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Hi all,

Meant this post to be an article for an Agile newsletter, but didn’t make it in time.

Scrum Master: The new kid in town

Think Differently

Apple had it right when they began their campaign about “Think Different”, because that is what drives our development efforts. For a long time, software development was complacent in its ways and thought it knew what people needed when in fact, they didn’t know themselves. We therefore had to change the game by drawing proper lines of responsibility when it came to software development. No longer is there a Project Manager that controls the flow of work and task assignments. No longer do technological experts decide what is better for the business and what it needs. Rather, we work across all levels of an organization and motivate collaboration, communication and confidence in each aspect of product development. Moreover, as Scrum Masters, we do not manage the project, but rather we make use of everyday influence to cultivate a team that succeeds by learning to work together, new soft skills and deliver constant value to their Product Owner. It is by way of caring to the people and their competences that we ensure a great return on investment to develop great products for a very competitive market.

Instrumental in change

The objective of Scrum as a toolbox as always been one of simplicity, but obviously it is never as simple as it seems. Therein lies the true nature of a Scrum Masters role and leadership. Organizations would like to believe that it is easy to adopt and meld into its existing culture, but without leadership and courage at the team level the rest will have a hard time to follow. Most organizations focus and really know the “How” of things when it comes to software, but without knowing “Why” everything easily falls apart. The change that must be brought, with influence, must truly focus on the reasons why we do the things we do before we can attain any kind of widespread adoption within an organization. By looking at Schneider’s Culture Model[1], it is made obvious that some organizations won’t have it easy when it comes to implementing Agile concepts. As a rule of thumb, the more the business is Company oriented, the less likely it is that the change will take effect and last, since all decisions are founded in ways to make the Company come first. A shift in Culture is therefore needed if a business has any intentions of creating self-thinking leaders within their walls.

Figure 1 – The Reengineering Alternative, William E. Schneider

Perception is everything

Leadership is not solely detained by an individual, we should attain global leadership at Team level where all participants emerge at one time or another as a Leader to get the Sprint “Done”. The problem with leadership is the default perception that they must somehow be in a position of power, the “Boss”. Leadership does not stem from power but rather respect, competence and drive.

[1] The Reengineering Alternative, 1994, William E. Schneider