A key focus of the Scrum Master is to remove impediments and distractions that might negatively impact the team’s progress or results – by any means necessary!
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The Scrum Master Ninja
The Enemy – Impediments
Take Gemba Walks. Physically walk around the team and stakeholder areas, observing actions and interactions. Dwight Eisenhower once said: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re 1,000 miles from the corn field.”
Pay close attention to non-verbal cues during Retrospectives and other feedback loops. Watch for team members rolling their eyes at others comments, shaking their heads, giving heavy sighs.
Ask lots of questions. This seems obvious, but we all get bogged down in our daily routines and our own battles that we sometimes forget there are others around us being attacked.
Study the Burn-down chart and other lifecycle tool reports and charts. Use the intel you have at your disposal to find potential weaknesses or opportunities.
Advanced Ninja Tactics
Don’t just focus on removing mechanical impediments of Agile and Scrum (the practices), but also provide guidance on Agile principles that make agility more sustainable in the long run. I once began coaching a Scrum team that looked, on the surface, to have it all together. They had all the right roles in place, their ceremonies seemed to be well run, and their artifacts appeared clean and up to date. But when I started asking questions about how they interact with each other, I found serious distrust between business and technology people, no face-to-face communication (nearly 100% email), and very little transparency or visibility into what the team was doing. Their mindset and culture were keeping them from realizing the full benefits of agility. Teams that possess solid Agile values are less likely to need you to repeatedly remove the same impediment. Ask tough questions about interactions and thought processes.
Utilize good questioning methods like the “5 whys” approach. By repeatedly asking the question “why?” we peel away layers of symptoms to get to the root cause.
Team up with other ninjas (good Scrum Masters and other leaders) to defeat systemic or enterprise impediments, and increase the effectiveness of Scrum in the organization. Remember, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a team, not a lone turtle.
A master ninja multiplies their power by teaching others to be ninjas. Don’t remove all impediments yourself. Coach the person, not just the problem, and they will learn to remove their own impediments better and be able to remove similar impediments in the future. Then, you can focus on removing those impediments that the team cannot remove themselves. Agile teaches people to think, rather than to just follow instructions.
Published at DZone with permission of Dwight Kingdon . See the original article here.
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