Scrum Master manages interactions of the Scrum Team with the Outside

Last post 01:34 am July 21, 2021
by Ian Mitchell
5 replies
Author
Messages
01:24 am May 11, 2020

Hi,

According to the Scrum Guide:

"The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t"

Can someone give real examples of such interactions(both helpful and otherwise) and also how SM would play his/her role under both the situations?

Also an example for how "The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team." ?

According to my understanding, "those outside the Scrum Team"  refers to the CEO, the stakeholders and the other Scrum teams.How is the SM able to manage these interactions? Does this mean that the SM is the first point-of-contact for the outsiders?

 

Thanks in advance,

Keya Vyas

04:07 pm May 11, 2020

Those outside the Scrum Team is anyone that is not part of the Scrum Team.  And it truly means anyone, even the office manager or accounting. 

Can someone give real examples of such interactions(both helpful and otherwise) 

Negative:

  • Sales making promises to the customers that a new feature will be given to them on a specific date where that date is not being given to the Sales person by the Scrum Team.
  • A Development Manager telling developers how to design some feature.
  • Requirements from Accounting that every employee in the company has to directly attribute 35 hours a week to billable hours to a customer.
  • CEO going directly to a favorite developer and telling them that they have to work on a new feature for the customer who the CEO just had a phone conversation with.

Positive:

  • Sales working directly with the Product Owner to introduce items into the Product Backlog that represent work that has been requested by users.
  • Development Manager preventing the IT Manager from dictating the use of a tool when said tool would cause a decrease in the Developers' productivity.
  • Sales, Marketing, C-staff trusting the Scrum Teams to be working efficiently on the right things to make a product valuable to the end users and thus to the profits of the organization. 

also how SM would play his/her role under both the situations?

Negative: The Scrum Master would approach the individual(s) and explain to them how their interactions are negatively impacting the Scrum Team's ability to produce value and how to change those interactions so that they are providing value instead.  Such as telling Sales that features will be incrementally built and feedback will be gathered from the stakeholders as the feature is built so that it is assured to be a feature that the stakeholders want at the time they start using it and not what they wanted 6 weeks prior when they asked for it. Explain to Sales that they could better provide value by helping to identify stakeholders that can work with the Product Owner in order to provide feedback on the incremental deliveries.

Positive: Make a point to celebrate the behvaviors.  Make the individuals know that they interactions are helping the Scrum Team to provide the value that is needed.  Recognize the trust that is being shared across the organization and how that trust is allowing people to feel more comfortable with making decisions.  Emphasize that the trust between the Scrum Team and the organization will lead to trust between all units within the organization and lead to be a less stressful work place.

 

08:01 pm May 11, 2020

Sales making promises to the customers that a new feature will be given to them on a specific date where that date is not being given to the Sales person by the Scrum Team.

I love that you brings this one up. This literally going on continuously at my current assignment. Sales selling stuff to the customer without consulting the Scrum Teams if they think it achievable etc. Now in a way this is always a game and I get that. But this is also a good example of where a Scrum Master can come in to facilitate better discussions and form mutual understanding. If this is just living it's own life, it will end up as complete distrust and form different parties with different agenda's within the same organization.

How a Scrum Master would play this role really depends on so many factors; types of people involved, means of communication, culture, and so on.

11:01 pm May 11, 2020

Depends on the organizational structure. A CEO in a large company will ask a VP Product for answers. They in-turn ask the Director, and so on. In a more horizontal start-up for instance, the PO usually answers questions about the Product, whereas the Scrum Master will answer questions around Scrum adoption, team dynamics, and opportunities for improvement. It all depends. 

05:30 pm July 16, 2021

@Daniel, I wholeheartedly agree with you.

@Keya, you posted:

How is the SM able to manage these interactions? Does this mean that the SM is the first point-of-contact for the outsiders?

SM's are not expected to nor should they manage interactions with those outside the Scrum team. Doing so will over time make the Scrum team dependent on the SM. Not a desirable outcome.

As for first point-of-contact, SM's should resist the urge to take on this role. Instead, they should be encouraging those outside the team to approach the most appropriate Scrum team member to ensure delivery of maximum value. In many cases, this should be the PO. Sometimes it may be a member of the "dev" team. If the item at hand is regarding how the team is working, the SM would in fact be the person to contact. And when the outsider doesn't know who to contact, they should also contact the SM.

 

01:34 am July 21, 2021

Rather than managing interactions a Scrum Master would manage people's understanding of Scrum. I'd suggest that's what's meant by a Scrum Master helping them understand which of their interactions are helpful and which aren’t.