Anyone who knows me knows that I love ScrumMasters. My family had to get used to the idea of being second in line, but they’ll get over it. Why the love affair? Simple. They are the organization’s change agents! Their #1 role is to continuously create positive changes. (FYI, if you thought that the role of the ScrumMasters is to be a simple project manager or task-master, read this first: ScrumMasters are not Task Masters)
They create positive change by:
The amazing thing is that the ScrumMaster role doesn’t call for any managerial authority over the team, Product Owners or other managers. They lead by influence, not by authority.
Although SMs are an essential part of the team, they are not wholly devoted to just their team. This means although the SM belongs to the team, they are not just there for the team. If the SM is doing their job correctly and efficiently, they are working 1/3 of their time with the team to deal with team issues, break barrier, 1/3 of their time hand-in-hand with POs and 1/3 of their time with Management. So with all this, when do they have time to code? In my humblest of opinions, they don’t . The ScrumMaster is a full-time role – but before you jump all over me, that is a different post and discussion.
When a team is newly formed, this balance will be shifted more toward the team but over time, new teams will be comprised of members that have done this before and not need to take so much start-up equity from the SM. So, what are SMs doing with each of these three roles? Helping them meet their goals. Removing barriers when possible and escalating barriers when appropriate. Installing, teaching, upholding, and most importantly, evolving the process of Scrum within the organization toward the very concrete goal of reducing defects and increasing velocity (in that order) for the organization collectively (starting with their team). This means working with the POs to complete the release plan, working with teams on iteration planning, reviews and retrospectives and working with management on what they need to do: Transform the organization into an agile organization that can move to the beat of the Product Owner (Yet another post).
This, however, does NOT mean that SMs project manage. The teams and Product Owners need to do that themselves. The ScrumMasters are ensuring that the release and iteration plans are being set up and helping evolve the process, not doing that work for the team.
I could write a book on the topic so forgive me if this bite size morsel is leaving you in want. I will be filling in many of the gaps in future posts. As always, I look forward to your comments.