3 tips and an 8 second habit that will change the emotional climate of your team

Scrum Masters, are you a natural servant LEADER, or do you struggle to be the inspiring coach that creates high-performing teams?

The following blog is inspired by Scott Watson’s work, an emotional intelligence speaker and trainer. I hope they will complement what you are already doing well and help you create a tactical plan to improve your own emotional intelligence and the emotional climate in your team. You might find that focusing on how your behavior is impacting others can change the emotional climate in your team – and positively impact your career. (Think the issues on your team are all the Product Owner’s fault? Share my Emotional EQ for Product Owner’s article.)

1. Physician, Heal Thyself

We teach people how to treat us

As a leader, you must overcome any of your own emotional insecurity and speak up, even if you might have a personality that shies away from conflicts. It’s not about standing up to others; it’s about finding your voice. If you cannot speak up for yourself, how can you defend your team?

Continue reading “3 tips and an 8 second habit that will change the emotional climate of your team”

How to lose ten pounds in a Sprint

[Disclaimer #1: Warning: strong Scrum language ahead. If you don’t speak Scrum, you can make it through this blog, but you might need to review the Scrum Guide. For example, I use the Scrum term Product Backlog Item (PBI) which can indicate any requirement in the backlog. The PBI might be in the form of a User Story, but a PBI can be non-functional requirements, technical debt, or anything the Product Owner wants in the backlog.]


  1. You are <anyone on the Scrum Team.> You are half-way through Sprint Planning and tasking stuff out but realize there is a major dependency that cannot be mitigated. Everything is blocked. Sprint Planning starts over with a new Goal.
  2. You are the Product Owner (PO). You bring your beautifully written PBIs to Sprint Planning and start planning but you can’t come to a consensus on a Sprint Goal because the Development Team keeps interrupting with things they need to do before they can build what you want.
  3. You are a member of the Development Team. You are ready to dig in and task stuff out, but the PO hasn’t had time to prepare. The whole team spends the day writing PBIs.
  4. You are the Scrum Master. You are texting all your buddies asking for a diversion phone call because this train wreck is just too painful to watch.

It needs to be said: Poor Sprint Planning leads to a heavy, bloated, wandering Sprint. A Development Team that just can’t take flight. Work gets blocked for days because the team is waiting on another team or resource to do something important – but they have their own important stuff to do. PBIs blow up, they don’t get finished, everyone is frustrated, and then there is the great rationalization to let stuff slide into the next sprint because it is “almost done.”

If the following scenarios sound familiar, this blog is for you. Continue reading “How to lose ten pounds in a Sprint”

The new language of Scrum

Words matter! Check out the latest addition of Scrumguides.org to freshen up your coaching language. Why? Because as coaches, trainers, evangelists and enthusiasts of Scrum, it’s up to us promote crisp Scrum practices and precise language. And “because Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland developed the framework, the Scrum Guide is written by them, and they stand behind it.” [ScrumGuides.org]

  • It’s not a ‘standup’ –> it’s a ‘Daily Scrum.’ Standup is actually a term from XP, it’s not part of the Scrum framework. Like writing User Stories, it’s a common practice because it helps us keep those daily Scrums short and to the point.
  • It’s not a ‘ceremony’ or a ‘meeting’ –> it’s an ‘event’ and we want our Scrum Teams to honor them.
  • Forgo ‘commitment’ –> emphasize ‘forecast.’ Check out this great article about why the word ‘forecast’ fits our world of collaboration and change better than ‘commitment.’
  • ‘Done-Done’ is done –> ‘Done’ will do it!
  • ‘Grooming’ has a very different and very negative connotation in some countries than it does in the United States –> the Scrum Guide supports using the word ‘refinement.’
  • ‘Prioritize’ has given way to –>  ‘Order.’ A Product Owner must make decisions to order the backlog. James Coplien’s article delves into this topic further.
  • ‘User Story’ is not in the Scrum Guide –> Call anything in a backlog a Product Backlog Item (PBI.) Like refining, it’s a generally accepted Scrum practice to write PBIs in the form of a user story, but it’s not an official part of the framework.
  • Define ‘Team’ –> clarify if you mean it’s the ‘Scrum Team’ or the ‘Development Team’ and help your business owners know the difference. The Development Team owns the Sprint!
  • ‘QAs, BAs’ –> they are all included as ‘Developers’ The Scrum framework makes no differentiation between specialized roles on a Scrum team.

~Julee Bellomo

Live your truth; hone your craft; show your thanks


Scrum Masters: 10 Servant Leader Techniques

Facilitator2What does ‘servant leadership’ look like when you are always the one facilitating the event? Facilitation skills are important skills to develop when your job involves helping teams be productive. Agile roles such as Scrum Master, Kanban Flow Manager, and Release Train Engineer, to name a few, require frequent facilitation. But in our world of growing remote, cross-functional and scaled agile teams, lots of us facilitate events. Read on ten techniques we find useful when working with teams that keep you in the spirit of servant leadership.

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