ScrumMaster or Armchair Psychologist Scrum Fundamentals Webinar Q&A March 9, 2016

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1 ScrumMaster or Armchair Psychologist Scrum Fundamentals Webinar Q&A March 9, 2016 As a ScrumMaster, one of your responsibilities is "Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team." What is the best approach if that change is the hierarchy of the company (i.e. product management, product marketing, and development)? The problem is these various departments each direct the development teams, causing changing priorities and focus. The company knows there's a problem but has, so far, been unable to effect change. o The ScrumMaster is the servant leader to not only a Development Team but also to the Product Owner and to the organization. o A conversation with the appropriate leaders is the place to start. There may be coachable moments or teaching opportunities that come from raising whatever the impediments are that this structure is creating. o Any resulting re-structuring that may be proposed is best done collaboratively: involving not only the leaders but the people doing the work. People are more likely to support a decision when they have had a part in creating it. As a ScrumMaster with responsibilities to management for budgets and billable work, how can you remain a neutral party with the Scrum team? o The Product Owner owns anything that affects the Product. o The ScrumMaster does not own the budget nor the timeline nor the scope. o If the organization sees the ScrumMaster as some sort of administrative assistant tracking budget, time, etc. that is a misinterpretation of the role. o It is the Product Owner s responsibility. How do you show the business Scrum adoption status? o The Product Owner is the stakeholder manager in Scrum. They would ensure that the business is invited to end of Sprint Reviews and have access to visible information such as a Burndown chart or other relevant dashboards that the P.O. uses to convey what s been complete and what s coming next. o The ScrumMaster would coach or teach how to use or how to interpret this information. The S.M. ensures that information is radiated, but that does not mean they do this. They coach the P.O. and the Development Team on making work visible.

2 How do you motivate the organization not to consider a ScrumMaster as an overhead/over-cost inside a project since he or she's not usually directly doing the job as the rest of the team? o The ScrumMaster is considered an expense. Just as a Project Manager or Program Manager is considered an expense from project management. It is unclear if what is referenced here is a publicly traded company or privately held but this tends to be raised in publicly traded companies that have Sarbanes-Oxley reporting. In that case the ScrumMaster is an expense. Does the ScrumMaster also have the responsibility to understand team member competency improvement areas, as they impact team goal? o Yes. The S.M. is the coach. Good coaches have a pulse on where their team members are at, what their goals are, where they want to go, and helps them to achieve those goals. Often, the organization s outside development team is not Agile. They want fixed timelines and budgets for making decisions. How should a ScrumMaster seek cooperation/support from such outside stakeholders and shield the team from their interrupts, for successful adoption of Scrum? o The ScrumMaster is the internal coach and teacher the Scrum Values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Focus and Courage should not be negated when dealing with a non-scrum team. o The S.M. should respectfully approach the appropriate leader of the other teams involved and ask how to engage, best ways to work together, etc. They can also ensure that representatives from those teams are invited to any Release Planning or Refinement conversations, Sprint Planning, etc. The planning events do not need to be viewed as closed door in Scrum but open to anyone that has work for the Product Owners product. If team members are having conflict, is it better to intervene to prevent unproductive discussions or let them self-organize and solve the issue themselves? o The consulting answer everywhere is it, of course, depends J. If the dynamic and working agreements of the team call for it to be dealt with as it manifests, that would be appropriate. If there are no working agreements (make a note to get some), it may be better to let people save face and get to the bottom of what is not working via one-on-one conversations and then raising in a Retrospective to work out as a team.

3 How does one make the team (Stakeholders + PO + Team) understand the real value and scope of the ScrumMaster when they are starting Scrum and not a software development company? o When working with people, it s not realistic to thing we can make anyone do anything J. Understanding the ScrumMaster role is a teaching opportunity for the S.M. in the organization. o Leverage appropriate tools such as the Scrum Guide, the ScrumMaster Checklist (both references in the webinar), as well as demonstrating the value of the role by truly enacting it: actively facilitating key conversations, escalating removal of impediments, ensuring the P.O. is ready, ensuring that information is big and visible and understood by all, ensuring that end of Sprint Reviews show working product, ensuring increased performance through use of end of Sprint Retrospectives, coach and train when coachable and teachable moments arise, etc. I work with a mature team. They can self-organize and remove impediments themselves. The only thing that they don't do is update their progress to the management team. I feel useless being with them, as a ScrumMaster because what I did was just share the burndown slide and provide team progress updates. What is your advice in this? The ScrumMaster seems to be very redundant here. o It sounds like a complacent team. The 12 th value in the Agile Manifesto does not say that teams become complacent and call it a day. It calls for Continuous Improvement. o It s not the Development Team s job to update progress to management, it s the Product Owner s job. o It s the ScrumMaster s job to coach the Development Team on the value of making work visible and to provide information Daily on whether or not they will meet their Sprint Goals. o It s the ScrumMaster s job to coach the Product Owner on the value of making work visible and to share what is coming next to the Stakeholders, Leaders, Management, etc. in the organization through the use of Information Radiators and the end of Sprint Reviews. o Have you enacted every item daily in the ScrumMaster checklist? o From what was shared here it seems like there are opportunities being overlooked as a S.M. How do you avoid stepping on toes when, for example, working with a senior product owner who s coming from a technical background and failing to break down big stories into smaller stories rather than tasks? o Coaching is not stepping on toes. Velocity is a planning input that can be used to visibly see that the items are too big to be pulled into a Sprint.

4 o This is a coaching opportunity for the ScrumMaster to work with this Product Owner to teach techniques for vertically slicing the items on the Product Backlog so that they can be completed in a Sprint and the value of proactive Product Backlog Refinement. o Stepping on toes indicates there is some sort of interpersonal issue with the S.M. and the PO. If this is the case talk, the S.M. should talk with the P.O. or even review the Scrum Guide together so that the P.O. understands the coaching position that the S.M. is meant to take or even to be able to explain that the goal of a Sprint is to product potentially shippable product increments. This is not possible if the items cannot be complete in a Sprint. Harvey s rules for trust are for the product owner;; how does a ScrumMaster support the product owner in building trust? o The rules for trust are for everyone J. o The S.M. can coach the P.O. on building trust with the Organization through Scrum s visual management. The Product Backlog should be transparent, and people should be invited to Sprint Reviews to see working product. Roadmaps, Release plans, and Sprint Goals should be visible, etc. The S.M. can coach a P.O. on building trust with a team by encouraging them to meet Commitments (a Scrum value) of being at each Sprint Planning and each Sprint Review, being accessible during Sprints for questions and feedback and following through when the team raises items to the P.O. During meetings/ceremonies, should a ScrumMaster be completely focused on the team and meeting at-hand, or is there time to focus on other work to catch up on? o On the meeting at hand. The S.M. is an Active Facilitator. You are facilitating nothing if you are looking at your phone or your laptop. What are a few techniques on trying to get the team to not blame other "outside" team members, but instead take action and figure out a solution? o As servant leader to the Organization, the P.O. and the Development Team, a S.M. can offer to escalate what is outside of the team s control. o However, the S.M. can remind everyone about the art of the possible and ask the Development Team What CAN you do in this situation that is in your control? What suggestions do you have for resolving the issue? Any tips for encouraging quiet people to speak up in the team? o It may be worth finding out why the person is hesitant to speak up which is best done one on one. Without knowing the specifics there are a number of possibilities for this: culture considerations, gender

5 considerations, fear of speaking up based on past experiences with other groups, fear of speaking up based on experiences with THIS group, shyness, etc. o Depending on what is driving the outcome of not being willing to speak up, it may require one-on-one coaching, a Retrospective with the entire team to build trust or to address any negative response this person has been met with when they do try to speak up, etc. o There are a number of great silent techniques in the Agile Retrospectives book that can be used so that no one person feels put on the spot when building trust in a team and getting people comfortable with one another. o There are a number of great techniques in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni, for building trust. Sometimes factors for lack of motivation are intrinsic to a team member's personality. In this case, how can we improve environmental situations to ensure they perform to their potential? o The simple act of making work visible in Scrum provides an environment for team interaction and accountability. o Working together in a rugby-like approach. Pairing and swarming also provides this. o If those things are present and the person is simply opting out, you may need to find out what s at the root cause of this and act accordingly. Doesn't the directive to foster trust and empower everyone ignore the fact that some team members may simply not be competent? How do we improve teams by getting the best team members without, discreetly, calling out team members who are simply not a good fit? o Personally, I will take someone willing with a positive attitude any day over someone competent in a particular skill. o When there is willingness or drive competency can typically be gained with practice, repetition and focus on continuous improvement. o One of the mantras in Agile is take it to the team. The people doing the work are the best ones to figure how to address the work. If there is one person that is being voted off the island either overtly or silently. Either way, the team has decided or that person has decided. o As the S.M. you can talk to all involved and find out what the root cause is. Maybe that person is a better fit in another part of the organization. Maybe that person is not a fit for this organization. If they are not open to being coached or working as part of a team, it s not possible to change their will.

6 Do you have any tips to determine why someone is not self-motivated? Should you ask directly with empathy and understanding? o If you are comfortable asking in a one-on-one situation, that is the best if they are willing to share the answer honestly. o Polls or surveys of the whole team using anonymous tools sometimes allow people to provide information more freely when they trust that they are anonymous in providing their feedback. I m in a situation where the team members judge others very quickly and are not willing to change their views, How do I approach that? o Why do they judge others quickly? Why are they not willing to change their views? Do you know the root cause of the behavior? How long has the behavior been positively reinforced? o Working agreements are essential, or you have a collection of individuals you do not have a team. In hig- performing teams, working agreements and core values are posted right on the wall. o This way, when someone acts in a manner that is not congruent with those values or those agreements, the S.M. can point right to the very agreement that this team created and all agreed to. It s not personal, it s just business. o In the absence of such agreements, and in the absence of an active facilitator (S.M.) stopping these types of behaviors, they have been reinforced as ok so will take some work to stop and then reinforce that this is not ok as a way to work in this team. We're semi-scrum. What are your thoughts on the ScrumMaster also playing the project manager role? o This question tells me that you have not chosen one way to do work and you are trying to do the same work in two different ways. o Why would you do that? o Firstly, you need to pick which rules of the game you are following: Project Management or Scrum. o Things get more efficient and are easily understood when you know the rules of the game: i.e. the Scrum Guide or the PMBOK. What does it mean for the ScrumMaster to coach the product owner? o The S.M. is the internal coach for the Development Team, the P.O. and the Organization. o The S.M. coaches the P.O. in a number of ways, including but not limited to: sharing Product Backlog refinement techniques, ensuring readiness prior to key planning events, teaching information radiation techniques, ensuring that the P.O. is accessible to the team, and ensuring that the P.O. understands Scrum and is fulfilling the role as intended, etc.

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