I suggest you ...

Scrum Master should promote and support Scrum, not enforce and police it.

In "The Scrum Master" chapter it says:

"The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted".
Change to: "The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting the Scrum implementation"

Then it says "Scrum Masters do this by ensuring that the Scrum Team adheres to Scrum theory, practices, and rules."
Change to: "Scrum Masters do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, and rules."

Rationale for change: this whole paragraph makes the SM a process enforcer rather than a servant leader. Suggesting a better way of phrasing it.

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Henrik Kniberg shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →


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  • trish commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Easier said than done. I joined 2 teams this past January who were working together for a year. Prior to this no one had any experience with scrum.
    The backlog was a mess.
    Standup's were not effective
    Not one sprint goal was ever met
    They were not doing refinement or sprint planning...they met but it was bad.
    They do not understand the Scrum master role
    We are not scrum. We are waterfall with scrum ceremonies.
    There is toxic behaviour on the team
    They resist everything. It's impossible.
    I have never worked with a team like this in the past.
    They take no time to learn more, to find better ways to work together.
    I suggested each sprint to take 2-3 hours for self learning.....nothing happened.
    They complain to the overall company manager about me constantly, when I introduce new techniques i.e. I taught them how to write user stories and they complained.
    I think at this point my only alternative is to get management to reinforce my roll and that we will be introducing new techniques that will help the team to work better together.
    That or pull my hair out.

  • Richard Wellum commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Yes, BUT the scrum-master should promote and support AGILITY rather than just scrum. Agile is about doing what works; for you, for your team, for your project, for your organization etc. It is about continuously improving the process as needed, for optimal results. Enforcing processes can be really harmful, as it denies the team the opportunity to look for ways to do things better. Scrum should not try to be a "definitive guide", and discourage people from thinking outside the box if they think there are improvements out there.

  • Eric Herr commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I understand where Henrik is going with this and I also believe it is important that the SM have an active and enforcing position on the team. It is not good enough for me to help everyone understand Scum theory, I also need to work with the team to adhere to those practices.

    Another poster mentioned that Scrum is a game. Games have rules that must be followed or the game breaks down into chaos or something like Calvinball (http://calvinandhobbes.wikia.com/wiki/Calvinball). We are servant leaders but to continue the game analogy, that makes us umpires and referees. Scrum Masters need to be able to call foul and get the team reorganized and back to following the rules.

    As is often said, Scrum is easy. Implementing Scrum is hard.

  • KK commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I don't agree it needs to be changed. The Scrum Master is a servant leader and managing the Scrum framework. The keyword "ensure" is what a leader would do otherwise Scrum Master is just an advisor or consultant to the development team that they can ignore him/her and skip all the scrum events for examples.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    There is a deeper issue being surfaced here via Hendrik's suggestion. Here it is: Ensuring the process is followed is going to be difficult if the people affected were never asked (and therefore never agreed) to play the game in the first place.

    Scrum is a game. Proof: The Scrum Guide subtitle states... "The Rules of the Game." Good games have opt-in participation.

    POWER OF SCRUM book, page 31 “…You know as well as I do that if the team really doesn’t want to use a methodology, IT WON’T WORK. (emphasis added.) Let them make their own assessment.” -Jeff Sutherland and co-authors

  • Shiv commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Who can tell me the right timing for stand up call in a day like AM or PM? Or is there a right or wrong timing for stand up calls. And the precise duration as well.

  • Brett Maytom commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I don't like the word responsible as it results in Scrum Masters actually having no authority on the process. I think it should be harder and should read 'accountable'

    The three roles (not job titles) provide a clear delegation of accountability where the Product Owner defines product and value, the Development the engineering practices to deliver the product and value and the Scrum Master the process.

    These three roles are perfectly in harmony and balance each other from an accountability point of view. One must never loose sight that they are not done in isolation and a high level of collaboration and negotiation is needed. Each role is a stakeholder in other roles, but accountability must rest with the role.

    Some events it says the SM is responsible. The SM could also delegate facilitation to a team member should the team member want to grow skills in that area. Therefore the responsibility, is on the team member but accountability always remains with the SM.

  • Michael James (MJ) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I like Dr. Sutherland's suggestion of "The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting the use of Scrum." I also like the emphasis some people have suggested on the organization outside the team. Too many of us have been asked to teach Scrum to teams in organizations that aren't initially designed for agility.

  • Filip Beslic commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The role of the Scrum Master is there to promote and defend the concepts of agile inside the team, but also inside the organization. If the Scrum process is not respected, it is referred to as a scrum-but, eq: “yeah we are doing scrum, ‘but we don’t do the sprint-review”. That’s not scrum, period. Nor is it agile.

    The purpose of Agile is to minimize the risk of developing the wrong product, and since Agile is a lightweight methodology, which based on the recommendation above (and others), can be considered as ‘interpretable’. Proving that it truly is essential to have a Scrum Master which makes sure the Agile process is respected, and teams don’t end-up using scrum-buts.

    Additional side note, a servant leader creates an environment where a team can grow to their true potential by facilitating and promoting empowerment. That doesn’t take away that the team has responsibilities, a true empowered team takes those responsibilities. And a Scrum Master ensures that they do.

  • Jason Knight commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I wrote a blog post as a response:



    I'm not in favor of making the proposed changes as is. The language could probably be tweaked to be clearer in it’s intent, but I find the context of the Scrum guide is sufficient for accurate interpretation. Furthermore, the language has had a positive effect on me and my growth as a Scrum Master.

  • Filip Beslic commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Wow, then why not go waterfall all the way but call it agile? I see this constantly in companies, people don't understand scrum so they try to squeze it into something which it isn't, which fit's their needs (so they think) but ends up not being agile at all.

    You are scrum (agile) or you aren't. A scrum master's responsibility is to make sure you are.

  • Tom Polo commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The phrases are ok as is and no need to be changed. SM should ensure Scrum is being practiced correctly.

  • T.H. commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Scrum and the scrum guide says nothing about "servant leader". I disagree that the wording would need to change here.

  • MIke Dwyer commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I where do you see all this thuggery? Scrum Masters both promote scrum AND ensure the frame and process are followed.
    Servant leadership is about leading when the team is in th mud or lost or off the reservation. It is also about coaching a team to do their 'thing' within the frame. Finally scrummasters. Mentor teams.
    The scrum master's servant leadership to the team, the PO, and to the organizationis well described in the guide

  • Jamie Karim commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I'm new to Scrum but my interpretation of this is that the scrum master ensures there is commitment to the values and theory of scrum throughout the process.

    They are also responsible for the disciplined delivery of scrum to ensure the team don't fall back into faulty practices that do not support the successful delivery of the sprint.

    Without someone who is responsible for the integrity of Scrum there is a major risk that when the going get tough people revert to default practices. How the Scrum master maintains discipline is up to the skills and experience of the person but it should be based on the values of Scrum.

  • Martien van Steenbergen commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Reminds me of a conversation I had earlier: When can you say that you are doing proper Scrum? How important is it that you do a proper Scrum? Is there a clear border between doing and not doing proper Scrum or is it a blurry line? With either, how important is that. I know that not doing proper Scrum and still calling it Scrum gives Scrum and its players a bad name. So, how do we create (strong) guidance without turning into a police state? How do we balance spirit and letter?

    Also, Scrum has self-modification built in through especially the Retrospective. This allows any proper Scrum implementation to self-modify or drift out of proper Scrum. Is it still Scrum then? If so, anything can be claimed to have evolved from proper Scrum.

    Come to think of it, in the whole universe of frameworks to do complex adaptive work, Scrum is just a little speck you may hit accidentally. Scrum is an exception?

  • Jason Yip commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Suggest "The Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the Scrum implementation"

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