16TH AGILE MONTH Agile Month Spring 2023

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The role of HR in Agile transformation

The role of HR in the transformation of the organization is significant. There are two aspects that we can consider and discuss: Agile for HR and HR for Agile.

Agile HR deals with the application of agile principles, methods, and ways of thinking within its teams and projects.

At the global level (primarily in America and Europe) Agile HR is accepted in more and more organizations that are on the path of agile transformation. The implementation of this concept records success with the formation of a self-organizing multidisciplinary team. This kind of organization in which greater powers and responsibilities are given leads to greater employee satisfaction and consequently (a good voice is heard far and wide) attracts new talents.

Based on the successful Agile experience, the Agile HR manifesto was defined with six key values:

  • Collaborative networks over hierarchical structures
  • Transparency over secrecy
  • Adaptability over prescriptiveness
  • Inspiration and engagement over management and retention
  • Intrinsic motivation over extrinsic rewards
  • Ambition over obligation

The benefits of the Agile way of doing business are visible very quickly if the basic recommendations are applied in daily work. Agile HR enables experimentation, and step-by-step progress, tolerating mistakes and learning from them. Each team needs to find a framework that works for them, depending on the number of people, industry, culture, and business needs. Sometimes, different tools can be combined to constantly improve. The best approach should be originated through a cycle of testing and learning.

Agile HR does not have to work in an Agile organization to apply this operating model to modernize the profession.

But, if the entire organization is ready for an agile transformation, then the HR for the Agile aspect is applicable. In this case, HR helps and supports a complex business transition.

An agile business is a set of values and principles and includes various concepts, i.e. “framework” that can be chosen depending on the teams and needs. The most well-known and accepted is the Scrum framework, which helps teams generate value through adaptive solutions to complex problems. This framework had the greatest application in the IT industry, back in the eighties of the last century, but it is unstoppably expanding into other industries: finance, insurance, telecommunications, manufacturing industries, etc. The idea is simple: when you define a goal, you need a TEAM, which joins together to achieve the goal with each member contributing to the progress. It is important to note that teams must be able to self-organize and make independent decisions in their domain, and synchronize with other members at (usually) bi-weekly meetings called “sprints”, when a “review” or overview of achievements and planning for the next period.

Companies that had successfully implemented the concept of Agile business have specific organization charts. New positions and roles in the Agile company are Scrum Master and Product Owner (currently “top-in-demand” globally), which HR should include when planning a new organizational scheme.

 

 

However, the implementation of the “framework” is only part of the Agile transformation. What is often a deal-breaker is the culture of the organization. Behavior, leadership style, structure, and organizational processes require change and the application of comprehensive “change management” for this way of working to be successful. The key and critical element of the satisfactory application of agile practices is open communication, which HR advocates. It is known that HR helps employees to honestly (not just declaratively) feel supported, secure, and free to take initiatives so that they are motivated to express their full potential.

Since there are different types of organizations in Serbia, before deciding on Agile transformation, it is recommended to perform an assessment of the company climate and the maturity of the teams. The good practices certainly speak in favor of the Agile way of doing business, whether at the sector or corporate level.

Start with a small test, learn and let the Agile way of doing business modernize you and move you forward.

Learn more about it at Agility in HR (ICP-AHR) certification training

Reasons to attend Regional Scrum Gathering 2022

This year, the Regional Scrum Gathering ℠ “Agile in IT and Beyond” will be organized in Belgrade! This is one of the biggest Agile events in the SEE region and it will be two full days of learning, networking, inspiration, and fun. So, book your dates: 17 – 18th of November.

If you were a previous year’s participant, you don’t need too much persuasion. Therefore, let us remind you briefly:

#1 Live Event
RSG conference will be a live event this year – we all know that contact in person is irreplaceable, so YES to continual networking!

#2 Interact with great Agile Minds
RSG conference is a place where you can meet and talk with the greatest Agile Stars, so YES to interactive practical conversations with all Agile Superstars!

#3 Career boost
RSG conference will help you grow your Agile career because you will learn valuable and useful lectures and

panels and you will collect SEU points, so YES to continual professional improvement.

#4 See & Be seen
Mingle with like-minded people and enjoy during interactive workshops and fun breaks! So, YES to interactions and energy exchange.

#5 Fun
After official conference time, explore Belgrade tourist attractions. So, YES to Belgrade

Check out our speakers and topics: Regional Scrum Gathering 2022 Belgrade

#networking #agileserbia #belgrade #scrumalliance #agile #regionalscrumgathering #agilemindset

Experience Serbia and Belgrade

 

How can you successfully implement Agile values in your organization?

Drastic times call for drastic measures, or Agile measures. Easy going, but effective on so many levels. 20 years passed since defining the Agile Manifesto. So, these Agile innovations made huge changes on different business areas. They also made a fantastic impact on the software industry and that’s inevitable. Did you think about how companies implement Agile values and principles when they use Agile for the first time?

 

Let’s remind ourselves…

 

What are 4 Agile values:

 

#1Individuals and interactions over processes and tools;

#2 Working software over comprehensive documentation;

#3 Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;

#4 Responding to change over following a plan.

 

Imagine this: you just opened a huge bookstore with a various assortment including gift program and valuable literature for different generations. But, the tastes of readers change daily and you need to be constantly informed about these trends. The competition is fierce, but what distinguishes you from them is how you’re gonna react to unexpected changes from the environment.

 

 

 

So, how an artistic organization can implement Agile values in their system:

 

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: yes – employees know how to sell products and know how to make daily, weekly and monthly reports. But, did you think about how they function between themselves? Are they easy-going, trying to put good communication and collaboration in the first place rather than formal processes? Think about this aspect and try to make your own conclusions.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation: yes, boring documentation is present everywhere. Plans, reports, budgets and etc. Making an efficient working software that will significantly reduce costs, time and paperwork is a great investment and one of the benefits of applying Agile values.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: feedback is everything. Not only between employees and employers, but also on relation employees – customers. Book lovers need to be involved in each promotional offer, rebranding or building up a book community. This is actually an example of socially responsible business (not only in the ecological or social way).
  • Responding to change over following a plan: Agile sees organization through values that are constantly improving business quality. If there’s a new and very popular book author, the bookstore as a publisher will try to introduce that author to domestic readers. That is one way of improvement in an organization, in addition to a current plan that is being followed, right? Change is good. Change is desirable in each area.

 

Getting started with Agile is always challenging

 

…and that’s why Agile as methodology and its frameworks aren’t so complicated if you want to learn about them. And adopt through good practical examples. You can always gradually shift to Agile values by using different software available in the market and with the support of the right people.

 

What do you think?

Agile Manifesto: What has happened in the last 20 years?

„Agile is an attitude, not a technique with boundaries. An attitude has no boundaries, so we wouldn’t ask ‘can I use agile here’, but rather ‘how would I act in the agile way here?’ or ‘how agile can we be here’?“, Alistair Cockburn

 

Time flies when you did something anthological and special for one business mindset or methodology. 2020 was so… how do we say – challenging? It put us on a test when we’re talking about our vision of sharing a good education. Especially in agile.

Well, the Agile Manifesto was written in 2001, almost 20 years ago. It has 12 valuable Principles. Most of the Manifesto’s authors worked on various software development methodologies: eXtreme Programming, Scrum, DSDM, Crystal, Adaptive Software Development, Feature Driven Development, and with certain concepts like design-driven development, refactoring, pragmatic programming and modeling languages.

Imagine one ski resort in the USA and cold February 2001. Seventeen amazing guys met in order to ski, relax, talk, eat and prepare something big. Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum, Dr. Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland and Dave Thomas are magnificent names in various world’s software development. They made something revolutionary that changed the business climate in each working area.

 

„We were fighting a particular battle back in the late 1990s, literally trying to get permission to talk with our customers and users and to deliver partial systems for early use and evaluation and feedback. The manifesto reflects that battle. We are not having that battle anymore, largely due to the digital transformation that happened and the fast pace of technology – the methods from the 1990s wouldn’t be acceptable today even without the manifesto.“, Dr. Alistair Cockburn (co-author of the Agile Manifesto)

 

But more important is – how Agile has changed in the past?

 

The context for an Agile Mindset has changed a lot. Really a lot. We can distinguish the development of Agile in the past, then how it really works in present after defining of Agile Manifesto and what are predictions for the future. You can see that changes are inevitable and those changes are recommended and in the spirit of Agile mindset.

 

 

 

 

Agile: The past

 

„Study the past if you would define the future.“, Confucius

 

When we talk about the late 1950s and the period before Manifesto, we can talk about Lean methodology. Oh, that lean – when an American expert W. Edwards Deming put his fingers and knowledge into Toyota in order to give this company a whole new approach. Lean Principles are also valuable for today’s business especially when we have trust in workers’ and customers’ perspectives.

Then we had big 90s. Software revolution was inevitable but still, we had a situation where most projects were at worst completely failing to deliver. In 1986 Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi introduced the term scrum in the context of product development in their article ”The New Product Development Game”. Later, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber worked together to integrate their ideas into a single framework – Scrum. We can’t forget Scrum Principles and how they are helpful in each business area.

Finally, in the early 2000s, the history of Agile – and the future of development – changed forever. Actually – a Manifesto was born, where Agile comes into focus. Four values and 12 principles continue to guide the Agile approach sed by teams today.

 

But, how about now?

 

Agile: The present

 

„Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.“, Zadie Smith

 

 

This is a big truth: Agile goes mainstream. While Agile took off in the early 2000s, we saw the Agile Manifesto pick up new steam in the 2010s.

By this time, the history of Agile was a commonly told story among development teams, but between 2012 and 2015, serious life success metrics began to support that story. As a result of the ability to demonstrate success in Agile at that point, the benefits of adopting the Agile became undeniable. Today, we hear a lot about DevOps, or the idea of creating a continuous kink of delivery in which new software can go to market at any time and is always ready for production.

Also, very often we’re witnesses of interfering Agile and Scrum. Let’s be clear – it’s not the same. Agile is a complex mindset that is involved in every aspect of your business. Not only in procedures and policy. That’s why agile way of working and doing demands time and patience. Especially the time. According to Agile Serbia LinkedIn survey, half of the respondents said that they’re specific when we talk about using some Agile frameworks (especially Agile values and principles).

 

Agile: The future

 

„The future depends on what you do today.“, Mahatma Gandhi

 

Here’s the main question: Can the Agile Manifesto stand the test of time?

While no one knows the future, it’s safe to say that the history of Agile isn’t complete. But the next chapter in that history book might look a bit different than what we’ve seen so far.

This new year promises big changes, but according to some predictions this will happen:

  1. Design and development teams will collaborate more at the initiation of a project;
  2. Development resources from large enterprises will be more outsourced. In turn, this will initiate a rise of more start-up shops or smaller agencies or businesses;
  3. In the coming years, Scrum will be applied to large-scale enterprise initiatives, not just design and development teams;
  4. Feedbacks are now more important than ever and will reshape the way enterprises do business;
  5. Human data and business data into the way we work and how we make decisions will be more imperative.

 

Are you familiar with this? We hope that you’re living these Principles in order to become a truly Sensei in each segment of your work. February 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of this special moment and we can’t forget how it made an impact on our way of working.

For example, almost three-quarters (71%) of organizations report is using Agile approaches sometimes, often, or always. Also, Agile projects are 28% more successful than traditional projects. (Sources: Project Management Institute and PwC)

 

As Dr. Alistair Cockburn mentioned once:

„Collaborate. It’s mostly attitude.
Deliver partial solutions early, to learn.
Pause, and reflect on what is happening, what you would like to happen.
Improve, baby steps, baby improvements.“, and we can surely relate to these words, right?

 

One is sure: Agile changed our way of living and working and we hope that the next 20 years will be meaningful as well as the last 20 years.

Please, share your thoughts in the comments section below and tell us how Agile changed your life?


Sources: InformationWeek, Capterra.com, ItProPortal.com

* Big thanks goes to the world IT and agile portals like ItProPortal, Agile For All and TeachBeacon who inspired us for writing this article.

 

Agile New Year’s Resolutions

This article is inspired and published on NextUp Solutions by amazing Jill Stott.

 

„It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

 

…and a time for understanding and adapting to new challenges. In 2020 most of us spent an enormous amount of our time thinking about other people; trying to understand them, change them, help them. It has been clear this year that no matter how right you may be, spending your valuable time trying to change other people is a waste of time and energy. So, how about some resolutions that focus less on the “we” and more about the “me.” How can we improve our own lives when it’s more critical than ever to take care of ourselves?

So, for 2021, resolve to apply the following four simple Agile concepts to your work and your daily life. If you do, 2021 may be your best year yet.

 

1.  Limit your work in progress

 

Stop multitasking. There is a significant cost to context switching. Contrary to many of our beliefs, when you multitask between items that take concentrated thinking, the overall work will take you at least 20% longer to complete. Additionally, the output will be lower quality than if you’d single-tasked. Multitasking also leads to feeling stressed out: check out this Psychology Today article to understand why.

 

So, for 2021, commit to starting one task and finishing it before you start another. If your tasks are huge and can’t be completed in a single sitting, split the task into smaller tasks and complete one smaller item at a time. You will be amazed at how many more things you accomplish in less time. And bonus: you will feel continually satisfied in your ability to get things done.

 

2.  Maximize the amount of work you don’t do

 

It’s in the Agile Manifesto. It’s the Lean concept of “waste.” Every day, you spend time doing things that don’t add value and aren’t even necessary. And while you’re doing these non-value tasks, you end up with less time and energy to work on the important things.

If you want more time to do the things you love and the things that bring value to your company, go through the following exercise:

Step 1. Figure out and write down the primary objective of your organization and for yourself.

If you work in a commercial industry, that objective is easy to pinpoint and measure: increase profit.

For your private life, defining a primary objective is more varied and may contain more than one objective (e.g., “be happy,” “contribute to society,” “live a long and healthy life,” “have fun,” “make and keep good friends,” “continuously learn,” “change the world,” etc.)

Whatever your perspective, first define the overarching objective(s).

Step 2: Make a list of all the things you do day by day. This could be a single list combining work and personal life or two separate lists.

Step 3: Go through each item on your list and ask yourself the following two questions (be honest with yourself):

  • Does this task contribute in any way to my defined “primary objective?”
  • Is this task necessary for reasons that don’t directly meet the objective (e.g., regulatory requirements, risk prevention, my boss is making me do it and I can’t say no, etc.)?

Resolve in 2021 to identify and eliminate work you do that doesn’t add value and isn’t necessary. Non-value add work tends to creep in continuously.

 

3.  Give yourself the environment you need to be successful

 

If you don’t look after your needs, who will? Life is hard enough. You have to get the right equipment and working environment for you to succeed.

First, take a moment and think about how the tools you don’t have are contributing to decreased productivity. Is your computer as slow as a turtle in a tar pit? Would a second monitor increase your efficiency? Would an ergonomic chair alleviate your neck and back pain?

Back in the day, we were told to just “buck up” and stop complaining when we didn’t have the right work environment. But in reality, if you don’t have the right equipment, it doesn’t just hurt you, it deprives everyone around you of the more amazing things you could produce. Good grief, these are easy and fairly inexpensive investments that will increase productivity. Give your company a good case, and chances are they will pay for them.

 

4.  Hold regular personal retrospectives

 

Regularly meet with yourself and assess how well you are doing at making 2021 the year of you. Then, based on your feedback, adapt accordingly. According to the internet, most people drop their New Year’s resolutions by February. Clearly, relying on sheer willpower isn’t enough to sustain change. To sustain change, we need to create and participate in frequent, regular checkpoints. Schedule regular retrospectives with yourself and honestly evaluate how you are doing at meeting your primary objectives for 2021.

Remember, the real data points to consider in these retrospectives shouldn’t be whether you are doing the Agile practices I suggested. It should be an evaluation of whether you are getting better at reaching your primary goals.

 

So, what did you decide?

 

There is no one size fits all for creating a better ‘you’ in the New year. You are in the driver’s seat. Keep the primary objectives in mind, use and adapt these four Agile concepts to fit you and your work. That is the whole point of Agile!

Focus on yourself and reach your goals using Agile’s practical tools. By maximizing your awesomeness, you will automatically produce awesomeness that benefits all of us. Commit to at least one of these Agile resolutions and you will get significantly closer to meeting your primary personal and professional objectives. Plus, you will be less stressed and have more time to do the things you love. 2021 is going to be a great year!

A day in the life of the Scrum Master: How does it look like?

This article is a combination of two columns, published (and inspired) on RedHat by amazing Taz Brown and on Scrum.org by exceptional Barry Overeem.

 

Are you an orchestra conductor?

 

Hey, Scrum Masters, you are a true and hard-working Sensei if you:

  • ensure the entire team supports the chosen Scrum process;
  • understand the power of self-organization;
  • understand the value of a steady sprint rhythm and do everything to create and maintain it;
  • know how to truly listen and you are comfortable with silence;
  • understand the strength of coaching and have learned some powerful questions by heart;
  • recognize healthy team conflict and promote constructive disagreement.

 

 

Are you agree with these facts? Each routine of one Scrum Master is, of course, different and depends on a variety of factors. So…

 

Let’s see how a typical day stacks up for a Scrum Master (including every aspect of his/her living):

 

7:00 am – Scrum Masters usually get up and go to the gym for at least 45 minutes, but given the fact that they are working from home now, they’ll either walk/run on the treadmill or jump rope for 30 minutes. Physical activity is just as important as the mental aspect of our lives;

7:45 am – Shower up and get dressed;

8:20 am – Have some breakfast and make coffee/espresso;

8:30 am – Drive into work;

9:00 am – Scrum Masters get to work and clean up the teams’ room before the team gets in;

9:15 am – Reading emails and respond to priority emails from the team, team’s Manager, or agile Coach;

9:30 am – Scrum Masters typically will spend time just checking in with the team and taking a look at the team’s Jira Scrum board just to see if there are any patterns of behavior they might need to address. Also, modify the team’s impediment board if an impediment or impediments have been removed;

10:00 am – Starting Daily Scrum (time-boxed for 15 minutes);

10:15 am – Any parking lot items are discussed right after;

11:00 am – Scrum Masters might have a meeting with the team’s manager, leadership, or facilitate a community of practice or brown bag lunch around topics like effective engineering practices for example;

12:00 pm – During this time, they might have a lunch meeting or coffee with a Product Owner;

1:00 pm – Lunch – usually 30 minutes is more than enough time for this important activity;

1:30 pm – At this time they could be facilitating a backlog refinement event leading up to Sprint planning also could be a Sprint review/demo or Sprint Retrospective;

2:30 pm – Now, they meet with Test Automation or DevSecOps Team;

3:00 pm – It’s time for the facilitation of a team-building workshop;

4:00 pm – Perfect moment for Scrum Masters to do final check-ins with the team and then answer final emails;

4:30 pm – Updating the team’s Scrum journal;

5:00 pm – Final, Scrum Masters complete their To-Do list for the next day;

 

A typical day in the life of the Scrum Master is quite challenging because you can’t forget:

 

  • that start the day with an open and curious mind (and strong coffee. 😊);
  • remember: your agenda is as good as empty. Except for the Daily Scrum and maybe some other Scrum events;
  • that you attend the Daily Scrum as an observer. You listen to what is and isn’t being said;
  • based on your observations you determine your next steps. This might be consulting, teaching, coaching, facilitating, mentoring, managing, problem-solving, or just sitting with the team, listening and watching the team;

 

Tell us, how’s your typical working day look like? And don’t forget about…

…new online Certified Scrum Master Course with Petri Heiramo (23rd – 24th November).

The Essence of Online Education: Why is it so important?

Since the last decade online education has become available to everyone – both teachers and people who highly appreciate this moment. In fact, did you know that online courses can be effective and engaging, just like traditional classroom?

On the other side, companies have big expectations in a sense of education of their employees especially in a crisis. Let’s see some facts about this important topic and why is this modern world important:

* E-learning is one of the top training methods within organizations of any kind;

* Companies with comprehensive training programs online have over 200% higher revenue per employee;

* 72% of global organizations report that e-learning gives them (or could potentially give them) a competitive advantage in their industry.

 

We did something brave…

 

Agile Serbia is aware of the importance of online education during this whole new situation. Yes, these are unusual circumstances, but our hunger for knowledge overcame certain obstacles. Together as a team and with support of Miljan Bajić, we actually found significant reasons why online education is so desirable in modern world. Because it’s new, there’s was a small dose of worries, but we are true Agile professionals.

Increased flexibility, ease of access and individualized learning are just some of the benefits of online education. On the other side, we succeeded in getting over the lack of social interaction and losing focus. Yes, this Agile Month Spring 2020 was outstanding! And yes – interest in our Courses is still growing… a lot. 😊

 

Just read some impressions from our participant, Milan Pisarić (Keba D.O.O.):

,,Last month I had a chance to attend a CSPO training. Due to the special covid19 situation, the training was organized online rather than physically.

Although my initial thought was that this may be a drawback, the training itself proved me wrong. Not only was the training successful, but I have also experienced a very grateful pace. Instead of working for 2 days intensively, we had a chance to work 5 days semi-intensively and this way to adopt the knowledge shared in a friendlier manner. After all, every one of the participants had enough time to soak in the information shared that day, and steadily prepare for the next day. The coach used collaborative tools that helped us overcome physical isolation, which also went pretty well. Of course, not everything was so smooth – as sometimes the interaction seemed artificial or slow because of the silence and solitude – which may have turned out differently if we were together in a classroom setting. Some extroverts may find the lack of direct physical interaction and communication within the group as a strong drawback in this type of training. As I have been participating in remote scrum meetings for some time now, this online environment did not seem strange or challenging to me at all.

I have strengthened my knowledge of both scrum and agile in general, which will certainly help me in the future. The training proved that we misuse some scrum practices in the company, while there are also several useful tactics that could enable us to turn the agile processes to our benefit. The coach motivated me to continue learning about agile methodologies and I expect to keep evolving in the future. The first step is to implement everything learned and discussed in my PO activities.ʻʻ


 

Still more great news  👇  👇  👇 

Online trainings are the present and the future of education in every industry especially in a crisis. Agile Serbia team overcame obstacles by creating smaller and more interactive groups where participants are getting full attention of the Trainer. Also, more valuable networking and small talks are results of interactive coaching.

 

Suzana Čubrilo (Endava D.O.O) gained a lot with our online Course:

“I really enjoyed the CSM course. At first I thought that it will be difficult to maintain our attention on online Course, but it turned out that I am going to take away a lot of knowledge that I can easily and quickly apply, both personally and professionally. The course was the right mix of theory and practical demonstration.

Also, I was confused with an approach in which we had people with all kind of level of certification, but it turned out it’s a good way to discover a variety of different experiences.”


Still, we understand there are some doubts about online Courses and we’re always here to encourage you about your Agile education. The high quality of training is constantly the main demand for both, Trainer and participants as well as the valuable knowledge you’ll get (and which you paid for). All our Courses are as always certified by Scrum Alliance who is in charge of worldwide certification. This is an international organization that defines and supports the guidelines for the most popular Scrum certification. With their proven reputation, the quality of each training is the top priority, especially in these a little bit changed conditions. In that sense, you will receive a complete Certificate as proof that you had listened to everything about Scrum Master or Product Owner world.

Outstanding results and positive experiences motivated us to recreate ONLINE Certified Scrum Master Course (1-2 of June) and ONLINE Certified Scrum Product Owner Course (3-4 of June) with amazing Petri Heiramo, Certified Scrum Trainer! We have a very successful cooperation with Petri for 8 years and without his expertise and online experience these Courses wouldn’t be the same.

 

 

We are brave and efficient enough to adapt and solve upcoming educational challenges because knowledge is essential and meaningful for all of us. Join us in this new June adventure. Don’t miss to embrace exceptional education with real professionals, good connections and certification recognized in the modern business world.⚡️ 


To understand better the concept behind the virtual courses Petri Heiramo has created for you the special video. See you soon – online! 😊

Can a Scrum Master be an effective leader when working remotely?

Published (and inspired) on Agile Connection by Mariya Breyter (Enterprise Agile Coach, Digital Transformation leader, professor, and speaker)

 

In sense of working remotely and role of a Scrum Master, there’s a dilemma: on one hand, one company has a flexible work policy that includes giving employees an opportunity to work from home, and on the other hand, most of our agile teams are primarily collocated, thus making the absence of a Scrum Master onsite noticeable.

Being remote makes osmotic communication impossible, which in turn means that your team ends up losing one of the primary benefits of co-location; Alistair Cockburn defines osmotic communication as “information that flows into the background hearing of members of the team so that they pick up relevant information as though by osmosis.”

 

What’s important to remember?

 

Although, we now have an arsenal of state-of-the-art remote communication tools, ranging from Adobe Connect, Zoom, and Skype (for smaller groups), that can help with a collocated team. Most of our dedicated Scrum rooms have large screens, so remote participants are fully incorporated in all team ceremonies. At the same time, the teams rely on the Scrum Master to update physical information radiators, start conference calls, set up equipment for demos, and many other things that are normally done on-site. This also brings up a point that maybe teams can become more independent rather than relying on their Scrum Masters for logistics.

When you have a functional manager in your company to approve or disapprove the ScrumMaster’s application for a so-called “flexible work arrangement,” and it is not an easy decision. Mariya as a functional manager wants to support Scrum Masters, so she posted this question and a simple poll on LinkedIn. The question was: Can a Scrum Master for a mostly collocated teamwork from home once a week, without any impact to the team?

 

What were the results?


Two days – Forty votes

  • Will have no or low impact—9 votes (22 percent)
  • Yes, it promotes team self-organization—12 votes (30 percent)
  • Sure, just make sure there are tools—10 votes (25 percent)
  • No, loss of productivity is possible—1 vote (2 percent)
  • No way, this is not good for the team—8 votes (20 percent)

 

Some supporters of the “remote Scrum Master” concept stated that they have been doing it for a long time – at least once a week – and felt that if the team was truly self-organized, this should present no issues at all. Negative opinions were very emotional. Some of them were purely theoretical; some were influenced by the respondents’ negative personal experience. The strongest opinion was the following: “I don’t think you should call it ‘Scrum Master’ and maybe you should ask: ‘Am I placing the ScrumMaster label on something else?’”

 

Others were telling their “stories,” such as this respondent:

“I was once placed in a position where I became ScrumMaster to an existing remote team in India, and it was a little short of disastrous! Believe it or not, even the poor quality of the phone connection for conference calls was a significant impediment. Overall, the entire arrangement degraded communication so much that in my opinion, the team was functioning poorly. I urged management to take steps to improve communication, but I was unsuccessful in removing most of the impediments I had identified. There was little I could do, and this situation partly contributed to my decision to take a position with another company.”

 

Some other factors to take into account when deciding whether the “remote Scrum Master” approach works for you, include:

 

Benefit


Having the Scrum Master working from home at least once a week is justified if it brings value. A Scrum Master may be able to concentrate on the tasks that do not require input from the team. It also promotes a sense of ownership within the team and encourages team members to resolve impediments. Even if there is a slight decrease in communication effectiveness, those benefits will justify a Scrum Master being remote.

Trust


The level of trust between a Scrum Master and the team is important. If the Scrum Master is remote and the team members are able to fulfill their commitments, continuously improve, and maintain the atmosphere of complete transparency and trust, it does not matter whether or not a Scrum Master is remote.

 

Maturity of the team


For a new team, being collocated and having an onsite Scrum Master is important. For a mature self-organizing team, the Scrum Master mainly deals with organizational impediments and does not have to be onsite. If the Scrum Master is constantly available to the team, it does not matter whether this ScrumMaster is onsite. The situation is different when the team is not collocated and everyone is remote. In this case, the concept of “remote ScrumMaster” is no longer applicable.

 

If the Scrum Master isn’t available to orchestrate product delivery, bridge any gaps, and remove any obstacles, a product will never be delivered – even worse, a wrong product will be delivered. In order to achieve this understanding, the Scrum Master must show value to the team as a natural leader, no matter if he is onsite or remote.

 

So, you might ask what ours and theirs favorite answer was. It was, of course, “Let the team decide.” The situation is rarely black and white and there are many circumstances we need to take into consideration when we think about introducing the Scrum Master role to a team. Doing Scrum just for the sake of it will not result in progress and it won’t lead to better efficiency. Carefully setting Scrum roles during working at home and having continuous investment in living and practicing Scrum values can make a world of difference though!

Tell us: does and how one Scrum Master can be an effective leader in any situation, especially working remotely?

Scrum Master: Full-time job or not?

Many people believe that a Scrum Master role is a part-time or that it can be combined with other roles, such as Product Owner or Manager roles or even in some cases that one Scrum Master can serve several teams. This raises the question –  Is the Scrum Master a full-time position or not?

In the situation when someone from the team assumes, in addition to their “basic” role, the Scrum Master role, usually one of these roles „suffer“ and complexity and stress increase in an attempt to respond to the demands of a “secondary role” at the same time. To remind ourselves –  the Scrum Master role is entirely dedicated to a team, i.e. relationships and processes related to the team. The Scrum Master is continuously working to improve and optimize the work of the team. The keyword here is “continuous” which implies that Scrum Master is a full-time job, especially if we really want to implement Scrum and truly experience its benefits. It is especially true for teams that have not yet gone through all maturity stages (forming, storming, norming, performing). Another problem emerges when we “add” Scrum Master role to an already existing role in the team, one often forgets the qualities that the Scrum Master should have, so it is not rare that the role is assigned to someone who does not possess an adequate set of qualities and skills for the Scrum Master.  We already talked about the desirable qualities of the Scrum Master role in this text.

 

What’s important to remember?

 

When we talk about „shared“ roles, there are some similarities between the Scrum Master and people managers. Both should be servant leaders, both should coach their team, and both work to help improve the organization.

However, the ScrumMaster doesn’t have managerial authority thus it seems easier for other team members to trust him/her and to open up about their challenges and issues. The Scrum Master is an integral part of the team, which is not the case with the manager roles.

 

To remind ourselves –  the Scrum Master role is entirely dedicated to a team, i.e. relationships and processes related to the team. The Scrum Master is continuously working to improve and optimize the work of the team.

 

Scrum Master and Product Owner in the same person?

 

Next often shared roles are Scrum Master and Product Owner in the same person. This is even harder to achieve that the previous example, bearing in mind that Scrum Masters and Product Owners are in a conditional way, “opposing roles”. What do we mean by that? As said before, the Scrum Master’s focus is on the team and processes and relationships related to the team, while the Product Owner ‘s focus is on the product, on defining what team members should do to respond to the client/market demands. We often have a situation where the business requirements are urgent to fulfill and the job of the Scrum Master is to „protect“ the team from these „attacks“ from the business in order for them to maintain a high level of efficiency and quality. In practice, if one person is assigned to both roles the Scrum Master and the Product Owner, given their different roles in the team, usually we get the Scrum Master who is command and control-oriented, and through commands, he/she pushes the team to work faster to respond to all client/market demands. Clearly, such an environment is far from implementing Agile/Scrum values.

If we start from the theory that the Scrum Master is not a full-time position then we are often faced with a common situation when one Scrum Master “serves” several different Scrum teams. The emotions here are ambivalent.

 

Interesting facts that we must consider…

 

If the Scrum Master is new to the team or has just joined the company, it is recommended that he/she be dedicated to one team, to begin with, because there is too much information for him/her to “process”. Once the team matures and becomes well-oiled, one may consider assigning another team to the same Scrum Master. However, if the first team is not mature it means that Scrum has not reached its full potential, it is worth considering whether it is wise to divide the Scrum Master into multiple teams. Of course, that also depends on the extent of Scrum Master’s previous experience, what kind of teams he had worked with, in what environment, for how long, etc. When one takes all this into consideration, the practice says that if the Scrum Master serves multiple teams, their number should not exceed two. In the case of three or more teams, we are not talking about the Scrum Master role, but an Agile Coach who has a different perspective and focus.

The situation is rarely black and white and there are many circumstances we need to take into consideration when we think about introducing the Scrum Master role to a team. Doing Scrum just for the sake of it will not result in progress and it won’t lead to better efficiency. Carefully setting Scrum roles and having continuous investment in living and practicing Scrum values can make a world of difference though!