Search Results for 'scrum master'


I deviated from the plan this week and recorded a conversation with my colleague, mentor, and friend Anthony Mersino (Anthony was last on the podcast SPaMCAST 583   http://bit.ly/3aJMw51 ). Our chat, titled, “Is Your Scrum Master The Problem?” Our conversation looks at transactive memory from the point of view of teams and Scrum Masters.  Is it a boon or a train wreck?  Anthony has also published a version of the conversation at https://bit.ly/3ux0Fge 

We also have a visit from Susan Parente who brings her I’m Not A Scrumdamentalist column to the cast. I have titled this conversation, “I Have A WIP Problem”. Ok so maybe both Susan and I have a lot on our plates, but we have the tools to tackle the problem. We talk about how to get your WIP under control. 

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In SPaMCAST 642 Vasco Duarte made the startling statement that a Scrum Master will be your next CEO. Chapter 7 in Fixing Your Scrum, Practical Solutions to Common Scrum Problems, by Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller echoes the power of that statement by emphasizing the definition of a scrum master. As is the pattern of the book, after delivering context we dive into the antipatterns. You can easily find examples of all of the antipatterns in this chapter in the wild. This is a function of both the role and the business-societal norms. Business norms are hierarchical in nature whereas the Scrum Master, while a leader, exists outside of the standard corporate hierarchy. If you are in the hierarchy (or striving for the ladder), it is easy to brand the role as overhead or as competition to middle management. The two mindsets are at odds with each other which causes many of the anti-patterns noted in the chapter. 

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Vasco Duarte returns to the podcast to discuss the Scrum Master. Scrum Masters are the face of agile in many organizations. Helping team facilitators get the role right benefits not only the agile community but every business they are involved with!  

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SPaMCAST 508 features our interview with Vasco Duarte!  Vasco and I discuss vision and product owners. The product owner role is crucial. To be effective, the product owner must be able to articulate a vision for the product they champion.

Vasco Duarte’s Bio in his own words:

I want to transform product development organizations into product business organizations. I do that by focusing the work of the product development teams on the end-to-end life-cycle of their products. From Concept to Cash and Back!

Currently a Managing Partner at Oikosofy.

Product Manager, Scrum Master, Project Manager, Director, Agile Coach are only some of the roles that I’ve taken in software development organizations. Having worked in the software industry since 1997, and Agile practitioner since 2004. I’ve worked in small, medium and large software organizations as an Agile Coach or leader in agile adoption at those organizations.

I was one of the leaders and catalysts of Agile methods and Agile culture adoption at Avira, Nokia, and F-Secure.

I host a daily podcast where I interview Scrum Masters about their daily challenges and insights: https://scrum-master-toolbox.org/

You can read more from me at my blog: http://SoftwareDevelopmentToday.com

You can join me on twitter: @duarte_vasco

Re-Read Saturday News

In week 4 of re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) we tackle Chapter 3, The End Of The Master Builder.  In Chapter 3 Gawande identifies the scenarios in which checklists have an impact.  Checklists provide value even in the most complicated scenarios.

Current Installment:

Week 4 – The End Of The Master Builderhttps://bit.ly/2BmIGBc (more…)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat’s the difference between an Agile coach and a scrum master? A quick internet search returns a variety of competing opinions (and a lot of ads for training classes).  This is not an arbitrary question – these terms have a great deal of power to set expectations for behavior. While some of the components of the roles are similar, the two roles are different in at least one major way –  scope.

Both Agile coaches and scrum masters help teams.  Both roles are tasked with helping Agile teams use Agile values and practices to deliver value to the organization.  Agile coaches and scrum masters use similar techniques to guide, facilitate, and coach teams so that they learn and use Agile techniques, confront delivery problems as they occur, and work together as a well-oiled unit.  If we stopped here the two roles would be the same. However, the scope of the two roles is different.

Agile coaches typically pursue the implementation of an organizational vision of Agile, or are tasked with delivering external knowledge and expertise to a team.  In both cases the coach is external and is not a member any specific project team. In order to effect change from the outside the project, the coach needs a broader exposure to Agile roles than a typical scrum master.  A coach should have played all of roles on an Agile team multiple times. They have the gravitas to influence without direct authority and from outside the team. They interact with a team or teams, and then let the team synthesize and internalize the advice. The Agile coach is typically the voice of Agile at an organizational level.  This generally requires broader exposure and experience with Agile techniques, which is why many organizations use external consultants to play this role. The need for an Agile coach is generally transitory, specifically they are needed when external injections of knowledge or energy is necessary to help ensure the application of Agile continues to evolve.

On the other hand, the scrum master is the team’s tactical coach (scrum defines the team as the scrum master, product owner and the development team). He/she facilitates the team’s use of Agile techniques and helps to protect the team from the outside world. Scrum masters are the voice of the process at the team level.  Scrum masters are a critical member of every Agile team. The team’s need for a scrum master is not transitory because they evolve together as a team.

The role of an Agile coach and that of scrum master have similarities, but also significant differences.

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Software Process and Measurement Cast 340 features our interview with Tom Howlett.  Tom is a Scrum Master.  We talked about teams, collaboration and how to effectively be Agile in distributed teams.

Tom’s bio:

Tom’s been building and working with teams that focus on continuous improvement for 15 years. In that time he’s written about the difficulties he faced and how he overcame them in over 100 blog posts on “Diary of a Scrummaster”, and a book called “A Programmer’s Guide To People”. He has a strong focus on breaking down the barriers that restrict collaboration (whether remote or co-located) and ensuring the people who do the work can effectively decide how it’s done. He’s becoming well known in the Agile community through his speaking and running his local group the “Cheltenham Geeks’. His company LeanTomato provides help forming new teams and helping existing ones meet people’s needs more effectively.

Contact information
Blog: Diary of a ScrumMaster
Twitter: @diaryofscrum
Website: LeanTomato

Remember:

Jo Ann Sweeny (Explaining Change) is running her annual Worth Working Summit.  Please visit http://www.worthworkingsummit.com/

Call to action!

Reviews of the Podcast help to attract new listeners.  Can you write a review of the Software Process and Measurement Cast and post it on the podcatcher of your choice?  Whether you listen on ITunes or any other podcatcher, a review will help to grow the podcast!  Thank you in advance!

Re-Read Saturday News

The Re-Read Saturday focus on Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox’s The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement began on February 21nd. The Goal has been hugely influential because it introduced the Theory of Constraints, which is central to lean thinking. The book is written as a business novel. Visit the Software Process and Measurement Blog and catch up on the re-read.

Note: If you don’t have a copy of the book, buy one.  If you use the link below it will support the Software Process and Measurement blog and podcast.

Dead Tree Version or Kindle Version 

I am beginning to think of which book will be next. Do you have any ideas?

Upcoming Events

CMMI Institute Global Congress
May 12-13 Seattle, WA, USA
My topic – Agile Risk Management
http://cmmiconferences.com/

DCG will also have a booth!

Next SPaMCast

The next Software Process and Measurement Cast will feature our essay on Agile team decision making. Team based decision making requires mechanisms and prerequisites for creating consensus among team members. The prerequisites are a decision to be made, trust, knowledge and the tools to make a decisions. In many instances team members are assumed to have the required tools and techniques in their arsenal. In many instances team members are assumed by management and other team members to have the required tools and techniques in their arsenal.  Next week we will explore decision making and give you tools to make decisions.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here.

Available in English and Chinese.

Listen to the podcast.

SPaMCAST 315 features our essay on Scrum Masters.  Scrum Masters are the voice of the process at the team level.  Scrum Masters are a critical member of every Agile team. The team’s need for a Scrum Master is not transitory because they evolve together as a team.

In this edition of the Software Process and Measurement Cast we debut a new column.  Gene Hughson brings the wisdom from his Form Follows Function blog to the SPaMCAST.  Gene appeared on SPaMCAST 268 to talk architecture, people and process.  We are glad to have him back on a regular basis.  This first column discusses the idea that quick fixes might not always be the right answer!

The essay on Scrum Masters begins:

The difference between facilitating and enabling is at the core of the Agile concept of self-organizing and self-managing teams. An effective scrum master should be a facilitator in a well functioning Agile team. However, when there is a breakdown in a self-organizing and self-managing team, sometimes scrum masters become enablers. This makes scrum masters more like project managers. A facilitator helps to unstick something that has stopped or creates an environment where progress can be made by the team.  An enabler provides the team with permission for making a decision.  For example, I recently watched as a team asked their scrum master if they were allowed to hold an interim show and tell/demonstration to prompt the product owner for feedback. The team saw the scrum master as an enabler rather than a facilitator.

Listen to the rest on the Software Process and Measurement Cast!

Call to action!

What are the two books that have most influenced you career (business, technical or philosophical)?  Send the titles to spamcastinfo@gmail.com.  What will we do with this list?  We have two ideas.  First, we will compile a list and publish it on the blog.  Second, we will use the list to drive “Re-read” Saturday. Re-read Saturday is an exciting new feature that bagan on the Software Process and Measurement blog on November 8th with a re-read of Leading Change. So feel free to choose you platform and send an email, leave a message on the blog, Facebook or just tweet the list (use hashtag #SPaMCAST)!

Next

SPaMCAST 316 features a return visit from Dr. David Rico.  We talked about the cost of quality and Agile. Does Agile impact the cost of quality?  Dr. Rico walks us through the evidence that not only does Agile improve customer satisfaction but it also improve the cost of quality.  If you are interested in effectiveness, efficiency and quality then this interview for you!

Upcoming Events

DCG Webinars:

How to Split User Stories
Date: November 20th, 2014
Time: 12:30pm EST
Register Now

Agile Risk Management – It Is Still Important
Date: December 18th, 2014
Time: 11:30am EST
Register Now

The Software Process and Measurement Cast has a sponsor.

As many you know I do at least one webinar for the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute (ITMPI) every year. The ITMPI provides a great service to the IT profession. ITMPI’s mission is to pull together the expertise and educational efforts of the world’s leading IT thought leaders and to create a single online destination where IT practitioners and executives can meet all of their educational and professional development needs. The ITMPI offers a premium membership that gives members unlimited free access to 400 PDU accredited webinar recordings, and waives the PDU processing fees on all live and recorded webinars. The Software Process and Measurement Cast some support if you sign up here. All the revenue our sponsorship generates goes for bandwidth, hosting and new cool equipment to create more and better content for you. Support the SPaMCAST and learn from the ITMPI.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here.

Available in English and Chinese.

In this edition of the Software Process and Measurement Cast we debut a new column.  Gene Hughson brings the wisdom from his Form Follows Function blog to the SPaMCAST.  Gene appeared on SPaMCAST 268 to talk architecture, people and process.  We are glad to have him back on a regular basis.  This first column discusses the idea that quick fixes might not always be the right answer!

The essay on Scrum Masters begins:

The difference between facilitating and enabling is at the core of the Agile concept of self-organizing and self-managing teams. An effective scrum master should be a facilitator in a well functioning Agile team. However, when there is a breakdown in a self-organizing and self-managing team, sometimes scrum masters become enablers. This makes scrum masters more like project managers. A facilitator helps to unstick something that has stopped or creates an environment where progress can be made by the team.  An enabler provides the team with permission for making a decision.  For example, I recently watched as a team asked their scrum master if they were allowed to hold an interim show and tell/demonstration to prompt the product owner for feedback. The team saw the scrum master as an enabler rather than a facilitator.

Listen to the rest on the Software Process and Measurement Cast!

Call to action!

What are the two books that have most influenced you career (business, technical or philosophical)?  Send the titles to spamcastinfo@gmail.com.  What will we do with this list?  We have two ideas.  First, we will compile a list and publish it on the blog.  Second, we will use the list to drive “Re-read” Saturday. Re-read Saturday is an exciting new feature that bagan on the Software Process and Measurement blog on November 8th with a re-read of Leading Change. So feel free to choose you platform and send an email, leave a message on the blog, Facebook or just tweet the list (use hashtag #SPaMCAST)!

Next

SPaMCAST 316 features a return visit from Dr. David Rico.  We talked about the cost of quality and Agile. Does Agile impact the cost of quality?  Dr. Rico walks us through the evidence that not only does Agile improve customer satisfaction but it also improve the cost of quality.  If you are interested in effectiveness, efficiency and quality then this interview for you!

Upcoming Events

DCG Webinars:

How to Split User Stories
Date: November 20th, 2014
Time: 12:30pm EST
Register Now

Agile Risk Management – It Is Still Important
Date: December 18th, 2014
Time: 11:30am EST
Register Now

The Software Process and Measurement Cast has a sponsor.

As many you know I do at least one webinar for the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute (ITMPI) every year. The ITMPI provides a great service to the IT profession. ITMPI’s mission is to pull together the expertise and educational efforts of the world’s leading IT thought leaders and to create a single online destination where IT practitioners and executives can meet all of their educational and professional development needs. The ITMPI offers a premium membership that gives members unlimited free access to 400 PDU accredited webinar recordings, and waives the PDU processing fees on all live and recorded webinars. The Software Process and Measurement Cast some support if you sign up here. All the revenue our sponsorship generates goes for bandwidth, hosting and new cool equipment to create more and better content for you. Support the SPaMCAST and learn from the ITMPI.

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process, neither for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here.

Available in English and Chinese.

Don't fall into the trap of assuming that the project sponsor can fill all roles.

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that the project sponsor can fill all roles.

Project sponsors play a critical role in all projects. Sponsor’s  typically are senior leaders in an organization with operational roles that make playing multiple roles on a project difficult at best.  Project sponsors have the bandwidth to take on the project sponsor role, their day job and no other project role, therefore project sponsors are not project managers, Scrum masters or product owners.

Project managers develop plans, report and track progress, assign work and manage resources. Sponsors, on the other hand, provide direction and access to resources. Sponsors are informed by the project manager. On large or medium sized projects, the project manager role is generally a full-time position while the sponsor (generally a member of senior management) spends the majority of his or her time managing a portion of the business rather than a specific project.

In Agile projects the roles of the project sponsor and Scrum master are sometimes confused. A Scrum master facilitates the team. The Scrum master continuously interacts with the team ironing out the interpersonal conflicts, focusing the team on the flow of work and ensuring that nothing blocks the team from achieving their sprint goals. The sponsor provides motivation and exposure for the team at a higher level. A sponsor has issues and blockages escalated to them when they are outside of the team’s span of control. As with the project manager role, the Scrum master’s role provides intimate day-to-day, hour-to-hour support for the team while the sponsor is involved when needed or called upon.

Rarely is the sponsor the product owner. The only time I have seen the two roles combined is in very small organizations or in very small projects (and it wasn’t a great idea in either case). While both roles represent the voice of the business and the organization, a sponsor typically brings significantly more hierarchical power to the table. This positional power tends to dampen important Agile behaviors such as collaboration and self-organization. The product owner role will draw significantly on the time and focus of the project sponsor, which can cause them to take their eye off the direction of the business having negative ramifications.

As noted in The Role of The Project Sponsor, sponsors provide teams with a goal or vision, with access to resources and the political support needed to stay focused. The role can’t be played well by those in the organization without the needed sources of power, interest and resources needed to empower the project. Nor can someone play the role without the time needed to invest in the role. Project sponsors are typically senior leaders within an organization that are tied closely to the day-to-day operations of the organization, which makes it difficult if not impossible for them to play the role of project manager, Scrum master or product owner.

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Divided loyalties makes for a bad scrum master. Don’t be a fox watching the hen house!

Not everyone who has the characteristics of a scrum master should be a scrum master. Here are five very simple guidelines to let you know who shouldn’t be the scrum master:

  1. The project or program manager.
    Classic project managers make very poor scrum masters in most cases. Project managers that have plied their trade by directing, controlling and enabling teams are the antithesis of a scrum master. It can be very difficult for project or program managers to shed their role as an enabler. I often see scrum masters with project management backgrounds revert to directing work in periods of stress.
  2. The product owner.
    Ruma Dak talked briefly about this recently on her blog. I agree with the thesis that product ownership is a full time job, making it difficult to do another full time job at the same time.  Even if both roles could be done at once, as the product owner it is very easy to sacrifice the team’s needs to attain more of the business’s needs. This can set up a classic ‘fox watching the hen house’ scenario.  While I strongly believe that having a product owner act as a scrum master is a bad idea, I have seen it work well for a short period of time in one project.  In this circumstance the original scrum master had left the company and the product owner stepped in while a replacement was found. It worked, but it was not sustainable as the product owner already had two jobs (his normal day job and the role of a product owner).
  3. The team’s line manager.
    One of the worst scenarios for the scrum master role is the team’s line manager. I can’t conceive of how this would facilitate the creation of an empowered, self-organizing team. Consider most anything else rather than this option.
  4. The busiest person on the team.
    The next worst person to fill the scrum masters role is the busiest person on the team. Interestingly if you ask for volunteers, this will be the person that is most apt to put their hand up. General rule (you can violate a guideline with proper caution, you should not violate a rule), if the person you want to be the scrum master does have time to do the job well find someone else.
  5. Anyone that does not want to be the scrum master.
    If you do not want to be a scrum master you will not do a good job.

Finding a scrum master begins with understanding the role and finding a person that has the necessary characteristics.  Next, does the person have the time and the passion? Finally consider whether there are conflicts of interests that using a product owner or line manager can cause.

2014-02-22 09.35.39What are the characteristics of an effective scrum master? Different projects, team and organizations could generate an infinite set of lists with an infinite number of attributes, but the core attributes of a scrum master are:

  • Aggressive facilitator: We defined a facilitator as someone that helps to unstick something that has stopped moving and creates an environment where progress can be made by the team. An aggressive facilitator actively looks for bottlenecks and environmental issues to maximize the delivery of value.
  • Voice of the scrum process: The scrum master must be the champion of the process.  The ability to champion requires that the scrum master be well versed in Agile processes so that the team can focus on meeting its commitments, rather than making a specific Agile technique fit the team’s need.
  • Acts as servant leader: A servant leader facilitates collaboration not only by creating a learning environment, but also by helping the team to establish a vision and goals. A servant leader builds trust in a variety of ways including providing the team with the environment needed to make decisions and self-organize.
  • High-touch people person: A scrum master needs to be a people person because teams, at their most basic level, are groups of people pursuing a common goal. The scrum master needs to connect with team members so that he/she can understand their needs, support collaboration and help break down barriers.
  • 110% self-starter: Scrum masters can’t wait to be called upon to facilitate. Scrum masters must be vigilant, observing the ebb and flow of team interactions and by helping to identify and highlight potential barriers to delivery.
  • Team first orientation: Scrum masters need to put aside many of their own needs in order to satisfy the needs of the team. Egocentric leadership tends to confuse their needs and capabilities with those of the team reducing their effectiveness as servant leaders and facilitators.
  • Empathy is the ability to share the emotions and experiences of other makes it easier to put the needs of the team first.  Without empathy, a scrum master will have difficulty building trust with and among team members making it difficult to be a servant leader and a facilitator

An effective scrum master makes the team better by prioritizing the team’s common goal. Staffing a scrum master position is more than just repurposing a project manager or business analyst, rather it is means finding an individual that can facilitate delivering value as part of team.