About The Author
Barry Heins 1 article
Residence: NL Netherlands
Empowering, enabling and motivating individuals, teams and organizations to be effective
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Experienced (Agile) Coach, speaker, blogger and starting entrepreneur. Strong supporter of extreme ownership, lean/agile principles and lean start-up practices


Scrum Mastery - Beyond the Framework

The Scrum Master role is often underestimated at first. In Scrum Master training the role is often downplayed by attendees to that of Team Assistant or Scrum process expert. It is when the training starts dealing with Agile principles, the empirical process and coaching towards self-organization that the realization dawns on attendees of the training that the Scrum Master role is a significant, challenging and impactful one. Is the gist of the Scrum Master role in your organization that of the aforementioned team assistant? Then you’re missing out and you don’t have to.

“Scrum is more about behavior and mindset than it is about process.”

Scrum is lifeless without the Agile principles and Scrum values. An empty process that drags on from one iteration to the next. Scrum Masters and/or Agile Coaches are tasked to breath life into these empty husks by introducing the principles and values that lead up to beneficial behavior. Only then can these servant leaders truly train, mentor, coach and facilitate individuals, teams and organisations to effectively make use of Scrum and its underlying empirical process or any other Agile framework. The question that remains for many after reading the Scrum Guide, attending basic training and achieving first level certification is: “How to go about it?”

Level up

Be more than the process evangelist or event host. Values and principles can't be fully adopted by a new Scrum Master over the course of a two day training. There’s a spark that you need to nurture into a flame. Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches need to continuously reflect on the Agile principles and Scrum values. These patterns need to be as immutable as the principles and values that you adhere to in your personal life. You don’t just do something in life that goes against your principles or change these patterns because someone asks you. You can’t flip the switch on principles. As Scrum Master or Agile Coach you need to be able to convincingly reference these values and principles if you’re going to impact teams and organisations. How else can you coach on agility for your Product Owner and organisation? Scrum Masters need to combine this confidence with the courage needed to make dysfunctional internal politics transparent. By inspecting and adapting these anti-patterns in your organisation you can place something effective in its stead.

Self-organisation doesn’t organise itself

A strong foundation allows the Scrum Master to take ownership, to have a sense of purpose, to strategize towards effectiveness of all target groups (team, Product Owner, organisation) and to be committed. Servant leadership has the word “leader” in it, which rightfully implies the Scrum Master role also carries the responsibilities of a leader.

“There are no bad teams, only bad leadership.”

To clarify, this means that for instance self-organisation doesn’t happen overnight nor by itself. Announcing “thou shall be Scrum Teams that be self-organizing” won’t make it so. It means explaining to teams and their environment what self-organisation means, what the boundaries of this self-organizing environment are. A keen radar is required as to where teams and the organisation are in terms of maturity so that the boundaries may broaden over time. A radar for which you could use multiple models like Tuckman or the 5 dysfunctions of a team, or perhaps a blend of these. The trick is to find the balance between when to set the stage and corresponding expectations and when to withdraw to a more coaching and facilitating style. Team and organisation development is never a linear thing. Teams and organisation change constantly through change of leadership, people leaving the company, making a promotion and so on. It all has an impact on the Scrum Master’s playing field. As Scrum Master this means that you need to approach this playing field strategically. To plan and re-plan. To build, measure and learn perhaps? It also demands versatility. Shifting from more dominant to cooperative leadership styles and everything in between. No easy thing this Scrum Master role. Not something you do on the side. A formidable challenge that takes the courageous on an amazing journey.

Great, now what?

Basically, this was the question that I and James De Mulder shared at some stage in our Scrum Master journey. We discovered we were more or less on our own. We knew the framework but what lay beyond that framework? The challenge is pretty daunting. Now, after a few years of both triumphs and failures we want to help you on your way beyond the framework. There will be bumps and bruises but we’ll fill your backpack with goodies to ease your travels.

Your backpack will be filled with knowledge and practical application of the following models and frameworks:

  • Extreme Ownership
  • Radical Candor
  • Tuckman model
  • The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
  • Coaching stances

Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Barry Heins
Source of the article: {Linkedin} on [2019-04-23]