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The Listening ScrumMaster
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The Listening ScrumMaster

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A good advice to any ScrumMaster is ”Ask the team!”. In order to do so a ScrumMaster needs to be equipped with knowledge in the art of powerful questions. A ScrumMaster also needs to be equipped with …

A good advice to any ScrumMaster is ”Ask the team!”. In order to do so a ScrumMaster needs to be equipped with knowledge in the art of powerful questions. A ScrumMaster also needs to be equipped with good listening skills.
With strong listening skills the ScrumMaster can empower the team and let it have the voice and own the problem. This presentation will help readers take further steps towards perfection of their listening skills.


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  • 1. The Listening ScrumMaster Arne Åhlander www.aqqurite.se Twitter: @ArneAhl LinkedIn: http://se.linkedin.com/in/arneahlander arne.ahlander@aqqurite.se !
  • 2. Agenda • Intro • Listening Skills • Practicing Listening • Summary and conclusions
  • 3. Intro • Form groups and create lists • One list of good listening skills • One list of bad listening skills ! Timebox: 6 minutes
  • 4. ”To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the 'music,' but to the essence of the person speaking. You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow our mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning.” Peter Senge
  • 5. Why does a ScrumMaster need listening skills?
  • 6. Some possible answers • To listen to the Team in order to: • understand Team situation    • understand Team development     • allow team members to be listened to • To help team members increasing their listening skills
  • 7. Behavior of Good Listeners • Show Respect ! • Keep Quiet! ! • Become the Master of the Question ! • Check assumptions
  • 8. We need to focus • Listening • is purposeful • requires control • requires total focus and engagement • is the front end of decision making
  • 9. Understand your listening habits • Opinionator • Grouch • Preambler • Perseverator • Answer Man • Pretender
  • 10. How to become a better Listener •Diagnose yourself •Identify possible cures •Organize your questions
  • 11. Techniques • OrganizeYour Questions • Mandate • Plan • Team • Execution (How will we get it done?) • Personal • A ScrumMasters Checklist • Your own system and techniques
  • 12. HelpYour Team • Ensure the free and open flow of information and ideas • Establish a reverence for fact-based discussions • Generate new insights and more creative solutions • Help build an Team that excites and energizes it's members
  • 13. What to do next 1. Keep quiet 2. Challenge assumptions 3. Focus on what you need to know 4. Increase your tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty 5. Sort incoming information 6. Work your memory to gain insights 7. Demonstrate the best listening practices to lift everyones skills
  • 14. Practice Listening • Exercises 1. Avoiding Traps 2. Bad Listening 3. Handling Archetypes 4. What is not being said?
  • 15. Avoiding Traps 1. Find a partner to form a pair 2. Together with your partner:
 Identify three examples of bad listening (traps) 3. Discuss how to avoid each of these (10 min) 4. Find another pair and present your solutions (5 min) 5. General debrief (5 min)
  • 16. Bad Listening 1. Find a new partner 2. One is Talker one is Listener 3. Talker talks for one minute about something you are passionate about
 Listener try to appear not interested. 4. Change roles 5. General debrief
  • 17. Handling Archetypes 1. Form groups of five 2. Pick one archetype of bad listeners 3. Discuss good advice how to (10 min) 1. recognize this archetype 2. avoid becoming such an archetype 3. deal with other who fall into that type 4. General debrief
  • 18. What is not being said? 1. Form new pairs 2. One is Talker one is Listener 3. Talker describe what you want from a vacation without mentioning a destination.
 Listener practice active listener skills
 (2 min) 4. Listener summarize 3-4 main issues heard and then suggest a appropriate destination (2 min) 5. Review how close the Listener was to what the Talker said and needed. 
 (1 min) 6. Review how well the Listener demonstrated active listener behaviors. (1 min) 7. Swap roles (2+2+1+1 min) 8. General debrief
  • 19. Action Plan 1. Put together an action plan for how to become a better listener (2 min) 2. Present your action plan to another person (2 min) 3. General debrief (1 min)
  • 20. Remember Don't expect a tin ear to evolve to a platinum overnight. • It takes time • It takes discipline • It takes constant attention
  • 21. Good listening - the active and disciplined activity of probing and challenging the information garnered from others to improve its quality and quantity - is the key to building a base of knowledge that generates fresh insights and ideas. Bernard T. Ferrari
  • 22. Many great listeners exhibit three kinds of behavior: 1. Show respect 2. Keep quiet 3. Challenge assumptions
  • 23. References ! •Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All, Bernard T. Ferrari •The executives guide to better listening
 (McKinsey Quarterly, February 2012), Bernard T. Ferrari •The Fifth Discipline,
 Peter Senge •A ScrumMasters Checklist,
 http://scrummasterchecklist.org/ •The Art of Focused Conversation: 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace, R. Brian Stanfield (Editor) •Focused Conversation Method
 http://ow.ly/3k3SkM (supplied by @jcalabrese)
  • 24. ThankYou! Arne Åhlander www.aqqurite.se Twitter: @ArneAhl LinkedIn: http://se.linkedin.com/in/arneahlander arne.ahlander@aqqurite.se !