So you’re a Scrum Master…


So you run the events during a Sprint, but what do you actually do the rest of the time?

This question was asked recently during a Professional Scrum Master course, and also been brought up in non-agile organisations (who may claim to be agile!). I’ve also consulted now in a number of different organisations, so it does get asked, often jokingly, from time to time.

So, let’s explore this…

I thought I would put pen to paper and, in addition to the Scrum Guide guidance ‘official’ stuff we have to do and the corporate or organisation stuff we have to do, I’ve bulleted some things I think we do. I’d love to hear your thoughts though, so please feel free to comment below to add to the list or comment so I can refine.

  • So, in the blog title above it mentions we run events, but what if an event was not run – what impact would that have? It’s good to discuss/demonstrate with the team what would be the consequences/downsides if an event was not run – empirically of course – it is one of the 3 pillars after all!
  • And when you do do your events, prep them and make them awesome and valuable to make the team better each time – see my last blog about retro events! #plug
  • Living and believing the agile and scrum dream should be something we do constantly with the team, with externals to the team, and also anyone we come into contact with – don’t be afraid to show this, be excited about this, demonstrate how it adds value
  • Working with the Product Owner on reviewing and aligning the backlog, and discussing the value of the features to be added to ensure the team are also aligned and understand the value of each one, as well as supporting the PO’s Sprint Goals and making sure the team are focussed on this – make these visual
  • Encouraging a mindset which is enthusiastic, creative, collaborative and experimental
  • Ensuring you have the right team skills, resource and tools to produce your increments and achieve your Sprint Goals
  • Making your team as transparent as possible
  • Question, challenge, consider and coach individuals, the system, the processes and the organisation to ensure alignment with the scrum framework, your principles, your experience and input from the team
  • Investigating and finding out the root causes of issues or blockers – and not just looking at the top layer
  • Promoting the team and how you work to wider audiences and encouraging anyone to view our working area and boards, encouraging anyone to you for a tour or talk or to see the team work in practice
  • Making the physical area as great as possible to work in – with team identification, celebrations, great creative boards and any visuals to excite not only the team, but also any visitors to attract and excite them
  • Mindset is everything – don’t just do agile – think agile and more importantly – be An individual or organisation who is agile adds so much more value and brings so much more than an individual or organisation who just ‘does’ agile or, even worse, thinks they do agile, but don’t. Note, hHaving a daily scrum to discuss your gantt chart before your stakeholder release planning committee meeting to discuss a CR and changes to the BRD does not make you agile ;-). So, a Scrum Master must exude all these great agile qualities – and always THINK agile
  • Work tirelessly with the team to achieve the Sprint Goals collectively and collaboratively
  • Being a good listener is important; ensuring each team member has an equal voice. This should always be encouraged
  • Ensure the team are actively growing their T-Shaped profile and if not, adapt accordingly to encourage this through pairing, learning and sharing skills
  • Experiment with different WIP limits, value points, events timings, event methods and mixing up the daily scrum to find the most effective way for your team
  • Ensure stories go through the agreed team process efficiently and timely and have a nice natural flow which the full team touches. i.e. optimise the flow
  • Making sure the team are happy, supported and sheltered from outside noise and distraction and onboard new team members with the same values the team have embraced
  • Make sure stories are achievable, broken down, understandable and add value
  • Make sure the team talks and collaborates constantly and when necessary, carefully onboard new team members to avoid disruption but maximise team involvement
  • Make sure the actions from each retro are followed up and done (see my last blog!)
  • Mentor and/or collaborate with other Scrum Masters to make sure we share experiences and always, like agile, constantly inspect, adapt and improve
  • My motto is to always make sure the team are Pairing, Sharing and Caring – we live by this, its on our white board and I make sure this happens – p.s. this is not my motto – it’s a team motto. It’s not about me – I’m just a servant to the team remember!

These are, in no particular order and just some thoughts – let’s hear yours below…


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