Today's surgeons are highly trained and skilled individuals who have had years of formal education followed by extensive internships. This was not always the case. Pete Moore has written that "the first surgeons had little anatomical knowledge, but plied their trade because they had sharp instruments and strong arms. They often did surgery in their spare time while working as the local barber or blacksmith".

Many organizations choose their first ScrumMasters in much the same way; but instead of seeking sharp instruments and strong arms, they look for management or leadership experience. As they become more experienced with Scrum, organizations eventually realize there are many more factors to consider in selecting ScrumMasters. To help save you from picking a ScrumMaster whose sole qualifications are strong arms and sharp instruments, I have listed the six attributes I have found to be common among the best ScrumMasters I've worked with.

A good ScrumMaster is able and willing to assume responsibility. That is not to say that ScrumMasters are responsible for the success of the project; that is shared by the team as a whole. However, the ScrumMaster is responsible for maximizing the throughput of the team and for assisting team members in adopting and using Scrum. As noted earlier, the ScrumMaster takes on this responsibility without assuming any of the authority that might be useful in achieving it. Think of the ScrumMaster as similar to an orchestra conductor. Both must provide real-time guidance and leadership to a talented collection of individuals who come together to create something that no one of them could create alone. Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart has said of his role, "People assume that when you become a conductor you're into some sort of a Napoleonic thing— that you want to stand on that big box and wield your power. I'm not a power junkie, I'm a responsibility junkie". In an identical manner, a good ScrumMaster thrives on responsibility—that special type of responsibility that comes without power.

A good ScrumMaster is not in it for her ego. She may take pride (often immense pride) in her achievements, but the feeling will be "look what I helped accomplish" rather than the more self-centered "look what I accomplished." A humble ScrumMaster is one who realizes the job does not come with a company car or parking spot near the building entrance. Rather than putting her own needs first, a humble ScrumMaster is willing to do whatever is necessary to help the team achieve its goal. Humble ScrumMasters recognize the value in all team members and by example lead others to the same opinion.

A good ScrumMaster works to ensure a collaborative culture exists within the team.The ScrumMaster needs to make sure team members feel able to raise issues for open discussion and that they feel supported in doing so. The right ScrumMaster helps create a collaborative atmosphere for the team through words and actions. When disputes arise, collaborative ScrumMasters encourage teams to think in terms of solutions that benefit all involved rather than in terms of winners and losers. A good ScrumMaster models this type of behavior by working with other ScrumMasters in the organization. However, beyond modeling a collaborative attitude, a good ScrumMaster establishes collaboration as the team norm and will call out inappropriate behavior (if the other team members don't do it themselves).

Although being a ScrumMaster is not always a full-time job, it does require someone who is fully committed to doing it. The ScrumMaster must feel the same high level of commitment to the project and the goals of the current sprint as the team members do. As part of that commitment, a good ScrumMaster does not end very many days with impediments left unaddressed. There will, of course, be times when this is inevitable, as not all impediments can be removed in a day. For example, convincing a manager to dedicate a full-time resource to the team may take a series of discussions over several days. On the whole, however, if a team finds that impediments are often not cleared quickly, team members should remind their ScrumMaster about the importance of being committed to the team. One way a ScrumMaster can demonstrate commitment is by remaining in that role for the full duration of the project. It is disruptive for a team to change ScrumMasters mid-project.

A successful ScrumMaster influences others, both on the team and outside it. Initially, team members might need to be persuaded to give Scrum a fair trial or to behave more collaboratively; later, a ScrumMaster may need to convince a team to try a new technical practice, such as test-driven development or pair programming. A ScrumMaster should know how to exert influence without resorting to a dictatorial "because I say so" style. Most ScrumMasters will also be called upon to influence those outside the team. For example, a ScrumMaster might need to convince a traditional team to provide a partial implementation to the Scrum team. Or, a ScrumMaster might need to prevail upon a QA director to dedicate full-time testers to the project. Although all ScrumMasters should know how to use their personal influence, the ideal one will come with a degree of corporate political skill. The term "corporate politics" is often used pejoratively; however, a ScrumMaster who knows who makes decisions in the organization, how those decisions are made, which coalitions exist, and so on can be an asset to a team.

Beyond having a solid understanding of and experience with Scrum, the best ScrumMasters also have the technical, market, or other specialized knowledge to help the team pursue its goal. LaFasto and Larson have studied successful teams and their leaders and have concluded that "an intimate and detailed knowledge of how something works increases the chance of the leader helping the team surface the more subtle technical issues that must be addressed" . Although ScrumMasters do not necessarily need to be marketing gurus or programming experts, they should know enough about both to be effective in leading the team.

Source of Information : Pearson - Succeeding with Agile Software Development Using Scrum 2010


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