Reflections of an Undercover Scrum Master

Our latest conversation is with Dane Weber. Dane took a two-year break from his job as a Scrum Master to join a development team. His perspectives as both a developer and Scrum Master are insightful.

During his time as a developer, Dane gained an appreciation for just how much there is to know and master. He states, “This creates a cognitive load that plays a significant role in affecting attitudes and motivations in ways that were not obvious to me as a Scrum Master, but which will be a major consideration when I coach teams in the future.” He now realizes that when team members seemed reluctant to try something new, it might have been because they were simply overwhelmed with all that they were learning. Sometimes Scrum Masters might be inadvertently be sending the wrong message, signaling, “Hurry, hurry!” when they just mean to ask, “How can I help?”

Dane also observed that developers had privileges that weren’t always extended to other team members. Simply by “being announced as a developer, others on the team would be afraid to interrupt me or essentially ask to collaborate with me.” While programming tasks often require intense focus, Scrum Masters and Product Owners also perform tasks that require their undivided concentration, too.

Dane has problems giving developers “special treatment.” At various times, everyone needs to have time and space to focus. Regardless of your role, after an interruption, it takes time to get back into the flow. Developers aren’t the only ones who need to concentrate without interruption. Dane thinks this courtesy should be extended to everyone on the team. But in a collaborative work environment, people need to strike that delicate balance between being open and available to contribute to what’s going on around them and having undivided attention to focus on specific tasks. Dane suggests a better approach when you want to spend your undivided attention on a particularly challenging task is to announce what you are doing and why, and then find a place to work away from team distractions.

For more astute observations I encourage you to read Dane’s experience report, Undercover Scrum Master , presented at Agile 2019.

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They may not represent the opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

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Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

Rebecca is President of Wirfs-Brock Associates and former Director of the Agile Experience Report Initiative. She helps organizations and individuals hone their design and architecture skills, improve system quality and manage technical debt. In addition to coaching and mentoring she conducts workshops on agile architecture, design heuristics, and pragmatic software design. She invented the set of design practices known as Responsibility-Driven Design (RDD) and by accident started the x-DD meme. Rebecca is also a shepherd…

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