Scrum Master on Duty!

For me, being a scrum master has been an utter learning journey. What do you think an SM does? Well, honestly, it’s a mixed bag of responsibilities and interest, just like true agile. Agile, being flexible, allows exploration of the way you want to work with standard scrum principles.



Following Scrum also means being transparent in work; the team should be ready to share any blocker they might have. In our Daily Stand Up, my team raises blockers they are facing to achieve their goal for the day, and I work to resolve the issues. I don’t have a solution to every problem, but I make to address any dependencies and raise it in SOS. SOS- Scrum of scrum is a meeting in which all PO’s and SM meet to remove any interdependencies that cause the problem. I also resolve issues like access, capacity, priority, and clarity on the time of work we need as per the vision of a product. 

Daily stand ups give visibility of impending or progressing work within my team. Maybe a developer is only concerned about acceptance criteria and approved technical specifications, but as a scrum master I am responsible for the whole cycle of a user story from BA to developer, development of product and demo of feature/s. 

Part of my responsibility is to create a roadmap with my Product owner [PO] and BA’s. In the roadmap, we plan backlog for our future sprints and define internal as well as external dependencies. An example of dependency is when there is only one developer who is supposed to do heavy coding across the sprints. Many things will depend on the developer’s schedule and speed of work.

Every sprint has Sprint sanity check meeting that has agenda to see if we are on track to deliver the agreed upon product; also to ensure the product is clutter-free {void of unnecessary requirement} and well prioritized. 

Scrum team members respect each other to be capable and independent. The scrum team is 100% self-organized. Individual team members may have specialized skills, but accountability belongs to team as a whole. I play an important role here by coaching the development team to be self-organized. I organize discussions like Grooming in which I clarify the goals, scope and product domain to everyone in the team. I groom user stories with BA’s and ask them questions based on previous experience on specific tasks and challenge the timeline if needed. 



As a scrum master, you become the face of your team, you help the team to create a high-value product. I personally take care of that responsibility by being part of Sprint Planning sessions. The planning session has a user story listed for sprint cadence and the velocity of the sprint. In my team, I do take care of responsibilities where I must showcase what we developed in recent sprints through Sprint Demo. Our business users join these demo sessions and give feedback on what has been developed so far. I truly work cross stream in Michelin, by that I mean working with other streams and their product increments. This includes working with their scrum master and PO to increase the effectiveness of the application in the organization.  



Part of my responsibility is also to understand the challenge of the team and convert it into learning experience. I organize Retrospective sessions, where I facilitate the points necessary to improve the process and learn from our mistakes. Based on my experience, if you want to impact frequent innovation/s and want to feel amazed everyday, a scrum master job is not for you. But if you want to be in a place where you want to attain perfection, congratulations, you have come to the right spot! As a Scrum master you must repeat the same task over and over again with necessary bit of variation. 



No wonder your job is tricky when you are managing a lot, hence organizational skill is the best quality an SM can have. You must choose which meetings to attend to and when to say “No” because SM gets involved in every discussion. Being Upfront and Transparent undoubtedly helps me to do my job with full honesty and clarity. Clarity allows my team to become more independent. In a complex team like that of Michelin, every day we face challenges and changes. I accept them both open-heartedly; change is part of life, why shouldn’t it be part of a project? That’s what true agile means to me, open to change and build a flexible product that can be incremented day by day as per planning.  

ABOUT AUTHOR : Niti Bhate, an accomplished scrum master, has rendered her services for numerous years in Michelin’s scrum team. Over these years Niti has successfully managed teams across USA, India and Canada for Michelin.

Published On: October 17th, 2019 / Categories: Technology /

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