Exploitation of Scrum Master on the name of impediment

Last post 10:51 am August 19, 2021
by Vikrant Bansal
2 replies
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07:58 am August 19, 2021

We all agree that a major responsibility of Scrum Master is to remove impediments. But sometimes I have seen each and every problem is often mistreated as impediment and is expected that scrum master should be solving it on priority. Few examples are : 

 

1. Team member is unwell/on unplanned leave

2. Tool licence expired

3. Non availability of PO to resolve doubts of development team

4. Skill set issues to solve a problem

5. Environment went down/Server crashed.

6. Dependency on someone outside the scrum team 

 

Now the question becomes is it really something expected from Scrum master to do or is it someone else's job? How should a scrum master decide that the problem is actually an impediment for him to take care?

 

Rather than jumping directly to all the list of the highlighted problems/probable impediments, my advice is to take pause and carefully analyse first.

Each and every problem may not be scrum master's job and each and every problem cannot be an impediment.

 

In my opinion below workflow may help prioritize/identify impediment which scrum master should take care.

 

Does it impacts---Yes---> It is something developers ------No---> Scrum Master's accountability

Sprint Goal ?                     I can solve on their own?

                  I                                               I

                  No                                          Yes

                  I                                                I

Not a priority at the moment can              Do not take the lead, facilitate in                                                     

be parked for now.                                    case needed

 

 

More thoughts and inputs are welcome from all.

 

 

10:14 am August 19, 2021

I don't think that we can agree that a major responsibility of the Scrum Master is to remove impediments. To me, that sounds like the Scrum Master has an active role in removing the impediments that slow the team down. The latest revision of the Scrum Guide says that the Scrum Master serves the team by "causing the removal of impediments to the Scrum Team's progress". There are ways to cause the impediments to be mitigated or removed without removing them directly.

I can't really think of any impediments that I would expect the Scrum Master to resolve on their own or be accountable for resolving. For most impediments, I would expect that the Scrum Master teaches the team how to solve them. I would also expect the Scrum Master to be able to help, by facilitating retrospectives or similar events, the team get to the true root cause(s) of the impediments and solve those underlying problems to prevent the impediment from coming up again and again. Depending on the impediment, there may also be a need to teach stakeholders effective ways to interact with the team.

I could possibly see some cases where the Scrum Master would partner with someone on the team - one or more Developers and/or the Product Owner - and work side-by-side with them to resolve the impediment. However, I'd still see this more as a style of teaching rather than the Scrum Master resolving the impediment.

10:51 am August 19, 2021

Thank you thomas for your views. I partially agree on your comments but my views are slightly different :

If developers have no clue how to deal with  a particular impediment I think Scrum master need to take the lead. He may either partner with someone from within/outside the team and demonstrate how to resolve them but the team should not be dependent each and every time once they know/capable on how to resolve it.

As per scrum guide:

"The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices, within the Scrum framework"

One of the measure of scrum team's effectiveness is its ability to achieve Sprint goal.So if the scrum master is enabling removal of impediment or causing removal of impediment to achieve Sprint goal by any mean(this may help the team to improve it practices), this could be his accountability.

Understand a situation where team has highlighted an impediment which they are incapable to resolve and has ultimately impacted Sprint goal, who has not done justice to his role? Scrum team, scrum master, developers, PO?