Advanced Scrum Master tasks - how do you understand them?

Last post 01:51 am February 11, 2022
by Ian Mitchell
2 replies
12:35 pm February 10, 2022

Fellow Scrum Masters,

in one of our next CoPs we want to discuss some of the more advanced and less obvious SM tasks. Our community voted for the following five tasks:

For the organization...

  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work.

For the PO...

  • Helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management.
  • Helping establish empirical product planning for a complex environment.
  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items.
  • Facilitating stakeholder collaboration as requested or needed.

Even in our CoP core team we do not have a common understanding of those tasks, everyone interpretes them a bit differently. But to really come to a conclusion in the CoP we should be able to explain them in a "correct" way after discussing them alltogether. It would be very valuable for us to get your insights here and maybe geht this "correct explaination".

Thanks in advance


Btw.: We are using Scrum in a SAFe context, which might change some details.

11:12 pm February 10, 2022

The "tasks" that you've identified aren't tasks in the usual sense. To many, if not most, people, tasks are specific pieces of work that need to be done. However, helping people do their work isn't something that gets done. It's often ongoing, and perhaps never-ending work.

I think it's good that your community of practice has found things that they want to understand better and improve, but these are also very large, very broad, and often ambiguous. You'll probably want to break them down or consider reorganizing them. For example, there's somewhat of a relationship between helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact empirical approaches for work and empirical product planning. Similarly, understanding why Product Backlog Items need to be small and concise is a piece of effective Product Backlog management.

Beside of how broad these objectives are, it's not really surprising that different people within your community have different interpretations. People are bringing their own backgrounds and working in different contexts How you work with the Product Owner depends greatly on the Product Owner. Facilitating stakeholder collaboration depends on the relationships within the team and between the team and stakeholders.

Each one of these five topics would be good discussions for your community of practice. There are plenty of opportunities for people to explain how they interpret each item, the times they have been successful in each area, and the times they have struggled. These discussions can help people learn from each other and maybe figure out who has the experience and expertise needed when they need advice and guidance in their particular situation.

I'd throw out the idea of a "correct" interpretation or explanation and focus on ways to facilitate discussions and the sharing of knowledge and experience.

01:51 am February 11, 2022

Btw.: We are using Scrum in a SAFe context, which might change some details.

It seems that it has obscured certain things. The purpose of Scrum is to establish empiricism under conditions of high uncertainty. Where you have authorities in a different framework making decisions the responsibilities you describe, which are those of a self-managing team, become less clear. They may even be misconstrued as tasks which have somehow been assigned for completion.