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Scrum Master: Being Aware

10/10/2013 by Rajeswari (Raji) Kailasam

It is now common for team members to step into the role of ScrumMaster. They have figured out how to facilitate/navigate through ceremonies, know to create the right artifacts at the right time, and have learned to escalate the ideal issues to the right audience.

But does that make them true ScrumMasters? True ScrumMasters learn to look beyond the issues they face. They learn to turn issues around and understand why they originated. They seek to find the true causes of all issues.

In the deserts of Saudi Arabia, camels can smell packed alfalfa grass in travelers' backpacks from miles away. They gravitate toward them, wanting to eat that fresh-smelling grass. I would love our ScrumMasters to be intuitive, like the camels. Not simply focused on the survival of the team, but always going where they know the solution exists. Or where there is a reasonable cause for a problem to start.

How does a ScrumMaster learn to master Scrum?

The first big success factor is by being aware, by being like the camels of the deserts. Camels have developed an innate ability to smell water. Water is what they are always craving. They practice smelling water. They memorize its smell. They smell water in everything that has moisture. They have developed the art of being aware of water.

A true ScrumMaster, in his or her heart, develops an acute sense of awareness. She observes. Learns. Reiterates what she has learned and practices it. Maybe she has learned that her team works well on one day, so she will not just stop at expecting the team to repeat that performance. She will create an environment where those success factors can be repeated. She will learn to modify and adjust as needed and still help them be consistent. She will learn to become a master of this situation and then not be afraid to experiment with making small new changes. At the same time, she is aware that one small change of habit can cause a huge shift. If it is in the right direction, she will not be afraid to make that small shift.

Thus to truly become aware, our ScrumMasters can practice some of the following steps regularly:

  • Observe what catches your eye.
  • Learn about it thoroughly.
  • Pause and think deeply about what you have learned.
  • Acknowledge the changes that need to be made.
  • Accept responsibility for all the ripple effects and unintended consequences that will occur.
Make the change. Practice what you have learned. And repeat as needed!