May 9, 2019

Dear Scrum Master: The Scrum Events are Theirs, Not Yours !

Dear Scrum Master: the Scrum events are theirs, not yours ! But they can still benefit from you !

 

The Scrum Master is often expected to facilitate and animate every Scrum events.

But, according to the Scrum Guide, the role of the Scrum Master regarding the different events is to ensure that the event takes place and that attendants understand its purpose.

Regarding the events, the stance expected by the Scrum Guide about the Scrum Master is :

  • Facilitating Scrum Events as requested or needed

But this is often interpreted as :

  • Facilitating Scrum Events

 

True, the Scrum Master has to facilitate the very first events, in order to help the Product Owner & Development Team to understand the “Why & What” of the events.

But after a few Sprints, if the Scrum Master keeps on going to facilitate the events, the Scrum Master will actually reduce the self-organization of the Scrum Team and, at best the Scrum Team will copy the “How” from the Scrum Master.

The more you show, the more you influence, the less you create the necessary space for emergence of self-organization.

 

My take is, I try as quickly as possible not to facilitate the events myself. I try to mentor some team members, give some resources like books or links (Agile Retrospective ; https://retromat.org) if they ask, in order to have them facilitate their own events in their own way.

 

Then I can go further with some powerful coaching tools by introducing what Alain Cardon (ICF-Master Certified Coach) coined as “delegated roles” in order to grow some micro-competencies inside the Scrum Team. In addition to being an active contributor in the event, some roles can be spread among several team members.

Here are the major micro-competencies suggested by Alain Cardon:

  • The Facilitator / animator: 1 person is responsible for the facilitation of the current event, assuring everybody participates, assuring the energy is flowing through the team, keeping the energy level high.
  • The Scribe: 1 person is responsible for pushing the team to make a decision and not to stick on chatter, with some simple question like “OK, if I have to write down 1 option from the team now, what is it ?”.
  • The Timer (and not time-keeper): 1 person is responsible for helping the team to take care of the time, not only the expiration of the time-box. An option is the Timer cut every sequence of the event in 4 parts. It helps the team to check if they are on track (1st quarter - the beginning ; 2nd quarter - mid-way ; 3rd quarter - begin to close). The timer is not a time-keeper. It brings transparency and if the team is early or late, it is a team decision to choose how to adapt, not only the Timer or the Facilitator decision.
  • The Observator: 1 person is responsible for helping the team to improve by giving some actionable feedback at the end of the meeting.

 

Using the delegated roles, the Scrum Master can actually be “invisibly present”, and thus support the Scrum team lightly from the back of the room.