This post has been written as documentation for the Agile Ottawa Meetup 101 session held on October 8, 2013.
The framework of scrum
In order to dig further into our scrum master role, let’s get a short reminder of the framework of Scrum. Scrum is an iterative framework that has a fixed period called Sprint. Every day, team members meet for a short period of time to share commitments. Every Sprint they have a Demo, a Retrospective and a Sprint planning where the team chooses the work load for the next iteration. Iteration delivers a potentially shippable product to the client. There is Product Owner, a scrum master and a Team ; a total of 5-9 members. Occasionally, an agile coach will accompany the party through their journey. Scrum also holds some artifacts: The Product Backlog ; The Scrum Backlog ; The Product Increment.
That’s all we have to know for now.
Like his name strongly suggest, the scrum master owns the framework of Scrum. He makes sure everyone in the team, and beyond, respects the framework and its values. Here are 5 things a scrum master is:
The scrum master is a shield to the team. Just like Captain America who jumps around to protect his team members from incoming threats. The scrum master also has to be prompt and quick to intercept external or internal sources of distraction. It is important to clarify the focus of the sprint and to set the expectancies when those distractions rise.
It is an art to intercept those distractions in a timely fashion. This is why the scrum master has to be like a sensor to the team. He has to feel, listen, look casino online and observe carefully. Although we could identify some categories of distractions and how to tackle them individually, it is an art to properly intercept them and to re-enforce the Sprint Goals while promoting the Agile values.
The scrum master needs the versatility to be an Agile Ambassador, promoting the values, the ideas and sharing the knowledge that relates to Scrum and Agile. He has to identify when to teach or when to mentor team members and move obstacles away from them.
While the team is working through the different challenges of implementing the sprint goals, they have the help of the scrum master to remove their obstacles and blockages. That way, they can produce the product increment at a constant pace. It can be as simple as pointing out the big Pink Elephant in the room. Identifying the impediments is the first and perhaps hardest step to improvement. The scrum master has a different perspective than the Developers and it is therefore easier to identify the impediments.
That being said, he is the best facilitator for the Scrum meetings. His perspective of the different situations is unique and perhaps more revealing, since he is not focused on a single element: the code. The scrum master will work closely with the P.O. to make sure the Product Backlog is meaningful, prioritized and properly estimated. He online casino also ensures everything is visible to the team, so they can have a clear view of the project.
Once the impediments are removed and the team is properly shielded and empowered, the quality of their work will increase considerably and their estimates will be more accurate. This is when magic happens. Developers and P.O. can seek new knowledge, techniques and technologies to become faster, better and smarter. Now that their environment is SAFE, anything is possible. Try a “lunch and learn”, group katas or other games to promote learning, and continuous improvements.
What does a scrum master do not do
Does not give orders, or Assign tasks
The scrum master has no power, he owns the framework of Scrum and that is all. Therefore, the only decisions he can make are in relation to the framework. Deciding to have 2 weeks sprint is the kind of decision the scrum master can make. He cannot assign any tasks or dictate anything to the team. He cannot ask them to work in pairs or to use a specific tool.
Does not Code
The scrum master should not code. Or at least, he should not impact the Sprint, neither by distracting the developers or by coding half of a task. He cannot commit on Coding because he is already committed to helping the team in all the other areas of the framework of Scrum.
What is the impact a scrum master / Developer? Once you get in the “Zone” of coding, you lose the right perspective. You will lose your sensitivity and your sensor will malfunction. You won’t be able to jump around and redirect distractions. You may even become a distraction to the team.
The backlogs might fall behind and won’t be as meaningful. The impediments won’t be identified correctly. The meetings won’t be as productive and no one will know why. Frustration will grow and won’t be addressed. The overall production will decrease silently, along with the quality of the software.
For me, that sounds like a waste of effort and money.
Let your scrum master be and see how software development becomes fun and predicable.