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.

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Overcast Listen on Pocket Casts Listen on Spotify Download RSS

#83 Navigating the Challenges of Small Agile Teams with Scott Dunn

January 31, 2024     38 minutes

Join Brian and Scott Dunn as they journey into the heart of handling conflicts and challenges within small teams for effective teamwork in the latest episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast.


In this episode of the Agile Mentors Podcast, Scott Dunn sits down with Brian to delve into handling conflicts and challenges within small teams.

From the impact of hierarchies on team dynamics to the nuances of technical leadership, listen in as Brian and Scott tackle the intricacies of managing conflicts to navigate the delicate balance between individual excellence and fostering a collaborative team culture.

Listen in as Listen Now to Discover:

[01:54] - Today, Brian is sitting down with Scott Dunn to discuss the topic of handling conflicts and challenges in small teams, particularly regarding hierarchies and experience levels.
[03:17] - Scott shares his experience with issues arising from unofficial authorities, highlighting challenges with project managers and leads.
[04:03] - Scott talks about the transition to a democratic process and shares a humorous anecdote about a unique meeting disruption and the resolution.
[07:27] - Brian discusses the challenge of individuals feeling a loss of authority in the shift to self-organization and emphasizes the need for communication to address their concerns.
[08:27] - Brian categorizes leads into obstructive and unintentionally hindering types.
[09:27] - Scott discusses the need for aligning expectations with Agile principles.
[11:34] - Brian discusses the challenges faced by Scrum Masters and Agile coaches in identifying and addressing team dynamics, emphasizing the importance of clear communication, and understanding to resolve misunderstandings.
[12:07] - Scott shares an example of a scrum master effectively addressing a bottleneck issue with a lead.
[13:13] - Brian highlights a leadership misunderstanding where senior individuals are consistently assigned challenging tasks and the unintended consequences of pigeonholing experts into specific roles.
[14:35] - Scott shares experiences of individuals falling into roles they didn't initially choose, and the negative impact on job satisfaction.
[15:32] - The importance of promoting teamwork, continuous learning, and adaptability over being the sole expert.
[16:11] - Brian discusses the issue of knowledge silos and suggests a proactive approach within the team to mitigate risks and ensure knowledge sharing.
[16:32] - The importance of managing resource fungibility and avoiding bottlenecks.
[17:40] - Brian debunks the idea of job security for those deliberately hoarding knowledge and emphasizes the importance of staying marketable and adaptable.
[18:52] - Scott highlights the consequences of being difficult to work with and shares the secret for long-term professional success.
[20:00] - The Agile Mentors Podcast is brought to you by Mountain Goat Software and their Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner® course. Plus, automatic enrollment in Mike Cohn’s Agile Mentors Community, including twelve months of ongoing coaching and support. To learn more, check out the Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule.
[20:42] - How different roles, especially leads, should interact in a scrum team where equality is emphasized.
[21:34] - The importance of a lead developer having a mindset focused on helping others succeed and empowering the team.
[22:31] - Scott defines true technical leadership and the importance of empowering team members to scale workload and creating a culture of learning within the team.
[23:59] - The impact of senior team members as "pollinators of learning."
[24:56] - Brian defines a lead's role using sports analogies to illustrate leadership beyond individual excellence.
[26:48] - Brian shares the ‘see one, do one, teach one model for successful leadership and teams.
[27:57] - Leveling up expectations and helping and asking for help as a lead.
[32:32] - Setting the example by what you do, not by what you say.
[33:17] - The importance of leads in establishing culture.
[34:53] - Brian shares a big thank you to Scott for joining him on the show.
[35:29] - We invite you to subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts. Do you have feedback or a great idea for an episode of the show? Great! Just send us an email.
[36:10] - If you’d like to continue this discussion, join the Agile Mentors Community. You get a year of free membership into that site by taking any class with Mountain Goat Software, such as CSM or CSPO. We also have Advanced Certified ScrumMaster® and Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner®, where we get right into the good stuff and have some deep discussions. We'd love to see you in one of Mountain Goat Software's classes, you can find the schedule here.

References and resources mentioned in the show:

Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts
Certified ScrumMaster Training and Scrum Certification
Certified Scrum Product Owner Training
Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner®
Advanced Certified ScrumMaster®
Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule
Join the Agile Mentors Community

Want to get involved?

This show is designed for you, and we’d love your input. 

  • Enjoyed what you heard today? Please leave a rating and a review. It really helps, and we read every single one. 
  • Got an Agile subject you’d like us to discuss or a question that needs an answer? Share your thoughts with us at

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.

Scott Dunn is a Certified Enterprise Coach and Scrum Trainer with over 20 years of experience coaching and training companies like NASA, EMC/Dell Technologies, Yahoo!, Technicolor, and eBay to transition to an agile approach using Scrum.