The Scrum Master knows best

“My team doesn’t do what I’ve suggested.” “Why does the team keep doing <insert undesired behavior>?” “They don’t understand <my pet practice>.”

I love to talk to fellow Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches. Somehow I can more easily see my own failings by discussing their behavior. One of my failings comes from thinking I know what is best for the team.

Sure, if I stop to think about it I know that I’m not smarter than a handful of intelligent people. But every now and then I forget. I notice something and immediately jump to a conclusion: this is bad, and I know how it could be improved. Scrum Master to the rescue!

Only, my team isn’t fooled that easily. They’ll look at me in a way that says: “Are you serious? What do you know about software development anyway?” Perhaps in the past I would ignore that, muttering “Oh ye of little faith”, confident that if they just tried doing it my way they would be enlightened.

At least these days I know to stop and listen. On a good day I’ll even stop before I jump to a conclusion. Instead, I’ll offer my observation to the team and ask their opinion. Amazingly, they usually do a good job of deciding if it is important, what the underlying problem is, and what could be done about it. Occasionally I ask some powerful questions, offer some suggestions, or challenge their thinking (for example by pointing out how it goes against one of the agile principles). That’s all I need to do, the team does the rest. The best part is: they come up with better solutions, they don’t resist the proposal, and I still get credit for helping them improve.