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Coaching,Experiment,Large Organisations,Scrum Roles

January 29, 2014

A Scrum Master mantra…

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The weight on Scrum Masters can sometimes be overwhelming… The CSM Content Outline Learning Objectives on the Scrum Alliance website states the following:






As well as all the Responsibilities listed before that in the same document, the Authority “springs mainly from a deep knowledge of Scrum principles and practices”.

I tend to agree that knowledge and experience can help some form of Authority “spring” out. But I will argue that you cannot get this deep knowledge of Scrum principles and practices after 2 days spent in a classroom + a certificate… therefore leaving a lot of newly certified Scrum Master without “authority”.

Isn’t there a need to possess another type of Authority, one that doesn’t depend on some deep knowledge that you may not yet have but wish to gather?

As it happens, I think there is one way to provide new Scrum Masters with the Authority to go and apply what little or more they have learned without fear: this can happen when the belief that failure is part of the natural process of learning exists.

So here is a little mantra you can repeat yourself whenever you are unsure you have that “deep knowledge” but you desperately need a way forward.

  • it is ok to fail
  • failing fast is the best way to fail
  • failures need to be shared and remembered
  • it is ok to succeed
  • successes need to be shared
  • successes need to be celebrated and remembered
  • it is ok to ask for help
  • it is ok to offer help
  • it is not ok to become complacent
  • continuous improvement means continuous experimentation
  • it is ok to fail

I have shared this with some “new” Scrum Masters over the last few months, some of them have provided some positive feedback and have shared this with other members of their teams. I am now trying to see how this mantra can influence the behaviour of some already well established Scrum Masters that may have become complacent in the area of continuous improvement and experimentation with their teams.

This is of course not only applicable to Scrum Masters. Happy to discuss!

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  1. Oh, after a long time. Nice mantra. “it is ok to give up, breath and start again” 😉

    Comment by Dennis — January 29, 2014 @ 9:23 pm
  2. Hi Dennis!! Yes, it has been a long time – actually I noticed 1 year after my last post…

    Have I been so busy??? I actually have a lot of “drafts” I have started working on, I need to take them to “done”!

    Happy you like the mantra, I have heard part of it this morning at work, nice 🙂

    And you? News??

    Comment by Oli — January 30, 2014 @ 2:28 pm
  3. Hm hm. It’s a fight on all fronts. It doesn’t feel completely hopeless and one of our new year’s resolutions is to estimate complexity and business value for all items (and if we achieve that we measure this in 50% of all cases I am still a happy man).

    Also quite a portion of new challenges – how to involve a support team from India in an agile way, while my beloved devops vanishes from the surface? How do you deal with parttimers which you can’t priotize?

    And then the frequent questions – how to deal with genuine priority changes during a sprint? How to plan properly if there are too many people distributed? How to engage peoples discipline in really estimating and burning hours properly? How to conduct a worthwhile retrospective?

    One other new year’s resolution is also nice, cross skilling all team members basic skills in all areas and advanced developer skills in at least two areas. More flexibility, hopefully more end2end understanding and more flexibility.

    How are things at your end?

    Comment by Dennis — January 31, 2014 @ 9:28 pm

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