Influencing software quality as a Scrum Master

The quality of the software is a responsibility of the entire team. The Product Owner is responsible for building the right thing. Ensuring we build the thing right is the main responsibility of the development team. Scrum Masters serve a key role in achieving both aspects. A Scrum Master serves the team by coaching members in self-management and cross-functionality, helping them focus on creating high-value increments, and removing impediments. Sounds great, and abstract, so let us dive in with some practical examples. 

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The value of sensemaking

Discovering and interpreting beliefs in groups Ever been part of a conversation that seemed to revolve around the same issue over and over again? Or a meeting where some people keep diving into details and others want to stay more high-level? As consultants, we often come across these kinds of sessions. We noticed that these situations can lead to tension, slowing down and (healthy) conflict. Over time, we learned how to tackle these situations by using sensemaking, a technique that offers us the right insights to guide a workshop or decision-making.

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The dysfunctional effects of metrics

KPIs, OKRs, SLIs, SLOs. Just a few metrics that potentially can be used within an organization. In recent years, an increasing emphasis has been placed on measuring and monitoring results. An understandable movement and one I wholeheartedly support. Often, I am helping organizations to become more aware of the impact they create by measuring the impact of their actions. Does it mean that metrics are simply great? Well not necessarily. Metrics have dysfunctional effects. Take for example the Cobra Effect.

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Thoughts on organizing architecture

When being part of an enterprise, you will meet different architects on any given day. The first one introduces itself as a solution architect, the other calls itself the enterprise architect, and they both mention a domain architect. It might feel like different names for the same thing, and perhaps even a bigger question, do we even need all of these different architects? Should the team not be able to make all of these architectural decisions by themselves?

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Organizational sensing: why indicators are not enough

The world around us is changing quickly. Organizations need to rapidly respond to a changing world. In a knowledge intensive world, pressured by hypercompetition, new forms of organization are required to keep up. Especially around the topic of enabling value delivery, organisations need to balance the paradox of steering. Either steering via management (coordination) or empower teams to organise themselves. John Child in his book Organizations describes the concepts of integration and coordination, mechanisms to enable delivery of value.

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Metrics: mitigating the cobra effect

At some point in history when the British ruled India, the colonial government were concerned about the number of venomous cobras. No one likes to be bitten by a poisonous snake, right? They decided to put a bounty on every dead cobra. Intended effect was that people would capture and kill the snakes reducing the population of cobras. However, another thing happened. People started to breed cobras intentionally, so they could  kill them and receive the bounty. When the colonists learned about this, they stopped the reward program. Now with the cobra’s not having any value the breeders released them....

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