This is a guest post by my Polish colleague Anna Linke.  Anna is a tester, and in the last few months, also a Scrum Master for one of our Polish teams.  She has been doing a great job, and I am pleased she has agreed to write about her experiences using some of the workshop ideas I have described on this blog.


You may wonder who am I, what I’m doing here and where the heck is Helen?!

Don’t worry, this swap won’t be permanent 🙂

Helen has given me the opportunity to share with you my latest experience as a newby Scrum Master.  I hope this will be interesting for you.

 But first things first, let me introduce myself. My name is Anna and I’m quite new here in Scrum Mastery. I’ve started my Scrum Master adventure about half year ago and I have to say, it wasn’t easy! I’m also a software test engineer (the only one in the team), so finding the balance between these two positions  can sometimes be really tricky.

 About month ago we had a new member join our team – Agnieszka.  She is our second tester (whoop whoop!), and to be honest this situation actually sparked off this blog post. I wanted to prepare something special, something that will make Aga’s first week less scary and less stressful. I decided to organise a whole day workshop for my team. The idea was simple.  I wanted to create activities that will be fun, ice breaking, and help us build our new team relations.  I also wanted to give an overall view of what our team does and how we work. Coming up with the idea was easy, but preparing the execution was hard.

 I had one idea for an exercise that I had previously prepared for a retrospective.  This exercise was about contributing to our success as a team and our relationships with each other. I’ve changed it a little bit to fit the day and had a first activity prepared!  But I still needed two more… And then Helen gave me a hand.  She suggested to do the session “Lie to me“.

 For the other activity, we wanted to do something connected with the process. I used Helen’s idea for New Year’s Resolutions, adapted the working practices to our team and happily finished preparing the agenda for the workshop! I really wanted to make it special, so as a last step I spent some time on the visual aspect of this meeting.  I used my recently learned skills of visual facilitation presented by our colleague, Weronika Kedzierska (check out this session here, but it will be in Polish!). It was really fun and the results were amazing!!!

 Here are my results for the workshop.

We started our big day with “Lie To Me” session. I’ve prepared all the teams ‘lies’ on big colourful stickies and put them on the board. It looked so cool!

Check Out Our Stories!

Check Out Our Stories!

There was so much laughter & fun, and sometimes surprise while reading and guessing who’s story that was. It was especially great for Agnieszka and Justin, our Product Owner (who works in UK office) to get to know us better. They could hear stories from our life, not necessarily connected with our job. This kind of activity is also a great ice breaker and a starter for making a conversation with a person you don’t know well yet. I have to say it worked perfectly. After matching all stories to the owners, we had a small chat, carrying on our stories, laughing and in some cases being really impressed by our life adventures!

 Second on our list was ‘The Team – We are number 1’. We did it in the format of contributing our great success of being that special team. We started with a small commercial about how and why we are so cool.  The idea was the team had to convince Aga (as if she were choosing between many teams) that we are the best team in NewVoiceMedia.  Continuation of this session was more like an arts challenge. I divided them into two groups and one team had to come up with the team name and mascot. The second team got the slogan and logo. Honestly I was a little bit afraid of this part. So far the guys weren’t very keen on drawing, but they did amazing work!   I was speechless seeing the results.  Because our work is mostly connected with billing, we decided to somehow connect these posters with money.  During discussions our Product Owner told us that cheddar in U.S. slang means MONEY, so we chose ‘The Cheddar’ team name:) After agreement on the team name, the rest of the session went smoothly.

You can judge it yourself in the photos below.

Aren’t they amazing?! I think they have exceptional art skills 🙂

The last session was more process oriented and I think it was the most intense one. We went through all  our most important working ‘ceremonies’. I chose stand ups, planning session, knowledge sharing, pair programming, retrospectives and story writing. I called this part “Do we do it well?”. It was a great opportunity to describe every practice we have, and explain to Aga why and how we do each one of them. At the end of each topic we spent some time coming up with ideas what we can still improve to be even better. This session completely exceeded my expectations. I booked an hour for it , so we could fit it in a 4 hour workshop, but in the end we spent 3 hours on this part!  When we started talking we couldn’t stop and actually we didn’t want to . It was a really remarkable moment to see the whole team speaking so passionately and emotionally about what we do. It was a great lesson for me that even though we are not perfect and still have a lot to improve, we actually love what we do and we really enjoy working with each other. It doesn’t happen that often nowadays. We ended this session with a list of new ideas and improvements we will talk about in detail at our next retrospective.


Results of “Did We Do It Well?”

Even though it was really intense and a long day, at the end of it I felt very happy. In my opinion it went very well and most importantly, the team was satisfied as well. They had a feeling that we did a great job and spent that day in very pleasant and family atmosphere.

 I am really lucky I can work with such amazing people. I have to say that I’m very proud of my team 🙂

I highly recommend you to try this kind of activity once in a while. It completely changes the atmosphere and morale in a team. You can focus on good things, not necessarily only on bad things and places to improve. We should use every opportunity to celebrate our successes and how great we are as a team and as a company.

I’m pretty sure that the results in YOUR TEAM will be as amazing as we had 🙂

Anna Linke