and her initial motivation to uncover the reasons behind the persistent issues in Agile implementations.
[08:54] - Brian uses the analogy of a road trip to bring home the concept of why teams need a clear goal to keep them engaged and aligned with the Agile transformation rather than just imposing Agile practices on them. [09:35] - Organizations driving without a clear destination end up with confusion, disengagement, and a sense of going through the motions.
[10:32] - Reese emphasizes the importance of a clear "why" at all levels - from product features to team goals.
[11:16] - Reese shares her early experiences as a Scrum Master, where she lacked a clear understanding of a "cargo cult" mentality in your organization.
[12:24] - The critical role of understanding the "why" behind Agile practices.
[12:28] - Brian references Dan Pink's ideas on autonomy, mastery, and purpose, about the importance of understanding the "why" and measuring progress.
[13:07] - Lack of autonomy results in disengagement, ineffective retrospectives, and helplessness to fix issues.
[13:56] - Reese emphasizes the significance of recognizing the capabilities of team members and trusting them to build better products, teams, and organizations.
[14:38] - Brian mentions a talk by Dr. Anne-Marie Charrett, a psychologist, that discussed the issue of trust within teams and what that entails.
[15:40] - Reese shares her approach to building product teams based on expertise and interest rather than imposed structures.
[16:46] - Brian emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the team's preferences when organizing them around products.
[17:37] - Reese highlights the challenges faced in true Agile transformations, and why merely renaming roles or events does not lead to a shift in mindset or a genuine transformation.
[18:15] - What true Agile adoption requires.
[19:16] - Missing Opportunities: Organizations that fail to embrace Agile's inspect-and-adapt principle miss out on the chance to improve products based on real user feedback, optimize ROI, and focus on delivering the highest value to customers.
[19:41] - Today’s show is brought to you by Mountain Goat Software's Advanced Certified Product Owner® Course, a two-day training course led by a certified Scrum trainer.
[20:16] -Understanding the "why" allows for better adaptation and problem-solving.
[21:26] - Reese emphasizes that Agile issues are often complex and not solved by one-size-fits-all solutions.
[23:37] - Brian shares how presumptive fixes can lead to misunderstandings and reduced trust.
[25:46] - Recognize that team members are capable and intelligent professionals to foster trust and collaboration.
[26:58] - Reese emphasizes the need to help organizations acknowledge when their information or assumptions are wrong.
[27:30] - The importance of having a clear sprint goal (hint: it transforms ceremonies into meaningful events where collaboration happens).
[30:35] - Clear communication about the purpose of events enhances effectiveness.
[31:48] - Avoid pointless meetings.
[32:12] - Overcoming inertia is essential to make meaningful progress.
[32:58] - Reese humorously references a book on becoming healthy, which boils things down to the simplest terms, (eating veggies, sleeping enough, drinking water). Agile success can also be obtained simply, too by focusing on the fundamental principles.
[35:31] - Rediscovering the purpose behind Agile practices can lead to a world where people are excited and happy about their work.
[36:56] - Making a pact for improvement: Brian encourages listeners to take the lessons from the discussion and make a pact to focus on the core principles and purpose behind Agile practices.
[37:09] - Your feedback is valuable, so email us by clicking here. We'd love your thoughts about today's show and suggestions for future topics for the show.
[37:47] - If you enjoyed the episode, the best way to support us is to share it with others and subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts.

References and resources mentioned in the show:

Daniel Pink
Anne-Marie Charrett
Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner®
Join the Agile Mentors Community
Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts
Agile 2023 Conference in Orlando

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This episode’s presenters are:

Brian Milner is the SVP of coaching and training at Mountain Goat Software. He's passionate about making a difference in people's day-to-day work, influenced by his own experience of transitioning to Scrum and seeing improvements in work/life balance, honesty, respect, and the quality of work.

Reese Schmit is an Agile coach, trainer, and mom with nearly two decades of experience in the software industry, she wears multiple hats. With a deep understanding of Scrum, Kanban, and Agile methodologies, she fosters change through empathy, driving customer value, and continuous improvement. An avid volunteer for Agile organizations and conferences, she balances her time between coaching and enjoying life with her family and pets.