It’s safe to say that if you’re reading this post, you’re probably a fan of Agile practices. Thanks to a recent conversation about the general goals of a scrum master, and what all of us can do to achieve them, I began thinking about what the scrum master role fully encompasses, and how it applies beyond just professional contexts.
A scrum master is responsible for a lot, and consequently many descriptors apply: servant leader, obstacle remover, mentor, coach. We even wind up stuck with some false - and funny! - labels as well: project manager, leave approver, immediate reporter, supervisor. But while wearing these many hats, what exactly should a scrum guide aim for?
Discussions with lots of Agile team leaders and scrum masters across the globe generated some interesting thoughts.
While scrum masters are responsible for ensuring project deliverability, including associated requirements, implementation, and tracking, those who become too tightly involved slowly wind up serving as more of a Product Owner.
Those who take on this responsibility while serving as a scrum master, often scale up to the next role in traditional organizational structure.
More interestingly, many people who fell in love with methodologies in their scrum experience and go for advance training in agile frameworks (scrum, Kanban, etc.) end up becoming Agile coaches on enterprise levels.
In addition to these situations, some with excellent teaching skills become tutors in Agile training institutes. Others continue to be scrum masters only and keep on serving new teams in organizations. Even with all of these paths, it can still be difficult to get a handle on what truly defines a scrum master. Perhaps the best way to do this is to define the Nirvana state for a scrum master’s life. What makes a scrum master feel good?
The Current Team
While serving as the scrum master for a team, a scrum master should desire that his or her team will become self-organized, even in terms of running scrum. When a scum master’s team manages scrum framework on their own, they resolve their own problems, bring transparency, and inspect and adapt themselves for the next iterations.
Once the team is self-organized, a scrum master should see what he can do to bring Agile transformation to the complete organization. This may involve training, coaching, and discussion or activities with other stakeholders. The organization itself needs to bring transparency, inspection, and adaptation in running the company.
Tech companies in particular should not restrict themselves to running scrum framework only for development teams. Sales, HR, Accounting, and Administration -- even at the highest levels -- can also leverage the benefits of running Agile frameworks. Scrum may not always be the framework, but Kanban, XP, etc. are possibilities.
Outside the Office
Agile methodology practice is a skill which is not tailor made for one specific operation. So why not use its benefits in your personal life? Scrum masters can apply these practices to their personal lives.
I began running scrum practices in my household, and it yielded amazing results: monthly and daily food purchases; bill payments and financial transactions; medical visits and more. Sticky notes on the fridge became our sprint backlog. Daily we’ll check in with each other about what’s finished if something isn’t getting done.
My upcoming wedding and all of its preparations served as a perfect opportunity to try Kanban. My fiancée and I made a wish-list for our ceremony, and know we can address two items at a time. It’s become our work-in-progress Kanban board, and we are confident in our wedding preparations even without an event planner now!
Why Restrict to Organizational & Personal Life?
Just as I have applied Agile methodologies to my personal life, I’ve started managing other things in the same manner. With easier implementations and trust, a scrum manager can start enabling all people to operate in Agile frameworks for everyday activities.
With this approach in mind for scrum masters, the entire world can be transformed to agile methodology and when it is achieved, it will be a Nirvana -- a state of peace and happiness.