Scrum Master Q&A Fulltime Scrum Master Role

In my Scrum Master training courses, I get a lot of questions about the workload of a Scrum Master. One question I hear frequently is this:

Is the Scrum Master role a full-time job?

The answer is yes! In my opinion, the Scrum Master role is a full-time job. As a Scrum Master, you support the Development Team, the Product Owner, and the organization. You help others understand and master Scrum, and to achieve their potential at different levels.

Scrum Master activities can include any of the following:

  • facilitating Scrum events
  • working on the Scrum process
  • helping teams to become better
  • supporting empiricism
  • promoting inspecting and adapting
  • facilitating teamwork
  • removing and solving impediments,
  • assisting the Development Team to become self-organizing
  • help the Scrum Team to live by the Scrum values,
  • and observing team dynamics.

You will have your Scrum Master radar on at all time. You watch the things that are not being said, and you sense the things that are not on the surface. You can’t do that if you’re not there.

With this in mind, here are some answers to some other frequently asked questions.

Can you combine your Development Team role with the Scrum Master role?

No, you will lose focus and will not be able to excel in either role.

Imagine yourself as a developer, you are in the zone, minding your own business and delivering value. Then, suddenly, another developer has an impediment – the deployment to the acceptance environment did not go well because this environment is down. Your team member has tried everything to get it back up again, but it doesn’t seem to help. He asks you if you could help him. If you do not help your team member right away, he is not able to continue. So you leave your current coding and help your team member. When you finally have solved the impediment, you return to your work and continue. You have to connect with the subject again, since you were distracted for a while. Your focus is lost.

What if your company requires you to combine your Development Team role with the Scrum Master role?

If your company requires you to combine your team and Scrum Master role, make clear agreements with the Development Team about how to interact in the event of an impediment. Make it explicit agreements which role has priority.

Can we rotate Scrum Mastership amongst Development Team members?

No, you can’t rotate Scrum Mastership amongst Development Team members because not everyone on the team is a capable Scrum Master. The Scrum Master role requires certain capabilities, skills, and behaviors. Some of these Scrum Master characteristics can be learned, coaching, listening, facilitating, mentoring, observing, intervening but others are innate, such as servant leadership and being pro-active. If you have a role on the Development Team and you are also the Scrum Master, you will lose focus.

What if your company requires you to rotate Scrum Mastership?

If your company requires you to rotate Scrum Mastership, make sure that you are the Scrum Master for more than one sprint (e.g. three sprints) so you can start developing SM skills before you switch.

Can you combine the Product Owner and Scrum Master role?

No, it’s not a good idea to combine the Product Owner and Scrum Master roles because it creates a conflict of interest.

As a Product Owner, you’re busy with your stakeholders, changes in the market, exploring what delivers the most business value and helping the Development Team understand the requirements you have. As a Scrum Master, your focus is on supporting the Development Team, the Product Owner, and the organization. So, the people you contact the most are different and have different approaches.

 

As a Product owner, you want to deliver business value at the right pace. You can challenge the Development Team to take up a lot of items in the Sprint Backlog. As a Scrum Master, you protect the Development Team from overly demanding Product Owners (believe me, they exist). You do this by helping them asking challenging questions, like: Do we really believe we can finish this? Do we understand what is being asked? It is difficult to approach the team while wearing two hats. You will lose focus.

 

What if your company requires you to combine the Product Owner role and the Scrum Master role?

If your company requires you to combine the Product Owner role and Scrum Master role, make sure you have a clear distinction between them.  It’s also important to clarify which position you’re coming from with those with who you interact.

 

Can you work as a Scrum Master at a different location from your team or the Product Owner?

No, it’s not possible to function effectively in the role of Scrum Master if you are not onsite with the Development Team. You need to be present to sense the things unsaid or feel the vibe in the room. If the Scrum Master and Development Team work at the same location but the Product Owner and stakeholders are at another location, the necessary contact and collaboration are lost.

 

What if logistics require the Scrum Master and Development Team to work in separate locations from the Product Owner and stakeholders?

If you can’t work in the same onsite location, interact with each other as often as possible. Make an all-day video connection if possible. Ask Development Team members who work on different locations to work together in the same location for a period of at least one month. The team members will get to know each other a bit, this will help to build trust in the team.

If you’re still stuck in a situation that prevents your Scrum Team from performing at its best, please contact us: info@scrumboosters.com

 

Scrum Master Scan

There was a point you were a Scrum Master for the first time. Maybe you read about Scrum and decided the Scrum Master role would be perfect for you, or maybe your company chose to work with Scrum and pointed you out as the Scrum Master. Either way, there was a day one as a Scrum Master, you started learning about Scrum, about people, about organizations and a lot more.
 
As Scrum Masters, we never stop learning. I learn every day, I experiment, I broaden, deepen and share my knowledge, and I challenge myself to keep learning. To find new suitable ways to facilitate, new models to use when coaching people, games to bring things across, etc.
I fail, and I learn, I succeed, and I learn. I do assessments, and I fail; I do assessments, and I pass. But in all these activities I learn. But in which areas can I learn most?
 
As a part of the learning process of a Scrum Master, we developed a Scrum Master Scan.
To see at which points you have learned and at what point you have room to learn more. The scan is an online survey with almost 90 questions. The result is a graphical display with a score on three areas, attitude & behavior, craftsmanship, and results. Are you a Scrum Master and want to use the Scrum Master Scan, please contact eroos@xebia.com 

Scrum Day Europe 2016

During the 5th edition of Scrum Day Europe, Laurens and I facilitated a workshop on how to “Add Visual Flavor to Your Organization Transformation with Videoscribe.”

The theme of the conference, “The Next Iteration,”  was all about the future of Scrum. We wanted to tie our workshop into the theme of the conference, so we had a creative brainstorming session and identified four key elements that we think are important in the future of Scrum.

Scaling: Do Scrum well first, before scaling Scrum.  You should only scale when needed and if the organization is ready.

Done: A “done” increment means actually done, all the way into production. We hope that future Scrum teams will be able to put things into production themselves. We still see a lot of teams with dependencies on other teams for delivering increments to production.

Product Owner: We’re still searching for great Product Owners who understand the product and the market. These Product Owners work well with teams and are empowered, mandated and have a product vision.

Scrum everywhere: We already see Scrum in construction, health care, schools, marketing and many other places. In the future, we see Scrum used everywhere.

Since Laurens is such a great drawer, he sketched out the four elements, and we made a VideoScribe of them. You can find our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKYjWS4H26I

During our presentation at Scrum Day Europe, we demonstrated each of the seven steps required to produce this video. To bring Videoscribe to life, we asked the attendees to suggest a fifth element for the video on the future of Scrum. They came up with “Happiness.”   We then went through the steps to make a video, asking for different volunteers to record a voice over and draw pictures for the message. Here are the results: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWlSaC3K9Kg

The attendees were impressed and amazed to see that they could produce a very smart looking Videoscribe themselves.  Overall, the workshop feedback was very positive. We also received some tips for improving it, such as showing examples of how real companies have used this method. But because Videoscribes are usually made for internal use only, we could not show these at the conference.  For our next session, we probably  make an example Videoscribe for a non-existing company which is shareable with the audience.

One of our attendees was so inspired by our session that we are invited to facilitate a workshop for her management team!

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