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A ScrumMaster (SM) has to ensure that all impediments are resolved. Impediments could be as small as the air condition is a bit too cold or could be as big as team members become overly stressed and start yelling at each others.

Thanks to Bas Vodde, and his informative SM course.There are basically 5 moves that a SM can perform and combine when his team faces an issue. They are:

  1. Question
  2. Educate
  3. Facilitate
  4. Actively do nothing
  5. Interrupt

First glance at the list, there is absolutely no move that directly resolves the issue.There is a common mis-perception that SM will resolve issues for the team. An adequate SM will do that while a great SM will only help the team; to make the team more self-managing and self-learning.

Let’s elaborate on these 5 special moves:

1. Question

SM makes plenty of questions whichshould be simple and direct. For example, if two members have a code issue, SM should gather both of them in a room and just ask “Hey, can you two talk to each other about the code?”. Even if the SM has the solution, he should not just throw the solution unless it is inevitable. After asking them, SM listens to their opinions and facilitates the talk. And facilitating, that’s the 2nd move.

2. Facilitate

SM facilitates all the official and informal meetings (like the example in the “Question” part). For example, if the team has a hard time estimating using Poker Planning over an User Story, some say 5 story points, others insist it is 21 points.The SM has to facilitate the estimation by suggesting the team to refer the estimating US to the anchor US.

3. Educate

Issues like some team members say “hey, writing automation test takes a lot of time, let’s just do manual test.”  are suitable for the “educate” move.

An SM also educates the Scrum team about the Scrum process. SM educates Product Owner about the importance of Grooming backlog meeting or Team Members that they are one cross-functional team, etc…

4. Actively do nothing

The best lesson that one can learn is from the mistake that one makes.

Sometimes, SM tends to be nosy and wants to show “team-work” spirit by getting involved in all of the team issues; this makes the team depend on the SM and unable to solve problems without his help. Sometimes, an SM recognizes the team is heading the wrong way but let them do it anyway so that they can learn from it.

I was SM of a team once, and the team said Daily Standup Meeting (DSM) was not useful and decided not to show up. I decided to keep silent and did nothing about that, after one sprint of no DSM, many of that sprint features fell apart (code conflict, redundant; QA and Dev didn’t share the same view).At the sprint retrospective, I told them why the sprint failed, they then learned about the importance of DSM and from then on always showed up with even better preparation. This move if applied appropriately will make the team grows fast and strong.

5. Interrupt

This strong action must make sometimes if the team is heading a very wrong way and can bring a horrible result.

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By Hiệp Lê

Certified ScrumMater

IMT Solutions