Friday, February 27, 2015

Want to be a Scrum Master - What is your motivation?

Thinking about being a Scrum Master? Have you thought about:
1. What is your motivation and do you think you are the right fit?
2. Would you like it to be a career choice?
3. What is in it for you? Is this role really attractive for you? What kind of growth are you looking for?
4. What does this role mean to your organization?

If you have thought about any of these questions and chose to be a scrum master, you are among the few scrum masters I have come across, who had the chance to do so.

In many cases I have come across, being a scrum master has been a matter of chance, many times imposed, rather than a matter of choice. To me that is an indication of how much (lack of) thought we devote into our role in a team setting as we probably should. As a result, we have multiple cases of job done badly, the role being viewed as "just" an administrative role, or something so easy that "anyone" can do, etc.

Before you jump into the Scrum Master Role

Here I list a few things to think about when you are contemplating this role for yourself.

1. Start with motivation. Ask yourself why you want to be the scrum master, and what do you think you will achieve through that role. If you are a good scrum master, your services will be rewarded through your team's successes (or fast-fails, which should also be considered as successes). Highly successful teams will shine and through them, you will shine. Be aware that scrum master is only as strong as the team, so the primary job of the scrum master is to build a strong, learning team and actively sense and remove impediments that come its way.

2. Proud and Happy Teams - Do you love that? Will you make it your mission to make your teams proud of the work they do and how they do it, so they can predictably meet their commitments to business, deliver quality output keeping technical debt under check? If you answered these questions as yes, you get full marks!

3. Are you looking for glory for yourself or for the team(s) that you will serve? Can you be self-less in victory of your team's success, will you let them take the credit and can you teach them to learn from failures? Will your organization reward you if you served selflessly? Will your manager understand? If your answer to these questions is yes, you have hope.

4. Do you understand Agile manifesto, Agile principles and do you subscribe to XP values of simplicity, communication, feedback, respect and Courage? If you answered yes, think again. If you answered yes again (and again), think about situations that could get you in trouble with stakeholders, management, and even the team that you might be serving. Would you be able to manage expectations and still help the teams succeed? Yes means you are in business!

5. Are you ready to learn, unlearn and learn again? Different situations require different responses and solutions. Are you willing to experiment with different approaches, solutions and options with different team members, different teams, different projects, and different managers? Are you willing to engage with your audience and fail-fast, take responsibility for your team's decisions, actions and results (god or bad, specially bad ones)? Are you willing to be open, positively debate with your team, take responsibility of (poor) team decisions even if you disagreed with the team before the decision was made? Yes indicates you have it in you to be a great scrum master.

6. How does your organization view the role of a scrum master? Does it recognize this function as requiring special skills, training and coaching or is there a tendency that Scrum Master is a side-job that anyone with little time can do? If your organization recognizes the importance of this job, you are in luck and the probability of your success will increase dramatically! If it does not recognize it this way, your hard work, diligence and success will surely influence the organization, do not lose hope.

Bottom line, if you want to be a good Scrum Master, wear your servant-leader hat, be well grounded and open to learn, and experiment your way to success.

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