Saturday, December 17, 2016

To Jira or not to Jira? A case for the evolving Scrum Master.

I recently saw an ad for Jira's beta certification program pop up in my feed, and it got me asking the Facebook Scrum Master Community whether they think it's worthwhile to become certified as a Jira admin. The reaction was strongly against it, and as much as I love Jira, I tend to agree.

Ron Eringa's article on Evolving Scrum Masters elegantly emphasizes how less-evolved Scrum Masters act more like Clerks and Organizers than Coaches and Experts:

On a day to day basis the Clerk typically removes a lot of administrative duties from the Development Team (like updating the Sprint Backlog, burndown graphs, preparing the Sprint Planning, etc).

A Clerk has limited benefits, since he is mostly focussed on himself & the inferior values of the Agile manifesto (tools, processes, documentation, etc).

Focusing on admin tasks is a great indicator that a Scrum Master is working with a less-evolved Scrum team, and it demonstrates a lack of trust in the team to be self-driven and make good decisions on their own.

How does a Scrum Master help the team (and herself) evolve, then?

For one, patience. The team needs to establish trust and mutual respect. That takes time.

My team has been actively focused on KT (knowledge transfer) to better leverage each-other and our offshore counterparts. Once a week, we come in early and do KT with offshore to demo 1-2 topics. The Subject Matter Experts (SME) do live troubleshooting and answer questions from the team. Slowly but surely, we're starting to see the team build confidence and handle more tasks on their own instead of relying on the SME.

As the Scrum Master, it takes some practice to not jump in and complete the admin tasks the team needs to keep track of rapidly evolving requirements and changing priorities. Admittedly, I do more organizing than I should. However, I realize that to positively influence my team and help myself evolve, I need to back off, train where needed, and let them handle more.

What thoughts do you have on how a team can evolve?

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