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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#69: Should Scrum Masters Be Technical with Allison Pollard

October 11, 2023     37 minutes

Today, Brian sits down with Allison Pollard on the Agile Mentors Podcast to discuss the age-old question: Should Scrum Masters be technical? Tune in for Allison’s insights during this thought-provoking episode. Overview Today, on the Agile Mentors Podcast, Brian sits down with Allison Pollard to tackle the age-old question: "Should Scrum Masters be technical?" Allison shares her extensive experience with this topic and the importance of a clear definition of “technical” within the Scrum Master role.

Allison candidly discusses the biases and assumptions associated with the expectation of Scrum Masters being technical and the potential impact in the workplace. Plus, she shares her advice for a more open and inclusive approach to accommodate diversity within the Agile community.

Listen in for a thought-provoking discussion that uncovers new perspectives and insights on Scrum Masters' technical expertise to help you find the right fit for your team.

Listen Now to Discover:

[01:22] - Brian welcomes Allison Pollard to the Agile Mentors podcast.
[03:31] - Alison introduces the topic of the show, which is whether Scrum Masters should be technical, her experience with the question of Scrum Masters' technical expertise, and the need for a clear definition of what "technical" means in this context.
[06:12] - What’s more important, technical skills or soft skills?
[07:55] - Alison shares an interview experience where a Scrum Master candidate underestimated the importance of technical debt, highlighting the need for Scrum Masters to be familiar with these concepts.
[11:41] - The importance of a willingness to adapt and grow.
[11:56] - The biases and assumptions associated with the expectation of Scrum Masters being technical and how that can create a division in the workplace.
[13:12] - The importance of acknowledging the limitations of personal experience.
[14:46] - The history of Scrum Masters as servant leaders and the impact this had on the role.
[20:49] - Brian shares the importance of understanding the business value of Agile practices.
[21:50] - Allison shares the importance of asking questions to gauge the comfort level of potential Scrum Masters in discussing various topics to determine how they will work with your team.
[22:32] - How biases and implicit assumptions related to Scrum Masters can affect hiring and promotions.
[22:51] - Today's episode is brought to you by Mountain Goat Software's Certified Product Owner course, a two-day training course that teaches you how to use the product backlog as a tool for project success. For more information, check out the Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule.
[24:04] - Allison shares the importance of balancing servant leadership and focusing on tasks that help the team achieve results, rather than performing non-value-added tasks that hinder effectiveness.
[26:28] - The value of building personal relationships during off times.
[27:45] - They discuss biases and the importance of recognizing implicit biases when evaluating Scrum Masters' performance and effectiveness.
[29:39] - Helping diverse individuals succeed in Agile roles. The challenges people face due to biases and the need for systemic changes to better accommodate diversity in the Agile community.
[30:58] - Did you know recognizing impostor syndrome may be a sign that you are not an impostor? Plus, advice for overcoming imposter syndrome.
[32:37] - You can connect with Allison on LinkedIn or at Helping Improve LLC to find out more about the training and coaching she offers.
[33:05] - A huge thank you to Allison for being on the show. Did you know you can find all of the show notes and resources for all of the Agile Mentor Podcast on the Mountain Goat Software website? We had a question about the information shared on the recent show with Lance Dacy, you can find the show notes and resources from that show here.
[34:29] - If you enjoyed this episode share it with others and subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts. Did you know we discuss every episode of the podcast in the Agile Mentors Community? Join us (a 12-month membership is included with any training class from Mountain Goat Software) and post your questions there. As always, if you have feedback or ideas for the show, just send us an email.

References and resources mentioned in the show:

Allison Pollard on LinkedIn
Helping Improve LLC
Helping Improve on LinkedIn
Agile Mentors Podcast from Mountain Goat Software
“#54: Unlocking Agile's Power in the World of Data Science with Lance Dacy”
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts
Certified Scrum Product Owner Training
Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner®
Certified Scrum Master Training and Scrum Certification
Advanced Certified ScrumMaster®
Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule
Join the Agile Mentors Community
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts

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This episode’s presenters are:

Brian Milner is 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.

Allison Pollard, the co-owner of Helping Improve LLC, is a coach, consultant, and trainer who brings the power of relationship systems intelligence to go beyond tasks, roles, and frameworks to create energy for change. As Program Director for Women in Agile's mentorship program, she champions diversity and amplifies women's voices, contributing to the agile community's growth. Allison is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach and a seasoned speaker at global conferences, including Scrum Gatherings and the Agile Alliance Agile20xx conferences.