a story about helping another scrum team to find their own way to deal with their internal issue
“Can we just run Scrum without the Scrum Master?”
One day, one of the development team from a Scrum Team in my organization came to me and asked me this question.
As the background, this team is not a new team, but the Scrum Master was just replaced with the new one.
The previous Scrum Master was (sadly) assigned for other project which was waterfall project. Yes, we (still) have 2 different approaches of project.
I was not answering directly at that time. I replied with another question “Why?”
Then he told me how he felt about his Scrum Master.
Then again, I asked him a question, “How do you think this kind of thing should be approached?”
He said “Can you talk to him?”
I asked again “Who do you think is the right person to talk to him instead of me?”
He finally realized where my questions led to. He replied “The Development Team and on the Sprint Retrospective”
I was like… “Yesss…he got it”
But I didn’t say it out loud of course…
I said “Yup… do that. If your Retro is still few days away, you can also talk one on one with him anytime. Try to do that first, if you find difficulties, you can come to me again”
After The Retrospective
Apparently, their Retrospective was just 3 days away and my friend was so busy with the Sprint and had no time (or maybe no intention) to talk to the Scrum Master personally.
So after the Retrospective, he came to me and told me what happened there.
You might think the story will end here with happy ending, right?
Hahaha life is not that easy, my friend 🙂
He told me that during the Retrospective, the Scrum Master kept comparing them with the other team he led (the Scrum Master leads 2 teams). He made clear that the other team was somehow better than this team.
But the strange thing was that when one of the team member shared some Scrum practices he got from his previous organization, the Scrum Master replied with “This is not the time to point finger to anyone and you should not compare one team with another”
I was not there in the Retrospective of course, and I only hear this from my friend’s version, that was why I didn’t want to comment much on the issue.
I was just saying… “Hmm…It’s true that comparing with the intention of putting the other one feel bad is not a good way for anything. But Retrospective is definitely a moment where you can share like family. Let me think and let’s see what I can do. But probably you need to talk to him personally”
Then I left.
The Community Of Practice
On Tuesday, like always we had Community Of Practice meetup. In every meetup we take turn to share about our product and anything related to our team.
Coincidentally, this time was this Scrum Master’s turn.
I was thinking hard on how to bring this issue without blaming, take side or judging.
He started to tell his team’s progress and he said one interesting sentence “I have a very committed and responsible team members”
I kept that in mind.
After he finished sharing and other Scrum Masters finished with the discussion, I asked him “How is it feel to be a Scrum Master of an existing team and replacing the previous Scrum Master?”
He said “It was not easy, but I’m grateful to have a very dedicated, committed and responsible team. They make my life easier”
I asked him “Did you tell them what you feel? Maybe during the Retrospective?”
He fell silent for a while and he said “I haven’t but I will”
I decided not to brought up anything about his team’s complain and move on to the next topic.
The Day After
The next day, my friend (the team member) sent me a hipchat.
He asked me “Did you say anything about what I told you to him?”
“What? No! I couldn’t find how to say it to him. Why? ” I replied.
“Well, he came to us yesterday afternoon (which was after the Community Of Practice) and he told us that he is sorry for comparing the team with other team” he said.
I was like “Really? Wow that’s great”
Then I told my friend about what he said in the Community Of Practice, how he felt for the team and what I responded to it.
“Hopefully everything will be better after this. If you still need my help, feel free to talk” I closed the conversation.
I’m not an agile coach, but I read a lot about coaching scrum team. I just try to practice what I read to the teams in my organization.
What I found is that people actually know how to solve problems, what we need to do is guide them to find the solution by themselves.
Even small things like gratitude sometimes need to be reminded.
The approach for each issue will be different.
You must explore each condition and react based on the exploration result.
The rule of thumb is not to give direct solution but guide them to find the solution by themselves.
This is not only to help them to be mature, but the best solution that fits the team is the solution that is coming from the team itself.
Your solution might not be work for the team since in this case you – somehow – an outsider.
Share me your experience in coaching or helping teams to handle their problems.
The more we share the more we learn.
Happy June, all 🙂