How scrum master should handle the issues that cannot be resolved?

Last post 01:12 am August 27, 2019
by Ian Mitchell
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06:51 am August 26, 2019
07:02 am August 26, 2019

That's quite a broad question. Can you give an example?

In general, I'd suggest maximize transparency and enable opportunities for inspection and adaptation, but it would be probably be more useful if you can explain the specific challenge you're facing

11:46 am August 26, 2019

There are some impediments created at an organizational level that may be out of the Scrum Master or Team's control. I'd echo Simon's response on making these transparent. If it's important to the team you can always start to build a case to the organizational leaders as to why it needs changed. Hard evidence of things like time wasted and decreased quality can help the conversation quite a bit. 

While that's going on I'd encourage the team to focus on things within their control as well. It's important to continue to improve what's in their purview especially since larger, slower changes can be discouraging at times (especially if it's something the team has known about for a long time.)

02:05 pm August 26, 2019

How scrum master should handle the issues that cannot be resolved?

Are you sure that the issues cannot be resolved? Might there be others outside the team who can take action, if the problem is raised to them for handling by exception?

02:32 pm August 26, 2019

Are you sure that the issues cannot be resolved? Might there be others outside the team who can take action, if the problem is raised to them for handling by exception?

@Ian Mitchell, "handling by exception", I am assuming is management by exception. Even I wanted clarification on this term. Does this mean the Scrum Master can use the help of management in certain cases or does it mean the Scrum Master can manage by exception? Are you able to help out with some scenarios or examples, please? Thanks.

03:01 pm August 26, 2019

Does this mean the Scrum Master can use the help of management in certain cases or does it mean the Scrum Master can manage by exception?

Both:

  • A team might not be empowered to resolve an unusual or edge-case impediment, where an organizational agile leader might be.
  • When a team is self-organizing, a Scrum Master is more likely to take action only by exception

Are you able to help out with some scenarios or examples, please? Thanks.

  • A team might have a dependency on database specialists, enterprise architects, or a change control board, none of whom may have an interest in resolving issues in a Sprint time-scale. The specific dependencies were not necessarily foreseeable. This issue might then be escalated to management who would handle it by exception.
  • When team members raise an impediment to a Scrum Master, because they are not in a position to resolve it themselves, he or she is thus notified by exception.

It's important to distinguish management by exception from reactive management (fire-fighting). They are often confused.

04:15 pm August 26, 2019

@Ian Mitchell. Can the Product Owner or the Development team use management by exception, or is this only something that the Scrum Master can use? If only SM, then why? Is it because the SM is considered the management position (not manager) within a Scrum Team?

So, If an issue is something that the SM can resolve, then the SM is managing by exception, and if it falls outside the boundaries of the SM, then management is involved by exception, is my understanding correct?

05:18 pm August 26, 2019

Hi All,

Thank you for your responses. I came across this question when I was looking into one the Job Description / requirement for Scrum Master role - 

  • Escalates issues that cannot be resolved to the Product Team
05:44 pm August 26, 2019

Can the Product Owner or the Development team use management by exception, or is this only something that the Scrum Master can use? If only SM, then why? Is it because the SM is considered the management position (not manager) within a Scrum Team?

So, If an issue is something that the SM can resolve, then the SM is managing by exception, and if it falls outside the boundaries of the SM, then management is involved by exception, is my understanding correct?

It takes two agencies to manage by exception: one to raise the exception and another to act on it. A Product Owner might delegate some of his or her work to a Development Team for example, and manage by exception while remaining fully accountable.

A Development Team, being closest to the work and therefore to potential sources of impediment, would typically only raise exceptions. However, it is possible for a Development Team to act on exceptions raised by other teams, such as integration issues raised by peer teams in a Nexus.

06:55 pm August 26, 2019

@Ian Mitchell, To confirm if I've understood this right, if a team raises an impediment which they can't solve to the Scrum Master, then the Scrum Master manages by exception, the impediment raised.

So, for the below statement...

Might there be others outside the team who can take action, if the problem is raised to them for handling by exception?

...In the situation of an unresolved conflict, if the situation beyond the responsibilities of the SM and the DT, is it the SM who should ask management (others outside the team) to manage by exception, or is it the DT who should be doing this?

01:12 am August 27, 2019

I’d suggest that the SM would wish to take the matter in hand, so that the team might better retain focus on the Sprint Goal.