It’s about common sense

December 10, 2008 | by Geoff

Last month I attended a ScrumMaster course given by Ken Schwaber, one of the founders of Scrum.

Ken is a reasonably unassuming man with a casual demeanour and the uncanny ability to help people shoot themselves in the foot by dragging them head first into self awareness of their own roadblocks and limitations in their thoughts.

His course is based on exercises and anecdotal examples which highlight the principles of Scrum itself and the responsibilities of a ScrumMaster in ensuring that the principles of Scrum are upheld within a Scrum team. Ken’s approach was exceptional in that he did not pontificate to the masses, he merely proposed a different approach to understanding problems with the way people work and how to solve them.

I found the course intriguing in showing me that although I see myself as an agile, scrum practitioner, I still have much to learn. The ScrumMaster:

  • is responsible for increasing the teams ability through mentoring and teaching
  • is responsible for removing barriers
  • manages how things are done NOT the people doing them
  • is a servant leader NOT in command and control

A lot of people attending the course were stuck in the ‘yeah but’ mentality, finding excuses rather than addressing inefficiency with the right questions. The made excuses for why they were not implementing scrum or why they could not implement scrum. The message from Ken, was ‘yes you can’ you just need to believe. Do not expect Scrum to solve your problems, all it does is highlight them – for many people this is more frightening than keeping one’s head in the sand and complaining. In Ken’s words: “scrum does not bring out excellence; it exposes incompetence.”

I am hoping to improve our usage of Scrum and the role of the ScrumMaster within our day-to-day operation of our Scrum team from what I have learned from ken.

Scrum is simple, but it is not easy.

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