Agile QuickTip: Boosting Product and Team Success with Value-Based Planning

Boosting Product and Team Success with Value-Based Planning

It’s no secret that some of the greatest product features and innovations come directly from its customers and users.  Product teams solicit feedback and ideas from users in order to understand user priorities and needs.  With reviews and suggestions in hand, Product Managers and Product Owners identify highest priority opportunities and then work with their teams to envision how to best address these and attempt to estimate projected costs in order to determine the feasibility of tackling these opportunities.

This approach is known as cost-based planning.  We design a solution, evaluate its cost and then determine whether it’s worth pursuing. This type of product planning and prioritization was popularized in traditional product development that relied heavily on upfront plan driven strategies – we need to know exactly what customers wanted so we can design and plan to meet these needs.  Essentially we are trying to answer the question: “What does the customer need so we can effectively budget and plan to deliver on these needs”

An alternative approach is to ask: “How much is this problem/opportunity worth?” or “How much are we willing to spend to address this opportunity?” and then work with teams to determine whether there is a viable solution that fits within that budget.  This approach is value-based planning. There are a number of advantages to this approach, not the least of which is making it much easier for organizations to prioritize their product development investments far more effectively.  Imagine you were planning to remodel your kitchen.  Making a list of features you desire in your new kitchen is likely not the most effective way to plan your remodel.  A better place to begin is to determine – “how much am I willing to spend on my kitchen?” and then evaluate alternative options for that budget.  Starting with the investment amount allows us to design solutions that fit that budget. 

Value-based planning allows us to engage customers in a different way.  Instead of simply asking customers for a list of product features they want, we can ask them how much they would be willing to spend on these.  Ask your stakeholders to weigh in on what solving a problem or enabling an opportunity is worth.  This helps product managers better understand the value of any given opportunity. For example, by asking the customer to estimate how much the solution would be worth to them in dollars, you can understand both the value to the customer, and whether you can deliver this feature within a budget that would justify its implementation. 

With value-based planning we can better align product investments with real-world budgets and allow organizations to better collaborate with customers to prioritize their product roadmap.

Put out the word about the win-win yields of value-based planning by sharing this quicktip below.

Liked that Agile QuickTip? Head to my back catalogue to watch the whole series on YouTube, and let me know which one is your favourite, or the most effective for your Scrum team! You can also visit our website, where you’ll be able to learn more about our training and coaching offerings.

Agile QuickTip: Maximize Efficiency by Assigning Tasks “Just in Time”

Using the “Just in Time” Approach for Task Assignment

Sometimes, pre-planning every detail of a sprint and who is going to work on what task when may not be the best approach for your team.  In fact, your team may find that taking a  “Just in Time” approach to work and task assignment may be far more effective than distributing this work upfront.

So, how does the “Just in Time” approach work?

With “Just in Time” task assignment, instead of tasks being assigned to team members at Sprint Planning, team members assign themselves to tasks as these need working on. Instead of trying to predict upfront how best to work on a task on day 5, let’s wait until day 5 or until the task needs working on to determine who and how it should best be addressed.

If on day 1 of a sprint it is so obvious who is going to work on a particular task – then why bother assigning it.  And if it is not so obvious how is going to work on something – why decide on day 1?  Instead, let’s wait till it needs working on.

I’m a big fan of “Just in Time” because it allows room for unknowns – we simply can’t see exactly how a project will unfold before we start.

There’s an added benefit to this method: by not pre-assigning tasks, if a task requires more than one person to work on it; or if someone needs help working through a task; team members can simply mobilize as needed without worrying about ‘breaking’ the plan. You’ll maximize each team member’s contribution and achieve the best possible result on your sprint goal by doing exactly what needs doing, just in time!  

Liked that Agile QuickTip? Just wait until you hear the others! Head to my catalogue to watch the whole series on YouTube, and let me know which one is your favourite, or the most effective for your Scrum team!

You can also visit our website, where you’ll be able to learn more about our training and coaching offerings.

8 Companies Who Employed Smart Thinking to Pivot During COVID-19

8 Companies Who Employed Smart Thinking to Pivot During COVID-19

Towards the start of the pandemic, we championed the stories of seven companies, from seven industries, who had made smart changes to their business models to thrive during COVID-19. From in-person baking classes moved online, to whole retail chains gone dark to support home deliveries and warehousing – if you missed the article, you can check it out here!

None of us could have imagined that the impact of the pandemic would be so far reaching or that its restrictions would have such longevity. In some places, life is slowly returning to normal. In others, normal still seems far off. It’s been some time, and we wanted to highlight 8 more companies who have made intelligent business changes to stay relevant and profitable when everything that they knew turned upside down.

Mattel Highlight Real Superheroes!


Toys have had an awesome year, with so many families needing some new supplies to keep kids busy while school closed its doors. But the competition is huge! We love how Mattel found a way to rise to the top of the pack by creating a brand-new product that no-one else would be selling. They launched a line of Key Worker themed action figures. The “Thank you heroes” collection includes nurses, doctors, delivery drivers and EMTs. Mattel saw its sales soar 47% in Q1 2021, exceeding all expectations from Wall Street.



Studio 539 Mixes Up the Supply Chain

Large scale events like weddings seemed to be a failsafe business, after all – there will always be couples looking to get married, right? Turns out, we were wrong, and this florist, @studio539flowers, was really struggling as an increasing number of events were being put on hold. On top of that, COVID-19 meant supply chain issues. The company quickly made two intelligent changes. First, they beat supply chain issues by exploring local farms and even growing their own flowers and foliage where necessary, becoming their own supplier. Secondly, they pivoted their business from huge events, and started specializing in smaller, intimate gatherings instead. And business is blooming!



Escapology Moves Online

Escape rooms were the up and coming leisure King of entertainment, whether it was for a night out, a bachelor/bachelorette party, corporate team building or more. But COVID-19 closed doors for many escape room companies, and Escapology Columbia saw business drop 82% in a single week. With a bit of ingenuity and tech know-how, Escapology launched Escapology @Home, and in 2020 saw half of its revenue come from the web application. In fact, after transforming their business through this pivot, they expect 2021 to be their most lucrative year yet.



Innovative Fitness Spots an Opportunity

Personal trainers are a tough sell when gymnasiums are closed, and Innovative Fitness quickly closed all 12 of its branches when the pandemic hit. However, they never thought of closing their doors entirely. “We were able to essentially reinvent our business in five days,” CEO Christopherson said. “We flipped our training services that were brick-and-mortar, in-person, to online.” 95% of its trainers stuck by the company’s side, as they moved to a 30-day online fitness plan, with at-home workouts, tips and tricks from a growing community. In fact, within 48 hours, the online community attracted 1,500 members, and it now has more than 2,200 and growing. 


Milwaukee Food Tours

Milwaukee Food and City Tours Gets Innovative

We love the way that this Winsconsin-based tour company thought outside the box to stay profitable during the pandemic. Forced to decrease the number of physical tours they offered, and with fewer patrons on the street and signing up for tours due to face coverings and social distancing, they adapted their offering to include gift boxes, known as “Shelter in Style” kits. These included all the tastes and experiences of Milwaukee, including baked goods, interactive stories, trivia and more. An experience in a box – awesome!



ChargedUp Step up!

You might recognize ChargeUp’s power on-demand charging stations, as the largest supplier of device charging equipment in Europe. Use your phone to scan a ChargeUp station, and release a power bank. That’s it! However, this year, ChargeUp stations have stayed profitable by becoming CleanUp stations, offering hand sanitizer to stop the spread of COVID-19. With the majority of our usual network of pubs, clubs, cafes, and shopping centers closing down due to the COVID-19 crisis, we wanted to find a way to use our skills, our resources, and our network to help during what is a tough period for everyone. We have a strong creative team, so we put our heads together – virtually, not physically! – and CleanedUp was born.”


Subway Grocery

Subway Moves to Fresh Groceries

Restaurants have been one of the industries that have suffered most from the pandemic, especially as a result of the waves of opening doors and closing them again, making it difficult for many companies in the Food and Hospitality business to plan ahead in terms of stock and staffing. Many restaurants have made intelligent changes that will offer them more sustainable revenue. Subway Grocery allowed Subway to move into selling staples such as bread, meat, eggs, cheese and more, selling these at 250 of their stores, with online orders and curbside pickups.



Club Vino – Experiences Moved Virtual

Wine tasting is one of those experiences that is just not pandemic-friendly, from the restrictions on traveling, to the nature of sharing bottles and nibbles, all very un-mask friendly! Marco Castelanelli didn’t want to wait around for the new normal, so Club Vino went online, including a home-tasting package that includes your themed wine, printable tasting notes, and a video that guides the customers through the process. With vouchers available on the website, this business pivot is not just a great alternative for consumers, it’s also a lot more scalable for Castalanelli.


Want to Follow These Companies’ Agile Examples?

If you’re still looking for ways to address the new normal, according to the Harvard Business Review, your pivot needs to follow three steps.

  1. Align with one trend caused by the pandemic, such as remote work or social distancing.
  2. Extend your existing capabilities alongside your original intent for value.
  3. Offer a sustainable path to profitability, enhancing your brand value for consumers.

Have any other examples of awesome pivots from this year? Share them in the comments!

Boost your Career with a CSM Certification

Boost your Career with a CSM Certification

A CSM certification is an invaluable addition to your resume. But it’s more than just that! It can significantly help you with your professional life, and also greatly benefit the organization you work for. 

9 ways getting a CSM certification can benefit your career


  1. Giora MorienCertified ScrumMasters earn more on average than their non-certified peers.

For example, according to Glassdoor, the average salary of ScrumMasters in the US is 40% higher than that of project managers. The main reason for this is that there is more demand for high-quality ScrumMasters.

  1. Expand your career options and get your foot in the door with more interview opportunities.

In addition to earning more, ScrumMaster also made Glassdoor’s list of 50 best job positions in the US in 2020, meaning more career options and interview opportunities!

  1. Giora MorienGet the job you’ve been dreaming about.

Across the board, consumers today are expecting faster delivery and better services. As a result, more and more traditional industries are embracing Agile. This is creating more and more opportunities for ScrumMasters to get the jobs they’ve been dreaming about across a wide range of diverse industries. 

  1. Significantly expand your professional network by becoming a part of the Scrum community.

Significantly expand your professional network by becoming a part of the Scrum community. When you achieve certification, you’ll join a thriving community of Scrum experts.

  1. Get a competitive edge and stand out in your field.

Becoming a ScrumMaster gives you a competitive edge both in your current position and if you’re looking for a new position. In fact, the ScrumMaster certification was ranked as the 9th most in-demand certification in 2020 in Indeed’s Career Guide.

  1. Improve collaboration within your team.

A CSM certification can really help you boost your career by improving your team management skills, and giving you what you need to motivate and lead your teammates, encourage and facilitate collaboration, become a better team player, keep communication channels open and adopt an Agile mindset.   

  1. Enhance your efficiency and improve project delivery times.

As a ScrumMaster, you can help bring clarity to your team members about their roles, responsibilities, Sprint capacity, the scope of the problem to be solved, dates that are important to the success of the product, customer feedback, action items and more. This will significantly improve ownership, efficiency and project delivery times. 

  1. Giora MorienGet more projects within your organization.

With a CSM, you’ll be able to stand out and contribute more to your company. In turn, management will turn to you to take on more projects. 

  1. Get the skills you need to contribute to and drive organization change.

CSM will give you the skills and confidence you need to proactively drive change within your company and take the lead in strategic processes.

To summarize, in addition to being a really valuable addition to your resume, becoming a certified ScrumMaster (CSM) can also benefit your career in multiple other ways including higher earnings, expanding your career options, improving your collaboration and team skills, and enabling you to get more projects within your organization. 

So what are you waiting for? Sign up now.

Enhance your Team Management Skills with a CSM Certification

Enhance your Team Management Skills with a CSM Certification

As a certified ScrumMaster, you will gain access to valuable team building and management methodologies. 

Here are some the ways that a CSM certification can help you improve your team management and collaboration skills:

giora moreinAs a CSM, you will have the opportunity to motivate and lead your teammates, and to guide them in working together and solving challenges more efficiently.

Giora Morein As a CSM, you will learn to be a good team player by listening to your teammates, accepting their suggestions, addressing challenges they may face, and helping them collaborate to solve these challenges.

Giora MorienLearn to keep the channels of communication and collaboration open to ensure that your team works together towards the success of each project. 

Giora MorienAdopt an Agile mindset and help your team members do the same. This will lead to fewer disagreements, better collaboration and more successful projects.

In a nutshell, a CSM certification can really help boost your career and improve your team management skills by giving you what you need to motivate and lead your teammates, encourage and facilitate collaboration, become a better team player, keep communication channels open and adopt an Agile mindset.   

Ready to get all that and more? Sign up for the online CSM training now!



Why do Project Managers Make Such Great ScrumMasters?

Why do Project Managers Make Such Great ScrumMasters?

You don’t have to be a project manager to become a ScrumMaster. That said, project managers often have the characteristics and skills needed to make great ScrumMasters.

  1. Communication skills – Both project managers and ScrumMasters need to be able to communicate effectively with and navigate between all stakeholders in their organization, including customers, management, team members, and more.
  2. Leadership skills – Leadership is an important skill in both roles. Project managers and ScrumMasters need to be able to inspire, motivate, coach, and support teams to help them focus on solving problems and doing what they are good at. 
  3. Organizational skills – Both project managers and ScrumMasters need to be well-organized, know how to manage timelines and deadlines efficiently, and have the ability to be both detail-oriented and see the bigger picture.
  4. Problem-solving skills – Project managers are usually good at solving problems and giving others the tools they need to solve problems as well. This is also an essential skill for ScrumMasters.
  5. Facilitation skills –  Project managers and ScrumMasters should be able to bring people together and then give them the space to navigate and solve challenges as a team.

To summarize, if you are a project manager with the above skills and your passion and experience leans towards building healthy and productive teams, then you should definitely consider becoming a certified ScrumMaster (CSM) as part of your career development. This will enable you to use your skills and experience in a more impactful and structured way.



Five Ways You Can Use LinkedIn to Find a New Job

Five Immediate Ways You Can Use LinkedIn to Find a New Job!

More than 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, and there are currently more than 20 million open jobs available on the platform. However, if you struggle with making meaningful connections or closing opportunities using LinkedIn, you’re not alone. According to experts behind the scenes, while nearly 80% of users know the importance of networking effectively, almost half say they just don’t have the time.

Here are five things that you can do on LinkedIn right now that could make an actionable difference to your job prospects.

Update Your Headline and Description

LinkedIn header Everyone on LinkedIn gets the same opportunity to stand out to the crowd, using their headline and summary on their profile. This is the first thing that recruiters and executives will see when they click on your profile – so make it count! You have 120 characters to play with in your headline, and there are no rules. That means you don’t need to use your actual current job title if you feel that something else is more important. Feel free to add adjectives or certifications if that will support your description.

Top tip: Even if you’re currently out of work, don’t use “formerly” or “previously” in your title.

Next, start polishing up your about section. Here’s where it pays to be concise, and to use the right language. Describe what you’re proud of, and what you thrive at, including keywords for the role. Work backwards: what will recruiters be searching for? Utilize terms such as “revenue growth”, “cost-optimization”, “high performance teams” but without keyword stuffing. One smart way to get the right keywords in place is to make a short list of “Desired roles” where you can list them all so that they come up in a recruiter search.

notify my networkLook for the ‘notify my network’ button on your profile page, and keep it firmly toggled off until you’re done editing your information. Otherwise your contacts will get told about every capital letter you tweak while you’re making your profile shine. Don’t forget to switch it back on when you’re ready to share!

Let Recruiters Know That You’re ‘Open to Work’

linkedin-opentoworkLinkedIn have recently rolled out a new feature that allows you to show recruiters that you’re ready for a new challenge. Simply head to your profile and under your picture you’ll see an option to “show recruiters you’re open to work”. From here you can decide on the location and job types that you’re interested in.

There are two choices in terms of promoting this new profile frame. You can keep it selective, so that only recruiters (not including those at your own organization) will see the frame, or you can make it public, which will add an “open to work” frame to your public profile photo. I would recommend keeping it to recruiters-only, or you might end up doubling your spam for no real benefit.

Use the Right Hashtags

hashtagsIf you do want to make more of a public statement that you’re looking for a new role, try the #opentowork hashtag on your posts. Keep checking the #offeringhelp hashtag too, where people are reaching out to provide support to anyone that’s found themselves out of a job this year, with help that varies from career coaching, to resume building and referrals. Kiran Prasad from LinkedIn encourages users to utilize the hashtags to network outside of your own connections. “Coming together as a community is one of the most important things we can do to get us closer to reaching our goals. We’re continuing to roll out new tools that allow our members to give and get help on LinkedIn, because we’re all better when we’re in it together.”

Find the Information You Need to Get Personal

When preparing for an interview or even a job application, LinkedIn can be an invaluable tool. The Harvard Business Review recommends adding the personal touch to covering letters by making sure you’ve found the right contact who will be reviewing resumes before you send your application. You can also find out more about them, such as mutual connections that you might be able to name drop or reach out to before the interview. You can also look for common career journeys that allow you to craft your covering letter with a bit more personality, helping you to stand out from the crowd. Never underestimate how powerful it can be to show that you admire the person reading your application.

This tactic can even help you to send cold emails. Think about a format such as this: “Hey [first name], I love how you made the move from [insert company name], a large corporate environment to [insert company name], a small start up where you could hold more responsibility and take control over the roadmap. That’s exactly the kind of move I’m hoping to make. Could I take you for a coffee and get some advice?”

Work on Your Connections

linkedinBottom line is that LinkedIn is a social network. That means that you’ve got to be social to make things happen! Show your personality through the content that you share and post, and utilize the messenger app to reach out to connections without the copy and paste tool. Another important element of LinkedIn that can display that you’re a team player is sending recommendations as well as asking for them. Increasingly, recruiters are paying attention to the recommendations section of LinkedIn, and your profile will show both your own references, and the ones that you’ve sent out.

Because of LinkedIn’s great SEO, your profile is not only your online resume, it’s also often an employer’s first introduction to you when they Google your name.

Make it count!

About the author:

Giora Morein

Giora Morein is an Agile Transformation consultant and Certified Scrum Trainer. He brings over 15 years of Agile coaching and executive consulting experience to the table – building, coaching and training high-performing Fortune 1000 teams. His diverse success stories include Merrill Lynch and Cessna Aircraft, as well as Nike, Blizzard Entertainment and GE Healthcare.

5 Ways to Succeed in a Virtual Interview

Job hunting while the world is on stand-still can feel like running on a hamster wheel. You’re working as hard as you possibly can, and running non-stop, but you’re still getting nowhere. 

If you look at the numbers though, you’ll see that employment in the US is turning itself around, with payroll employment rising by 1.8 million in July 2020, and a larger increase expected in August’s numbers, too. If you’re looking for work, and feeling despondent, here are five ways that you can stand out to HR, and inspire confidence in taking you onboard, even during the uncertainty of COVID-19.

  1. Get Comfortable with Virtual Interviews

Succeed Virtual InterviewMost interviews at the moment are taking place remotely, but video-conferencing software can put a lot of us on edge. Remember, we’re all in the same boat, and the interviewer also would probably feel more comfortable across the table from you rather than making themselves clear on-screen. At the end of the day, they are looking for the same things as your in-person interviewer would, that human connection and a better understanding of who you are. 

Irene DeNigris, chief people officer at recruitment software company iCIMS, agrees, “You don’t lose the human connection with video. You can still assess facial expressions and level of engagement when speaking virtually to candidates. We’ve found there are many meaningful ways to engage with people besides face to face. You don’t need to shake someone’s hand to hire them.”

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to prepare slightly differently. In the same way as a rookie might need to practice their handshake before their first lot of in-person meetings, think about the etiquette of virtual meetings before you start. This could be anything from turning up a few minutes early so that you don’t keep your interviewer waiting, or bringing a separate device or even a pen and paper with you for note-taking, so that you don’t appear rude by adding clicking and keyboard sounds over the conversation.

  1. Make sure your Technology is up to Scratch

Succeed Virtual InterviewAs soon as your virtual interview has been scheduled, it’s time to check that tech. First, look to see which software HR has invited you to meet with. If you already have this application and feel confident with it, great. If it’s a new system, check if you need to download any new software, or create an account. Ask a friend to run a test run with you so that you can learn features such as sharing your screen, turning yourself on mute, or utilizing the chat window.

Now move onto your hardware. How are your camera and microphone doing? Make sure to run a test on each, and to make sure that your quality is strong. The last item to check is your internet connection. This needs to be as reliable as possible, so make sure that no one else in the house is taking up bandwidth, for example by streaming video. The average home has as many as 11 connected devices at any given moment. You can even unplug some of these, such as Google Home or Amazon Alexa which could negatively impact speed or latency.

  1. Set the Scene

When you’re going to an in-person interview, you have no idea what the setting is going to be like. Will they speak to you in a meeting room, an office environment, or in a lounge area? Will they offer you a drink, will there be a window in the room, and how many people will be there? You don’t get a lot of control.

Succeed Virtual InterviewThis is one of the ways that you can play virtual interviews to your own advantage. Choose a spot that makes you feel comfortable, with a background that feels professional, and in a quiet place where you know that you won’t be disturbed. If you feel that a drink of water would help with any nerves, you can make sure you have one ready. With no surprises, you can run through potential interview questions knowing exactly what the environment will be like, ahead of time.

  1. Show How You’ve Used this Downtime

Now, onto the interview itself! Millions of people have found themselves looking for work during COVID-19, so you’re in good company. The real differentiator will be what you’ve done with this period of time. Have you sat at home, morose and feeling sorry for yourself? Or have you used this time to add strings to your bow, getting certified in a new skill or a professional qualification?

certified scrum thinklouder

Becoming a Certified Scrum Master is a great example. The average salary for a CSM is almost $100k, so when you’re competing against more hopeful candidates, and trying to swing into the next salary bracket, it’s an awesome competitive edge. Your behavior during the pandemic can say a lot about you, from how motivated you are to find work, to how ambitious you are about moving upwards in your career – despite any setbacks.

  1. Don’t get Distracted!

The effects of ’zoom fatigue’ have been well documented over the past 6 months, and prove how easy it is to lose attention while you’re talking via video-conferencing software. Limit distractions by removing anything unnecessary from your space before the interview, and make sure to keep eye contact with the interviewer, rather than looking at your own image on-screen. In fact, studies have shown that keeping eye contact during a video call will boost knowledge retention for the person you’re speaking to.

Succeed Virtual InterviewYou also might want to be more vocal about your personality and skills, seeing as a lot of extras such as body language will be missed when you’re speaking online. Explain why you’re enthusiastic about the role and the company, why you think you’re a great fit for the job, and how you see yourself fitting in well with the existing culture and staff. Just like with an in-person interview, don’t forget to follow up via email within a couple of days, and invite the company to reach out with any clarifications or additional info.

Ready… Set… Shine!

Don’t assume that the pandemic has ushered in a world-wide hiring freeze. In fact, you have many skills that are valuable to businesses during this time. 

The key to presenting yourself as a safe hire, is making sure that the interviewer on the other side of the screen immediately likes you. It sounds simple, but once they like you – half the battle is already won, as they’re on your side from the start. 

Succeed Virtual InterviewSo, make it easy for them! Turn up ready and prepared for your virtual interview, in a professional setting, with all your technology set up to go without a hitch. Then, present your skills and personality front and center, and let the interviewer see the value you’re ready to add to their organization.

Looking to add a Certified Scrum Master qualification to your CV before you attend your next virtual interview? Let’s talk.

About the author:

Giora Morein

Giora Morein is an Agile Transformation consultant and Certified Scrum Trainer. He brings over 15 years of Agile coaching and executive consulting experience to the table – building, coaching and training high-performing Fortune 1000 teams. His diverse success stories include Merrill Lynch and Cessna Aircraft, as well as Nike, Blizzard Entertainment and GE Healthcare.

Upgrade Your Daily Scrum

Is your Daily Scrum getting repetitive or monotonous? Have you had any feedback that the format is stale, or have you noticed team members not paying as much attention as you would like them to? Here are some of our favorite ideas for spicing things up a bit, ideas that you can implement, either as one-offs, or on a regular basis to keep participants involved.

A Minute of Fun Can Ensure Your Participants Start Get Engaged


The minute of fun works in a simple way, setting the tone in the right direction. This could be any light-hearted ritual to start off the Scrum, such as a joke, a rhyme, a trivia question or any other quick idea. This immediately has the team having fun, paying attention and in a good mood, just where you want them to be at the start of play.

An idea to augment this could be getting the whole team involved, rotating the person leading the daily ‘minute of fun’, responsible for choosing the activity, telling the joke, or making sure it happens every day.  

Want People to Get Involved? Get Creative With the Order of Speakers

popcorn daily scrumGetting your team involved in orchestrating the Scrum makes it easier to get the entire team participating. Often, you’ll find it’s only the facilitator, the Scrum Master who is speaking throughout the meetings, and you’re not even sure if the rest of the team are paying full attention. I love the idea of popcorn scrums, where each person decides who is the next person to speak – sort of like passing the mic. This forces team members to pay a bit more attention, because at any point it could be their turn to speak and weigh in.

Try Throwing out the Rules

If you’re still struggling with getting team members to open up about their real feelings about the Sprint, here’s an idea that works well for the retrospective especially. Agree with your team to host what I like to call a ‘Vegas-style’ retrospective, in line with the well-known expression, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

In this Scrum meeting, or in the retrospective, everything stays inside the meeting. No one takes notes, no-one takes minutes, and nothing can be repeated outside of the team and these four walls. No additional invites, and no one shares the output of the meeting. This can really help to boost participants into feeling that they are in a safe, shared space, and has the added benefit of helping participants feel like more of a team.

Use Engagement Cards to Stay on Track


Props can be a smart way to make your scrum unique, and keep it on track, which is especially important because a common reason for a stale or boring Scrum is that it’s getting too deep into the weeds. One technique which I love is taken from soccer: give each participant a yellow and red card that they can use at any time during the meeting. You can even use multi-colored stickies directed at a webcam. If another team member gets off track, someone can hold up a yellow card to warn them that the Scrum is not as valuable as it should be. If two or more people hold up a yellow card, the red card is in play – giving the speaker 60 seconds to wrap it up. Your team knows that they can play the cards at any time which helps keep them focused and on-topic.

A Truly Mobile Meeting

ice creamOne of the best things about the Daily Scrum is that it can go anywhere. And yet, oftentimes Scrum teams meet in the same place, even sitting around the same meeting table. Take advantage of how portable this meeting can be, there’s a reason it’s called the Daily Stand-up after all! Get your team members engaged and interested by going for a walk, heading outside, changing location, or even going to get a coffee or an ice cream. Added benefit – if your team knows you might start moving, they’re much more likely to arrive on time!

Give some of these ideas a try over the next few weeks, and let me know which work well for your specific teams. Have any other ideas for making the Daily Scrum unique, getting out of bad habits and encouraging your team members to get involved? Share them on the community group.

About the author:

Giora Morein

Giora Morein is an Agile Transformation consultant and Certified Scrum Trainer. He brings over 15 years of Agile coaching and executive consulting experience to the table – building, coaching and training high-performing Fortune 1000 teams. His diverse success stories include Merrill Lynch and Cessna Aircraft, as well as Nike, Blizzard Entertainment and GE Healthcare.

7 Companies in 7 Industries That Have Successfully Adapted to COVID-19

What does Business Agility truly mean? Failing fast, creating iterative strategies, delivering minimum viable products, and rapidly adapting to change and uncertainty. COVID-19 – and the unprecedented global disruption it has caused – has forced organizations of all sizes in all industries to deal with rapidly changing markets. In fact, 43% of small business owners have pivoted their business model due to COVID-19, showing that sometimes adversity really is the door to innovation.

Let’s look at some companies, both big and small who have successfully iterated their business models.

  1. Battery Watering Technologies: From the battery sector to PPE

Battery Watering TechnologiesThis US-based plastics company found a way to keep their 50 employees working throughout the coronavirus lockdown, at the same time as giving back to the general public.  “We were trying to figure out a way to help, and we needed to focus on what we could do. We had the resources, machinery, tooling and manpower to build face shields,” says President Rob Soares. Quickly designing and launching a dedicated e-commerce website for their PPE, the company is selling 6,000 face shields per day.  

  1. Kyōten: Dinner for two, for a $1200 price tag

Sushi restaurant Kyōten in Chicago has found an innovative way to keep the doors open of its Logan KyōtenSquare restaurant, by offering private dining experiences and raising the price point to make it a viable business model. A dinner for two at the restaurant will cost $600 a person, which allows you to rent out the entire restaurant and have a bespoke meal made for your delight. It might not be within the average person’s budget, but it allows customers to enjoy a perhaps once in a lifetime elite experience, and stops Chef and Owner Otto Phan from needing to shut up shop.  

  1. Joyride Coffee: New products keep old customers loyal

joyride coffee

Joyride started out from a mobile café truck back in 2011, and now has branches in New York, Boston, LA, and San Francisco. When the pandemic hit, they had to close their doors, but quickly moved to a delivery service, including the launch of a new product, their Boxed Cold Brew. “We are looking forward to getting back to business with our office customers, but we are also thrilled that because of our ability to be so agile during this crisis, it opened up new opportunities for us as a business,” said David Belanich, founder and president of Joyride.

  1. Virgin et al: The airline industry at large moves from commercial to cargo

airline You would be hard pressed to find an industry that’s been as heavily impacted by the Coronavirus as the travel industry. Airlines in particular are taking a huge hit, with as many as 95% of global flights grounded at one point during the last few months. Many airlines are changing the way they do business. Traditionally, around 10%-15% of business for airlines is through cargo transit, but the numbers have shifted in the other direction. Virgin, British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates and more have started making cargo-only flights, in many cases for the first time in their history.

  1. Bake with a Legend: Taking in person events, online

bakewithalegendIf you’ve been the victim of a lockdown birthday celebration, a postponed wedding or a lacklustre celebration during the past few months, you know that the events industry has struggled to adapt to the new reality. However, this UK-based events company, specializing in connecting groups with popular reality TV baking show stars has risen to the challenge (no pun intended). The company has moved its in-person classes online, and launched virtual classes where participants can bake with their favorite TV star, in a private Zoom class from anywhere in the world.

  1. Whole Foods: Just one of the supermarkets turning its stores ‘dark’

Whole Foods:

Online shopping is nothing new, but many supermarkets and grocery stores have seen unprecedented peaks in the demand for deliveries and ‘click to collect’ style orders since COVID-19 hit the headlines. Amazon’s Whole Foods, as well as Kroger and other retailers have made a smart choice to close some of their bricks and mortar stores entirely, and turn these into distribution centers or temporary warehouses and fulfilment centers. This allows staff to get orders out quicker, travel shorter distances to customer homes, and make the most out of the space they have, especially under the pressures of reduced physical store opening hours and added demand.

  1. Red Roof: Filling a need for home-workers

Red RoofHotels are another industry that’s taken a real hit, so it’s exciting to see innovative hoteliers looking to pivot to stay relevant. Red Roof has launched its “Work Under Our Roof” program, where those who need a bit of peace and quiet to get work done can rent out hotel rooms for as little as $29, and get some relief from a house-share situation, young kids or pets at home, or a small living space without room for Zoom meetings or conference calls.  

Here at ThinkLouder, we love these examples of companies that are Agile to the core, and haven’t let the unexpected direction that 2020 has taken get them off track! Have you seen any companies that have followed in these footsteps? Share them in the comments! 

About the author:

Giora Morein

Giora Morein is an Agile Transformation consultant and Certified Scrum Trainer. He brings over 15 years of Agile coaching and executive consulting experience to the table – building, coaching and training high-performing Fortune 1000 teams. His diverse success stories include Merrill Lynch and Cessna Aircraft, as well as Nike, Blizzard Entertainment and GE Healthcare.