This is a series of posts on the Power of the Scrum Master and the challenges facing that role. In the previous post (Scrum Master and their responsibility/authority – Part 2), I talked about some of the challenges that the Scrum Master faces in terms of the expectations from senior management and how to handle it while not affecting the team at the same time. In this post, I will continue to talk about some of the other perception problems that the Scrum Master has to handle.
– One of the biggest problems for a Scrum Master is about the challenge of handling senior management. In my experience, senior management do not care about the responsibilities and authority inside a Scrum team; they need to have a person who can represent the accomplishments and status of the team, and also be the one to be hauled up if things are not progressing as per plan. This is not something that the Scrum Master can run away from. It seems unfair, and totally opposite to what the Scrum Master is supposed to do within the team dynamics, but this is what happens in a number of cases across organizations.
– In reality, once you get inside the Scrum team, the real power of the Scrum Master is not in dictating what the team should do, instead the Scrum Master is the one who shows the reality to the team about their performance but in a way that they are able to see for themselves about what is going right and what is going wrong. In those terms, one could define the Scrum master as a mirror who lets the Scrum team see for themselves and then decide the next course of action.
– If it gets to the stage where it is expected that the Scrum Master will use some sort of ‘power’ within the team to drive them, to take them down a certain direction, you start losing that concept of a enabled team and becoming more like a traditional Project Manager driven team. This is especially true of teams that are implementing Scrum for the first time and where the team members are always on the lookout for a manager to come in and try to control the actions of the team. If they such stuff happening, they are more likely to not believe that Scrum works, that the concept of an enabled team is the way to proceed.
– In cases where there are specific team members who are not pulling their weight, it is not incumbent on the Scrum Master to pull them up or to advise them on what to do. Instead, the Scrum Master must try and understand what the issues are, and try to act as a positive influence on the Scrum team, trying to ensure that they are truly motivated to feel a sense of ownership for their work and hence to understand problems and take the required corrective action. However, the Scrum Master can also talk to the managers of the team member if things do not improve.
I will talk more in the next post (Power of Scrum Master to take decisions – Part 4)