Recently I ran into this funny agile comic strip. So let me ask you, who would you rather have as a Scrum Master in your Scrum team? The first gay or the second one?
I don’t know. What do you think? Put your comments down below…
The first one looks like a badass, the team thinks that they need this kind of SM and the second one is getting started with Scrum.
WOULD YOU AGREE THAT THEY BOTH SUCK?
Of course, choosing the Scrum Master depends upon the maturity of the organization. It also depends on the organizational culture. There can be several different types of scrum masters. And they can all do a great job, like in Cobra Kai martial arts tv series. I hope you are familiar with it.
There's a widespread for how organizations view a scrum team. I don't see us backpedaling to a place where we're moving against POs being ride or die.
But in early phase mature organizations there's an us and them mentality between PMs and devs.
It takes a while to rebuild that trust with teams when the culture hasn't supported it.
Now, what does it mean to be a Badass Scrum Master?
Let me simplify the BADAss Scrum Master. Let’s pretend for a moment that you are that Scrum Master, OK?
You’re going to go back to your office and you’re going to meet your team of ideally 9 people. No more than that. You’re going to take that team and you’re going to ask your Product Owner to show you the product backlog.
Now, if you are just starting development from starch, it’s probably going to be a mess, with all those “great” ideas from stakeholders. So then, you will set aside 2 hours to refine it. While the team is refining these requirements, probably in the form of user stories, you’re going to help your PO to calculate the team’s capacity, so that the team can take the refined stories into the sprint backlog.
Now here’s where you need to be careful. You make a mistake now and it’s going to blow your entire sprint plan or your sprint goal to be precise. Do not allow the product owner to pressure the team to commit to more work than their allocated capacity.
But we are pretending that we are just starting with product development, which means that you don’t have any historical data from previous sprints, which means that you don’t know your team’s capacity. Right?
Well, it depends. The product that you are building could be brand new, but the team could have been working on some other project in the past as well. That means that they already know themselves and how much work each of them can pull. So, the Badass Scrum Master will find a way to get some data. The sprint has no meaning if no goal has not been defined. Define the Sprint goal, then, define what work is needed to reach it.
If you do not have experience working in a range of teams then being a Scrum Master is off the cards until you have that under your belt. It doesn’t have to be super experienced with Scrum Teams, just work closely with people.
If you are not a “people” person you will probably struggle at the beginning.
No one cares about Scrum certification. The benefit of getting certified is the training. Certificates do not prove you have what it takes to be a good Scrum Master.
This is not an entry-level job and will require demonstrable experience.
BUT I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU!
I have seen people from HR, traditional Project Management, Quality Assurance, and Software Engineering become good Scrum Masters. You do not require lots of tech experience if you can prove your other important skills.
Regardless of your current job role or experience, there are things you can do to build your skills and gain useful experience for getting that Scrum Master job. This applies even in non-Agile environments.
Let’s talk for a moment about How To Become A Badass Scrum Master:
Very little about being a Scrum Master is chatting about the framework or reciting the Scrum Guide. This role is so much more.
- A Scrum Master is a facilitator. This is key, learn how to lead productive meetings/workshops/retrospectives from the background or if required, drive them hard to reach the desired outcomes. Ensure that everyone has a voice and that everyone is heard. Make sessions fun and valuable, people should be happy when they find out you are hosting.
- A Scrum Master is a coach. Learn the difference between mentoring and coaching and get good at both. Learn how to ask powerful questions. Get comfortable with people coming up with ideas and solutions you do not agree with. The Scrum Master coaches the team to badly face their problems and when they are off track. A well-coached team will be self-correcting and will be happy to chat about delivery.
- A Scrum Master builds Psychological Safety everywhere, Which is fundamental to healthy and high-performing teams. Learn and implement techniques and approaches, advocate for them across your company, and be a bastion of safety.
- A Scrum Master is a conflict Resolver. Learn techniques to deal with conflict and with difficult team members. Embrace bold and difficult conversations, and do not shy away from conflict.
- A Scrum Master is a great team builder. Learn techniques for team building that create deep and lasting bonds. See opportunities for team building everywhere.
- A Scrum Master can do root cause analysis. Everyone can come up with a solution, but are they addressing the cause? Learn how to delve into issues and understand the symptoms and the causes. Learn how to guide a team to do this. Any solution or idea should be treated as an experiment that must be measured, ensuring they understand the cost of such an experiment.
- A Scrum Master knows how to give and take feedback. Believe it or not, this is a really hard skill to master but it will serve you well.
- A Scrum Master challenge assumptions. Everyone has ideas and opinions. Some of them will be wrong and that is OK. What is important is that we test them and back up the follow-up with data. For example, if a PO thinks a feature will solve a Users Problem, cool let us prove it!
- A Scrum Master is hungry for knowledge. This is self-explanatory. There constantly read, take courses, go to Meetups, etc, and join at least one community.
So, do you like my idea of a BADAss Scrum Master?
Now, if you are a Scrum Master, or you are considering this career path,
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
I will at the bottom of this article, it’s a free Scrum-Master-Self-Assessment-Checklist.pdf
Use this test to figure out where you are now and where you need to improve. Bring these elements into your working life right now. You can quickly build a bank of scenarios that you could discuss in an interview. For example, even in a non-Agile company, you should be able to answer “Can you tell me about a time that you successfully facilitated a conflict resolution”.
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES YOU CAN USE IN A NON-AGILE ENVIRONMENT:
- Offer to hold a retrospective for a recent project, event, session, etc
- Offer to hold a team building session, this is a good idea when someone new joins your team
- Offer to host your team meeting in a different format
- Offer to run a goal-setting session for your team
- Whatever you do, get into the mindset of proving the impact of your actions.
But if your company is not Agile, well BADAss Scrum Master is an advocate for Agile and sees opportunities everywhere. Be the change that you want to see in your company. Get stakeholder buy-in and run small experiments all the time. If you can prove you have made a small but meaningful difference in your non-agile team or company, it will take you much further than a certificate would.
If I were interviewing someone who was not currently in an Agile team, I would be probing to find out what they have done in that space to make a difference. Therefore, when I see people mention their company. Is not Agile and they simply want to move into an already Agile environment I can’t help but think they are missing out on key opportunities to have an impact.
✅ Download FREE Scrum-Master-Self-Assessment-Checklist.pdf. Send an email to agileandscrummasterclass (at) gmail.com (SUBJECT: Scrum-Master-Self-Assessment-Checklist.pdf), and I will send it to you immediately.
and I challenge you to share your results in the comments!!!
if you prefer the video: