Share the load! Let others be Scrum Master

Image credit: Lord of The Rings/Gawker

During my time leading my old team I had done a few things, I had helped develop a culture of focused on continual improvement & validated learning and I had adopted Scrum as the framework we followed.

Overall most of the team were driving the cultural change as well as learning what Scrum was, mostly the junior / mid developers who were used to learning new skills and thus saw the benefit. There were a few more seasoned team members who never really got on-board.

Overall I feel the reason for this was that they had managed to work relatively well in past but as the team grew the old way of working wasn't effective and due to this a few of the juniors were more engaged than they were.

I, Product Owner

At one point I was given about a month to implement a continuous delivery pipeline and as I was to be the product owner on this piece of work I saw this as an opportunity to share the load (to quote Lord of The Rings) and have the senior members of the team play the role of Scrum Master.

So we met in our respective roles; made a user story map, made a backlog and sprint plan, had our first sprint initiation meeting and interestingly enough after a bit of help understanding the barriers of the relationship they agreed on the sprint and a week later delivered everything they agreed to.

Talking to them outside of work and in the retrospectives they were more engaged than they had been before and they were making suggestions on how to improve the way the team functioned (they had the team pair programming for instance). They also said they started to think about the big picture of the work instead of just seeing what was assigned to them.

The team also learned from this change of roles. My old colleague and I are very different people, I'm more passionate and extroverted while he's more analytical and introverted - something that influenced the communication around and structure of the work. It also meant the team were able to see the person in a different light and see what their strengths were in that position.

Conclusion

  • Letting other team members be the Scrum Master gives them a chance to stretch their leadership muscles, learn more about the Scrum process and about how different ways of working can help deliver on time
  • Letting people be Scrum Master will get them more engaged with the process, work, culture and continual improvement
  • Much like reteaming does, the change in Scrum Master means the team needs to adapt which ultimately leads to them learning more about how they work together