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Scrum Master's role as a coach and a teacher

Last post 09:25 am April 29, 2013
by Anonymous
23 replies
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10:20 am April 10, 2013

Hello,

In what extreme situations the development team still has to find his own solutions (not the scrum master solution)? All situations? or is there a limit? if yes which one?

10:31 am April 10, 2013

My opinion is that in every situation, the Scrum Master should be thinking 'Is this something the team can handle themselves?' and would then have to weigh the benefit of having the team gain more confidence and ownership (by solving their own problem) against the cost of time taken away from their Sprint Goal (distraction). Consulting the Dev Team for a better measurement on this ROI is a good idea.
There is no set limit, but the preference is certainly for the team to develop the skills needed to solve their own problems.

11:50 am April 10, 2013

The simple answer is that a team should be self-organising enough to find its own solutions to operational problems. The role of the Scrum Master, in that regard, is to remove any impediments that stop the team from doing so.

Beyond such operational considerations, the Scrum Master can (and should) coach the team in the correct application of Scrum.

But as Don says there is no set limit. It can be difficult to determine whether or not a particular problem is an operational matter for the team to negotiate, an operational impediment for the Scrum Master to remove, or the result of incorrect or inefficient agile practice which the Scrum Master needs to address.

But in all honesty, it's pointless to try and determine this boundary. A Scrum Master should lead by example, which means taking a broad view of what constitutes impediments or potential problems, and doing whatever needs to be done to resolve or avoid them.

11:54 am April 10, 2013

Thank you but I need examples.
What do you do if as a scrum master you have 50 people to organize in scrum teams?

02:59 pm April 10, 2013

Someone I respect explained it like this to me:

1. If the challenge is one internal to the Scrum or Dev Team , then let the Scrum or Dev team(whichever one applies) decide how to handle it.

2. If the challenge is one that is "unsafe" for the Scrum or Dev Team to handle by itself, then the Scrum Master should handle it either directly(teaching, mentoring, or removing the impediment personally) or indirectly(facilitation, coaching, employing others on the team and in the org to help with removal).

03:00 pm April 10, 2013

So Inoxys...

What do you do if as a scrum master you have 50 people to organize in scrum teams?

Does this sound like something safe for the team to handle themselves, or not?

03:41 pm April 10, 2013

I should be tempted to ask the 50 people to form development teams by themself. With only 2 rules : form functionnal teams and no more than 9 people by team.

06:01 pm April 10, 2013

By "functional" teams I'm assuming you mean "cross functional". Good advice.
By 9 people, I'm assuming you mean 9 Development Team members per team. You might also have to figure out who will be SM's and PO's. You might also think about telling them that there needs to be at least 3 Development Team members per team.

As to your proposed solution... Let's assume your advice is good in some scenarios. What about possible scenarios where letting the people form their own teams themselves might be bad advice? Can you think of those scenarios?

05:40 am April 12, 2013

Sure, there is also the PO and SM.

By letting the people do without advice, we could get component teams or/and 20 people teams and many problems. The Scrum Master should let people make their own experience and hope they will adapt organization in the retrospectives ? in "joint" retrospectives (Scrum Guide is so light about multi-team organization) ?

09:13 am April 12, 2013

What if the people have never been to Scrum Training?
What if the people have been doing Scrum well for 3 years?
What if management won't let the people self organize because that would completely disrupt a current business initiative?
What if management won't let the people self organize because that would completely disrupt the current pay structure and that's not a chance the org is willing to take?
What if the 50 people are distributed in 12 different time zones?
What if the org says that only requirements analysts can be product owners, and that the product management team is just too busy to be involved?

09:26 am April 12, 2013

What do you mean with these questions? Do you mean there is no answer to my case?

I have another scenario. A real scenario. The developpment team I work with as a Scrum Master has grown during years from 7 to 15 people. We had discussions about making 2 smaller teams. But the developpment team doesn't want to split even if I let them self-organize themself. Should I let them as these?

10:43 am April 12, 2013

Inoxys, given your level of knowledge, and given that we're on a public forum, I didn't feel right in taking the "teach/mentor" stance. I felt better taking the "coaching/facilitating" stance. So, to be direct, I'm trying to coach you into a thoughtful answer that I believe is close to correct. In short, I'm trying to teach you to fish, rather than give you the fish.

I'm going to ignore your new scenario for a minute, because I think that's just going to cloud the issue -- it's a completely different scenario, with different context. I'd recommend you start a new thread for that one.

You were on the right track with the team "self organizing into component teams" or "20 people" etc.

Let me help you along a little further. Let's assume that there are times, given the limited context you've given here, when letting that large group of people self organize into teams is likely a good idea, and times when it's likely a bad idea.

So, you tell me...and based on the questions I asked above in several posts... What are the scenarios when it is likely good to let them self org into times? AND what are the scenarios when it is likely bad to let them self org into teams?

11:20 am April 12, 2013

Ok, I understood. Thank you for this clarification and your time Charles.

What if the people have never been to Scrum Training? They can auto-organize without any advices
What if the people have been doing Scrum well for 3 years? They can auto-organize without any advices
What if management won't let the people self organize because that would completely disrupt a current business initiative? They can't self organize at this time
What if management won't let the people self organize because that would completely disrupt the current pay structure and that's not a chance the org is willing to take? They can't self organize at this time
What if the 50 people are distributed in 12 different time zones? They can self organize
What if the org says that only requirements analysts can be product owners, and that the product management team is just too busy to be involved? They can self organize

11:29 am April 12, 2013

If I understood you correctly, in your opinion, letting 50 people who have never been to Scrum training(and thus have almost zero Scrum knowledge) self organize into Scrum teams, without any advice, is likely going to be a good outcome. Did I understand that correctly?

12:05 pm April 12, 2013

Oups! no. I made a mistake reading the first question: I forgot the word "never" :)
So if they have almost zero knowledge, they need advices.

12:48 pm April 12, 2013

So given all of our previous discussion, and understanding your views, what's a good way to summarize your view in this scenario? Can you boil it down to 2-4 sentences? Think about "safety", "organizational boundaries", "Scrum knowledge and experience", the Scrum Master's role, etc....

01:49 pm April 12, 2013

I can ask people to self organize if they have a good knowledge and experience of scrum. If not, I have to teach them before. The management and HR have also to be ok with letting people self-organize. If not despite my advices, I have to help people to find a way to use Scrum and respect enterprise rules.

01:58 pm April 12, 2013

That sounds like a pretty good answer to me.

I might go softer on this advice:
> If not, I have to teach them before.
Maybe more like, I should try and teach them some relevant concepts before.

Remember that you might also be working in an environment where the org is completely fine with the teams re-organizing(inspecting and adapting) themselves for the first few sprints.. but of course, constant re-organizing can be a dysfunction, too.

01:59 pm April 12, 2013

Anyway, I hope this helps. I'm not the "chief oracle of Scrum" by any means, but I hope this helped you.

Has it helped?

05:12 pm April 12, 2013

Sure, you helped me. Thank you. Do you think I could have make a shorter answer? The PSM II assessment field for answer is about only two or three lines. Is it a "guide" for very short answers? For this kind of questions, it seems to be hard to be short.

08:40 am April 24, 2013

Why always use "quotes"? The text can be in Bold when you say things like "chief oracle of scrum", i alwys think of austin power/dr evil in who overuses the "quotes" .

When you put in in "quotes" I assume they are not meant to be literal. at least... that is my interpretation. (and that is causes me to loose exactly to loose one point in the open assesment (question about "management" )

09:23 am April 29, 2013

The team should be fervent enough to figure out its own solutions. However in case that cannot happen, the scrum master should be ready to step in if and when required.

http://www.agiledistributed.com/

09:24 am April 29, 2013

The team should be fervent enough to figure out its own solutions. However in case that cannot happen, the scrum master should be ready to step in if and when required.

http://www.agiledistributed.com/

09:25 am April 29, 2013

The team should be fervent enough to figure out its own solutions. However in case that cannot happen, the scrum master should be ready to step in if and when required.

http://www.agiledistributed.com/