# Wednesday, 17 June 2015

People don’t always understand the role of the ScrumMaster……..What is more shocking is ScrumMasters don’t always understand what their role is!

The Scrum Alliance in its literature and certified course material gives us good guidance.  I guess it’s then up to individuals and organisations to interpret it for what they want.  But all to often I meet mini project managers or people so laissez faire that the team is running rings around them!

People are obviously getting a little lost along the way.    As a coach my belief is ‘I am here to help people and organisations realise their full potential’   I do this by pulling on my experiences and a number of different methods that I practice.  When I meet ScrumMasters my mission is to make them coaches of the future. 

I started thinking about myself as a ScrumMaster and the different parts I play in the team.   I have broken these down to the different ceremonies and wider elements of the role.

I wanted to share this with you.   Naturally this is my interpretation based on my experiences of what being a great  ScrumMaster and a coach of the future is.  I am sure I have missed out many points and feel free to shout them out.

Here goes……

 Change Agency

  • Seen as an Agile ambassador for the organisation - the go to guy for coaching and mentoring help on Agile values, principles and practices
  • Understands trends across teams and actively looks to remove waste from the whole value stream
  • Works at all levels in the organisation to remove organisational impediments
  • Works with other ScrumMasters to ensure that organisational changes make sense for all teams
  • Develops communities that will grow/share knowledge and skills across the organisation
  • Works to grow his/her own skills, knowledge and competence that will benefit the organisation
  • Remorselessly eliminates waste
  • Coaches the team towards continuous improvement of quality and performance

User Story Creation

  • Promotes The 3 C’s (Card, Conversation & Confirmation)
  • Promotes INVEST (Independent, Negotiable, Estimate-able, Sizeable and Testable)
  • Encourages use of simple language to encourage conversation
  • Understands the relationship between Epics, Themes and Lower Level User Stories
  • Understands Minimum Viable Products and Minimal Marketable Features
  • Facilitates (if required) User story workshops using techniques such as User Story Mapping, including persona gathering techniques
  • Supports creation of well written, vertically sliced and valuable stories. Facilitates & teaches how to do this using their understanding of different patterns
  • Ensures User Stories are written from a customer view point
  • Works with the team to drive well-formed testable acceptance criteria
  • Ensures that functional & non-functional are covered
  • Understands & can coach the value Behaviour Driven Development
  • Looks to identify issues, risks, constraints, assumptions and dependencies from user stories. Uses techniques such as blocker clustering and adding to sprint backlog
  • Drives out when a Spike is required and ensures this is a time boxed activity
  • Ensures that continuous story refinement happens and that a team has seen a story at least 2 times before it gets accepted into a sprint
  • Works with the Product Owner to ensure that the team has 2 or 3 sprints worth of stories ready in advance of Sprint Planning

Story Estimating

  • Understands and able to articulate different ways to estimate, such as Story Points, Ideal Days & T-Shirt sizes
  • Uses multiple techniques to facilitate estimating activities, such as Planning Poker, Affinity Ordering, Ouji Board estimation
  • Drives conversation to deepen knowledge and bring estimate to a consensus
  • Looks to establish Calibration Stories with the PO, revisiting these as work changes
  • Drives the team to have stories smaller enough to enable rapid flow across the team board
  • Understands when User stories need to be re-estimated as new details have emerged or been clarified
  • Ensures that estimates are end to end effort – not just development

The Product Backlog & Release Planning

  • Makes sure there is a Vision and all work aligns to that vision, encouraging the team to question value
  • May facilitate visioning workshops with the Product Owner, stakeholders and teams
  • Has techniques for helping stakeholder discuss the value of the work
  • Has sight of the Product Backlog and the priority of work, working with the PO to ensure the team has enough work based on their velocity. Aims to have 2 or 3 sprints worth of work prepared at any given time
  • Understand and can coach a PO on the creation, value and use of the Product Burn down
  • Understands ‘Dark Matter’ and how it effects the Product Backlog growth/forecasting over time
  • Collaborates with the PO to create an Agile Release Plan. Regularly feeds into plan to keep it up to date and it is shared with the stakeholders and team

Sprint Planning

  • Helps the team and PO to establish the sprint length. Understands the benefits and negative aspects of having between 1-4 week sprints
  • Protects the sprint length and understands patterns on why requests would arrive to break these, such as not being able to break work down and so we need a 3 week sprint
  • Understands the different ways to facilitate a Sprint Planning session to get the most interactive and collaborative session as possible
  • Establishes a team capacity and monitors trends
  • Draws out issues and risks, following up on the resolution of these
  • Ensure the estimates are agreed within the team and that no task is greater than a day to enable flow
  • Ensures the delta between commitment & delivery is at the right tolerance
  • Empowers the team to reduce reliance on the ScrumMaster
  • Guides on uses of different visualisation techniques to ensure the team board radiates as much information as possible
  • Empowers the team to make a reasonable commitment, educating them that they will need slack to be able to deal with uncertainty, as you start to do the work you discover more things

Every Day Working and Daily Scrums

  • Promotes the Agile Manifesto, Values, Principles & Practices at all times
  • Practices the use of time boxes to keep activities focused
  • Makes sure the team has a Definition of Done that is reviewed at least every three months or when the nature of the work changes
  • Call out and makes visible any team working agreements
  • Works with the team to ensure they have everything required to complete the sprint
  • Understands, resolves or escalates impediment. Impediments to be visible to the whole team and the wider organisation
  • Understands and mitigates day to day risks with the team
  • Monitors and removes wasteful activity by using a method to categorise, such as 7 categories of waste, waste snake, Kanban categories of waste
  • Promotes collaboration and cross learning
  • Continually understands if the work in the sprint is achievable using charts to support. Such as the burn down or the cumulative flow diagram
  • Encourages swarming as a practice in the team to ensure the team is focussed at all times on delivering the most valuable story first, to the definition of done
  • Protecting the team from outside distractions
  • Facilitates the Daily Stand up Meeting using the traditional three questions or walk the board style
  • Encourages team ownership of the visual board and recognises if flow or blockers are happening across the board
  • Understands and can coach when engineering practices can best be used
  • Is mindful if the team is creating technical debt. Working to eradicate this and to reduce any existing in the team/organisation
  • Understands and monitors the quality of the work.
  • Observation is a key tool to understand the dynamics of team
  • Coaches and supports the team towards the goal of the Sprint

Reviews

  • Creates an environment where the review is a collaboration of all team members
  • Enables the space for the team to prepare the session, providing guidance on how effectively they can use the time and make the sessions valuable
  • Works with the PO to advertise and promote stakeholder attendance, such as posters, emails, social media, dragging people away from desks to drum up attendance
  • Actions and additional stories are capture for consideration and actioning
  • Ensure the team receives the required recognition for the work they have achieved
  • Drives cross team knowledge sharing by publishing the teams achievements
  • Understands root cause analysis of any potential delta between committed and delivered stories and supports the team to put actions in place to reduce this.

Retrospectives

  • Keeps the format fresh and provides the appropriate type of retrospective for the situation at hand. Such as deep dive, broad, milestone
  • Facilitates the session to include the maximum amount of participation from the group. Get them up and active and gather insight
  • Facilitates from the back of the room to utilise reading body language and tone of voice to drive out things left unsaid
  • Practices root cause analysis such as the ‘5 Whys’ to help the team drive to what the challenges really are.
  • Practices ‘Powerful’ questions to drive out learnings and improvement opportunities
  • Drive the team to continuously improve working practices, taking actions from each retrospective to complete in the next working period
  • Makes a record of the outputs of the session and ensure that points are not just forgotten, but banked for future retrospectives. Such as creating an improvement backlog or agreeing with the PO to have these in the main backlog
  • Works to remove actions that are low hanging fruit to support the team
  • Monitors team trends and shares these with other teams to identify organisational trends

You can see there is lots and I am sure I could have kept on writing Smile

Final Thoughts

I want you to thinking about the role you play as ScrumMaster and ask yourself:

  • Do you do the majority of these things?
  • What can you do differently to maximise your contribution to the team and the organisation?

ScrumMasters need to continuously improve, the same way we expect our teams to. ScrumMastery is a leadership role and we all need to step up to that.



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Wednesday, 17 June 2015 11:30:37 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1]