A Sprint In The Life of A Scrum Master

Introduction

Today I will be walking you through “a sprint in the life of a Scrum Master” You know, I have been capturing my struggles throughout my journey, and knowing that there are many other people who would encounter similar challenges, I created this platform to help people jump over those potholes as my way of giving back. 

Me sharing all this with you is also my way of keeping the learning alive 

That is why you should stay connected to facilitate your agile journey.

However, if you want more from me than what I am sharing on this platform, you will have to contact me, so we can design an action plan for a fee.

  • Now, last week I walked you through a day in my life as a scrum master, if you missed the video, please click here to watch.
  • So every morning for the remaining 9 days of the sprint, we are repeating the daily stand-up meeting process answering those three questions and everyone disperses to continue the execution of their daily plans.
  • The last day of the sprint is a very big day for me as a scrum master, as it is the day we conduct three mandatory scrum events, that is, they stand up at 9:00 AM, sprint review AT 1:00 pm. and sprint retrospective at 2 PM, and my role is to make sure that these meetings happen and to go above and beyond to ensure that all the stakeholders and leveraging the value of these meetings.
  • Review: So after the stand-up is over on the last day of the sprint.
    •  I have to quickly continue prepping for our sprint review, and sprint retro, ensuring that the communication is flowing, every team member is in sync of who will be doing what during the review, and in what sequence. 
    • Now, during the review meeting, I play two roles, I am the facilitator and the metrics demonstrator. So I demonstrate our sprint metrics to the audience, answer questions regarding the metrics, then facilitate the entire event.
  • Sprint Retro: After the review is over, we immediately connect for our retrospective, which I am still the facilitator.
    • During the retro, I am focused on 3 points, that we keep the meeting positive, we want to identify at least 3 points for improvement, we have identified action owners for the improvement points and everyone is on the same page.

Now aside from the 4 required scrum events, we also have two other meetings that we have added to our process, which are the backlog management and organization that I have with the PO every WEDNESDAY. If you missed my last video, please go watch it to learn more.

Secondly, the backlog refinement meeting happens every Thursday. 

  • Refinement Meeting:
    • Every Thursday, I facilitate the backlog refinement meeting which is like a sprint pre-planning. It is during this refinement meeting that we usually do our story sizing and estimating, fill in all the blanks around a story, so that on the day of the sprint planning, we are not wasting so much time. That is why my team hardly ever spends more than 1:5hours on sprint planning.
    • This meeting also helps us identify story action items and give enough time for the action item owners to provide the information before the day of the sprint planning.
    • So, on the day of the sprint planning, nothing in our backlog is supposed to look strange.

The Big Question: “What else do I do aside from facilitating the scrum events and removing impediments?”

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Aside from facilitating the scrum events and removing impediments, I have 5 other critical roles that I play during the sprint order to build my team into a well-formed and self-managing team depending on the identified gaps, and with the overall goal of delivering value to users and the business

  • Impediment Manager: During the stand-up meeting and throughout the day, I stay observant to capture all team’s impediments, and after the stand-up is over, I go about figuring out how to remove those impediments to enable the team to meet their sprint goal and the sprint commitment.
    •  For example, a team member might say that he might be unable to execute his task because his computer is faulty, at that point, I will have to go above and beyond to make sure his computer gets fixed so we continue to stay on track with our plan for the day. 
    • So if it is an issue that the team member can resolve without my help, I encourage him to go ahead since the goal is to help them to become self-managed and self-organized, if not, I can then step in and help.
  • Bridge
    • During the sprint, based on the need for that day, I also serve as a bridge between the team and the organization often through the PO. So, I help the organization to better connect with the team and the team to better connect with the organization. 
    • For example. As a bridge, If I noticed that the team is getting too distracted from management, I will go ahead and investigate the root cause, based on the result, I can help lead to better understand agile and scrum (by organizing workshops) which will keep them in sync with what is going on at team level. That way, everyone is moving in the right direction.
    • For example, if I identify that the team has numerous roadblocks due to missing details in the product backlog, I will have to connect with the PO to figure out the root cause of the issue, and then design a plan to bring the PO up to speed with scrum best practices. 
    • Based on the gap, I can go ahead to coach, mentor, or teach the PO so that the issue can be resolved and the result sustained.
  • An Observer (a mum to a teenager) or a process Engineer
    • You know when a child turns into a teenager, you don’t just always jump in to tell them what to do., You have to be very observant and step in only as needed. During the day, I stay observant, to make sure that the scrum process is rolling in the right direction. 
    • If not, I should be the first to catch the anti-pattern, and then quickly notify the team about it.
  • Referee:
    •  As a referee, my role is to ensure that internal and external disputes that might heavily impact the team are resolved constructively. 
    • So when conflicts arise, I spend time facilitating the conflict resolution process by guiding the team and reminding them to focus on the issue on not the person
  • Mentor:
    • I also focus on mentoring or advising the team on what scrum is and how to apply it the right way.
    • Also, I continue to look for ways that I can empower them to continuously improve to reach their full potential.
  • Value Conscience: 
    • As you may know, a scrum team cannot be successful if it does not reflect the scrum values. So as a scrum master, I serve as the conscience of the team. 
    • I am observing to notice any anti-patens of the scrum values within the team. And then I will capture them all and look for a perfect opportunity like the sprint retrospective and bring it to the team attention so we can talk about it., and design an action plan to close the gap
    • If it is just an individual always going against the scrum values, I will have to schedule a one-on-one with the team member to understand the root cause of his behavior. From there I come up with a plan to help him close that value gap (maybe through coaching, mentoring, teaching, or facilitation)
  • Conclusion
  • So, in summary, this is how my sprint would look like as a scrum master.
  • But take note that all the above activities highly depend on my observations during the sprint.
  • I hope you all are aware of the latest release of the 2020 scrum guide version. In our next session, I will be explaining to you what changes have been made in the scrum guide.

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