Would You Enjoy Being a Scrum Master?

2022 07 01 head

Scrum is the most popular approach to create awesome new digital products.

Perhaps you are thinking of pursuing a career as a Scrum master. You read the Agile Manifesto and memorized the 12 Agile Manifesto Principles.

Perhaps you have recently been moved into that role and are wondering if being a Scrum master is right for you.

There are plenty of good reasons to become a Scrum master. The job is fascinating, in demand and pays well.

The most important reason to become a Scrum master is that it is the right job for your personality, interests and skills.

What is the role of Scrum master?

If you choose to accept this mission, what will you do every day [1]?

What is a Scrum Master?

Here is a way of considering the role.

The scrum master is the product owner for organisational change.

When you introduce Scrum into an organisation, you are focused on the creation of two distinct things: new products and an improved organisation. New products have product owners.

The organization needs an owner, someone to manage the vast backlog of requests. Somebody should prioritise, and collaborate with the cross-functional team of makers to deliver incremental value to its stakeholders. The stakeholders are all employees, partners and shareholders.

If Scrum does not ripple through an organisation this way, it is set up for failure. Or worse a facade of change, a kind way of saying lies and deceit [2] [3].

Eight Questions

Find out if the Scrum master role suits your interests:

Do You Like Helping Others?

Scrum masters need to enjoy helping people. This cannot be something a Scrum master does grudgingly [1, 2, 3].

Do You Need to Be in the Spotlight?

A great Scrum master fades into the background while the team receives the praise [4, 5].

Are You a Good Listener?

We all know that a Scrum master helps remove impediments to a team’s progress and productivity. That often means listening, asking clarifying questions, and then solving the problem. But other times it means just listening: letting a team member vent about something [3, 6, 7].

Are You Technical Enough?

You need to know enough to speak their language fluently and to empathize with the challenges of their work [8, 9].

Do You Have a Formal Scrum master Training?

You are serious about working as a professional Scrum master the next years. You should have formal training and read books describing the various Scrum master stances.
A reasonable formal training is a professional level certification [10, 11]. This certification would be your third one. First, you did the basic training and became a Scrum master. Second, you qualified as an advanced Scrum master. Now you are ready to become a certified professional Scrum master.
Consider training in facilitation and coaching. Learn the eXtreme Programming methods to achieve technical fluency and understand Software Craftsmanship.

Can You Influence Without Authority?

Influencing without authority is an important skill for all good Scrum masters. If you enjoy leading this way, count that as a point in favor of a career as a Scrum master [12].

Are You Comfortable with Uncertainty?

If you’re the type who secretly wants to eliminate all uncertainties, you will either be frustrated as a Scrum master or will drive your team crazy in pursuit of an impossible goal [13, 14].

Can You Handle Conflict Well?

Agile teams are used on an organization’s hardest challenges—the projects that will not succeed any other way. Add that to the strong personalities found on many development teams and there will be conflict [15, 16, 17, 18, 19].

Eight Stances

Are you ready to work as:

2022 07 01 scrum master stances
Impediment Remover

One of the fundamental responsibilities of the Scrum master is the resolution of impediments. Impediments are critical issues that block the team and require external intervention.

Facilitator

The task of the Scrum master is to facilitate the work of the Product Owner and the team. Contrary to popular belief, she does not only facilitate events, but the whole Scrum process, ensuring a smooth and sustainable pace. Finally, she facilitates relationships, promoting collaboration and creating synergies within the team and with clients.

Coach

Just like a sports coach, the Scrum master focuses on team building. She guides and encourages the team to self-organize, stays focused and has a continuous improvement-oriented mindset. She trains every single team member with a focus on mindset, behavior and organization to collaborate effectively with Scrum Teams.

Teacher

The Scrum master ensures that the Scrum principles and framework are understood and put into practice. She guides the Product Owner and the team towards Agile practices and principles whenever they move away from them.

Servant Leader

Servant-leadership focuses on collaboration, trust, empathy and the ethical use of power. As a servant leader, the Scrum master is fully aligned with the Scrum values of courage, openness, respect, focus and commitment. She focuses on the needs of team members with the aim of achieving results in line with the company’s values and goals.

Manager

She is responsible for process management, with an eye on team health and waste elimination. She manages the boundaries of self-organization and promoting the Agile culture.

Change Agent

The Scrum master helps create an environment that allows the Scrum spirit to thrive within the Team and the organization.

Mentor

A mentor is a wise and trustworthy counselor or teacher. The Scrum master has the task of transferring knowledge and experience to the team, guiding it in the adoption of an Agile mindset.

Things Scrum Masters Advocates

Scrum masters promote, explain, and advocate Scrum values, principles [4, 11].

Scrum is founded on empiricism and lean thinking [20, 21, 22]. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed. Lean thinking reduces waste and focuses on the essentials.

2022 07 01 house of scrum

The key elements are

  • Transparency

  • Inspection

  • Adaptation

The Scrum values any organization shall live are

  1. Commitment

  2. Focus

  3. Openness

  4. Respect

  5. Courage

Scrum master explain, teach, protect the Scrum values and adapt Scrum rules and tactics to the organization.

As a Scrum master you must strongly identify with these values. You must understand empiricism and how a model can be impacted with closed-loop approaches. Yu should certainly know the official Scrum.

You are a professional Scrum master in a digital product development when:

  • You understand the Definition of Done of your team.

  • You know the roadmap of your product and the release plan for the next six months.

  • You understand the major risks potentially impeding your development initiative and the associated mitigation measures.

  • You can teach your team how to improve the above artifacts.

You can find all these documents in less than two minutes. Better would be to display them on the sprint board.

Things Scrum Masters Never Do

You are a Scrum master. You are not a secretary or an administrator.

  • She does not take notes during meetings and Scrum ceremonies.

  • She is not a secretary and is not responsible for the team member’s agenda.

  • She does not serve as Scrum Political Police.

  • She is not the Team members’ Boss and does not take decisions for them.

  • She is not an administrator, so she does not manage the tools used by the team.

  • She does not act as the chairman during the meetings.

  • She is not a Superhero, and she does not bring the coffee!

Over time, a Scrum master Fades Away

After a while, team members need less coaching and transition to a high-performing group.

All team members pursue technical excellence [4] [5] [6] [7].

They learn how to facilitate some of their own meetings. Team members work more closely and directly with the product owner and stakeholders.

The Scrum master is no longer needed to resolve communication roadblocks and resolve issues. There are fewer organizational impediments to agility. Those that remain can be particularly difficult to resolve, but there are fewer of them.

Even the best Scrum team continues to benefit from the coaching, guiding and mentoring provided by a good Scrum master. With that being said, some high-performing teams might find they do not need a Scrum master full-time anymore.

Dedication

This blog was written in memory of my late father. He paved the way to my beautiful engineering career.

— Marcel Baumann
2022-07-04

References

[1] M. L. Manns and L. Rising, Fearless Change. Addison-Wesley, 2004 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019TM4P6Y

[2] M. L. Manns, More fearless change. 2015 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0133966445

[3] R. Schwarz, The Skilled Facilitator. Jossey-Bass, 2002 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0787947237

[4] Z. Sochova, The Great Scrum Master. Addison Wesley, 2016 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/013465711X

[5] T. Mayer, The People’s Scrum. 2013 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937965155

[6] R. M. Schwarz, Skilled Facilitator, Third. Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, John, 2016 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0787947237

[7] M. Acker, The art and science of facilitation. 2020 [Online]. Available: The art and science of facilitation

[8] D. Farley, Modern Software Engineering. Pearson Education, Limited, 2022 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09GG6XKS4

[9] S. Mancuso, The Software Craftsman. Prentice Hall, 2015 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0134052501

[10] F. Heath, Professional Scrum Master Guide. Packt Publishing, Limited, 2021 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1800205562

[11] S. Ockerman and S. Reindl, Mastering Professional Scrum. Addison Wesley, 2019 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XTLNPTC

[12] J. Appelo, Management 3.0. Addison-Wesley, 2011 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0321712471

[13] H. Hamel and B. Breen, The Future of Management. Harvard Business Review Press, 2007 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1422102505

[14] F. Laloux, Reinventing Organizations. Nelson Parker, 2014 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/2960133501

[15] R. Pichler, How to Lead in Product Management. 978-1-9163030-0-3, 2020 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085L8Z4YS

[16] J. Hope, Beyond performance management. Harvard Business Review Press, 2011 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0070YNPWE

[17] J. Hope, The leader’s dilemma. Jossey-Bass, 2011 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005LVQOOO

[18] J. Badaracco, Leading Quietly. Harvard Business School Press, 2002 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005DI8XSK

[19] R. M. Schwarz, Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams How You and Your Team Get Unstuck to Get Results. Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, John, 2013 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BMU3IC4

[20] F. Ballé and M. Ballé, The Gold Mine. Lean Enterprises Inst Inc, 2005 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0974322563

[21] M. Ballé, F. Ballé, and J. Liker, The Lean Manager. Len Publishing, 2009 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1934109258

[22] M. Ballé and F. Ballé, Lead with Respect. Len Publishing, 2014 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1934109479