30 Fantastic Reasons Why a Part-Time Scrum Master is not optimal
30 REASONS WHY A PART-TIME SCRUM MASTER IS NOT OPTIMAL
During the last several weeks, I have put a lot of thought in getting reasons why a part-time scrum master is not optimal.
I wanted to share some of my ideas here, and explain why I believe this approach is a Scrum Anti-Pattern. You will get extra insights if you read my other blog post: “Scrum Master Roles and Responsibilities“.
I would like to start my argument by restating one of the Scrum values: “Focus“. There are several organisations that believe Scrum Mastering is a simple job and can be shared with other roles inside of an organisation.
Of course, everything depends on the size of the team or project, but a normal scrum team (7 +- 2 people) will require a full-time Scrum Master. I believe that Focus is extremely important to become good at something.
For example, if you split your job between the developer and Scrum Master, I do not believe that you will master both. You will be a great Scrum Master or a great developer.
At some point in time, you need to choose which career path you want to take. Unfortunately, most of the organisations out there are built so that the only way to get a great salary is to go away from the development path. The result of this is most often losing great developers and getting ineffective leaders!
The second point that I have is related to the amount of work that is necessary to become a good Scrum Master. People believe a Scrum Master is the person who organises meetings, enforces time frames and deadlines, and responds to the impediments people explicitly report.
Certainly, some Scrum Masters only do that, but if you see a team that has great efficiency in accomplishing tasks that no one previously thought possible, most likely the Scrum Master did much more than what I have previously mentioned.
So what are the roles of a Scrum Master?
A Scrum Master has dozens of different tasks, but I will give a small enough sample for you to realise that Scrum Mastering is a full-time job! I will write it in a question format to start your thought process, instead of merely giving you the answers.
- How is the communication between teams and departments working?
- Are the teams fullly cross-functional teams? Can they deliver alone without the help of other teams/departments?
- Are you, as Scrum Master, meeting with other Scrum Masters and working on the organisational impediment list?
- How is your organisation structured regarding bonus systems? Are they rewarding individuals or teams?
- As Peter Senge said, an organisation only learns through its individuals. Are you helping the organisation to learn? Are you establishing Communities of Practice between teams and departments?
- Are you helping the team to figure out the right balance between automated end-to-end tests system tests and automated Unit Tests?
- Are you helping the team to write both system “functional” tests and unit tests in the same language as the system they are developing so that everyone in the team knows how to maintain the test setup?
- Are you helping the team to discover the useful grey area between system tests and unit tests?
- Do all the tests roll up into the continuous integration server?
- Are you helping the team to mature their DoD?
- Does your DoD for each functional Product Backlog time include full automated test coverage and refactoring?
- Are you helping team members to do pair programming to get knowledge exchange during the sprint?
PRODUCT OWNER SUPPORT
- Are you helping the Product Owner to prioritise the backlog based on the value that stories will bring to the customer?
- Are you helping the Product Owner to create INVEST stories?
- Are you educating the Product Owner about technical debt and how to avoid it?
- Are you helping the Product Owner to make the backlog visible to everyone?
- Are you helping the Product Owner to make the backlog an information radiator instead of the refrigerator?
- Are you helping the Product Owner to print out the stories so that everyone knows what the team is working on?
- Are you helping the Product Owner to create release burnups so that everyone knows where the team stands?
- Are you helping the Product Owner with adjusting the Release scope based on what was delivered?
HELPING THE TEAM
- Are you helping the team to reach the state of “flow”?
- Do you see team members working well with each other?
- Are you helping the team members to hold each other to high standards?
- Do you have a trustful environment where people speak freely without problems?
- Does the sprint board reflect what the team is doing? Or are they working on something that is not related to Sprint Goal?
- Are you keeping the team artefact visible to everyone (TaskBoard, Sprint BurnDown, impediment list, etc.)?
- Are you helping the team members to volunteer for tasks? Or do you have a more “command and control” approach to someone telling people what to do?
- Are you helping the team members to leave their titles outside of the office room? Everyone should help to accomplish team Titles are not important.
As you can see, the role of a Scrum Master encompasses much more than organising meetings and keep track of time box.
If you are a Scrum Master, and you do all of this on your daily job and still have time to work with more than one team, please write a book on time management! I believe you are a GURU.
I hope this article can be used as a guide for everyone who does not understand what the role of a Scrum Master is, and why having more than one at a time is a Scrum Anti-Pattern.
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