July 24, 2014

Agile Coaching Blog

ScrumMasters and Agile Transformation: Are We There Yet?

After you finished your first CSM class, you probably felt that the ScrumMaster role was pretty simple. Facilitate a few meetings, keep everyone true to Scrum—how difficult can it be? We’ve found that most people return from introductory Scrum training feeling like they can easily add a few ScrumMaster duties to their current responsibilities with little to no disruption.

What you have likely realized since serving as a ScrumMaster, however, is that the ScrumMaster role is far more complex and rich than you had originally envisioned. Although it can be done alongside other responsibilities, the ScrumMaster role takes a lot more expertise than just scheduling meetings and passing the CSM exam. The reality is that being an effective ScrumMaster is anything but easy.

Effective ScrumMasters Have Depth of Knowledge

The Scrum Guide says that the ScrumMaster is in service to the team, product owner, and organization, with a broad range of responsibilities:

  • Ensure teams adhere to Scrum practices
  • Assist and advice on grooming the product backlog
  • Find new techniques
  • Coach teams and the organization through a Scrum adoption.

In essence, an effective ScrumMaster is an agile transformation expert, a career-long goal that takes a great deal of time and effort to realize.

Effective ScrumMasters Have Broad Expertise

During the last company retreat, a number of agile coaches (including me) pondered what skills/knowledge the most effective ScrumMasters share. As we began to story map the role, we found that the most effective SMs wind up progressing down a road toward becoming agile transformation coaches, embracing true servant leadership to help others achieve success.

ScrumMaster Scrum Master Story Map

Take a look at the story map we created. Looking at the sheer size of all those skills and competencies, are we not expecting too much out of our ScrumMasters? Can anyone really build all of those skills in just two days of training?

Becoming an Effective ScrumMaster is a Long Journey

Becoming an effective ScrumMaster is a continuous pursuit of knowledge and practice, and like any professional pursuit it takes mentorship and guidance. The most we can expect from our SMs is continuous improvement in helping deliver what is important to, and delights, customers.

So how does an ScrumMaster become more effective?

I am glad you asked. We’re developing workshops, courses, and other materials intended to advance ScrumMasters in their journey. We would like your input.

Here’s the question: If you could get help with just one extra component of the ScrumMaster role, what would it be and why?

Stay tuned for more on our progress toward making the road to becoming a truly effective ScrumMaster just a little easier!

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About Carlos Buxton Carlos Buxton

Agile coach and enthusiast with extensive experience leading cross-functional and outsourced teams in adopting agile frameworks and maximizing business value delivery.

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