Everybody knows that a primary task of the Scrum Master is to remind everyone about the Scrum rules. This is all very nice. All very neat and tidy.
But how does this actually play out when there are boundary violations?
Answer: Not very well. Most organizations that implement Scrum do it poorly. Scrum is a game.
And all good games have rules. *Scrum* has rules.
So, let’s say you are a stakeholder that receives deliveries from a Scrum team. Let’s say that you violate a rule of Scrum– any rule– and I am the Scrum Master. If you never agreed to the rules of the game, how am I to hold you accountable to playing this game by the rules?
This problem plays out every single day in nearly every single Scrum implementation. Scrum is implemented; but they never agreed. BIG PROBLEM.
None of the people involved actually examined the Scrum Guide and accordingly, NONE OF THEM AGREED TO PLAY. Because not only did they NOT read the Scrum Guide, but even worse, no one asked them to AGREE to play by the rules.
In that scenario, the Scrum Master cannot (repeat) cannot be effective.
And the Scrum is going to be a total disaster.
So here is what you are going to do.
–You will print out dozens of copies of the Scrum Guide
–You will invite absolutely everyone and anyone affected by Scrum to READ IT
–If they are unwilling to read the Scrum Guide, you will treat that as an impediment to Scrum, and try something- anything- to resolve the issue
–You will invite everyone to accept the Scrum Guide as the DEFINITION of Scrum. This means that when anyone in the situation says the word “Scrum,” it means the thing described in the Scrum Guide.
–If they are unwilling to agree that the Scrum Guide is the DEFINITION of Scrum, you will also treat that as an impediment to Scrum, and try something- anything- to resolve that issue. Ask them what it takes to get them in. Listen intently. Do whatever it takes for them to get in– except negotiate away any part of the Scrum Guide.
–After they agree that the Scrum Guide is the definition of Scrum (a major achievement by the way,) you will THEN invite them to agree to honor it. For the executive: they will respect the decisions of the Product Owner. For the PO: they will agree to be accountable for every aspect of the Product Backlog. For the Team: they will agree to conduct the Daily Scrum every day. Etc. Etc. Etc.
It is only after these agreements are in place that the Scrum Master will be able to remind people about following the Scrum rules, and hold them accountable to that.
If you are party to an implementation of Scrum, and you have not checked off as done the 3 things listed below, you have no one to blame but YOURSELF for the foolishness that is sure to follow.
So: Make sure you get these 3 outcomes. Make sure you can check them off…
[ ] Everyone affected by Scrum has read and examined the Scrum Guide
[ ] Everyone affected by Scrum agrees that when we say “Scrum” we mean the description found in the Scrum Guide
[ ] Everyone (Execs, Stakeholders, Team, PO, Scrum Master) agrees to play by the RULES of Scrum as described in the Scrum Guide.
None of this is going to be easy. All of this is essential.
But only if you are to be effective.
And so my guidance around this is very simple: get it in writing.
Because truth be told, you’ll be needing that later.
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