Sometimes it starts with a simple conversation. Someone heard that agile methodologies help to solve their management problems. How about Scrum, have you heard about it?
And here you are, the Scrum Master. You are introduced to the team as the person who will teach them to work in Scrum and perhaps solve them problems.
The first thing you need to do is to get to know the team and its work process. All the teams have a working process, which can be more or less organized or more or less chaotic to outsiders.
Watch the way they communicate, how the outside communicates with them and understand what their problems are.
Listening to them is critical.
This discovery phase may last two weeks or more. Everything depends on the team and sometimes the moment. If they are pressed with the delivery of a project or dealing with a large volume of support, the attention they may release to you might be less than you expected.
When you ask them what are the largest difficulties they deal with, most people share the same opinion. Some of the most common problems are:
- Customers who do not respect the rules and, instead of using the system to register their requests, they address directly to the team
- The team doesn’t know how to not respond to these direct requests
- Inability to set priorities
- Inability to define project delivery dates
In addition to these difficulties, you should try to find out positive practices that should be encouraged to maintain. Not everything is bad. For example, if a development team that needs the operations team to publish their work already have a way that works well, it should be used instead of defining a new process – DevOps is working, use it.
Another important issue is the current dynamics of the team, collaboration between members. But not always exists.
You can find a team that does not share the work among its members. For example, each one is specialized in a business area or technology, and is dedicated to developing projects only in this area, as well as its support.
Apparently, the team responds to all kind of requests it receives because it has specialists in each area. But on a close look, that’s not what is happening. What is happening is that one or another member of the team are full of work, because they have received a lot of requests regarding their specialized knowledge. Meanwhile, other elements have much less work and can respond to all requests.
This scenario may be much worse than I describe. The result is always a big waste of responsiveness of the team.
When we find a scenario like this, we know that this is one of the things that will be improved with the introduction of any agile methodology.
At this point we know for sure this will be a hard challenge to embrace!
That’s what a life of Scrum Master is, always a challenge.
(picture: radishes, arugula, carrot ans swiss chard from our kitchen garden)