Statements such as “The goal of a Scrum Master/coach is to make themselves redundant” or “A scrum master does nothing except getting donuts for the team” are confusing and misleading for aspiring and new Scrum Master. I struggled with these statements when scrum was news to me and maybe you do too at some point. One of the biggest concerns of a scrum master is the fear of being seen doing nothing.
Often when I speak to new Scrum Masters and sometimes some experienced ones, they are skeptical about being idle and the need to be seen embarking on tasks either by the team or the Manager authorising their timesheet. Some Scrum Masters had the thought being idle could mean the loss of their job.
Some scrum masters (and Management) are not sure of how to spend the rest of their day after they are done with facilitating scrum meetings. And if your team is “matured’, there might be the feeling of diminishing value -add to your team or perhaps your job becomes a routine and you get bored.
So, what exactly does a scrum master spend their time doing outside of facilitating scrum meetings. According to the Scrum Guide, A Scrum Master serves the Development Team, the Product Owner, and the Organization. In the beginning, you mostly serve the Development Team and the Product Owner. However, as your team matures, your focus should start expanding across the organization. The more your team advances, the more you identify organizational issues, holding your team back from achieving their goals.
By a step ahead of your team: When working with the team/organization, you want to be 1 or 2 sprints ahead of them. You are collaborating with the people to ensure that the team becomes more productive and also to bring clarity to the product backlog. That doesn’t mean you take your eyes off the current sprint (trust your team to handle the sprint and/or you have already done the heavy lifting before the sprint), but you are exploring what is ahead for the team, surfacing impediment and managing risk as they arise.
Planning the Sprint Retrospective: The sprint retrospective might last 90mins, but start planning for it from the first day of the sprint. For some teams I work with, I ask them to put their observations, concerns, notable achievements, aha! Moments in the space created on the team board. It is hard for one to remember what happened a day before, not minding over 2 weeks. Planning for the retrospective also allows for the full participation of team members.
Mentoring the team: When listening to the team in the meeting or you overheard a conversation, look for opportunities to share your experience with the team. Champion the team as needed when they embark on a new process and/or practice.
Be a coach: Lock in the calendar ‘coffee chat’ with each of your team members. Listen to them and know them as an individual. What is it that gets them out of bed in the morning? Understand their work pain points and how you could be of help as a scrum master/coach. Don’t fix them, rather see them as individuals, not a problem that needs to be solved.
Invest in yourself: If you view attending training, meetups or conferences as expenditure, you are doing yourself a disservice. Given that the world is now a virtual space, you can afford to attend events from the comfort of your sofa and better still, most of these events are free and Trainers are offering scholarships to those deserving them. In addition, you can speak host or facilitate agile events within and outside of your organization.
Last word: Do you think you need to explore and/or deepen your value-add? There are lots of things you could do. Like reading relevant books on topics such as team dynamics, psychology. Get yourself a coach. Attend some training. Visit a local user group. Do some more experiments at work. Learn in any way you like and position your role as a value-adding!
I like for you to share how you utilize your time as a scrum master/agile coach. Write in the comment below.