Sunday, May 11, 2014

A “Good” or “Bad” Scrum Master

A good Scrum Master brings out the best in a team.

Agile is both philosophy and methodology, it is not just the emergent method to management software project, but also the philosophy to groom the talent. Scrum master is an interesting and important role in agile team, what do you think the biggest difference scrum master can make to an agile team and what you think their impact was?

 A Scrum Master (SM) can make a lot of difference, both good and bad. If the person has serious chops, then she or he can imprint high-discipline habits on team members that improve software quality and delivery rhythms. If the person lacks chops, which most Scrum Masters do, then she or he will push team members into all sorts of unproductive rhythms that make everything "feel Agile" but don't move the needle in terms of software quality and productivity. The famous triad of Autonomy-Mastery-Purpose (Driven) is what drives IT profession. When you have A person (SM) challenging the triad in a team, you will get what you want, but not always what you need. The view of having automaton that follow discipline and methodologies just because they are told so, will only reinforce the well-known dogma of "tell me how you are going to measure me, and I will adjust my behavior". 

A good Scrum Master brings out the best in a team. When you bring out the best you will be amazed at how well the team performs. When the team performs well the scrum master is almost superfluous. However, that is when the scrum master is needed most - to help people out of the ditch; to fix what they screwed up in rally and to caution them in taking on more than their velocity. The outward-facing responsibilities are the ones most often neglected, such as visibility, transparency, and reporting in a form useful to executives and the enterprise. Organizational change generally lags team change and the gap needs to be bridged as well.

A good Scrum Master drives change in human habits and imposes high-discipline over how software gets constructed. With a good SM the Agile production process should be air tight and custom fit to the vibe of the organization. You can usually tell whether Scrum Masters are any good by where their attentions go first. If they get wrapped around the axle implementing ceremonial Scrum (vocabulary, stand-ups, retrospectives, egalitarian ethos, and etc.), then their attentions are perhaps not good. However, if their attentions are dialed in to the high-discipline activities surrounding continuous testing, continuous integration, backlog prioritization, and other "move the needle" disciplines...then you've probably got a good one. A bad SM hides in the shadows, organizes Agile-games, facilitates the standup/retrospectives, and maybe messes around with the story wall once in a while.

A Scrum Master can be either a dedicated or a rotating role: The critical aspect of scrum (and Agile for that matter) is the fact that there is an expectation that the team members will act as multidisciplinary individuals in order to reduce the risk and protect the velocity. As such, any team member can take on the role of Scrum Master at any point in time which means, the expectation is that they get to the same level as quick as possible. It is not the job of the Scrum Master to lead, or discipline, or control, it is up to the team to help each other succeed. For an agile team in an agile organization, the Scrum Master might be superfluous. For any agile team working in a non-agile organization, there are likely to be many impediments for the Scrum Master to work on. For a team just learning agile, it helps to have someone to keep them "on process".

A Scrum Master is there to ensure team productivity and culture harmony. It's possible to have a free thinking creative culture that operates in a highly structured production environment, those are not mutually exclusive. The SM is there to make sure the organization does the right things to make the profit. He or she owns the development management process. Scrum process needs the tension between the demands of the product owner and defense of the team by the Scrum manager to replace and diffuse the negative confrontational aspects of the customer-supplier interface in traditional methods.The SM is not in charge of product design, innovation, or creativity, he/she can lead the team with higher productivity and culture harmony via practicing agile principles to inspire three “I”s: Interaction, Iteration and Increamenalism.

A scrum master may have leader's responsibility, without a lot of authority; hence, a good SM has to make leadership influence via communication, persuasion, practicing and disciplines.    


This is how things can be learn especially when its about doing something the appeals to the era, agile with scrum methodology are quit good at the logic that they give us.

"Very nice article. I am a new Project Manager . Your article gave me a good idea of where we need to start improving/changing things.I appreciate the writings.i got my trainnings on scrum fromAgile Certification

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