In this article series, I intend to delve deeper into the ScM role and how you can transition from being an ordinary ScM to becoming an SScM - a Super Scrum Master. In this first post in the series, I will explain what a ScM does and the specific purpose of the role.
Responsibilities of a Scrum Master
One of the most important tasks of a ScM is to educate everyone in the team about the Scrum methodology and to plan and facilitate various Scrum activities such as daily stand-ups, sprint planning, retrospectives, and more. To succeed in this, it is essential for the ScM to feel very comfortable with the Scrum methodology and how to conduct the different ceremonies as efficiently as possible.
Today, there are numerous training courses and certifications available for the ScM role, and I highly recommend exploring them and choosing one that suits you. These training programs not only provide valuable tips and insights but also allow you to benefit from the experiences of both instructors and other students, enabling you to build a network of valuable contacts.
Additionally, a formal certification serves as evidence that you have indeed absorbed the content covered in the course.
To summarize, the following responsibilities are typically associated with the ScM role:
- Ensuring that everyone in the team is familiar with the Scrum methodology
- Planning and facilitating Scrum activities
- Identifying and removing obstacles
- Acting as a supportive resource for everyone in the team
- Promoting communication and collaboration
At first glance, managing these five areas may not seem overly complicated. However, as is often the case, theory is simple while practice can be a whole different matter. When dealing with machines, gears, technical components, or other dead objects, it becomes relatively easy to handle.
But in this context, we are dealing with living, breathing individuals, each with their own quirks and backgrounds, which makes it significantly more complex. But fear not! In this article series, I will provide you with valuable tips to make your life as a ScM easier.
Ensure that everyone in the team has sufficient knowledge of the Scrum methodology
For Scrum to become a natural part of every team member's daily routine, it is important that everyone is familiar with what Scrum truly is and how it is applied in practice. To begin with, you can organize a workshop or training session where you collectively go through Scrum, focusing on the terminology used, the processes within the methodology, and the ceremonies. It is also advisable to structure these workshops with numerous practical exercises rather than simply lecturing about everything theoretically.
Additionally, include sessions where you collectively review the Scrum Guide and explore how its different parts can be applied concretely in practical situations.
Typically, a single workshop or training session is not enough for everyone to feel comfortable with the methodology and apply it in their daily work. Incorporate regular refresher sessions at set intervals where you revisit Scrum and discuss the practical situations the team has encountered and how everyone has worked with Scrum.
This is also an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences and discuss the challenges that different team members have faced.
In addition to workshops and recurring refresher sessions, it is always beneficial to complement them with individual conversations. These conversations allow you, as the ScM, to truly listen to each team member and understand their experiences with Scrum.
Consider these conversations as development talks but with a focus on the Scrum methodology.
To ensure successful conversations, employ classic leadership qualities such as creating a psychologically safe environment and actively listening with empathy. I wrote a bit about this in my article series on creating the optimal IT development team.
By allowing team members to express themselves without unnecessary interruptions, you can naturally provide them with your tips on how Scrum and the agile principles can be applied in specific cases. Naturally, this requires you, as the ScM, to familiarize yourself with how Scrum can be applied in different situations.
Keep in mind that the more experience you gain, the more assistance you can offer. In the beginning, it may feel uncertain as a ScM, and you may not have answers to all the questions. However, with time, you will become more experienced and confident in how to handle various situations that arise.
ScM = Mentor?
As your experiences accumulate, you will gradually transition into the role of a natural leader and mentor for others in the team. Building such leadership takes time, energy, and commitment, but it is definitely worth it! As an experienced ScM, it is also much easier to "bring everyone on board" and legitimize why we utilize different processes within Scrum, what they are intended to achieve, and how we can work with them most effectively.
For many, having a mentor who can provide help, support, and advice in various workplace situations is crucial. However, it is not suitable for everyone. Respect individuals' preferences and try to adapt to both the group and individual team members. It is not entirely simple, and often you will find yourself in situations where these interests are in direct conflict with each other.
In such cases, try to leverage your experience and document how you handled the situation so that you can easily refer back to it and determine how to act or not act the next time a similar situation arises.
Now, we have discussed what is expected of a ScM, and in the next article, I will delve deeper into how the different ceremonies/tasks can be performed by a ScM to maximize their benefits.