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Scrum Master as ” a little bit of oil” to ease friction in the scrum team

April 20, 2017

Sometime back I read a short SciFi story in a book named People Tools, Story was about a spaceship conducting man’s third ten year expedition to the nearest star. The first two voyages didn’t succeed when the four member crew neared earth. Scientists were puzzled as there were no technical issues with the spacecraft and still mysteriously it crashed.

Third voyage was different, one of the crew member was enigma, he used to prepare food, entertain the pilot co-pilot and other crew members with humor and always kept the atmosphere lighter with his presence, often seen as a misfit by other crew members specially when he used to dress like a clown. On this third voyage when the spaceship reentered solar system the human friction which had been building for ten years heated to homicidal proportions. The misfit who turned out to be a psychologist reduced the friction by using humor and encouragement. Ultimately it became clear that the crew members of the first two expeditions after ten years of  close confinement caused the spacecraft to crash due to friction between them.

This story gave me a inspiration to write this blog and a metaphor to apply in Agile and Scrum context Scrum Master as “a little bit of oil” to ease friction in the scrum team. 

In one of the coaching moments with the teams i have learned that when a team member is feeling low or sad the best “Oil” I can provide is to listen and empathize. With proper lubrication a car engine will last for many hours of use, similarly with proper lubrication of humor, encouragement and active listening team bonding will get smoother and stronger. And as Coaches and Scrum Masters we need to protect the team – not only from external disturbances, but also from the negatives within the team members by reading the temperature of the room like a thermometer and create a safe environment for the teams where they feel protected.

Next time when you see friction in your team, would you turn out to be ” a little bit of oil” to ease the friction?

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