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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Oct 18, 2019

This week on the podcast, Dan Neumann is joined by his collaborator, Sam Falco! Together they’re going to be tackling three Scrum-related questions that they dug up on Quora.


Sam finds himself running into these particular questions fairly frequently. In fact, every new client seems to have a set of similar questions! So if you’ve ever pondered, “What is better: one-week or two-week sprints,” “What is the scrum master’s role,” “What are the tasks that a scrum master has to perform,” or “What are the first things a scrum master should do when starting at a new organization?”... tune in!


And if you have any questions you’d like to hear answered in a future episode, you can email them to or Tweet @AgileThought using #AgileThoughtPodcast!


Key Takeaways

“Do you prefer one-week or two-week sprints? And why?”

The Scrum guide says up to a month

Sam doesn’t have a preference between one-week or two-week sprints as it depends on what the situation (and organization) calls for

The key is to balance how much time it will take for the development team to do the work with the risk the organization is willing to absorb by not releasing (i.e. if an organization can wait three weeks without messing with the scrum team’s sprint goal — then three weeks is a good length)

Sam recommends that teams brainstorm their definition of ‘done’

Either way, it’s important for the organization and team to maintain focus for the sprint duration, no matter the length

A short sprint means there’s less to plan, less to review, less retrospective, and it scales more linearly

All-in-all: it really depends!

“What is a scrum master role? And what are the tasks that a scrum master has to perform?”

Scrum masters are responsible for coaching the product owner, the development, and the organization

Through transparency, inspection, and adaptation they should be working to improve the system over time

They should be always be asking: ‘What value are we getting out of this activity?’

They have to remove impediments for the scrum team (once it is clear that the team cannot clear them)

They must coach and protect the team

They should help those outside of the team to understand how to interact with the team

They need to coach the team and the organization how to work in Scrum

They need to work with the organization on how to spread Scrum (as well as agile values and principles)

The scrum master has to do whatever is necessary to help the team be successful

“What are the first things a scrum master should do when starting at a new organization?”

When you’re coming into a new organization as a scrum master, you should give the team that you’re going to work with a reason to trust you (Sam recommends creating a “mind map” of yourself and modeling some vulnerability)

Have a group AMA as well as one-on-ones with each member of the team to build trust

Ask the team what their challenges are, listen to them, and address those first

Build a report with the dev team and the product owner

You should be networking within the organization and learn who’s who

If it’s a completely new organization, you want to establish good Scrum practice from the get-go, explain the ‘why’ behind the Scrum Guide, and make sure that the team is engaging in good Scrum practice


Mentioned in this Episode:


Mind map

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 1: “Do Scrum Well Before Scaling!”

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport

Agile 2019 Conference

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Quora Questions:

“Do you prefer one-week or two-week sprints and why?” Asked by Sara Morsi

“What is a scrum master role? What are the tasks that a scrum master has to perform?” Asked by Rashmi Pathak

“What are the first things a scrum master should do when starting at a new organization?” Asked by Alex Dolphin


Sam Falco’s Book Picks:

Arcade Perfect: How Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and Other Coin-Op Classics Invaded the Living Room, by David L. Craddock (Author) and Milan Jaram (Illustrator)

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, by Cal Newport


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