Sunday, March 17, 2013

What powers does a Scrum Master need to have



I have seen this conflict in many organizations which are new to Scrum/Agile. Most of them are transitioning to agile methodologies from the traditional methods. It’s very difficult for that management to let go the power hierarchy. They still want one single neck to catch. They never believed in collective thinking. Rather than motivation , their believe in pressure to get the work done.

Such dysfunctions exists in most of the organizations, scrum just exposes it.

ScrumMaster doesn’t run the scrum. He/She should help build a team, bring out the leaders in every member of your team. ScrumMaster helps the team to self-organize so that they can move forward without the classic “delay” of waiting for decisions. ScrumMaster is not a person who can be used as a single neck to catch or blame. Scrum is a collective team approach. If it succeeds everyone succeeds if it fails everyone fails.

ScrumMasters in such an environment have to do a critical job in the transition. You will have to use all your patience & wisdom to convince the management about the true power of collective thinking and working towards a common goal. Take them into confidence. Inform the stakeholders about the perils of not doing the things in scrum way. Show them the benefits of this lean thinking. Once the management observes the success, once that trust is established you will get more help from management and other stakeholders.


Advice based on my experience.

If the team is unable to meet the commitment, do a retrospective to find the root cause, once the root cause is identified make the necessary changes so that it is not repeated. Provide this analysis to the management also.
Keep the communication channel open to educate the PO, team & other stakeholders about the technical debts. Have discussions about the cost of not doing the right thing

Most important focus

  • Create a self-organizing team 
  • Remove the impediments of the team
  • Teach the team & company the values & principles of scrum
  • Work the stakeholders to reduce the technical debts
  • Be a coach & mentor for your team, help them take the correct decision 

Check the following article for more 
ScrumMaster’s Checklist - roles & responsibilities - http://www.theagileschool.com/2012/03/scrummasters-checklist-roles.html

If you take a pro-active approach then sure management will support you.

To do all these , as a ScrumMaster you might need the three most important powers :)

  1. Patience
  2. Strength & courage to take tough decisions & convince others.
  3. Scrum Process knowledge & passion to improve every day. ( remember learning never stops)
  4. Passion & commitment to improve the team & deliver value to the customers.



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