Scrum Teams and a ScrumMaster’s Patience

We recently came across an article on Project Management and Patience by Bruce Benson. Our immediate thought was how this applied to Scrum Teams and the ScrumMaster.

Remember what the role of the ScrumMaster is?

To remove impediments of the Scrum team and the owner of the process.

We wrote a post on how a ScrumMaster can help out with communication here. Seems simple enough right? But with so many stories around how teams using Scrum are failing left and right, what could be some possible ways that a ScrumMaster can help their team out by not being patient?

Bruce tells us that:

“Patience is a project management tool that can help us bring about improvements to how we manage projects as well as improvements to the organization as a whole. I discovered that patience was more about waiting for an opportunity to improve things and then jumping on it than it was about waiting for the organization to recognize our brilliant ideas and joyfully adopt them.”

He goes on to say that:

“However, sometimes we may have to move fast and take some personal risks to effectively help an organization that is struggling with unsuccessful projects and products.  While challenging to do, the resulting business success and the sense of accomplishment are worth the risk.”

So how can we take this and apply it to a general ScrumMaster role in a Scrum Team?

We equate it with taking the initiative. Being intentional about one’s work and preemptively looking for ways to work more efficiently.

Since most ScrumMasters do more than just remove impediments, we can look at other roles that they can fill while doing an excellent job at being a buffer between the team and distractions:

  • Grease the wheels of communication – Work more closely and diligently with Product Owners and other stakeholders to better understand their requirements or stories.
  • Find opportunities to celebrate wins – Find small wins in projects and communicate them widely to business units. Build confidence in your team.
  • Ask questions of your team constantly - Beside the retrospective, listen to what your team has to say outside of the regular meetings. Get feedback, improve more though that feedback.
  • Removing impediments are good but look beyond the usual - Technologies to help communication? Gaps in processes? Not involving an individual who could help your team? Look for ways to close the gaps.
  • Read blogs and news articles on best pratices – There are plenty of people sharing their successes and failures online. Learn from them. Do or don’t do what they’re doing.
  • Be more than a 2 day certificate Certified Scrum MasterGrow your craft. Attend conferences and local meetups. Take the initiative.

There are plenty more reasons, but here are just a few.

(Read about growing your craft as a professional here)

What other ScrumMaster-specific ways can an individual be proactive? Let us know in the comments.

[HT: PMToolsThatWork]

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4 Responses to “Scrum Teams and a ScrumMaster’s Patience”

  1. Peter Schuh
    December 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    Great points!

    What about a bullet on “vision, purpose and value”?

    A great ScrumMaster regularly validates that the product owner is defining a sequence of high (or highest) value deliveries. (Yes, the product owner knows the business better than the ScrumMaster but it should be readily apparent to the ScrumMaster as well.)

    The ScrumMaster’s also ensures that the team understands the purpose of its efforts both in terms of near-term value and long-term vision. A team that knows how it “plugs-in” and adds energy to the whole machine is a team that’s much more likely to strive for innovation and much less likely to get caught in a rut of complacency.

    • peter
      December 31, 2010 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks for the note! Great additions as well. A ScrumMaster can be more than just a “remover of impediments.”

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