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Scrum Master supporting 2 teams

Last post 05:17 pm January 26, 2023 by Chris Belknap
3 replies
08:12 pm January 25, 2023

We are new to using Agile and have begun our journey to becoming an Agile Organization.  We are standing up 4 teams to be supported by 2 Scrum Masters.  The teams have been assigned to Value Streams.  Value Streams are defined as the end-to-end fulfilment of the products and services within the business segment - we are a Credit Union so for example, one value stream would be Personal Lending.  If we assigned tee shirt sizes to those value streams based on size, maturity of the value stream, complexity, & number of team members, it would look like:

Value Stream 1 = Small

Value Stream 2 = Medium

Value Stream 3 = Large

Value Stream 4 = XX Large

We have assigned Value Stream 1 & 2 to one scrum master and Value Stream 3 & 4 to another Scrum Master. Logic would say we should assign Value Stream 1 & 4 to one Scrum Master and Value stream 2 & 3 to the other.  Both Scrum Masters are high educated in Agile, however, one has extensive experience as a Scrum Master but is new to our organization and the other has limited experience as a Scrum Master but has built deep relationships with staff.  They both come with their strengths and weaknesses.  

Question:  When we assign more than one team to the Scrum Master should we be assessing the tee shirt size of the value stream they are supporting?  Why or why not?

09:13 pm January 25, 2023

T-shirt sizing of Value Streams is something new to me but there is no reason it can't be done.  

I do not think that the size or any attribute of a Value Stream should matter to a Scrum Master.  The work associated to helping a team be better at self-organization, self-management and valuing the empirical benefits of Scrum is the same. The Scrum Master doesn't really need to be involved in the details of what is being built or how it is delivered.  They focus on the team's and organization's ability to appreciate and utilize the Scrum framework.

Having said all of that, are you sure Value Streams are the right way to go?  The Scrum framework is oriented towards products.  I would assume that the Value Stream for Personal Lending would be made up of multiple products.  Since you have 2 Scrum Masters, are you including them in these decisions and what have they said about the situation?   If you are not, then it seems to me that the organization has quite a ways to go to being able to agility.  

You never mention what your role is at the organization.  But from the question you posed, it seems like you are in some level of authority.  Are you willing to give up some of your authority and push it down to the individual contributors so that they are able to make decisions quickly? 

Creating teams is actually a small part of the journey to becoming agile.  

11:45 pm January 25, 2023

You talked about assigning things to others five times.

The more that is assigned, the more a self-managing team is robbed of the ability to apply collective experience, invention, and insight. My advice is to leverage this potential instead. Encourage teams to self-organize around value streams worth owning as products, and the very membership they have. You might ask the incipient Scrum Masters of those teams to facilitate a time-boxed workshop for this purpose.

05:17 pm January 26, 2023

Have you thought of facilitating a workshop where teams think about the criteria for selection and empowering these teams to select their Scrum Masters? They can always have the option to try it for a few Sprints and make changes if needed.

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