Should I accept scrum master position

Last post 07:55 pm February 18, 2019
by Daniel Wilhite
17 replies
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05:06 pm January 23, 2019

Hi everyone,

My current company wants to start using scrum approach for project delivery. Since I am PSM1 certified by scrum org, they are offering me the position of scrum master but I am bit reluctant to accept the offer since I do not have any working experience as scrum master. I do have all the theoretical knowledge about the concepts used in scrum as per scrum guide but I am not sure how to start implementing it practically in the project. Moreover, their is no one in the company who has any working knowledge on scrum under whos supervision I can start using it practically. I don't want to introduce any wrong culture or practise due to my lack of practical knowledge on scrum project implementation and there would not be anyone in the company who can tell me this is right that is wrong. Should I accept the offer? If yes, how should I start? Your suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks in advance

09:00 pm January 23, 2019

My current company wants to start using scrum approach for project delivery.

Are you satisfied that this is true? Who in the company wants this, and why? Is senior management aware that deep change is likely to be required across the organization, even if one team is to produce just one “Done” increment of release quality? Would management, at top-level, be keen to work with you on achieving a Scrum implementation?

You could start with the matter of shifting the organizational focus onto product delivery rather than “project delivery”, for example.

12:35 am January 24, 2019

"Pearls don't lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it." -- Chinese proverb

A good start for your team and manager would be Scrum training.  A Professional Scrum Foundations (PSF) course would be a great start, and many trainings can be done privately. 

01:12 am January 24, 2019

Thanks for you reply Ian. Its a very small development team of 8-10 people and a product owner so I don't think it would go till top level management and all that. The team just want to implement the concepts of scrum, wants to start having user stories delivered in sprints etc. Everyone in the team is aware of theoretical concepts of scrum but no one knows how to implement it in practical exactly. I am concerned that scrum would be customized in such case to their comfort level and since I also don't have a working experience I would not be in position to say what is wright and wrong. How should I proceed in such case?

01:17 am January 24, 2019

Yes Chris but as I mentioned, the team already is aware of all the theoretical concepts of scrum hence training will only help them in clearing their theoretical concepts but how should I proceed to implement it in practical? Their will be no one to guide us if we are doing right and not distorting the scrum. If I accept this role, what should be my starting point in the team other than providing scrum trainings?

08:07 am January 24, 2019

Hi Priyanka,

 

I was exactly in the same situation last year when my organisation wanted me to be a Scrum Master of a Scrum Team. That time I do not have any practical experience as scrum master but I have read about it more from different platforms and attended some sessions/trainings.

You should accept the offer.

If yes, how should I start? Your suggestions are much appreciated. 

First you should talk to your managemnt and explain your point of view, you will need their complete support while implementing Scrum.

Totally agree with Chris, ask your team to read and learn more about Scrum and ask your organisation to arrange some sessions/trainings for them as well.

Connect to different forums and blogs to gain more knowledge on Scrum.

All the very Best.

04:17 am January 25, 2019

Thanks Prasun, may be I can start talking to the team about the changes that will be required to implement scrum. Just one more question here, as you mentioned you also did not have any practical experience so how did you start with it let's say on day 1 what you did as a scrum master other than explaining the team about it. My team is already supporting it but it's just that I do not have clarity on how I can implement all the concepts practically. Any suggestions?

06:23 am January 25, 2019

I am concerned that scrum would be customized in such case to their comfort level and since I also don't have a working experience I would not be in position to say what is wright and wrong. How should I proceed in such case?

Would you be able to help the team learn for themselves what is right and wrong?

For example, could you put transparency in place over any discrepancies between their Scrum implementation and the Scrum Guide, the work which is forecast and remaining, and any problems which arise?

08:02 am January 25, 2019

First work with your Product Ower on Product Backlog items to make sure the it is good shape. Try to divide the items in Granular form. Decide factors like Sprint length, external dependencies on your product.

As a ScrumMaster, you have complete authority over the process. Remember the Scrum values (Transperancy, Inspection and Adaptation ) for all the Scrum ceremonies. 

Facililate Scrum events and ceremonies, starting with Sprint plannning and tell the Developemnt team to deliver potentially shippable software at the end of each sprint.

At initial stage, things are more challenging but you will learn more as you proceed.

 

Learn more from Videos available online on Scrum ceremonies.

 

Thanks.

 

 

 

04:34 pm January 25, 2019

Their will be no one to guide us if we are doing right and not distorting the scrum. If I accept this role, what should be my starting point in the team other than providing scrum trainings?

There is some good advice above, especially about putting transparency in place.  Perhaps you can start to put a transformation backlog in place, as well as a list of organizational impediments.

Other organizations I have seen jump in to transformation get help beyond training - they may hire a coach to help everyone on the Scrum team, and managers as well.

08:02 pm January 25, 2019

I tend to think that scrum is kind of religion. It is a bit funny reading that you are afraid of "distorting the scrum". If it will turn that you are doing "scrum heresy", so what ? The main beauty of scrum for me is the fun of working together. Of course it is fun when the team is engaged.

It turned out that in my company we are not doing scrum but some other agile variant like nexus or something. I have received some recommended reading but I have not read it yet. I have been process master one time but I have done it as team member. I had normal work to do and additionally organize meetings and manage jira. It was fun, however as I now think it is not healthy to treat scrum as religion. It is better to be open to people and discuss. Even someone is sceptical about scrum ceremonies we should accept it.

 

 

04:16 pm January 26, 2019

do accept, then scrum is your product, and you're job is to maximise its value

do, because then you have something you can inspect and adapt

be empirical about finding the answer to your question 

 

08:18 am January 28, 2019

I was in a similar situation back in 2016. A colleague approached me and told me the company was going to develop a new product and they had chosen Scrum to do it ("they" being the team). Their manager had agreed to it - although in hindsight it's pretty clear he didn't know what he was getting himself into. I was asked to be the Scrum Master because I had some superficial knowledge of Scrum from my university days.

I started reading up a lot and eventually got CSM training. The team stayed together for about a year before the company put a stop to the development, because they decided they had other priorities. During the time we ran into a myriad of organisational impediments. Some were resolved, but most weren't. The company wasn't interested in going agile. They were under the impression that they could remain a waterfall organisation with some agile pockets tacked on when it fit their purposes.

In summary: I learned a lot. The team learned a lot. And we all moved on. I think the PO is still at the company, but other than that every one of us moved on to other companies. For me personally, after having had a taste of freedom (and to me, Scrum is about freedom), I decided to find an actual agile organisation.

I don't regret a day I spent on that team. It benefitted me and it benefitted the team. Sadly, it didn't benefit the company as much as I'd liked, but such is life.

I can't give you a recommendation on taking the job vs not taking it. But maybe my experience can help give you some orientation.

05:17 pm January 28, 2019

hi Priyanka,

I was in a similar situation or even worse situation 3 years ago. My then manager, who happens to be an Agile coach as well, found a good Scrum Master qualities in me. But what I had seen around me was that the Scrum Master is a facilitator and servant-leader, not responsible for product delivery (at least directly). Whereas all my prior positions in the same organization had been working directly with business, management, team and accountable for product delivery dependent on the role. I trusted my coach-manager and took the position, did lot of study online, especially looking for real-life team and organization scenarios (Mike Cohn's blogs have been a huge inspiration). And would always look to the Agile manifesto for any decision making (during facilitation, observations and servant-leadership). If situations would not meet the Agile values & principles as well as the Scrum values and pillars, then I would do lot of research before "coaching" team to come up with better ways of working.

Happy to help on specific team situations, offline, if you will.

All the best!

11:33 pm February 17, 2019

Thank you Julian for your inputs

11:37 pm February 17, 2019

Jaysmika thank you for providing your thoughts. I would be more than happy to share my queries offline with you to get some guidance. Please provide me your email address where I can communicate with you

05:42 am February 18, 2019

I would suggest that before implementing Scrum conduct a casual meeting where you all can discuss new ideas,suggestions about Agile. Ask the team "How do you feel about this big change in way of working?" ,"Are you all open to this change?" , "How comfortable you all are with each other?", "How you can contribute towards this change?", "What do you think, how will it impact your productivity?" etc.

Then move on to scrum concepts, clear their doubts, facilitate team bonding activities. Once you know that team is onboard with the change and familiar with the concepts of the scrum, make a prioritized list of tasks which you would like to do in sprint such as Sprint planning meeting, Product backlog grooming, team bonding activities, retrospective, impediment resolution etc. Start working on the list items one by one.

One cannot become great scrum master overnight. Believe in your team and yourself. Give it some time and you will be there.

I hope this helps. All the best.

 

 

07:55 pm February 18, 2019

There is a lot of good advice in this thread but I do want to point out one piece that you need to avoid.  @Prasan said 

As a ScrumMaster, you have complete authority over the process. 

There is no process in Scrum. As Scrum Master you have no authority just as no one else in Scrum has authority.  A self-managed, self-organized team does not need authority and a servant-leader never exerts authority. 

I had similar experiences on more than one occasion and I will admit that I really don't consider either one a total success.  Most of mine were very similar to what @Julian described.  I found some level of success and so did the team members but for the organization as a whole, it was a failure.  Mainly because instead of doing an Agile Transformation, we were attempting an Agile Revolution.  There was a small faction in the company that wanted to change and in order for that to be successful, we had to force a lot of other factions to change.  They all fought the change.  And just as most revolutions across history, we didn't succeed.  But not all revolutions fail so if you can get enough support behind it you might be more successful than I have ever been.

To your original question.  

Should I accept the offer? 

As with all things Agile/Scrum, we can't answer that for you.  We can offer advice, experiences we have had.  But empirically, only you can make the decision based on what you know. 

My parting statements are that you did the work to obtain the PSM I.  If you didn't want an opportunity to become a Scrum Master, why did you do that?  Do you think you will get another opportunity anytime soon? Do you feel like you could learn anything from doing this?  And you always have this group of very vocal, very opinionated, very willing individuals to provide you some help if you ask.  

Good luck with your decision.