Montag, 27. April 2020

The easiest way to succeed as a Scrum Master

In his report “Jobs for Tomorrow” (/1/) the World Economic Forum declared the Scrum Master as one of the most important jobs in product development. This happened in January 2020. Have they foreseen the current situation?

In this post I show you a checklist we've assembled after some Licensed Scrum Master trainings with Jeff Sutherland. Applying this checklist is the easiest way how to be successful as a Scrum Master.

The role Scrum Master, invented by Scrum Co-Creator Jeff Sutherland, could help you a lot. Right now, you probably face one of these four situations:

  1. Your business processes don’t work anymore. How could you – as fast as possible – check, if they’re working for you again?
  2. Due to Covid19 your colleagues are sitting at home, waiting for customers, who don’t order. You could use the time to clean up the company.
  3. It’s not that just some business processes are broken, your whole business model is not working anymore.
  4. Your company is part of a larger ecosystem. But this ecosystem has collapsed.

What might be helpful in these situations?

One thing they have in common, they are complex or chaotic, and they are unpredictable. Trying to manage these situations the old way is too slow. The system needs to move faster.

Here’s what you could do:

In all situations setting up a Scrum Team could help. In the first situation you could create a “war room”, where the team is concentrating on one process after another to get the company going. In the second, deploy a team, which is cleaning up and involving the other departments. This cleaning up might include: How should we work together in the future? Is the current system working for us?

The third situation requires strong Product Owners, who work with a few teams to adapt to new demands. If you find yourself in the last situations, you start a cross-company Scrum Team, gathering feedback about the ecosystem.

Scrum Teams need Product Owners with a strong vision. And they need great Scrum Masters, who believe, that their teams have more potential, than they show. Hiring Scrum Master is not easy. So how do you get them?

Before you look at the market, check if you could train Scrum Masters within your company. It always helps, if a Scrum Master knows the company, the business model, and the people – and who to ask for help, if the next impediment needs to be resolved.


If you start new as a Scrum Master, this might help you:

First, the Co-Creator of Scrum, Jeff Sutherland, once said: “The most important thing in Scrum is, The Scrum Master runs a scientific experiment every day to try to figure out how to make the team better.

How do you know, that you have a good Scrum Master: The team will deliver more stuff and it will be happier.

Second, in another talk (/2/) Jeff explained how systems evolve: They evolve like organisms in biological evolution. There are constant changes all the time, and if these changes work together, there will be a huge adaptation, a new “feature”. 

This is exactly how Scrum Teams evolve. In each Sprint the team tries to take the next (smallest) step, how to improve the work system.

The Scrum Master drives these improvements. He needs a lot of discipline, interest in and respect for the people.

But there are some specific things as well, how a Scrum Master could help. In a Licensed Scrum Master training, you'll learn not just basic Scrum, but how to apply patterns to improve the systems (/3/) & (/4/).
Scrum & Scrum Patterns Checklist
The easiest way for a Scrum Master to work with a team is to implement this checklist:

  • Product Owner: Is the (product) vision clear? Is the business value defined? Is the Product Owner able to decide and available?
  • Development Team: Has the team all the skills to deliver an increment in the Sprint, something of value for their customers? Is the team small, stable, dedicated and colocated? Has it "T-Shaped" people?
  • Scrum Master: Is the team working according to the Scrum Guide, happy and continuously improving? Does he facilitate empirical working?
  • In the first and in the following Product Backlog Refinement: Is the vision clear? Do they have & know a Definition of Done? Do they have enough Product Backlog Items ready for the next Sprint?
  • Sprint Planning: Do they know the capacity of the team? Have they planned a buffer for interrupts and a Kaizen item from the last Sprint? Do they know the Forecast and do they plan according to the "Finish Early" pattern? Do have they have a Sprint Goal & a Sprint Backlog?
  • Daily Scrum: Do they have a plan for the 24 hours? Do they know their progress to the Sprint Goal? Any new impediments? If the team uses burndown charts, is it updated?
  • Sprint Review: Have they inspected their Increment? Is it in a usable state and valuable for their customers? Do they get feedback from them in the Review and how does this feedback impact the Product Backlog. Is the Product Owner discussing the Product Roadmap with the Stakeholders?
  • Sprint Retrospective: Has the team identified one Kaizen item for the next Sprint? Is the team happy?
These items are maybe not easy to implement in the beginning. What is crucial: The Scrum Master facilitates a process, in which the team focuses every Sprint on one step they can take to improve the items on this checklist. One after another.


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