The Agile For Agilists Podcast

Scrum Master Energy – Banging Bongos and Shaking Tambourines

February 16, 2023
Agile For Agilists Podcast Logo. In the shape of a scrum loop signifying iterative and incremental sprint cycles that get leveraged in lean agile product development organizations that have evolved and adopted leadership and agile culture through agile transformations
Agile For Agilists
Scrum Master Energy - Banging Bongos and Shaking Tambourines
Does having a continuous improvement mindset make you a negative person? Do people view you as overly critical? Does it make it harder for you to stop and smell the roses? In this episode, Drew and Brad explore these questions and open up about challenges and habits they have in their own lives, teams, and organizations. They touch on agile culture, positive psychology, and energy leadership. Drew ensures we all know how cool he is and self-identifies as a “fun coach,” while Brad is against mandatory fun. More than just a feel-good episode, the Agile Manifesto and its core values emphasize the human aspect over process and tools. Delivering innovative, high-quality software at a steady pace requires motivated, involved, and happy teams. And you know what they say, happy developers equal happy users. Tune in to relate and/or learn some tips and tricks. #GoodVibesOnly


S01-E12 – Energy

Brad Nelson: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of Agile. For Agile. I am one of your co-hosts, Brad Nelson. And with me always is my partner, Drew Podwal.

Drew Podwal: Hello everybody.

Brad Nelson: Today we’re gonna talk about energy. The energy you bring to work, the energy you bring into your actions, the words you use, the train of thought and the impact that you have but even furthermore, as Agilests, it’s our job to evaluate environments, teams, organizations, and look for opportunities for improvement. This is something that, , I know Drew is passionate about as well, and we were talking about is looking for improvements constantly. Does that make you feel more like a negative person or does that shape the way you think?

Drew Podwal: Hmm.

Brad Nelson: Something that I noticed during the pandemic is I, when I was working from home, I was staying in my room all day, which is where my office is. It’s where I am right now, talking to y’all from my bedroom. And I have really thick [00:01:00] curtains for blocking out the sunlight.

And that’s something I’ve, always had as someone who uses computer a lot as a gamer and as someone who worked night shift. And I would work in my room all day long with the curtains closed. And then, the end of the day I would be like, wow, it’s kind of a gloomy day out, isn’t it? And I’d step outside to go for my, my afternoon walk or to take the dog out and the sun would be out and there’d be butterflies and birds flying around.

It would be a complete shock. And so just by not seeing the sun all day, my mind automatically assumed that things were worse than they were outside.

Drew Podwal: I’ve got two things to say on that. I used to work at, Nickelodeon which is right in the middle of Times Square in, in the heart of Times Square in the Viacom building, and I worked up on like the 48th floor. It was a pretty awesome, uh, , view from up there. , the Viacom building is one of those buildings where the lobby actually isn’t on the ground floor, right? Because the ground floor of all the buildings in Times Square, like m and m stores or [00:02:00] whatever, , and uh, I would get to the top of the elevator in the lobby, right? , and I couldn’t see the windows, but I could just see this glow of light coming up from, , the downstairs. And I would get excited. It’s like, oh, oh, it’s still daylight out right in the middle of winter. And then I would get down onto the escalator and I’d be like, ah, you work in Times Square. It’s, it’s always daylight in Times Square.

but um, you know, with regards to the pandemic and I, I’ve met other people who share the same opinion. I felt like I was on top of the world, , I hate saying this, and I think it’s like a weird, and I’ve definitely gotta unpack this, but , I felt like I was operating at my best during the pandemic.

I had a standing desk and a balance board and coffee and, 2 28 inch monitors. And I was actively engaged with my clients every single day. And I wouldn’t get up. And I absolutely loved it. Like I loved it. I felt so. [00:03:00] Completely engaged and it, it just felt like every morning I was waking up to play the best game of chess that I was ever gonna be able to play.

And, each day was a, a new chess game. And I’m not feeling engaged like that anymore, you know? Um, I’m definitely not, and I’m looking for that again, you know? Um, but you know, there’s something to be said for like the unhealthy side of that, which is, sure. I had a standing desk and a balance board.

I even bought one of those stupid bicycle chairs. Um, and, and the ridiculous thing about it was it, you know, it doesn’t have handle bars or a place for you to put in your hands. So I’d be on these conference calls and, you know, either I’d have my hands dangling at the side while I’m like pedaling, or I’ve got them on my thighs and my arms are going up and down and it just does not look good.

That lasted for like a heartbeat before it just became a place for me to store My, uh, dirty laundry. But,

Brad Nelson: So, so it’s like a unicycle. You’re on a unicycle, Nicole. Yeah.

Drew Podwal: it was kind of like, yeah, it was, it was an [00:04:00] exercise bike without handlebars more or less, and it was on wheels and I could roll it into, in front of my desk and, it was just so ridiculously nerdy, you know?

Um, so ridiculously nerdy,

Brad Nelson: so I didn’t have quite, I guess, the same feeling during the pandemic. , you know, work-life balance I think definitely is a problem in this scenario. , but bringing it back to theme for today is, energy, do you think that always having a continuous improvement mindset and the idea that you can always do something better does stop you from having gratitude of all the things you’ve accomplished already?

Drew Podwal: Oh, that’s a different question than I thought you were gonna ask. You know, I think. There’s no straight answer there, right? Like sometimes yes, sometimes no. , like the question I thought you were gonna ask was, does having an improvement mindset where you’re always looking to improve things cause other people to look at you, uh, as somebody who’s [00:05:00] always focusing on the negative and, you know, that I think is a less or a more straightforward answer, but still not entirely straightforward.

But, it sounds like what you’re saying is, is that if you’re always looking to improve, do you miss the opportunities to stop in smaller roses? And, and I’ve definitely even recently experienced, like with the podcast, right when we first started the podcast, , I remember it was like a, like a few weeks later.

Where I realized actually, what an, what an accomplishment that was, because, we had launched it and we continued to try to make it better and, and so even though we did pause to high five a little bit, , I don’t think I actually internalized the milestone myself, like, and the change that took place right in my life as starting to work on this with you.

It, it took me a couple of weeks after the podcast launched for me to realize that sense of accomplishment. So I think that there’s something to be said there for, for that, you know?

Brad Nelson: I, I definitely feel like [00:06:00] people have looked at me more negatively because I’m always looking for improvements, which I think is something we should unpack more in this episode. but as far as like stopping the smell of the roses, that is something I struggle with a lot. Like I’m a perfectionist. and when you, I, I don’t know if it’s necessarily my background, but I relate it to my background of not having much growing up and having desires to have more. And so I built this like hungry attitude where it’s like, you know, I just hunger for more and more and more and I drive and drive and drive and I can always do better and I can always be better and I have to do better than everyone else cuz I don’t have a degree.

And you know, I don’t have the connections and so I just always have this achievement mindset where I achieve it. And I’m happy for maybe a second, but I’m also not super comfortable with praise and gratitude either.

Drew Podwal: Yeah. Isn’t that weird? I feel the same way at times, where from certain people, praise means everything, right? But from other [00:07:00] people. , and it’s also the type of praise, ? It, it actually makes me uncomfortable. It makes me question, whether it’s empty praise, whether or not like I actually deserved it.

That’s, I It’s wild that you said that too, but yeah.

Brad Nelson: It, I’m even more of a, you know, basket case. Apparently I’m airing my laundry today in that I’m definitely more motivated by rewards than punishment. So I’m moi motivated by rewards, and recognition and praise, but I’m not comfortable when I receive it.

Drew Podwal: So, okay, here’s a deep cut , of vulnerability, for most of my life, right? And I’m 47 years old now. I turned 48 in a couple of months, so I might as well say I’m 48. But for most of my life, I used the avoidance of shame as a motivating factor, right? Um, as opposed to , the desire for success.

And, and it took me, Many years to kind of like, I was in therapy and, and a therapist, you know, started talking to me [00:08:00] about acceptance. And, and I, you know, I couldn’t understand this idea of acceptance, because, well, if I accept the way I am right now, then how will I be motivated to be any different,

Brad Nelson: Mm-hmm.

Drew Podwal: And, um, I realized like that was a, a flawed way of looking at it. And it’s that I deserve success, right? Um, because I’m, I’m a hard worker and accepting the way things are within a specific moment is really an act of kindness to myself, ? And patience and self empathy. so I’m glad you brought that up as well.

, one thing I want to add is that I’ve brought this up a couple of times in the past, is that, you know, I went through IPEC’s, International Coaching Federation, ACC coaching program. And, the way that works is, uh, the I C F is a governing body and they don’t run training.

They have, partners that run training and each of the partners has like specific criteria they need to meet, but, their, their training goes through the lens of their model for, for [00:09:00] coaching, and, , IPEC stands for the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching. And the background is in what’s called Core energy coaching.

And the core premise of core energy coaching is that there is no more positive and negative, right? there’s only what’s called anabolic energy and catabolic energy, and that catabolic energy is energy, that, consumes energy. whereas anabolic energy is energy that creates energy, right? So if you did a great job on something in the sprint and in the retrospective, I give you a shout out to say, Brad, thank you so much for doing things like that.

This sprint, it really meant a lot to me. It helped me out. , and I learned so much, you know, so thank you. Right? , that is a way of me creating energy because I’m expending energy, but I’m creating energy and I’m transferring that to you, which then. Creates a positive flow, and I shouldn’t use positive flow, but a, a surplus of energy.

Whereas sometimes like we [00:10:00] as Agiles, , or even developers or whatever, we get back to the scrum room and we’re like, oh man, can you believe those like jerk off like stakeholders? They’re doing it again. They’re absolutely doing it again. And you know, they’re so stupid.

And like we all bond together and we’re like, oh my God, they’re so stupid. You’re right. They are stupid. And we high five and we make jokes. And I know that’s not how it actually plays out, but, that’s an example of catabolic energy. There’s a bond that’s forming there, right in that moment.

Everybody in the team is bonding, But we’re tearing down energy as a result of that, even though a bond is, is forming tighter between us.

Brad Nelson: And I, I think that’s pretty common, right? For people to create that correlation on, on a negative note

Drew Podwal: it’s called a. It’s called positive, , and negative emotional attract. You can create a positive emotional attractor out of, , talking about stakeholders in a way that is positive, ? Or you could do it, , in a negative way, [00:11:00] but, either way it’s a shared expression that, people can, plant their flag in and build a bond around.

And if you’re, if you’re doing that too much in the negative emotional tractor realm, if you’re using negative emotional attractors as a way of, creating team unity, the Navy does this, right? This is what the military does. The military teaches you to use negative emotional tractors to create cohesion within, the organization.

but you’re gonna have an organization that is founded upon that negative negativity

Brad Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting. So my family is very cynical, very sarcastic, people like bring a girlfriend to, , to the holiday dinner or whatever growing up. they would be caught off guard because they’re so sarcastic that they don’t even use the tone or winks or anything anymore. and It’s just, if it seems ridiculous or crazy, you’re just supposed to assume it’s sarcasm, right?

So you get a new haircut and they’d be like, wow, did a bag come with that haircut? Or, you know, whatever. Um, and, and you just be [00:12:00] like, what? Why would someone say that to me? You’re like, oh, they’re joking. ,

Drew Podwal: so what goes on with sarcasm and cynicism, is that, the positive part of it is, When you’ve laid out a zinger on somebody else that the group is now like, oh, that’s a funny one, Brad. That’s the positive side. That’s the, the carrot there, but at the same time, it’s coming at the expense of one person.

So it’s kind of like a Ponzi scheme from an energy perspective, where, you’re getting the, the validation of the group at the expense of somebody else you’re transferring. That energy. And it’s not to say that like cynicism and sarcasm is, is a bad thing.

It’s just to say that, when that becomes the center point of the attraction between a group of people, it, it has this effect of like, you know, I have terrible tinnitus. There’s a ringing in my ear 24 hours a day. I’ve learned to live with that. . But at the same time, there’s a level of stress that I’m not realizing, , is [00:13:00] there because it’s just always there, I first kind of came aware of this when I was in my ICF training and, uh, and stopped me if I’m going too long on this, but, , there was a woman who was in my training class and while the instructor was, talking and when other students in the class were, were talking, if they said something like, you know, weird or ironic or goofy or whatever, like there was something about her and something about me where we both knew we were on that same wavelength of, she just said Doo do or something like that, you know?

I mean, that wasn’t what it was, but it was along those lines and we both knew that like we could trust each other to. Make fun of people behind their back in training classes, which is really what we were doing. Um, and then in the training itself, when we started learning about like positive and negative emotional attract, you know, we realized like, oh wow, we are forming a bond over negative emotional attract right now.

And maybe that’s part of what we, get [00:14:00] a kick out of each other, but it shouldn’t be the primary thing, and I’m not saying your family is bad. I’m definitely not saying your family’s bad,

Brad Nelson: no comment. so my first team lead at my current company that I’m at now. Uh, insight said it before. I don’t need to hide it. Uh, so my first team lead, team lead when I started, his name’s Brandon deal. I’m gonna guilt him into listening now cause I said his name. we have a really good relationship, but one of the things that is so amazing about him that always inspires me is I would, I would confide in him when I’m frustrated or when something didn’t go my way or I didn’t achieve something that I tried for. And he is the most positive person I know. And he is just naturally that way. And he can immediately see the silver lining in almost everything. So I’ll be like, oh, I’m, I’m frustrated that like, I didn’t achieve this thing. And he’ll be like, yeah, but you came in like second or third place and you’re running against people [00:15:00] that have been, working on this thing for 10 years or, or whatever it is.

And he was like, that’s something to be really proud of, that, you know, in a small amount of time you were able to accomplish what people or, or give a run, uh, for their money, for people that have been doing it for a decade or, or whatever the example is. And it’s just amazing how he always, it’s just impulsive for him.

It’s always there. And I don’t, I’m so jealous,

Drew Podwal: I like to examine this sometimes where when I look at myself, I, I do see myself as that kind of person, I see myself as somebody who, no matter what happens, I can always stand strong and find the thing in it that, we should latch onto is the thing that we did well.

Right? But there’s a other side of that slope where what I worry about is, is it like, a rose-colored glasses thing, right? Um, I do think that for the most part, I do have a great positive attitude, and that I am actually looking f for the upshot, and I do really well with that.

But I also think that there’s times where maybe I’m [00:16:00] protecting my ego a little bit, I’m trying to protect my ego and maybe it’s a little bit of apathy, so I, I, I look at those things, introspectively of myself.

Brad Nelson: Yeah, so Sean Aker has a book and a fantastic Ted talk called The Happiness Advantage. And he talks about how, in America we have this achievement mindset where we have to achieve the thing and then we’ll be happy. but it’s actually backwards. If we’re happy, we will achieve the thing.

And, and that’s why it’s called the Happiness Advantage. And, and he’s got different exercises you can actually do that supposedly make you happy. I say supposedly, I’ve noticed some effects when I do ’em myself, but I haven’t built that tiny habit yet of always doing the things every single day. but it’s, it’s a fantastic read and it’s very entertaining and he’s, uh, what, what you would call a positive psychologist, and he talks about how psychology, generally just tries to get us to like, to get you back to normal.

Drew Podwal: Oh, interesting.

Brad Nelson: And, and he’s trying to get, get us to like, [00:17:00] uh, I guess I’ll say positive here to, to a positive state of mine too.

Like, what is happiness? What is, what can we do to be at the highest performing, you know, human being.

Drew Podwal: It’s probably that word abundance that I cringe a little bit. Would people say, I wanna live an abundant life. Um, but at the same time, I get it and I do wanna live an abundant life. I wanna celebrate a quick win for a second since we’re on the topic of, anabolic and positive energy. You, you just mentioned a resource for the Happiness Advantage and I took the time to write down on a sticky note the happiness Advantage, that this way when we release the podcast, I could have a link to it in the bottom of the podcast.

Brad Nelson: Awesome, awesome.

Drew Podwal: that up is a win today.

Brad Nelson: the tiny habits. There we go.

Drew Podwal: Yeah.

Brad Nelson: um

Drew Podwal: You know, there’s a guy that we’re gonna be talking to in a couple of weeks that I’ve mentioned to you before. Sina, right? Uh, Sina is this just really great guy. , the [00:18:00] thing was, and he doesn’t know this yet, and I’m gonna talk to him a bit about this on the podcast, he probably knows this.

I don’t know. when I first started working with Sina, I didn’t like him. He was just so nice that I didn’t trust him. Right. He was literally so nice and so positive that I, I didn’t trust him. and that was the energy I showed up in our relationship with, , and now that evolved, right?

That evolved in, in the time that we worked together. And, and I just realized that Cena’s just a great guy and he’s, super nice and very authentic and vulnerable and, , but it was really weird at first. I thought that , he was , out to get me or something. And, just because he was so nice.

and I think that was like my first step down to like really understanding agile culture, I also think that I was fresh off the wave of, being beat down for 10 years as a project manager. And, when you’re a project manager in the waterfall [00:19:00] world and you’re just always expecting that, people aren’t gonna listen to you and, that, they’re not gonna take your ideas and they’re not gonna think about anything about, improvement items you know, you show up with that level of energy.

And I think that’s, something I’m wondering like what your experience has been with that.

Brad Nelson: It, it reminds me of, I dunno if it’s a standup comic or it’s just a, a recurring theme that I see on TV where like, somebody’s really outwardly happy walking down the street and everyone just hates them for it. Why is this person so happy? uh, I think that’s like a, I don’t know, an American phenomenon or something.

Drew Podwal: I’m talking more about the expectation that things aren’t gonna go the way you want them to go. And showing up with that level of energy, right? Showing up with the energy level and the mindset of, today’s probably not gonna work the way I want, or This conversation’s probably not gonna go the way that I want.

and that when you go into that conversation or whatever the activity is expecting that it’s not gonna go the way you want. [00:20:00] That sometimes you can overcom. And overreact, even if it’s at the micro subconscious level, , which then creates that self-fulfilling prophecy of that conversation is not gonna go the way you want.

 Cuz you might not even have the open mindset, the growth mindset. the learning mindset to be aware of the attributes that say that this conversation’s actually going well.

Brad Nelson: Right, Yeah. I, I do think I’ve experienced that and it reminds me of when I used to be on a sports team. Uh, I played soccer for 14 years, and before a game you would lay there and you would picture yourself winning and doing well, and all these things. and it’s something that, professional athletes do.

It’s something that they believe to actually help and then yeah, the same, You can set the tone for your entire day or engagement or anything by your mind. And, and, uh, it’s very powerful. And that’s something that we talk about a lot in my house with my kids. And you get frustrated first thing in the morning because of some [00:21:00] arbitrary thing that’s just a, a minor inconvenience.

And then you tell yourself, today’s gonna be a terrible day because of this one, like five second thing, and you let it ruin your whole day.

Drew Podwal: Do you make your bed in the morning?

Brad Nelson: Uh, no. I don’t really.

Drew Podwal: Yeah, , I, I don’t really either. Sarah does it. but, uh, when Sarah was going to the city every day, I would make the bed every day because I knew it was a good thing that she appreciated. The reason why I ask is, , the sergeant, former sergeant major of the Marine Corps, created a, a blog post, probably about 10 years ago at this point.

but he says that every morning he makes his bed, and there’s two reasons why every morning he makes his bed, In the morning when he makes his bed, he stops for one second, two seconds, three seconds, and he looks at his bed and he feels good that he made his bed. And so that’s his way of starting his day with one success, even though it’s like maybe a trivial thing, right?

It’s one success, but then he takes that a step further because he knows that at the end of the day, [00:22:00] he’s gonna get back into his bed and that he knows that he did something good for the future as well. Right? It’s, it’s not just a milestone of success right now, but that he set himself up for success in the future.

It’s an investment in that future version of himself that’s gonna get into bed, and then at the end of the night when he gets in his. He gets to feel the success of getting into a made bed again. And, I try to create those kinds of habits in my life. I’m terrible at creating habits, or good habits, at least

 But, um, those are the kinds of things like a scrum Masters as agile coaches that we can do with our team, right? So like for instance, like at the beginning of a sprint, making sure that the beginning of a sprint, we have a small story, , that has low complexity, low risk, definitely not low story points, but I’m not allowed to talk about that right now. That’s gonna have to wait. , that we know we can complete and test and deliver early in the sprint as a [00:23:00] way of saying, We got one done, everybody, like we can do that, or we could start off , our sprint events with refining a story that, , is maybe it’s one that we’ve been, working really hard on and it’s right at the finish line and we know that we’re just gonna be able to, put it at the finish line or, back when I was a scrum master and I was working face-to-face with people, way back in the day before Covid, I actually had a rolling board, a rolling whiteboard that, I had two scrum teams.

So on one side of it was a complete and accurate to the minute, up to date Kanban board that was also mirrored what was in Jira for both teams on either side. And, I told my, my developers, , whenever you’re ready to move your your stories to a column, you come get me and I’m gonna roll the board over to your team’s room and you can move the story.

And I let them do it. I didn’t do it because the act of physically taking

Brad Nelson: Mm-hmm.

Drew Podwal: a [00:24:00] post-it note and peeling it and moving it to the done column or moving it to the ready for or the test column or whatever that is, is a ceremony that, should be celebrated. ,

Brad Nelson: Mm-hmm.

Drew Podwal: So how do you, how have you creatively brought that level of energy to your teams, your clients, the people who’ve worked for you?

What are some examples you’ve done?

Brad Nelson: Yeah. , so I mean, you mentioned thanking your future self or, or doing things for your future self, that’s something my wife says all the time, do you load the dishwasher before you go to bed? Those sorts of things. , you know, and that’s something that I definitely try to take into my work life as well. Uh, you can put stuff off to tomorrow, but like, , how is your future self gonna feel about that? And then I, I think it’s also equally important to, to thank your, your past self when you as the future self get to reap that benefit. but as, as far as habits go, you know, I’m also not the most successful so far at incorporating as many habits as I would like, but I’ve definitely [00:25:00] changed, almost like the core of my being.

I feel like through time with some pretty amazing personal transformational stuff. and there’s, there’s two books that are basically the same thing. It’s, it’s tiny habits and, and it’s Atomic Habits. Yeah. , uh, and I forget the guy’s name off the top of my head, uh, but they talk about the psychology of, of building habits or building in change, and it really comes down to like starting small, right?

What is the one thing that like, you want to change and, and start small and then creating a trigger for it. What is, what is that thing that happens that you are going to, to be reminded to do this thing? So if it’s, um, brushing your teeth that night before bed and you wanna start flossing, well, the, the trigger is when you go to brush your teeth, you floss.

Like that’s your reminder to floss as well. And then the third part, the crucial part is the reward. How are you gonna reward yourself or whoever? For, [00:26:00] for doing that thing. And it can be something really simple or silly. You can give yourself, you know, fonzi, hey, you know, when you’re done, it doesn’t matter what it is.

It’s just something that is fun that rewards yourself. so, uh, I love like the, the tactileness of your story with the sticky notes. That’s something that, I’ve also tried to emphasize in person, which I’m not typically that way. Like I’m a very digital oriented person, and so I didn’t get it at first, but that whole, yeah, like having them do that, I think is huge.

And, and I’m really big on ownership and co-creation. When you’re involved, when you have say in the things that you need to do and you’re the one that that is doing it, you care. You care so much more. And, and daily scrum or huddle or stand up or sink or whatever it is you do in your agile environment.

That should be facilitated by your team. And the healthiest team that I saw, they, they had,[00:27:00] a stick essentially that they would pass around after each day they would hand it off to someone else and whoever had that, had the speaking stick was the one that facilitated the next daily.

Drew Podwal: So what I used to do with that, I love the speaking stick thing. I think it’s great. , but as a scrum master, , I would go out to the store and I would buy like a plushy or like a figurine or something that was the team’s name, right? So it’s super easy if they’re Team Avengers. But by making the, the talking stick that you’re talking about, or the, if you’ve read Lord of the Flies, the, the conks shell, um, um, By making it the, totem of that team. it has a lot of versatility then, right? Because the other thing that you could start doing there is that, maybe the newest person on the team is the keeper of the totem, it’s their job to bring the totem to stand up every day. You know, or the other way you could do it is, the, uh, team could vote at the retro [00:28:00] of, who gets the totem, that sprint, you know? And it becomes this, thing that’s not just functional from a standpoint of signifying whose turn it is to talk.

but it’s also this unifying object then, Let’s go see if we could sneak into the other scrum team’s room and steal their totem, you know, and hide and hide it somewhere in the office, and so you’ve gotta protect your team’s totem as well.

and that’s a great way to start gamifying things.

Brad Nelson: Yeah. A team I coached for, I, I didn’t in, like, they did all this stuff before I, I became their coach. , but they, so their talking stick, , they worked on, IAM in the IAM space. , their product was my access. And so they’re like, my access sounds like my axxis, like the, you know, you chop wood.

And so their talking stick was a foam ax. And then they would do like team days where they’d all go up to lunch together and they would all wear like red and black flannel on those team days.

Drew Podwal: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s great. here’s a quick story. So I, was a scrum [00:29:00] master for a team. they were all third party developers. they kind of felt a little bit like outcasts in the organization, but not totally. some of them were highly personable, but there was this one guy who was just super awkward, and I could just tell by his energy that he just wanted to feel. Like a valued member of the team. Right. Um, and it wasn’t like in a, in a like toxic sort of weird way at all. But prior to me picking up that job, I had lost a significant amount of weight and I, I was really proud of my new fitness and I would talk about it a bit, and this guy also had done the same.

 But he was your classic like developer with no fashion sense. And I kid you not, he wore his big boy jeans, even though he was no longer a big boy. And you know, when like, you lose weight and you start to fold, your jeans start to fold over a little bit and, and you just, since you’re his, were like folded over like, almost like six inches

and they Looked like he was wearing just like a, a denim [00:30:00] like dress almost, and I never said anything about it, right? Because that’s not my business, it’s not my position. But one day I’d come into work one day with a new pair of jeans , and he was totally like, those are great jeans. They look really good on you. And, uh, and so I pulled him aside for a second and I had this level of rapport with him. And I said, so listen, Why don’t you and I go across the street this week, let’s go gene shopping together, man.

from an HR perspective, that’s probably like a really, like, very slippery slope as to whether that’s appropriate or not. But, but he loved it and we went jean shopping together and, I convinced him to buy two pair of jeans instead of one because I knew that he would be wearing those jeans every single day, Um, , but he loved it. And, and he really felt good about it and he felt this connection to me and he felt this pride about these new jeans that he was wearing. And, the, the team noticed it and that made him feel good as well. And I think that like we as Scrum masters, we have a very special torch that we carry.

[00:31:00] we have to develop those kinds of relationships , where it’s okay to take some guy, or maybe not some woman if you’re a man, but , it’s okay to take somebody on your team shopping for new clothes if they’ve, recently, changed their body type, either bigger or smaller, right?

, , you obviously want to get their permission first to make sure that that’s an okay topic , to talk about. , and really make sure you build a rapport where, where that’s okay, but you want people to trust you and you want to find out what are the things that they feel good about and what are the things that they feel bad about and help them to feel better about more things and feel worse about less things, and feel good about being a member on the team.

Um, Waterfall. I’ll say it again. Waterfall does not have a line item for that in their budget.

Brad Nelson: Yeah. Uh, we’ve talked about before, agile culture, and culture is how you treat people [00:32:00] and the environment you create and, and the energy you put out. And it, it’s funny because when I was younger, so, so my mom is a psych major, a and so I grew up kind of around psychology, really big, , into the topic as a layman also really like philosophy as well.

And when it came, came time for college, I was like, well, these are the things I’m the most interested in. However, , I don’t wanna be a counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist. Like, I don’t wanna listen to people’s problems all day for a living, and I don’t really wanna be a teacher. And those are kind of the only two things you can do with that degree, uh, at least in my mind.

Right. As an 18 year old and, and now as an agile coach, every day I’m teaching and being a counselor,

Drew Podwal: it’s funny, we were talking about future Drew and, and past Drew or future Brad and past Brad and present Brad. And end of the day Brad, I wish that past Drew had pursued a degree in [00:33:00] psychology because, you know, I read a lot about it and it’s just so fascinating to me understanding like why people think the way they think.

And sociology as well. I did take a few courses in, in psychology. I took some sociology as well. regrets are, There, there’s pointless, you know? But, I love that stuff. and, and I think it absolutely, if you spend time learning a bit about what makes people tick, f from a scientific, psychological perspective, the degree of success that you’ll find as a scrum master, as a coach will just exponentially propel you forward.

You know?

Brad Nelson: definitely. Yeah. Yeah. My, my first presentation I, I ever gave, I incorporate some psychology into that, and I do incorporate psychology in everything I do, even if I don’t know it. And some of the things that we teach. Or, or that we have, have been like business size, like Dan Pink’s [00:34:00] autonomy mastery purpose is really Edward DCI’s, um, uh, autonomy, competence, and relatedness like it existed before him in psychology.

And so, and the first thing I, I teach, like organizational change essentially, before I even knew that term, is really understanding the psychology of individuals and understanding that in order to to change, like you have three levers, right? It’s the, the things that you do, your behaviors, your emotions and it’s your thoughts.

And these are things that a counselor will talk to you about. Because if, like you go to a counselor and you’re like, I, I’m depressed, I’m sad, I feel lonely because nobody likes me. But then, so, so you’re thinking these thoughts in your head. Nobody likes me. You’re feeling the feelings, and then you stay home.

You don’t go anywhere, you don’t do anything. And so your behaviors reflect that, and you never give yourself the chance to change that narrative. Now, one of those levers that you [00:35:00] wanna change, you, you can’t just will yourself to be happy. Like to my knowledge, impossible. You can’t just say like, uh, I’m happy.

there is cognitive reprogramming where you can, when you have a thought, say, no, I don’t want to think that way. I, I would rather think this way, or I should be thinking this way. but that’s really hard too. But the behavior, the behavior is the easiest thing for us to change. Simply going out and experiencing the world and meeting people gives you the opportunity to have someone like you or not like you, but it gives you a chance to change that narrative.

And that’s the power of the Scrum framework is like, we’re changing your behaviors. to do things that promote continuous learning and inspection and adaption.

Drew Podwal: You reminded me, , I get, , seasonal, what’s it called? Seasonal Effective mood disorder. , my whole life, I, I. Easily fall into the doldrums. never bad, never like, you know, to a really bad spot. But I remember it was the, the winter before I met Sarah and I was living alone.

I was in Brooklyn. you know, when [00:36:00] you live in New York City, if you don’t have plans already on a Friday night, you’re not gonna find plans, and, you know, you could go to the bar and see if you’re gonna meet somebody, but, you know, in your forties, like I, I would just go to the bar and, and I would come home at the end of the night feeling even more depressed because, you know, I didn’t meet anybody, not specifically women, but friends, you know, and, uh, and so it got to the place that winter where, I would just go home on a Friday night.

I wouldn’t even think, And then I remember one night I was sitting at home and I was like, If you don’t have plans on a Friday, you’re not gonna be able to feel good on a Friday. . And, and I didn’t know how to solve that problem, but something like clicked in my head and I was , why don’t you buy concert tickets?

And so I went online and I, I bought probably four or five concert tickets for , February, March, April, and, and suddenly like just the act of having that in my future, knowing that, , like I, I bought tickets to see Victor [00:37:00] Wooten. You ever listened to Belo Fleck on the Flecktones?

Brad Nelson: I, I don’t think so. You’re gonna have to share ’em.

Drew Podwal: I bought, uh, Victor Wooten tickets. I bought tickets to see, uh, oh shoot. , the, the guy who originally sang the way it is, um, Bruce Hornsby. Um, , you know, I’m, I’m a, an eighties easy, easy listening kind of guy. but knowing that I had those to look forward to right? Pulled me out of that funk because now it was like I had this thing to look forward to.

And, those are the kinds of things that, we can do with, with teams as well. Like, creating these, these future sort of milestones that, oh, we’re gonna get to work on this feature in the future, or, or things like that. Or,

Brad Nelson: we’re agile. We don’t plan

Drew Podwal: Well, yeah, but we could still, focus on like outcomes and we could still say that in sprint number 12 or whatever it is, we’re all gonna go do some training together, or we’re gonna do an offsite at, this, ax throwing place [00:38:00] or, if the team.

Hits this metric point then, , as a scrum master, I’m gonna get the team name tattooed across my knuckles. That never will happen, but, um, maybe for you, Brad. , but, uh, I’ve already got too many bad tattoos I can’t afford anymore.

Brad Nelson: so I, I was joking about the planning thing and, and maybe that’s another episode for us to talk about, like, there is planning in Agile one, we plan all the time. And two, I mean, we have roadmaps. They’re just not, you know, built out to, to the most minute detail. Uh, and, and I love that. I love that, , that look forward creating those experiences.

And when we were in person, one of my favorite things was happy hour. Being able to, whether you’re celebrating a, a really great sprint or delivery or release, or you need a pick me up from a, a rough time, there’s nothing like, coming together in person and, and I’ve yet to create a great alternative virtually for that

Drew Podwal: Yeah. there’s a great game on the Nintendo [00:39:00] Switch that Sarah hates and, and I wish she liked it because it’s, you know, um, have you ever heard of overcooked?

Brad Nelson: Yeah. Yep. Yeah. My wife and I beat that together.

Drew Podwal: So I kind of wish there was like a browser-based version of that game. because it would be such an amazing game to play with teams as a way to demonstrate Self-organization, problem solving and, iterative development cycles and things like that. And it’s a fun game, but, um, we’ve done a couple of, like, I remember during the pandemic we did a virtual, virtual escape room , which is like weird, but, uh, or maybe it wasn’t a virtual escape room. Maybe it was like a virtual who done it. but that was fun. Or, , one thing that we did that, , when I was at Mad Hive, and I did this with Maria, we partnered with, a nonprofit called, , skate Like A Girl. And what their mission was, was to provide every [00:40:00] girl who wanted in America with a free skateboard and, and skateboard coaching, right? So like they have these facilities around the US and, where if you’re a girl, you can go to it and, you could skate with some pros for an afternoon.

And, um, and they give you a free skateboard. And so what the event was, before the event, they shipped all the employees who wanted to participate a box, and in that box was an Unassembled skateboard. And on the call we had, a female skater, um, and the, one of the outreach members of the, the nonprofit and they, you know, they showed us, videos of, of, of great things that they do while we assembled the skateboards.

You know, they taught, I remember when I was a kid, I assembled my first skateboard when I was really young, so I knew how to do it, but, . I feel like I just had to say that. I don’t know to say

Brad Nelson: you’re so cool. Drew.

Drew Podwal: so cool, man. I know how to make a skateboard, um, . But, um, you know, and then we decorated it in the way that we wanted and then we put it back in the [00:41:00] box with a, you know, a label that they had sent us and we sent it back out and uh, and it was just a great like, little team building event that was a lot of fun.

so, there are ways that you could do. Virtual happy hours still, you know, uh, mad Hive did send us alcohol. Like we, we had alcohol that they, I think we did at least, or maybe, no, they didn’t send us alcohol. They sent us, , drink mixers and and recipe books for various cocktails.

And we supplied our own alcohol. And, you know, we did these virtual happy hours that way. Um, I think they also gave us like, uh, gift cards that we all used to either buy alcohol or, you know, whatever it was, but they didn’t actually buy us alcohol.

Brad Nelson: Yeah, I, I have a buddy who, um, who does bourbon tasting virtually. Kind of similar thing, where he sends everyone the same bottles and they try ’em all together.

Drew Podwal: [00:42:00] Have you ever seen the video? And this is definitely going into the, the links at the bottom of this episode, , it’s so inappropriate. But there’s a video of a, of a famous bourbon taster who’s doing his YouTube live stream, tasting the bourbon, literally while his wife is packing up and leaving him . And he’s just like ignoring her

It’s just so bad. You’ll have to tell me later on if I have to cut that out or not.

let’s get back on topic, right, because we’re, we’re talking about energy within our teams. We’re talking about showing up with the energy. We haven’t really said it yet, we’ve skirted around this issue, but the scrum master is the arbiter of, Anabolic positive energy with the team, right? , like I was talking with one of my clients, , today, and I was giving a rah to all of ,, their leaders and I said to them , guys, we’re about to launch. If you want people to [00:43:00] demonstrate the things that you want them to demonstrate, you guys gotta set the stage for that.

And that’s totally true with Scrum Masters as well. So

Brad Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. I like, I, I often say I’m not a fun coach. I’m not really the one doing like games and icebreakers and those sorts of things. Typically now, if a team wants it, I will go out of my comfort zone to do it. And, and I think that’s really what it’s about, is understanding what your team needs. I know a lot of agile coaches and scrum masters that essentially force fun on their teams

Drew Podwal: Yeah,

Brad Nelson: and, and some teams need that, but some teams really hate it. And you really have to read that

Drew Podwal: well that’s the thing, , is you can never force fun. I’m thinking about, Clark rwd and uh, national Lampoon’s vacation, , on their way to Wally Worlds. And, we’re gonna have so much fun. We’re gonna be whistling zippity dude out of our butts. Um, , you can’t force fun, right? And you shouldn’t try to force fun.

But what you should try to do [00:44:00] is find. What type of fun the team likes, you know? , not all teams like Nerf guns, right? Not all teams like, building skateboards. Not all teams like, a team totem, not all teams like running over to the other teams scrum team room and stealing a team totem, but all, teams, all people like fun, everybody likes fun. It’s just a matter of finding out what kind of fun they like, some teams like fun, but they’re afraid to have fun with other people, right? And so like how do you create that level of vulnerability to disarm, , people and, enable them to trust having fun in front of other people, you know?

 And so like when you say you’re not the fun coach, I know that I’m definitely. I want to curse right now. I’m gonna do it. I am the motherfucking fun coach. You know? Um, and, uh, it’s not to say that I’m not a disciplined [00:45:00] and, dedicated coach, right? But my personality type.

it’s very easy for me to try to stimulate that fun. but I’m also very aware of , who’s up for fun and who’s not up for fun, when I’m not so good is timing of that, right? Like, when is it appropriate for Drew to make a joke on this podcast and when is it not appropriate for Drew to make a joke on this podcast?

Brad Nelson: Yeah, so I would like to think of myself as more of a calming force cause I’m very stoic and people have said that, when it hits the fans, I, I’m pretty good at trying to keep everyone calm and working . Through it. but speaking of being a nerd, like I enjoy what we do. Like to me, software development and product management and agile is fun.

So I have fun just doing it. So to me it, I don’t need to come up with these creative ideas to make it more fun, cuz it, it is fun.

Drew Podwal: Well, I mean, that gets back to me saying I love the pandemic because I got to play chess every single day, like absolutely. Hands down. I love that. [00:46:00] But let’s do an exercise real quick. Is that okay? Do I have your permission to run an exercise?

Brad Nelson: No. Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s do

Drew Podwal: fair. I, I, I, I respect that as an answer.

Moving on. , so what type of fun do you like?

Brad Nelson: Um, let’s see here. Watching grass grow, um, smelling paint. No. Uh, I don’t know. Uh, so in my free time, like I listen to music, I’m really big in music. Music is a huge part of my life. If, like those of you that are familiar with my Instagram, when I get around to it, I draw, you know, musicians, uh, I’ve spent way too much time on playlists.

I mean, I just love music. I have vinyls, so even though I can’t play it, which I always joke, my midlife crisis will be I’ll, I’ll pick up an instrument, but, um, I just love music. So in my free time, I do spend a lot of time listening, enjoying discovering new music.

Drew Podwal: Okay. And so have you ever been on a team where there’s been somebody else that enjoyed music [00:47:00] or art in the way that you’ve enjoyed?

Brad Nelson: not, not a Scrum team per se, but my recruiter, like he and I both share music a ton.

Drew Podwal: Okay. Well, so like, if I were to say to you, let’s say we were on a team together. I was a scrum master, you were a developer because you developed code before and I haven’t, um, , and, I had this idea for, , let’s create a weekly team playlist and each, week somebody new’s gonna start that, Hey, Brad, you love music.

You’ve got a great taste in music, right? Would you be up for creating our first team’s playlist?

Brad Nelson: what are the, what are the guardrails? What are, what’s the acceptance criteria?

Drew Podwal: The acceptance criteria here is that you’ve created a playlist of songs that you feel are great songs that maybe we won’t specifically like and love and listen to on a regular [00:48:00] basis after this week, but that you think it’s relevant music. It, it should be part of everybody’s collection.

and, , maybe in the next, uh, retrospective as an icebreaker, before we start, you could tell us a bit about why you’ve selected, , some of the songs.

Brad Nelson: Yeah. I mean, to me that’s a very small thing that you can infuse , and I do some of that stuff. that’s not , like a really in depth icebreaker, for example.

Drew Podwal: Well, it doesn’t start off as one, right? But , there’s probably gonna be one other person on the team that loves music as much as you, that’s gonna be really excited. And they’re gonna feel bummed out that I said, Hey Brad, can you create the next playlist? And that they’re gonna go home that night and they’re gonna start creating their playlist because they can’t wait for their turn, then it just starts to become a thing, right? Because now two people have created a playlist and, two people have gotten a chance to share why that playlist is been curated the way it is. And, you know, or like another example [00:49:00] is, like what I used to do was called um, A weekly stand down. And, uh, we did it every Friday and it was optional. And I would, book a conference room and, , I would make sure that it had like audio video stuff set up and have you heard of what’s called, uh, PechaKucha?

Brad Nelson: yeah.

Drew Podwal: So we did it in the format of PechaKucha where, and for those people who don’t know what PechaKucha is, it’s a Japanese form of salon where each person gets, I think it’s three minutes, but I think we did like five minutes to talk about.

whatever they wanna talk about. it could be about a video game, it could be about an author, it could be about a vacation that they took, and they could do a slides share. Um, and, you know, people would come into the room and they would talk about whatever they wanted. And we had some people that were there every week and some people that would show up every now and then.

I might notice that you don’t show up to these things. And I also might notice that you’ve got a scrapbook where you’ve got your art and I might say, Hey Brad, [00:50:00] you know, I know that you don’t show up to these things, but you’ve got some really great artwork and.

I don’t know if you would feel comfortable with this, but would you ever be interested in taking us through either your creative process or, you know, showing us some of the drawings that you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of? Or maybe if you don’t want to show us your art, maybe there’s somebody else’s art that you know has inspired you, that you feel, is noteworthy.

Would you be interested in maybe coming to the next, uh, PechaKucha event and, uh, and showing us , that artwork? I just think that, there’s so many different types of fun to be had, you know, and, uh, you just gotta figure out what is the hook, right? What’s the, the itch that your team needs scratched? And it doesn’t have to be everybody, right? It could just be with one or two people. And it opens up to great things, you know, cuz people then see that other people are enjoying this [00:51:00] thing and maybe they want to join in, or maybe they want to change the rules of the game.

Maybe somebody’s like, I don’t really like to listen to music, but I love, podcasts. Can I create a podcast of the week for the team and sure, let’s create a podcast of the week for the team, or, I don’t really like podcasts and I don’t really like music, but I really love Twitter.

Would you guys be okay if I, created a Twitter feed for the team and started sharing things to that Twitter feed,

Brad Nelson: Memes of the week.

Drew Podwal: memes of the week,

Brad Nelson: Yeah. When, when I worked in an iot department, they had a camera that would scan everyone’s face that came in and would play a theme song for them.

Drew Podwal: Oh, that’s super cool.

Do you know what the first ever webcam was?

Brad Nelson: uh, I don’t think so.

Drew Podwal: So it was, I think the 1980s, I might be wrong. I think it was the eighties, could be the nineties. Cambridge University’s robotics lab, right? Was a clean room environment. And in order to get in, if you’ve never [00:52:00] worked in a clean room environment, you, you go into a locker room, you put on a paper suit, you put on gloves, face mask, you put on a head scarf, you put on your hood.

and then, goggles. And then you walk into, A small little hallway, the door shuts behind you and then air shoots at you from all directions. And there’s a collector that sucks all the dust particles off of you. And after like however long the, the timer set for, then the other door unlocks and you could walk in.

So they had a coffee pot in the break room. and in order to get to the break room, it took them like 15, 20 minutes to be able to leave the clean room, get undressed, and then go get coffee. And they would find that oftentimes they would show up to the coffee pot and there was no coffee in the coffee pot and it hadn’t been made yet.

And so they created a webcam, and it was just a regular camera that was set up, to take a photo every. Three [00:53:00] minutes or whatever it was, and uploaded to a web server so that they could see if there was coffee in the coffee pot or not. And if there wasn’t coffee in the coffee pot, they could call somebody, who wasn’t in the clean room to go make coffee so that this way by the time they left, there would be coffee ready for them.

Brad Nelson: I, I think I have heard that story now that you mentioned it, but yeah, it’s pretty funny.

Drew Podwal: I love little like internet, like arcana, like

Brad Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you’re solving problems like that’s the best technology or, or is technology that solves problems.

Drew Podwal: Yeah.

Brad Nelson: , so on the, positive negative energy topic and something that I feel like we, we also haven’t quite hit on yet, it seems like we have a lot to talk about in the subject. As I mentioned early on, always looking for improvements.

Coming across it as being kind of negative. And I think that’s something that I have definitely personally experienced and suffered from. And some of it is probably my demeanor. Some of it’s probably how the words I’m using [00:54:00] and all of that. but I am definitely a very, like I scrutinized and very particular person, I know you’ve been, uh, on the other end of that a few times, as we work on this podcast.

I, I’m a very detail oriented person. when I was in QA I found way more bugs than everyone else cause I just scrutinized the hell outta stuff. That makes me really, really good at continuous improvement as an agile coach, because I see things that other people don’t see. And I know that because other people have told me, I see things that they don’t see and it seems like people are taken aback by it sometimes. And I also have a, a fairly direct demeanor as well. and so I feel like that allows me to be , so much better when it comes to improvement , and giving advice. But if you only ever give advice, you only ever point out the bad things, right? Like, you, you come off as a negative person.

Drew Podwal: Yeah. You know, [00:55:00] the, the way that I describe it is that organizations have impediments, Teams have impediments. they also have, delivery, right? The thing is, is that when you become a bigger impediment than their impediments

Brad Nelson: Mm.

Drew Podwal: and, a bigger impediment to their delivery than the pace that to me is what the trick is.

And I’m not saying I’m a, I’m still probably somewhere between Shu and ha with this, But, um, figuring out how to pace the coaching of, of agile capabilities, right? and not just figuring out how to pace, but, reading the willingness, reading the room, , and figuring out, then on top of that, it’s the right language, right?

how do I present this impediment? Or these impediments? Do I present all of them? for me, it’s, is this the hill I want to die on? Like, I always run that [00:56:00] litmus test as well. you know, the other side of the coin is, rarely are you in an organization where you can figure out the pace for which you can surface impediments and action upon impediments, Is the right pace for the expectation of senior leadership who don’t understand the art of coaching, right? And now you’re stuck in the middle of that. Ever increasing. Spot of, the team’s patience and pace and appetite for improvement items and the expectation of the client and stakeholders or sponsors, need for moving things along, you know?

Brad Nelson: yeah, yeah. I mean, I view it a little bit as like smelling the roses, how we started this conversation. A, as an agile coach, when you’re starting, especially with a relatively new team, in your mind, you already have a roadmap of this builds off this, off this, off this, off this.[00:57:00]

And so, you know, you have more of an end state in mind of where, you know, this team can grow to. And it’s remembering that every little win is a win in celebrating that. well, what’s funny is, I, I had one team, I, I took that approach. I was like, you know, I’m gonna, you know, drip feed these, these things to them a as they ask and as we have conversations.

And then there was something that built off of this advice that I had that they had been working on for a while. And the one guy was like, man, why didn’t you tell us this months ago? And I

Drew Podwal: I hate that

Brad Nelson: I said, you weren’t ready for it months ago.

Drew Podwal: the worst one is why don’t you tell this months ago, and you did tell ’em that months ago and they just didn’t wanna talk about it months ago.

Brad Nelson: Well, there’s that too. Yeah, that definitely happens too.

Drew Podwal: Yeah.

Brad Nelson: Yeah. I, I like your point though about that balance between like, and it’s, it’s a little bit of an art. There’s not like a meter that says like, okay, this is how much I can action right now. [00:58:00] Uh, but they’re trying to balance that energy for.

Drew Podwal: so you know, I’m gonna make a polite suggestion, which is totally not a coaching. attribute, right. Um, but, uh, I think, and I’m gonna say it in a non coachy way too. Um, I really think that you should find, a, a ACC program, an I C F A ACC program. and take that because I think that you would love it.

I think you would love it because you get to learn about psychology, and, taking the time to learn what it means to be a coach, agnostic to agile, agnostic to Scrum, right? Learning about people’s energy, learning how to read people’s energy, Learning how to help them unblock their energy.

Like we’ve talked about this a little bit. Like in ipec we talk about the seven levels of energy being, apathy, anger, forgiveness, compassion, peace, joy, absolute passion. and that at each of those stages, there’s a core thought and a core feeling, right? So [00:59:00] at level one energy, when your thoughts are that of a victim, you’re feeling apathetic, and as a result, your action is gonna be lethargic. You’re not gonna be eager to run into action if you’re feeling like a victim. Like you’re just, you’re, you’re powerless, right? the next phase being, you know, the feeling of anger.

which your core thought is battle. It’s conflict, and the result there sometimes becomes defiance, you know? Now the great thing about that is that’s, that’s a transition, right? Because, the next phase is, is forgiveness, right? The feeling of forgiveness and the core thought there is a sense of responsibility.

And in that phase, you become more cooperative, right? And that’s where teamwork starts to happen, where, you know, um, I found that by learning about these things, you could hear there’s like key phrases that people have when they’re feeling like a victim. They talk about like things happening to [01:00:00] them.

Why is it that product won’t listen to us? Why is it that product keeps on doing this to us? Right? You know, that’s a victim mentality, right? Whereas conflict is things like, product says we have to do this. Well, we’re not gonna do that, right? We’re gonna do it like this. whereas, forgiveness and responsibility, , when teams are at that level of energy, they’re, starting to think about cooperation.

Right? Well, let’s, you know, I, I, I know we haven’t really been leveraging our team backlog refinements really well we’ve been doing them in private because the, the product owner hasn’t been, agreeable to us. But I think we’re at a phase right now where we should start bringing the product owner into these team backlog refinements, because doing it in absence of them hasn’t been helping us to the degree that it can, starting to understand The level of energy that a team, and this is total tambourine shaking, you know, um, and bongo banging, but getting a sense of what level of energy a team is resonating at is [01:01:00] helpful for you to figure out, how do I help them to step into a higher level of energy, right?

Like, so, you know, when a team is being like victim minded, right? Like, Hey guys, it sucks. I I hear you. You know, it sounds like the fact that the product team is doing this to you right now. of course you guys should feel this way. It makes sense. Hey, what would it feel like though if we tried this, maybe if we tried it like this, how, how would that look for you? let’s say for a second that maybe we’re gonna go into this meeting. this time around and it might not work the way that you’re planning, right?

Like, what if you know the products owner was receptive? How would you approach that? Right? And it gets them thinking outside of their, their paradigm. Um, so I think you would really love that kind of training because of your love for, psychology and sociology and philosophy, right?

Comes into play

Brad Nelson: [01:02:00] definitely. Yeah. Send me a, send me a link on the training and we’ll, we’ll include it with all the other links

Drew Podwal: Yeah. I’ve actually been hesitant to add it, but I’ll, I’ll add it now cause I’ve brought it up a couple of times. I’ll add it into

Brad Nelson: yeah, definitely. you, you reminded me of one of the things that I, that I do coach, a lot on teams. I, I see this come up time and time again, and it’s, you know, in the similar vein of like how we present ourselves and it’s that teams with dependencies on other teams, they tend to go to that team and say, you need to make me this thing.

And that’s it. Right. Like you’re commanding them. Or you might say, I need this and I need this by this day. Instead of saying like, Hey, you know, provide this service for me, or this product, or, or whatever it is in your organization. You know, here’s our roadmap coming up. we’re gonna need some work from your team.

can you give us an estimate of when you think you’d be able to get to this work? Right. And, and so you’re asking, instead of telling and a lot of friction between teams is because they don’t [01:03:00] consider the other team and the other people that they’re making requests of.

Drew Podwal: You know, and the thing with that, is that the Scrum masters from those teams, right? Should be back channeling with one another, you know? And, the bond between scrum masters should exist even when a bond between teams might be, might be stressed with some friction.

and like, you know, a scrum master can go into that with negative energy, right? And say, why is it that your team is never able to, align on our dependencies? Or another way of approaching that might be, Hey, our teams have a difficult time aligning on dependencies. What cooperative strategies do you think that you and I could deploy where we could help our teams learn how to create better dependencies with one another?

Brad Nelson: Yeah. Why does your team never get the, get me what I want, when I want it? Well, you never asked us what else we had going on, right?

Drew Podwal: [01:04:00] yeah.

which again is why, like I, I said in the last episode, I do think that being a scrum master is akin to being, uh, an international spy. You know, like, you know, you’re working with the other operatives to try and create change without anybody realizing that you’re doing it.

Brad Nelson: Well,

Drew Podwal: been a good one.

I, I had like, like, to be honest, to be frank, I had my doubts about , what we were gonna talk about. Like I had some ideas. I wasn’t fully aligned with what you wanted to talk about when we got started. but I think that there’s a lot of really great stuff in this episodes, a lot of great ideas. there’s actionable concepts that we’ve given the listeners as well.

Maybe in future episodes we can maybe do a better job of, of like highlighting this is an actionable concept that you could take with you back to your teams tomorrow and try out, I’m glad that you brought this up as a topic and I think that we should continue to evolve on this topic as well because there’s, there’s a lot to unpack.

There’s so

Brad Nelson: Definitely. Yeah. Yep. Thank you Drew for, taking this [01:05:00] on. It’s definitely something I, I’m passionate about. I think we both are. and yeah, it’s, there’s so much more to talk about.

Drew Podwal: Yeah. And if there’s one last slick takeaway, I think it’s Read the room.

Brad Nelson: Yeah. Yeah.

Drew Podwal: read the room.

Brad Nelson: Yeah. I, I would say be conscious of, of the impact your behaviors are having.

Drew Podwal: Yeah. Well, cool. Thanks again, Brad.

Brad Nelson: Thank you, drew.


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