Scrum Master inflation Alert!

This article is directed to all who think that being a Scrum Master is inferior, and therefore think (ab)using the term “Agile Coach” is justified.

Note. A serious warning before you read on: If you consider yourself to be an Agile Coach and you are not up to digesting some painful transparency about your role, please stop here.

OK, so when you read this line, I have captured your attention, which means the agile community might be one small step closer to transparency. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I want to reward you with the management summary: “We should re-establish the title of Scrum Master to stop the proliferation of oblique role nomenclature. Our professionalism demands this from us; We need to practice the transparency we preach.

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The Elements of Scrum card deck

I check the scrum guide frequently. It's because I am a Scrum Master and I am responsible for the Scrum process. Every word in this guide has been chosen carefully. Sometimes I need to look up the exact wording to ensure I got it right. If I don't fully understand this framework deeply, I cannot guide teams to enact it.

 

I noticed that reading the Scrum guide over and over helps to discover deeper relationships between the elements of Scrum. As I am progressing in becoming a Scrum Trainer at scrum.org, I felt that more can be done to support learning the Scrum framework. I discovered, for example, there is a number of elements that Scrum refers to, but are not officially a part of Scrum. Seeing those grouped together makes sense.

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Definition of done: the Swiss army knife of Scrum

Most of the concepts in Scrum are easy to understand but extremely difficult to master. This is due to the fact that Scrum is designed for perfect, and reality never is. The same principle applies to the Definition of Done.

When we start up teams, we help them to set a Definition of Done (DoD). Teams are taught the DoD is an instrument that will provide them transparency in two ways:

  • understanding what the effort of work is, considering all the tasks that need to be undertaken by the team before work can be marked as “done”.
  • understanding what “done” means when an item is inspected at the end of the sprint.
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From Sheep Dog to Lap Dog

Back in the early days of Scrum, the Scrum Master role was exciting. The days of the pigs & chickens, the days when being a Scrum Master was considered dangerous.

In those times there was the saying

a dead Scrum Master is a useless Scrum Master 

And even today I still use that when selecting a Scrum Master to work with. 

If you never got fired as a Scrum Master then you probably did not show enough courage to achieve breakthrough improvements.

Scrum Master as a Sheep Dog

As a Scrum Master you would work with the Product Owner on value; coach management on organizational design; and work with the Development Team on self-organization and technical excellence. The Scrum Master would strive for the team to put the product into the hands of the customer every Sprint. It was natural to work on test automation, code quality and deployment. If the Scrum Master would catch a project manager sneaking in from the back, breaking the rules and disturbing the teams, the Scrum Master would go for a frontal confrontation, or as Brian Marick once said:

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The LeSS Dynamics Game

The LeSS Dynamics Game

( a.k.a. The Waterfall Game)

 

Goal of the Game

The goal of this game is to understand how organisational design using component teams leads to the waterfall and unnecessary complexity. In this game, you experience how a typical scaling approach I call “Copy Paste Scaling” results in not so good things in organisations. 

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