Coaching Scrum Master: Three Steps Evolution


Phase 0 (optional)
This phase mostly concerns the assessment of the project’s current processes and roles. The Scrum Master can assist a coach in the audit by providing relevant and detailed information on the project practices and responsibility areas. The Coach together with SM can fill in evaluation matrixes and questionnaires to get a crystal clear picture of the current situation on the project and elaborate a vision of what should be improved on, or on the other hand, left as is. During the assessment, a coach participates in Scrum meetings and interview Scrum team members; the SM can also be involved in these activities. The key focus during the evaluation is kept on Scrum rules, roles, artifacts and events that occur on the project. When the audit is completed, the results are presented to the delivery side that ordered it; the review results clearly underlines Scrum process drawbacks and provide applicable solutions together with Agile Practice services suitable to implement said solutions. The resulting information is visualized and is relevant to the point. For example, here is one of the possible resulting radars that can be built based on gathered metrics during an audit:
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Here is a suggested set of trainings and workshops recommended by Agile Practice for a particular team to participate in order to enhance their project Scrum events, rules and artifacts. Most of the recommended solutions by Agile Practice can be ordered at Agile Practice itself. All solutions are time-boxed as well as result oriented, which means the client (e.g. delivery management) will see particular results within a defined period.
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Phase 0 usually takes one sprint to accomplish.

Phase I
This phase lasts for 1-2 sprints. This means it can take 1-2 weeks, for 1-week sprints, or 1-2 months, for 1-month sprints. The idea is to go at least 2 times through all Scrum events, inspecting and adopting it to get maximum benefit of these meetings.

The general action plan for Phase I is as follows:
  • The SM and coach prepare input for all meetings together
  • The Coach facilitates all process meetings while the SM observes and learns facilitation techniques
  • The SM and coach look back on every meeting together and upd ate preparation/facilitation guide
  • The SM and coach communicates sprint status and known blockers to delivery managers
  • If the coach observes a need for additional training/workshops for the team or SM, he/she agrees a schedule with the SM and delivery management
  • Feedback on SM progress and the enhancement of project processes fr om the delivery side is collected regularly and discussed between the coach and the management. According to the feedback, the SM personal coaching agenda is updated
To make the Phase activities more transparent and specific, it is also possible to create a checklist of regular (daily, weekly, etc.) activities. The checklist should be adopted for particular project needs. When a Scrum is assigned to a newly started project, it's great practice to use responsibilities from the Scrum Guide as the initial se t of activities, and to review these on a regular basis to make sure SM activities meet scrum team expectations and needs. It's important to underline that not only SM activities should be expected, but the coaching itself has to be relevant for a particular program or project and should take into consideration the opinion of all stakeholders.

Phase II
This phase usually continues for 2-3 sprints and encompasses the following activities
  • The SM leads the Scrum process, prepares and facilitates all meetings
  • Agile coach attends most meetings, provides feedback to the SM and delivery managers
  • Coaches the SM on the facilitation tips and techniques relevant for particular cases
Phase III
  • The SM leads further Agile adoption
  • The SM coaches and advises team members
  • No active participation of Agile coach
  • Coach can be involved for resolving complicated situations or in case expert advice is needed
The three stages model is ideally suited for educational purposes; such approach is widely used in various areas, e.g. in martial arts systems, wh ere it is known as Shu Kha Ri
(守 破 離 ) - a Japanese martial art concept that describes the stages of learning to mastery.
  • shu "protect", "obey" — learning fundamentals, techniques. From these definitions, the characteristics of this particular stage can be said to be: protection (by teaching), being defended (by teaching), obeying the order (of teaching), observation (of the teaching), keeping one's eyes open (on the teaching).
  • ha "detach", "digress" — working hard to imitate numerous techniques without modification. In this way, a lasting technical foundation is built on which the deeper understanding of the art can be based. At this stage, since each technique is thoroughly learned and absorbed, the student is prepared to completely understand the background behind these techniques and to choose the ones more appropriate for a situation.
  • ri "leave", "separate" — going beyond traditional learning and all available knowledge. In this stage, the student is no longer a student, but rather a "pioneering practitioner." One must now think originally and develop one’s own background knowledge, using original thoughts about the art and test them against the reality of his or her knowledge of everyday life.
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p.s. If you are interested in this topic, please see my opening post of Scrum Master coaching

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