It’s always interesting to me when I hear coaches and Scrum Masters referred to as overhead. “What’s the value of coaches and scrum masters?” I understand the question. It’s a valid question to ask about every role in an organization really. It’s an especially valid question to ask about coaches and scrum masters when you’re not, well, Agile.
Scrum Masters help teams learn and grow. They protect them from those outside who want to much with their productivity, they help those not on teams learn how to work differently and they point out the things in an organization that are preventing their teams Agility. They are an awesome resource UNLESS no one else and nothing EXCEPT the teams are Agile. Then, the Scrum Master is a gnat around the heads of managers and non-team managers. They’re asking for people to change something that works perfectly fine just the way it is….for them. They get in the way of managers managing work and delegating to their directs. They aren’t a “team player”. HA!
Coaches help people learn and grow in and beyond their role professionally and, sometimes, personally. They are objective advocates of each person in the organization and champions of the system they all have to work within. They see things that most cannot see anymore and they can question it safely – helping the organization and being the voice for those who may not be heard or may be worried about speaking up. Coaches help people make the mind shift and take action to create an environment where all can flourish. But, you don’t necessarily KNOW they’re doing it. And, if an organization has no real desire to be Agile, then, the coach is quite annoying – always asking questions, challenging conventional wisdom talking about people and waste.
I would challenge those who might be asking this question to first ask “Do we really want to be an Agile organization”? If the answer is “yes”, then ask what needs to be true in order for you to realize the full benefit of your coaches and Scrum Masters? Some possible truths:
- You need to care about your teams and their ability to deliver value
- You need to commit to continuous improvement
- You need to be open to thinking and acting in a different way
- You need to care about the efficiency of your systems
- You need to believe in what you’re trying to achieve through Agile (notice I did not say “believe in Agile”)
- You need to be honest, hear honesty and not get defensive
- You need to have a blind spot when it comes to titles, age, gender or former role – think about the person and NOT the org chart
- You need to be able to get over yourself
- What else????
That said, the first question might really be “Do I even know and understand what Agile is and what it means to my organization?” Your coach may have already asked that….you *might* have said yes.