In an effort to relieve my manager from a hectic work schedule, earlier this year I was asked to serve in the role of Scrum Master for my team. In my Information Technology career, I have held the position of both Development Manager and Team Supervisor - but being a Scrum Master would be something new. Of course, I accepted the offer.
Someone provided me a link to Angel Medinilla's (Proyectalis) Scrum Master Maturity Model, which provided an interesting breakdown for a given Scrum Master. Prior to reading the article, I felt like the Scrum Master role was more binary (you are a Scrum Master ... or you are not one) than anything else. What I didn't realize, is how closely my personal path actually followed Angel's maturity model.
Medinilla refers to the lowest level of his Scrum Master Maturity Model as "ScrumDude." At this level, the budding Scrum Master is handling the daily stand-up, scheduling meetings, listing impediments and pretty much acting as the team secretary. Adding the word "dude" in the phase brings in that non-confrontational side, all the while being cool and keeping the team on track.
In my case, I found myself acting as the ScrumDude, because my team was very close to (if not actually) in the Performing stage at the time. I was able to assume the role and give my manager some time back to his already-packed schedule. If my team was in the Forming or Storming stage, I am not certain if a ScrumDude role would have been as effective.
The next level of maturity is called the "ScrumMom." In Angel's image of this level, he used an older, distraught mom with a rolling pin in hand. The difference between the laid-back, too-cool-for-school ScrumDude and the ready-to-take-control ScrumMom is quite easy to differentiate. At the ScrumMom level, the Scrum Master is dedicated to protecting the team, assigning tasks and has an eye on meeting target dates/monitoring velocity. Any impediments are not just noted, but are resolved. At this level, the Scrum Master is the voice of the team and often comes across as a bit bossy.
Once I found a cadence with my team, I naturally found myself handling many of the tasks under Medinilla's ScrumMom maturity level. Protecting my team from outside influences was probably the primary element I noticed first. Task assignment was a close second, as well as keeping our velocity and target dates in mind. In my opinion, I never really saw myself as bossy, but I am sure others in my organization would have a differing opinion.
The final level of Angel Medinilla's Scrum Master Maturity Model is the actual Scrum Master. At this level, the Scrum Master is focused on growing the team. Angel talks about the Scrum Master becoming the Team Gardener - who helps cultivate and grow the team by being a mentor, coach and trainer. The Scrum Master not only handles everything in the short term, but has an eye (and vision) toward the long term growth of both the team and the individual team members themselves.
In my personal voyage, this is where I currently find myself today. I believe I have surpassed the ScrumMom level, but not quite to the full Scrum Master role. Some of my situation has to do with the way in which the organizational structure is defined, with a small remainder allocated to areas in which I plan to grow into over the short term.
Of course, each level builds upon the previous level. At the very end, Angel believes we should reach "Agile Nirvana" where the Scrum Master can just listen and reflect. At this point, the team should have reached the point where they can operate with minimal involvement from their Scrum Master. Medinilla further states for the Scrum Master to ask questions and to "be a mirror" in order to absorb instead of contribute at this level. The biggest key here is master silence.
For the most part, a majority of those I have worked alongside the last 24 years have one thing in common. They want to make a difference, they have a voice and they want to be heard. (I know that sounds like three things, but it all rolls into one large attribute.) That said, reaching this aspect of Agile Nirvana is tougher than it sounds, as it takes more effort to listen and reflect than to provide a voice.
Former talk show host and author Larry King was noted as saying, "I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening." As I navigate down the road toward Agile Nirvana, I try to keep this in mind.
Have a really great day!