How Saad Ahmed Motivates Volunteers with ScrumGenius

Published on June 12th, 2019.

ScrumGenius has allowed Saad Ahmed and MaxGala to have better standup meetings by helping them solve more blockers, boost accountability, and give Saad more free time to support his team

As head of the Youth Fellowship team and Chair of the MAX Mentors program at MAX, a non-profit with the aim of recognizing the achievements of Muslim-Canadians, Saad Ahmed usually has very little time to spare. Yet meetings with his volunteers and staff often took up far more time than planned and got sidetracked more than they tackled important issues, making his job harder and stretching him thin.

Now, Saad has been using ScrumGenius for the last five months to maximize the team’s productivity by erasing the need for follow-up emails, cutting down on meeting times and making team discussions more efficient.

The Problems

Before ScrumGenius, Saad’s biggest ongoing roadblock was wasted time in stand-ups. With the Youth Fellowship, meetings routinely dragged on far past planned times. 45-minute meetings would often stretch to an hour or an hour and a half, and weren’t targeted towards blockers that affected workflow.

Although previous systems such as a Google document table worked at the time, they were labor-intensive and required extra pre-meeting preparation, further taking up Saad’s time. It also provided an added stressor, as Saad felt that his notes had to fully prepared before each meeting or else he would look foolish. But he found that his team often didn’t look at the notes even when they were completely prepared.

Accountability was also a problem for Saad and the Fellowship team, which is unique at MAX as it includes both paid staff and volunteers. Although building accountability can be a tough task in any team, building accountability among volunteers can be even more difficult because they don’t have the same monetary incentive to complete tasks or follow certain models.

This left Saad scrambling to make sure everyone was doing what they needed to do. Saad found that he had to send hundreds of emails to follow up with his staff, which left him feeling like he was micromanaging them—a situation that’s not good for anyone.

“It’s hard to build accountability. You have to follow up on things over and over again. I found I sent a hundred emails, and there’s no way I’m going to remember every little thing. My community leads and all these other people, how are they going to remember what needs to happen, and how are we going to come to a shared agreement about what needs to happen?”

Saad Ahmed, MaxGala

Implementing new software and tools was also a problem, as he needed to find a solution that worked for both paid staff and volunteers. Changing software was often seen as more annoying than helpful, especially for volunteer staff who had less of an incentive to switch. Previous software such as Notion didn’t catch on, and most of Saad’s team didn’t use it.

Not only did Saad have to find a solution that worked for him; he also had to find one that worked for the rest of his team, too.

The Solution

Saad uses ScrumGenius to get rid of the need to verbally “catch up” on the previous day’s tasks, making meetings much more action-oriented. This allows Saad and his team to discuss the things that matter most: blockers and strategies that help push their momentum into the future.

Despite issues with implementing previous software, Saad found that switching his team to ScrumGenius was easy. All of the Fellowship team use ScrumGenius now and are quite happy with it. They particularly like how easily ScrumGenius integrates with the other platforms the team uses, such as Slack and Notion, so its addition feels seamless.

“ScrumGenius offers a nice way to collect people’s stand-ups and their information and display it to the rest of the team. Instead of having to say everything, you can actually discuss the action items. It’s allowing us to have more effective meetings.”

Saad Ahmed, MaxGala

The Results

Summary

Better accountability. More efficient meetings. Less wasted time.

A shared sense of accountability

ScrumGenius provides Saad and his team with a digital record of stand-ups, thus creating a shared agreement between them on what needs to be done.

Productive and action-oriented stand-ups

Automated Scrums allow Saad’s team to focus on problems and issues during in-person meetings so blockers can be dealt with efficiently.

More free time

With ScrumGenius, Saad was able to cut meetings down by up to 200%, leaving him with more time to support and assist his team.

Now, morning stand-ups take less than an hour at most. And while this extra time allows Saad the ability to give more support to his team, it also benefits the volunteers as well as the time they donate becomes more efficient.

ScrumGenius also helps Saad and the Fellowship team with the issue of accountability. By providing a digital record of completed tasks and future projects, ScrumGenius provides a shared agreement within the Fellowship team on what needs to be done.

Now, everyone knows what they need to do and when it needs to be done, creating a kind or organizational memory without the need for micromanagement or hundreds of emails.

With the use of ScrumGenius, Saad has been able to maximize the efficiency of the Youth Fellowship team, and has plans to recommend it to the larger Mentorship program as well.

“It’s helped me be as efficient with and focused on the things that actually matter. We have better discussions now.”

Saad Ahmed, MaxGala