In the Scrum framework, Scrum Master is an important role. There are so many different services that the Scrum Master has to provide to the team, PO and the organisation itself. This person has to be a coach, a trainer, a facilitator. Scrum Master has to remove impediments, protect the team from outside influences; so much of work.
I was wondering, how would this person tackle all these challenges. And if this person is already resolving these challenges what can take this person to next level. When I was thinking about this, I came across the book “Scrum Mastery” by Geoff Watts and his thoughts quite resonated with mine.
As a scrum master, it is never about us it is always about the teams. So what should we do so that the teams can get to the next level and thus we too can reach the next level of Scrum Mastery.
Here’s the acronym that Geoff shares – “BELIEF”. Belief is what is needed for Scrum Master to get the next level.
B – Believe: Believe in the potential of the team. Trust them that they are capable of delivering the software that is needed. This reminds me of the agile principle
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
E – Enquire: Do not ask questions so that we understand the situation or challenges of the team. Ask in a way so that the team understands what the situation is and is able to come up with solution to their challenges.
For ex: I was working with this team which had a senior team member; very good technically but had an annoying habit of prolonging daily scrums. Entire team was irritated with this habit, however no one wanted to confront the team member because of his seniority. When they came to me for guidance, I asked them what is a bigger challenge here, the seniority and technical abilities of that member or our inability to confront him? Asked them about the Scrum values? Which is the value that we are lacking? This guided them and they agreed that they aren’t showing enough courage; but decided that they would take this up themselves.
L – Listen: Listening is an art; on path of becoming a great scrum master it is a must have skill. When I did my CSM training, my trainer asked this question to all the trainees – “Do you listen to respond or do you listen to understand?” At that time I was not sure what the question meant. Now, I know what it is all about. We as Scrum Masters need to have patience to completely understand the situation/challenge the team members are facing. We need to lend our ears to them, not with the intention that we can come up with solutions for them; but with the intention that we ourselves clearly understand what the challenge is and then help the team to understand it.
Another aspect to Listening is, Scrum Master needs to perform like a thermostat. SM should be capable of reading the temperature of the room. We should not just listen to things that are being said but at the same time we need to listen to the things that are not said.
I – Illuminate: Be the switch that turns on the light bulb. As a Scrum Master, we need to help teams to retrospect, to reflect upon the situations they have been going through. We need to shadow the teams; make our observations, monitor the behaviours, inconsistencies and dysfunctions that may hinder the progress of the team. Then ask permission from the team and play back everything to the team as a mirror, without being judgemental; without any bias. Give them enough insights so that they themselves can reflect upon and then inspect & adapt.
E – Encourage: We already know that Agile processes embrace changes for the customers competitive advantage. One can only stay ahead in the market, when one has the ability to continuously innovate and improvise. A Scrum Master has to create an environment where teams feel safe to fail; to try out new things, to innovate. We need to encourage the teams that it is good to fail as long as we fail quickly, cheaply and we do not fail twice for the same reason. We need to create an environment where experiments – no matter how small, are part of the process. Continuous Improvement is the key to success of the team.
F – Facilitate: One important aspect of being a great Scrum Master is to be a great facilitator. There would be situations when there would be conflicts with-in the team, divergence from the goals, divergence from the Scrum values. A Scrum Master has to be able facilitate all such situations and guide the team through their difficult discussions, decisions.
One of the Agile principles is:
The best architecture, requirements and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
A great Scrum Master has to facilitate the self-organization within the teams.
In the journey from a good scrum master to a great scrum master, every Scrum Master has to have “BELIEF”, keep calm and scrum on.