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At a recent Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master II class, I asked the group to write down some learnings from the class that may help other Scrum Masters. One statement that came up has stuck in my mind ever since:
“Don’t be a comfortable Scrum Master.” – Unknown Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master II Attendee.
The Scrum Master is a change agent. As such they will be dealing with and causing change on a daily basis. Scrum Masters exist to help their Scrum Team and the wider organisation adopt an empirical approach to complex work. This often means changing long-established and accepted behaviours and ways of working. People often resist change (or more accurately people resist being changed) so being effective as a Scrum Master is often a significant challenge.
As Scrum Masters, we need to challenge the status quo that exists around us. If you have grown comfortable as a Scrum Master, it may be a sign that you have stopped doing this and have settled into a groove. For example:
- The Scrum Team rarely/never delivers a Done Increment. But that is OK as it is hard in this company because INSERT-REASON-HERE. As a result, it’s impossible to plan a release and value is delivered rarely.
- The Product Owner does not spend any time with the Developers during the Sprint because INSERT-REASON-HERE. As a result, we typically find we have wasted lots of time building the wrong thing when we inspect the work at the Sprint Review.
- Our stakeholders do not attend the Sprint Review because INSERT-REASON-HERE. As a result, we build lots of stuff and then discover just before/after a release that the work is not fit for purpose.
These are things a Scrum Master must seek to address, not passively accept. It is what makes being a Scrum Master so hard, but so important. We are the ones constantly encouraging change and improvement. We see the implications of the decisions others make or fail to make. At the very least we must help make the implications of the current state transparent to the right people, with the hope that eventually they will choose to inspect, adapt and improve as a result.
So my fellow Scrum Masters, we have to get comfortable with NOT being comfortable! I have re-written the learning statement from that PSM II class. The new statement reads as follows:
“Don’t be a comfortable Scrum Master, be a Scrum Master that accepts NOT being comfortable.”
– Unknown Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master II Attendee & TheScrumMaster.co.uk
Hi, my name is Simon Kneafsey and I am a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org & TheScrumMaster.co.uk. I am on a mission to simplify Scrum for 1 million people. I have helped over 10,000 people so far and I can help you too.