Be who you are – Essentials of a ScrumMaster’s role

A ScrumMaster is a lot of things – Mentor, Guide, Buddy, Coach, Shoulder to cry upon, Teacher, Specialist and many more ..

But, if we think deeper….Can one person really be all of these at once??

I think the nearest super humans we know, who can pull of all of these responsibilities without batting an eyelid , is our mothers who can be awake at 4 am every morning, work till 1 am in the night and be raring to go once more at 4 am.

But obviously, we can’t be like our moms (even if we try), more so in a professional setting, so as a Scrum practitioner ( Read again, I did not mention ScrumMaster ), before you can decide to become a ScrumMaster or a Trainer or a Coach, you need to understand and decide who you are ..else just like our furry friend in the video , you might be thinking…ok now what?

Now, the next dilemma is how do I know what I want to be and where I want to be. So, here is a simple matrix to help you understand:

Excerpted from adoption of Choosing a Consulting Role: Principles and Dynamics of Matching Role to Situation. Douglas P. Champion, David H. Kiel and Jean A. McLendon by DandyPeople

As a ScrumMaster you are a teacher, coach, mentor and facilitator, but in your profile and future vision if you lean towards the other roles, may be its time for a realignment of priorities and career expectations.

Do reach out to your coaches and mentors to help you understand your own self better and then decide accordingly


PS: A little bit off the track, but unfortunately, most of the “Agile coaches” Job descriptions advertised these days, expect you to be a Hands-on expert (on everything!) and then when you take up that role, the misses and disappointments start popping up!!

Choose Wisely…. Does your future organization really understand the role of an Agile coach or a ScrumMaster?

Is ‘Agile’ a substitute for your messy culture?

800 teams , more than 100 organizations that I have coached to build an Agile culture and practices, but a peculiar thing that I have noted.

I probably had not paid attention to this earlier, but as I was looking back and analyzing the pre and post transformation status of lot of my clients, I was almost amazed on how I missed it!

What I realized was for almost half of my customers who went for an Agile transformation, Agility was not about being more flexible or faster time to market or better employee satisfaction (though these were the stated goals) , what my team and yours truly ended up doing was, focusing on bringing discipline and actually documenting and tracking some KPIs (Where there were none!).

You must be wondering if my coaches are advising more documentation and tracking, how can it be called Agile?

Sample this: The project managers of one of the very large and global organizations, track their progress not in terms of days and hours but rather in weeks. Task A would take 8 weeks, Task B would take 16 weeks and more. All this is documented not in any tool or spreadsheet but in a powerpoint slide set and that is updated only by the Project Manager.

The culture is almost perfectly “Agile”.. team members decide the timelines, there is a great camaraderie between team members across the team, they respond to change as needed based on market conditions and change the plan, almost too good Agile … a perfect Agile team….!!!

BUT …..

…they deliver their projects on an average from 18 months to 27 months even though the mandate is 6 months or less for an average project.

…Whenever the status is updated, it is not in terms of number of hours (or days ) pending but just a simple percentage, 50% done, 80% done etc.

Because the organization is truly Agile and cares about its employees, employees reject team and project meetings half an hour before the meeting, because they simply couldn’t come to office that day or were too busy with other stuff.

So, would you call this organization Agile or not Agile. As a coach, if I call for the enterprise to be more disciplined first before using Scrum practices, would I be exaggerating?

Does Agile comes with just the employee friendly rules and culture or there’s more to it, which is as important as setting up a nice team culture?

I await your comments and any similar experiences you have in your organization?