Congratulations on becoming a Scrum Master (SM)!
Scrum is a tool that builds teams. It exposes the issues but not the causes and solutions. A Scrum Master helps their team grow through continuous improvement & collaboration.
As a builder of teams, I’ve often seen smart employees and colleagues return from training and struggle with how to apply their new knowledge. Most often, failure occurs when the returning person takes an approach of telling people what to do and why the current approach is wrong.
Hence this 3 part blog series.
Some of the chief motivations for choosing Scrum are:
Delivering potentially releasable value at a regular cadence
Being responsive to change instead of steadfastly sticking to a plan
Eliminating waste / becoming leaner
Collaboration with clients instead of dry, incomplete, ambiguous contracts
In existing organizations, I’ve seen more successful outcomes and happiness when taking the “Start Small” approach. Mike Cohn in his book “Succeeding with Agile” observes “...there can be no end state in a process that calls for continuous improvement...”.
Therefore, take incremental steps with your team – leave grandiose visions to the C-level. This increases the probability of success, which breeds confidence and momentum while reducing risk and investment. Similar to software development, your emotional stake in an incremental effort is much lower than multiple weeks of time investment; you’ll more easily throw away an approach that isn’t working. Your team learns experientially which requires trying, learning, adjusting, and growing together. Your team is a living system – so probe, observe, and adjust.
The noun “teams” is key. A Scrum Master’s success ultimately depends upon their ability to help them. You will require patience, the desire to learn about how to build teams, and a firm commitment to the values and principles of Agile.
Assuming that you’re joining an existing team, here are a few concrete actions:
You’re about to change the dynamics of an existing team. So Meet the current SM and discuss the transition prior to showing up to the team’s ceremonies
Ideally, be invited to the ceremonies: attend – observe and assure the team that you aren’t planning any unilateral changes
Gain access to and review your team’s working agreement. Specifically – the definition of ‘Done’ - more in Part 2
Study their sprint board – more in Part 3
And remember – as Stephen Covey writes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – "Seek first to understand not to be understood"
If you're wondering if Agile is a good fit for your organization, or have any questions on Scrum methods, contact us, we would be delighted to help.