What do you mean I’m not in control?!?

I haven’t been a Scrum Master for a terribly long time, but when I went to my CSM class and my instructor talked about protecting the team I felt like I had come home.  Protecting the team makes sense to me.  What made no sense whatsoever was that the team would be self-managing, self-organizing and standard PM things like, status meetings, budget reports and the like, wouldn’t be necessary. Those were some of  the things I performed to add value.  When people would look back to see how well the project was managed, I could show them all these things and they would know I did a good job.

The team decides how.  Scope creep (aka: change) is welcome.  The team decides what they will work on.  The team decides how they will work together.  THE TEAM!

What do I do?  What do I decide?  What do I manage?

This is what was hard to wrap my head around.  And, I have….mostly.  I have made and will continue to make mistakes.  I definitely prefer being measured by how well the teams I work with perform over whether or not tasks were all completed on time or how awesome my status reports were.  Teams who really embrace Agile do too.

What is hard for you in the transition from Project Manager to Scrum Master?

2 thoughts on “What do you mean I’m not in control?!?

  1. Sorry if these are noob questions, but I’m having trouble with the concept of the team being in charge of all these decisions. How does this work in a world where so much of what we do is dependent on people outside of the team? When the PM has people who WANT status meetings, budget reports, etc? Is the team more encompassing than I’ve heretofore thought?

    • Nope. It’s a good question. The organization has to change – the culture. The team meets for stand-up every day. Anyone can come observe. There’s one way to get status. There’s a burn down that’s updated every day to show how the team is progressing against their plan. There’s another way. The team is working in 2-3 week sprints, so there’s not as much risk or loss if things change. And let’s face it, things always change. Show me a project where approved requirements haven’t changed and I’ll shave my head. The business can decide late. If they want to change something, they can add a story to the backlog for future sprints. In Agile, the only lever you have is scope. The team is the team and how much they cost is pretty set. You can’t tell them to work harder. They already are. You can’t throw more resources at it b/c you have the resources you’re going to get. Scope is the lever. The Product Owner owns the Product Backlog and the prioritization of it. The team owns the Sprint Backlog – so they decide what to pull into a sprint – working as much as possible in priority order. The Team and the SM work to resolve impediments so the team doesn’t get stuck and they’re all working to groom the backlog in every sprint so they always have stories ready. An empowered, high-performing team will deliver. Trust me.

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