Did you already use Scrum Guilds to improve the skills of your ScrumMasters and ProductOwners? Letting them exercise for specific situations, will improve their craftsmanship and let improve their communication! But how can you do that easily and effectively? Guilds are used to improve the craftsmanship of a particular craft for centuries. To share knowledge. Within the transition to Agility you can use this to foster craftsmanship within your organization. You can use Guilds for lots of different crafts, like (automatic) testing, DevOps, coding, and Scrum of course.
What is a proper Scrum Guild meeting?
I will explain the format that I often use. I invite a group of ProductOwners and ScrumMaster together, a group of 8 to 20 people. The agenda is:
1. Set the stage;
2. Play Roles;
3. Give feedback;
4. Go back to 2 until time box is met;
5. Evaluate for 5 minutes for next Scrum Guild.
Set the stage
First I set the stage, I’ll talk about trusting each other and not gossiping. About daring to make mistakes and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Play roles
Next I ask 2 people to stand in front of the group. One will – for example – play the role of a ProductOwner, the other will be – for example – a classical project manager. I know there is no Project Manager role in Scrum, but let’s face it: many companies have a project manager. Often a large, powerful and dominant type of bloke, you know what I mean. Next, I explain the situation briefly. For example: the Project Manager will push to get a certain feature in because a big customer wants it now. The ProductOwner can than exercise on his/her interaction to this project manager.
Other situations you can sketch and use are:
A. DevTeam-member and ProductOwner – the member tells that they need a 2 to 3 sprint refactoring before they can build an important new feature. How should the PO interact?
B. Stakeholder and ProductOwner – in the middle of the Review meeting the Stakeholder is very dissatisfied with the demo of the backlog item. The functionality isn’t correct and he can’t work with it. How should the PO interact?
C. Manager and ScrumMaster – the manager tells the ScrumMaster that he will use one of the DevTeam-members for the next 2 days because the person is needed to solve a high-impact bug that is blocking production. This will affect the sprint dramatically. How should the ScrumMaster interact?
D. Stakeholder and ScrumMaster – in the start of the Review the ScrumMaster updates the present people about the velocity and number of stories done. One of the Stakeholders is really stressed and indicates that his important items with this slow velocity won’t be finished in time. How should the ScrumMaster interact?
Give Feedback
One of the other members of the Scrum Guild has to give feedback. He has to give this feedback using the Perfection Game. With this type of feedback, you can create the culture of continuous improvements. How does it work? During the sketch, the person takes notes. Next he/she has to follow a strict protocol to give feedback.
I want to give you feedback on
I give you a <0…10> out of 10.
What I like about it is …
What you have to do next time to get a 10 is …
This is a very safe way of giving feedback. The person giving feedback should tell the things from his/her perspective. Not: ‘you are not listening’, but: ‘because you didn’t respond, I interpreted that you weren’t listening’. Because you’ve started with a number, the feedback is often perceived as very helpful and positive.
Conclusions
Giving ScrumMasters and ProductOwner a safe environment to practice their communication skills, is a very effective way to improve their overall skills. Most of the time the ScrumMaster and ProductOwner can extend their influence and role by proper communication. This will improve their craftsmanship and by that the fun they have in their work!

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