Here are Scrum Master stances. Although default stance for a scrum master is to be in service to their scrum team. Where in she is identifying and removing impediments to serve their team. By improving organizational systems so that impediments do not recur they serve their organization. Scrummasterchecklist.org is fantastic list of actionable items that a Scrum Master can do. A scrum master maintains servant-leadership stance in all her interactions. While their default stance is servant leadership, they often have to step into:
“I don’t know about …”
Initially in forming stages scrum team members are new to each other. As a framework, scrum is silent on practices. So it is natural that even if members have practiced scrum before, they will have had different experiences with it. As a teacher a scrum master explains, verifies, and answers what is scrum and more importantly what is NOT scrum. As a teacher, scrum master answers teams questions and concerns, so that they have a common reference point to grow from.
“I never did this before ..”
Team members, product owner, managers etc struggle with implementing scrum. During forming and through out team’s journey towards performing, they need light hand-holding so they can build their confidence. Learning new skills is easier when there is a friendly mentor in your corner. As a mentor scrum master demonstrates or pairs collaboratively to develop team member skills. For example, a scrum master may pair with a team member to walk them through build environment or mentor product owner to learn how to prioritize. A mentor sees more potential than others see in themselves, and shows them how to improve.
“Help us find agreement on..”
Especially in storming stages, a team needs support in learning to constructively navigate through differences in opinion. Finding agreement on decisions that impact everybody can be tough. Scrum master does not have vested interest in championing their preferred decision. A facilitator holds space for team members to be able to express themselves. Pulling in all team members in participation allows the team to explore diversity of view points. She is able to guide team members with fit for purpose filtering techniques to converge on decisions that every one in team can support and get behind. Their focus is on decision making process that can be sustained in their absence. This helps establish norms that improve cooperation and coordination within team and also with outside stakeholder.
“Help me/us get better at…”
Coaching is never inflicted, and is offered by invitation only. Psychological safety is perquisite in order for team members to invite scrum master to coach. As team gets comfortable in norming stage, coaching helps team members to get continuously better as a team. As a coach, scrum master practices active listening, shares judgement free observations, and checks for understanding through reflection. This helps her and the team to explore mental models that is the source of their team dynamics. Challenging deeply held assumptions by asking powerful questions helps the team and organization to expand possibilities of growth.
Even for experienced scrum masters, this dance requires situational awareness to shift smoothly between stances of teaching, mentoring, facilitating, and coaching. Centering in service to team, helps a scrum master to lead their team through continuous improvement journey from forming, storming, norming, and to performing.
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