Conclusion: When and Why to Fire a Scrum Master?

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coach_talksI was covering “Process and Responsibility” topics in my last post.
To finish my analogy with Football Coach i want to suggest three main aspects that will help you to distinguish great Scrum Master from mediocre one.

1. Process is more important than value

Process is only a tool that can help to achieve results. Great Scrum Master will experiment with various practices and approaches to find what fits best his team, which depends on team’s maturity, experience, mentality and etc. And what is more Great Scrum Master will always think about the value being created by the team.

2. Suggests decisions only, but provides no information

Great Scrum Master will work towards increasing the transparency and bring as much information as possible to the team, so they understand the problem and would be able to participate in the decision making. Great Scrum Master will make sure big picture is not lost and everybody knows what is important and why it’s important.

3. Maintains status quo

Great Scrum Master is always focused on improvements. Without challenging status quo nothing much can be achieved. You can’t win two tournaments in a row if you are not going to change tactics and strategy.

What is next?

Professional Football team has several coaches. This is another interesting discussion to have… But remember – Scrum Master is team member with different skills set. Good luck in finding a great Scrum Master and right balance between number of team members and number of “Scrum Masters”!

Presentation is available here

Part 4: When and Why to Fire a Scrum Master? – Process and Responsibility

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Last post was covering Planning and Analysis. Before conclusion I want to cover two key areas from my point of view. It’s about process and level of responsibility.

Process

In most definitions Scrum Master is the person who helps the team to achieve best results: this can involve removing any impediments to progress, facilitating meetings, and doing things like working with the product owner to make sure the product backlog is in good shape and ready for the next sprint.

trophy celebration

Unfortunately everybody focuses mainly on process and completely forgets about the real purpose of team – create value for the customer, build great product. The real value of Scrum Master is that he has other skills and knowledge that can help the team to do that.

Have you seen Football Coach that doesn’t care about the Trophy? It’s not even a discussion. It’s weird. Both the Coach and the Team have exactly the same target! Why do we have Scum Masters who only cares about the process than? Don’t forget – Scrum is only the tool. Are you the fool with the tool?

Responsibility

Soccer Euro 2012 Spain FranceWhen team doesn’t win no one cares what the Coach thinks he takes responsibility and leaves (or fired). There is a saying in football:

Team wins the game, but coach loses the game

What do you often see in organizations? It’s so easy to find whom we should blame, but not the Scrum Master: Developers, POs, Other teams, Culture, whole organization, stupid users…

p.s. full presentation is available here

Part 3: When and Why to Fire a Scrum Master? – Planning and Analysis

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Previous post about Decision making can be found here. Let’s continue comparison.

Long term vs Short term planning

soccer-champions

When you watch teams playing serious tournaments every game is not played like the Finals. In addition world-class teams participate in more than one tournament. Do you think it’s possible to win Bundesliga, domestic Cup and Champions league when you plan only one game ahead? If you don’t “save” your players and “force” them play at maximum level in every game you will not achieve such results.

For sure football coaches care about every game, but trend is more important for them. Last game might be an exception or just a bad luck. As the result all games are analyzed keeping in mind the whole tournament: how many games are played? how many games are left to play? what is the result of recent 3 games? ant etc.

What you can often see with software teams that sprint results are discussed without taking into account the whole roadmap. This leads to short-sighted actions or local optimizations, which is not necessarily the best choice. Good Scrum Masters must bring attention to this and make sure everybody recalls that team wants to win the “tournament”. What is your “tournament”?

Analysis

Either i was lucky when was playing football at young age or it happens everywhere, but even kids coaches analyze games afterwards. So i bet that professional teams also do that. Game analysis is the only way to improve and learn from mistakes. And I was really surprised when found out how much time and effort is spent on that in football (including various kind of software and hardware that gathers necessary information). Of course various visualizations and statistics are not the ultimate answer to all the problems, but in good hands it can give you very good insights on how to continue.

analysis 1 analysis3

No (powerful) retrospectives is the first signal that team is not improving, stuck or fell into a comfort zone. It means that Scrum Master is not doing his work and not focused on improvement. To have powerful retrospective team needs input, problems or results visualization, but it’s often teams are scared of any kind of metrics. Because of often abuse, when metrics are used by management to decide on salaries and bonuses, but not as additional information for the team to notice where to improve.

Football vs Software Development

Is it because football has predefined rules all these good practices are in place? Is it because Scrum is incomplete we have so many things depending on team’s maturity and Scrum Master’s experience? How do you handle that?

p.s. full presentation is available here. I will go through it in further posts.

Part 2: When and Why to Fire a Scrum Master? – Decision Making

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As I mentioned in previous post main question is changing a bit – “What and Why to Fire a Football Coach?”

Would you fire a Football coach when he makes all the decisions for the team on the field? Why? The answer seems very obvious. If this happens – team loses opportunity to get better as they don’t learn by making own failures. All decisions are made by players during the game: tackle, shot on goal and etc… Of course principles and tactics are agreed before the game, but when the game starts a lot of things can change and a lot of things depend on players. What coach can do is to assist the team and make maximum 3 substitutions if things get out of control.

130525160147-champions-league-final-14-horizontal-gallerycoach

Main reason why it happens this way in football is the “system” itself. Rules don’t allow coach to run on the field and instruct everybody how things should be done. Unfortunately nothing prevents us from doing that in our daily routine. That’s why it’s so easy for “new” scrum master to fall into micro-management and “break” the sprint. And if such behaviour continues, probably even the team spirit can suffer in the long run.

What could be alternative of such “system”  in software development that prevents micro-management? I have such thoughts:

  • focus on providing as much information as possible, so team could make proper decisions
  • walk away 🙂

Could you help to come up with more ideas?

Next post on this topic: Part 3: When and Why to Fire a Scrum Master? – Planning and Analysis

p.s. presentation is available here. I will go through it in further posts.

Part 1: When and Why to fire a Scrum Master?

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Previous post on this topic: Part 0: When and Why to fire a Scrum Master?

Next post on this topic: Part 2: When and Why to Fire a Scrum Master? – Decision Making

I love football and realized recently that problems and challenges we face in our organizations (at least those that working in creating software products) are very similar to those that football club has.

  • Complexity: strategy, tactics, finance, human factor. Waterfall doesn’t fit well, flexibility is a key
  • Product by people: all results depend only on the team, but not machinery
  • Uncertainty: you cannot predict with 100% how your team will look like by the end of the season

football stadium

I think we can learn a lot from Football to improve our daily work. Football is a lot about management on different levels. And as you can suppose Coach (called Manager in UK) is the key role that guides the team to success. I am sure you cannot imagine world level team without the coach.

“Why do most think it’s possible in software development?”

I want to do following thing. Grab certain statements that we hear quite often in our daily work and take a look at them from Football manager perspective. To do that i need to share analogies i use in my head. Not sure if it’s 100% fit. But it’s a thinking tool, not a proven theory:

football and dev analogy

After making this analogy we can twist a question a bit, which will help to validate common statements from our daily work:

When and Why to Fire a Football Coach?