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Thibaut Andrieu
Thibaut Andrieu

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Things You Should Never Do as a Scrum Master

At some point in my career, I used to be a Scrum Master. And like any Scrum Master in this world, I did mistakes. So here are a few things I regret having done, hoping you won't do them with your teams:

  • Proposing solutions without identifying the problem you want to solve.

As a Scrum Master, you perfectly know all the ceremonies, roles, and artifact that are described in Scrum guide. So you want to put this in place. But if your team don't understand what you are trying to improve, it will just take it as “yet another project manager's whim”.

  • Recite the verses of the scrum guide to your team.

There is nothing more annoying than a Scrum Master or an agile coach reciting days after days the 12 principles of Scrum. It just makes you look like an evangelist unable to think by himself and will turn the team against you.

  • Updating metrics without taking any actions.

I've seen Scrum Master drowned into metrics, spending days and days tweaking their Jira dashboard. Having dozens of metric is pointless. Find a significant metric you want to improve, take actions, improve, repeat. But remember Goodhart's law:

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

  • Rely only on the team to find solution

Yes, it's much better if the solution emerges from the team. But some teams aren't mature enough to even come up with a solution. You sometime have to show your team how to improve itself, you sometimes have to hold its hand for a few sprints before it can decide on its own.

  • Micro-managing.

Scrum master take care of the team, not of individuals. Your goal is not to handle each developer individually, you are not a scheduler.

  • Repeating “We should attack the process, not the peoples”

Yes, you SHOULD attack the process, not the people. But if you reach a point where you have to remind this to your team, it means your team probably have reach a point when there IS a people problem, and occluding the problem will just make it worst. You are in the real world, not in a Marshmallow challenge. People issues do exists. In that case, ask help to people manager or HR.

  • Believing Scrum handle all kind of problems.

Scrum only handle project management problems. Scrum do not handle technical problem. Scrum do not handle behavioral problem. Scrum do not handle conflict resolution. Scrum do not handle missing skills in the team. Scrum relies on the postulate that the team is skilled and motivated. If it is not the case, doing Scrum just won't work.

And you, what advices would you like to give to newly promoted Scrum Masters ?

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