I began as a Software Developer in the year 2005 and as an agile practitioner in 2007. I have been a Scrum Master and an Agile Coach. There were a couple fascinating things about my adventure that I thought would be beneficial to the larger agile community. My post portrays an adventurous voyage that many technologists may take.

Vibhor, you’re up. You are the Scrum Master for the new team! Coming Monday you start off with the new responsibility on your next project.

And with that statement, my Agile Coach gave me the opportunity to serve the team as a leader or in other words wear the hat of a Scrum Master. Being a Scrum Master is quite different from being a Project Manager but more on that in a different post.

With Agile methods turning into a standard, companies that need to get up to speed are concentrating on a transformation strategy that includes employing external Agile Coaches. These Coaches are required to make and cultivate an Agile culture by coaching teams who might not have any pervious Agile knowledge. The job of a Coach is to introduce slow changes within the team. As part of the strategic coaching and in order to scale the transformation process, team members who show fast learning are given the opportunity to become Scrum Masters.

The expectation was that my XP (extreme programming) knowledge could spare the day! Additionally, since I had spent much time as development lead for one of the projects the Agile Coach was sure about my collected experience.

Pay more attention on Business Agility. The higher management will need points of interest wrapped in metrics.

I was being a Scrum Master for the first time in my career so I was receiving help and support wherever the need was. Both the Agile Coach and my Engineering Manager shared with me their experiences with individuals and interactions within the team and the larger organization. While the manager recommended focus on Business Agility which is based upon extreme engineering practices, the coach urged me to be the Servant-Leader who answers inquiries and shares educated opinions and approaches.

I made progress by taking little steps. I  discovered that Scrum Master’s duty involves coaching the team on Agile values, principle and practices which undergoes three phases. We begin with the  Assessment phase, which generally ends in 14 days. This includes watching the current procedures by talking to team members, recording technical and psychological measures and metrics and taking lots of notes. My first two weeks with the team was spent making this assessment report.

Vibhor, why do we need to stand in daily scrums? Why TDD? Why write a test when I know what I need in a code? Why do we need to pair regularly in coding assignments, what’s the value of Pair Programming?

Starting second week, my mentor asked me to focus on the phase two which is Active Coaching of the team members on the XP and scrum practices. This stage starts by identifying close and long haul objectives as a team in collaboration with the customer. Retrospective and other scrum techniques help us to identify practices and procedures that address business objectives with sufficient metrics.

My team members had many questions the second week. Sometimes their inquiries had me speculating and I would quickly fall back on the advice from mentors and coaches to get my ideas organized. The one mantra that made me confident was that I didn’t need to know absolutely everything. I just expected to manage the team on their way to self organization and self learning. Techniques like five personal questions, group discussions and meet a stranger is a good way to start the process.

Obviously, it’s always easier to say than to implement. People take time to embrace new practices and develop their reasoning. This can bring about irritation, so as a Servant Leader, I needed to deal with my anxiety levels. I read lots of books on Agile to guide me. As a first-time Scrum Master, one is enticed to search for early indications of positive effect in palpable Metrics, for example, code coverage or defects count. I realized that the objective of a Scrum Master is to empower a continuous change, mainly among the team members, which slowly but steadily leads to enhancements in things like code base or test automation etc.

Hey Vibhor, another team member needed help with Pair Programing. Since you were busy preparing for the upcoming retrospective meeting, I gave them a little hand. Is that okay?

After some time the team turned out to be more self reliant. I noticed motivated individuals, better code coverage and a decline in defects count. A greater part of the product backlog was finished and approved by the product owner, mid sprint. For me it was something to feel proud about. Individuals of the team were understanding their potential.

This starts the third phase of coaching the team as a Scrum Master, Sustenance. The team becomes self-supporting. Success in delivering customer approved product increments validated the learning.

I kept an eye on the team. There were weeks with signs of clear growth and some weeks there were none. As long as the accomplished routines stayed stable and did not wind down, there was no reason to overwhelm.


You can Learn more about the Agile Coaching Fundamentals and Techniques through the following links.

Fundamentals

Techniques