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Time as Scrum Master’s poison

I believe that, as Scrum Master, you can’t create a high-performing team in one or two weeks. Let’s imagine that after laborious months of your work a team is stable, aware of its dysfunctions and moving towards self-organization. People know one another, they collaborate well and delivery product frequently. What about you Scrum Master? How would you feel after being part of a team for 12, 18 months?

In this post, I would like to raise an issue which is being part of a team for too long is a poisoning situation for Scrum Master.

Someone could start asking what is the reason for saying this if you still have lots to do as Scrum Master…

Looking at your team…
… there is a still room for a team improvement,
… there is a still way to speed up a product delivery,
… there is a still possibility to raise a technical quality.

This person could be probably right while mentioning those arguments. So why „time factor” sound as a poison for Scrum Master in my opinion? I would like to refer to the theory of System Thinking to help to understand this point of view. Peter M. Senge said:

System Thinking is a discipline of seeing whole

In discussed topic, when you join a team as Scrum Master everything is new for you. You are asking lots of questions, you are trying to understand dependencies (both technical and product-wise) and a relationship between people. Your goal is to gather as much information as you could to have a high-level understanding of a current situation. So what you are aiming to is to create a picture of a whole. You are fresh-minded, not influenced by your work environment, not blinded by anything. All of these help you to propose relevant actions and introduce your agility plan. You strongly believe that it is the proper way. It sounds so exciting, you are stimulated by new surroundings, you have lots of positive attitude in your activities. Wouldn’t it be perfect if such case stayed for a long time?

The reality is that after a few months working with a team, you are becoming part of the system, you would be only „system component”. You are losing an external point of view. You start ignoring obvious things that influence and slow down a team. They could prevent people from a continuous learning. What worse is that you stop developing your skills. It could be very difficult to step out from this situation as you could not be even aware of it. You live in a comfort zone, you are safe inside a team, which is working well but not as much effective as it could be. That’s why I’m saying the longer you stay in the same team the less you support them. In such case “time” is a poison for being Scrum Master.

So how to avoid it? What antidotes Scrum Master should take to recover? I’ll tell you my secret medicines in the next post.

*Image source: Gwendolyn Knapp book’s cover

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