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"Coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption" - How to, when the Organization is the client?

Last post 03:21 pm June 12, 2023 by Nicholas Gabrichidze
11 replies
09:20 am June 6, 2023


"Leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption" is one of the duties of the S.M. according to the last Scrum guide.

I'm a S.M. of a team belonging to an outsourcing company, paid by a client to develop and maintain an app, mostly used by their employees. The P.O. is a consultant from another outsourcing company, paid by the client, as well.

How do you lead, train, coach the organization in its Scrum adoption, when the organization is not yours, but the client?

(Knowing that the P.O. is reluctant to let me communicate directly with the business...)

Thanks in advance for sharing your opinions! :)

10:16 am June 6, 2023

Is it clear to you who actually wants different outcomes in the company, and perceives a sense of urgency for Scrum adoption, bearing in mind that it is not your organization to change? 

12:01 pm June 6, 2023

Hello Ian,

I'm presently inquiring about that : I'll have a meeting this afternoon with my manager to know by whom, when, why, etc. it was decided to adopt Scrum. 

I'll let you know, then.

(But, as far as I understood, it's a very ancient decision, that was not questioned since then...)

Thanks! :)

12:13 pm June 6, 2023

* I meant "I'm presently investigating" 

02:18 pm June 6, 2023

The answer of the interviewed people in my management is that the Scrum was proposed at the very beginning of the project, 6/7 years ago. Was accepted, then, by the key stakeholders (client).

And that choice was re-confirmed recently, by the client, just before I was hired.

But, the new people in charge of the project, in the client side, are not implementing Scrum. They think they do Scrum, they state that they know Scrum, they say they want Scrum, but obviously they forget about the Scrum values and pillars. At least they don't apply them...

My initial question and concern is that I have not the same freedom to act ("leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption") in my context, since it's the client's organization and not mine. 

I was wondering how you, ladies and gentlemen of experience, had dealt with that in your different positions as Scrum masters. 


02:44 pm June 6, 2023

In my personal opinion it's still Scrum masters job to ensure that organization who sponsors and manages Scrum understands and correctly supports Scrum


And organization should be understood as wide as possible, including all concerned people, supply chain, firms, committees and boards). In other words if someone in the environment where Scrum is run has a power and ability to influence funding, operations or requirements they should be treated like a part of the organization. Organisation can be supportive, indifferent, stagnating, and hostile to Scrum, it's teams, events or results, and in each particular environment the Scrum is taking place differently...

Another story is how the Scrum master should do "leading, training, and coaching the organization in it's Scrum adoption" , which is always easier to say then to do in practice. Especially in hostile, or stagnating environment where bosses THINK they know Scrum but have learnt it wrong from some misleading source.

Your situation is a typical example of stagnating environment, where management is exercising Scrum wrongly. Nothing unusual about this, at this forum alon there were numerous Scrum masters making same complaint.

I am sure people who regularly post here, would gladly share their experience and techniques they had used in situations like this. Additionally there are many blog posts and videos suggesting best techniques to facilitate the discussions with external stakeholders, managers, even end users, and how to coach, mentor and teach them real Scrum value without antagonizing them against yourself.

03:48 pm June 6, 2023


Thanks a lot for your comment! :D

I hope that you are right: that people will share their experiences with me, and advices as well, and sources (blogs, videos, etc.) where this subject is talked about.

As well as the subject of a P.O. reluctant of letting the S.M. communicate directly with the business and stakeholders (she might have good reasons, and I intend to ask her again why, but for my previous attempts, she always found a way to not answer, and I did not feel confortable to insist...)

Thanks again! 

03:55 pm June 6, 2023

PO is a member of the Scrum team, and should attend the retrospective, in theory.

If 1 to 1 with PO does not work, why don't you carefully raise this questions at retrospective?

Also you don't need PO permission to meet stakeholders and anyone else within organization, you can try to establish contact directly. 

04:00 pm June 6, 2023

I was wondering how you, ladies and gentlemen of experience, had dealt with that in your different positions as Scrum masters. 

I'd suggest that a Scrum Master ought to highlight the gap between their current way-of-working and what Scrum really means. Without that transparency in place they will not be able to inspect and adapt effectively. Right now they appear to be doing something else and can expect different outcomes.

A good Scrum Master ought to be good at wondering and at developing people's train of thought. Wonder about the things you are seeing.

01:15 am June 8, 2023

It sounds like the company wants to adopt to scrum and they want the specific project/development work to be done using Scrum. That is a good first step to have the company's management onboard, else Scrum will fail. From here you have the right to influence Scrum adoption.

The PO blocking management access is a problem, but keep talking to the PO about this. PO's often resist Scrum as they feel loss of control.

Then your own company will have people and managers that have strong management contacts in the client company. Use your own company's managers to arrange meetings within the client company. Alternatively arrange an informal coffee meet-up with a relevant manager in the client company, even consider to invite the PO along. Again contacts in your own company can help arrange this, or you can do it yourself.

As a first step you can propose to the client company to allow you to use this project as a pilot to properly adopt Scrum. State you understand the company works differently, but that you would like leeway to introduce changes on a small team scale to demonstrate the advantages of Scrum. The company can then decide later to adopt Scrum more widely or not. Try create a small Scrum bubble for the team and then make it work from there.


10:05 am June 12, 2023

I suggest working with the Scrum Team to identify the impediments that require cooperation with larger organizations to resolve. 

Having clearly identified impediments might help to open the proper door.

The team might not see those impediments as they are used to working with them for a long time. 

Asking questions like 'If we have the power to change anything we want, is there anything you guys would like to be doing differently'?

Sometimes, you might want to refrain for a while even from asking questions, and take time to observe the team and/or have some casual talks with the team members here and there to build some understanding about the team's thinking. 

03:21 pm June 12, 2023

Here is my five cents.

All the things above should work.

Personally I have my own technique for reaching unreachable parts of the management when necessary.

Organizing the sessions or workshops for Learning and Coaching the scrum for managers in the organization..

It is a part of scrum masters job by definition and great way to establish personal contact, especially if you organize the workshops and discussion room instead of simple lectures.

Be consistent; if all necessary managers will not show up at this first meeting keep scheduling new ones and keep inviting them. Stress out the need of better understanding of this "whole Agile business"

Don't use this sessions as a straightforward gateway for unleashing the problems, but rather integrate them into the fabric of the topic,  so the conversation will be built up naturally around them.



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