The Scrum Master's (SMs) responsibility in implementing agile practices lies primarily in the transition phase, as well as working with a team to create an environment conducive to agility. With agile practices, it is not uncommon for teams to experience changes in personnel. The Scrum Master's primary responsibility lies in helping the team work through these changes and maintaining the focus on process improvements and delivery.
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When it comes to Scrum, many people think that the only thing the Scrum Master does is work with teams. This is a myth! In this article, we will explore the Scrum Master’s role in ensuring organizational agility beyond the team focus and dispel this misconception once and forever.
Who Is A Scrum Master?
A Scrum Master is a kind of agile leader role who facilitates the Scrum process in an organization. They are responsible for making sure that the teams get their assignments from the product owner, execute them, and deliver results on time.
A scrum master is important to an agile company because they don't have to rely on detailed documentation and can focus on creating and executing sprints. A scrum master just needs to be available for the team’s guidance and facilitation.
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Definition for Scrum Master given in Scrum Guide:
“Scrum Masters are true leaders who serve the Scrum Team and the larger organization”. In addition to serving the Team and the Product Owner, the Scrum Master also "serves the organization in several ways”.
When we think about agility as per definition, we're talking about a company's ability to move quickly from one thing to another. That could mean adapting to a change in the market or anticipating a need for a new product.
How Can SM Help An Organization Become Agile As An Agile Leader?
The Scrum Master is often concerned that planning sessions took too long, sometimes more than the two-week daily sprint limit. In such situation, the group decides to use their time more efficiently by focusing on improving product performance and getting SMEs from other parts of the organization involved in identifying needs. SMs helps the PO understand how the team's work affects the organization and help the product owner create a system image to demonstrate this impact. With this insight, subject matter experts (SMEs) can prioritize team sustenance.
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Role Played By Scrum Master In Organizational Agility
The reporting journey of a Scrum Master over time can look like this: Early on, the focus is on helping the team improve its concentration. While the scrum team matures, the Scrum Master's focus shifts from the team itself to organizational processes that hinder the organization's ability to be agile.
1. Scrum Understanding
Obviously, the first step for many Scrum masters is to ensure that all members of the scrum team understand Scrum better and can align with the same.
2. Scrum Team Matures
A matured Scrum team is multifunctional and self-organized. This means the team is not only able to perform all the tasks that are needed to complete a project but also can manage itself. The Scrum Master's job is to help the team identify and remove any barriers that prevent the team from maturing. Some ways a Scrum Master can do this include taking training on leadership skills and coaching behaviours focused on helping others learn through experimentation.
3. Engineering Excellence
We often don't hear about Engineering Excellence, but it's important to note that organizations become more agile when they update their agile development packages, adapt their architecture, adjust DevOps, automate repetitive activities/tasks, and much more. A Scrum Master does not necessarily have to be a technical expert, but it should help teams find engineering practices. which hinders agility. In most cases, Scrum teams look for organizational support while adapting any new technical practice.
4. Practices Of Product Management
The product is owned by the Product Owner (PO) and plays the role of Product Manager in the scrum team, not the Team Creator or Backlog Composer/Writer. The PO should use reliable customer/market discovery methods to find the right product or market, prioritize the items of product delays, make sure the team is always focused on the valuable task items, and ensure that the Scrum team receives immediate feedback from end-users/stakeholders.
5. Organizational Processes
The Scrum team is not the presence of only one. Has to communicate with other organizational departments. According to Evan Leybourn, to paraphrase Eliyahu Goldratt’s theory of Constraints: "An organization can be as agile as its least agile area!" The SM supports these other divisions to collaborate effectively with the Scrum Team and apply empiricism to their work.
In short, the Scrum Master plays a key role in ensuring that members of an organization are able to respond quickly and efficiently to sudden changes. Limiting the Scrum Master only to one unit or group within the company could hamper overall agility and the organization’s responsiveness.
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