New year resolutions are common things in year end and beginning of the year. We all make personal resolutions for the betterment of our lives. Have you wondered what a Scrum Master’s new year resolutions will be and can be? As a Scrum Master, what resolutions can I make this year to be a better and a great Scrum Master?
As a Scrum Master, I will :
1-Read one new book every month to update my skillset.
Reading books is one of the ways to gain more knowledge. In order to upgrade skillset, books are great source for knowledge. Books are the outcome of a person’s personal learning and their willingness to create and share it with others. There are great books of all times which helps Scrum Masters, build skillset. While there are an infinite number of books out there, I will personally recommend 12 books that a Scrum Master can read in 2019.
- Skilled Facilitator – Roger Schwarz
- Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
- Humble Inquiry – Edgar Schein
- Reinventing Organizations – Fredrick Laloux
- Switch – Chip and Dan Heath
- Immunity to Change – Robert Keagan and Lisa Lahey
- Non-Violent Communication – Marshal Rosenberg
- Emotional Intelligence – Travis Bradberry & Jean Graves
- Systems Thinking Basics – Virginia Anderson
- Fifth Discipline – Peter Senge
- Drive – Daniel Pink
- How to win friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Here are some more if you were able to complete all 12 of them.
- Power of your subconscious mind – Joseph Murphy
- Seven habits of highly effective people – Stephen Covey
2- Trust my team and their abilities.
In Scrum, the Development Team decides how to come up with a Product Increment. Team consists of a collection of highly skilled individuals who does great job, together. Either they have all the skills needed to do their job or needs the necessary skill set to do their job. As a Scrum Master, I will help my team get all the skills they need for completing their work better. I will trust them to get the job done and sure will not micromanage or push them inappropriately. I will help them wherever needed, provide all the support that I can and will trust them to get the job done. I will promote vulnerability inside the team and will create an environment where they can be vulnerable to each other.
3- Learn one new course this year and if possible, once in 6 months.
Continuous learning is key for constant forward movement in both personal and professional life. Apart from reading books, I will continue to up-skill myself by choosing courses that will benefit me and my job as a Scrum Master. I will choose courses related to Coaching, Change Management, Harmony in workplace, Facilitation, Systems Thinking and other related skills that will help me in doing my job better as a Scrum Master.
4- Not be biased towards one solution to any problem.
One of the key problems, I have faced in working with teams is that they rely on someone to make decisions or come up with solutions for them. In Product Backlog refinement, teams forget the fact that there are more ways to create a product backlog increment. The ability to come up with a solution depends on one’s experience and their own mental model. As a Scrum Master, I will have a firm belief that there are multiple ways to get the same job done and I will not be biased towards one solution. I will coach myself and the team to look for more efficient solutions for the problem at hand.
5- Make my team less dependent on me.
As a Scrum Master, it’s one of the responsibilities to make the teams self-organizing. Team should be self-sufficient, self-facilitating and self-learning. They should be less dependent on the Scrum Master as they get matured.
6- Encourage new ideas and passionate discussions within the team.
Albert Einstein wisely said, “Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results is insanity”. One has to find out alternate ways of doing everyday work to get different results. Scrum Master should promote workplace innovation. New ideas can be anything ranging from different way of doing things, new product feature, best practices, new products and so on. It also promotes healthy discussions in the team.
7- Facilitate new conflicts and promote healthy discussions.
Conflict is not bad, as many people thinks in the industry. A healthy conflict is needed for a healthy outcome. As a Scrum Master, promoting new and healthy conflicts will result in good team outcomes. Acquiring conflict management skills and managing the conflicts effectively will definitely yield better outcomes.
8- Attend one meetup every month
There are three major benefits of attending meetups. First, you get to learn new things every now and then from the community on upcoming trends in Industry. Second, being part of the community can help you in socializing with fellow scrum masters from other organizations. That way you can learn new challenges and practices followed in other organizations. Third, you can present a topic in the community and get to become a speaker. You can showcase your talents as a speaker and can get acknowledged as well.
9- Attend one organizational design conference this year.
Attending conferences is one of the ways to keep yourself updated about current trends in the industry. Conferences also gives you a chance to meet different people, different cultural backgrounds, different Organizations and different perspectives. Industry leaders, trainers and speakers related to the conference will participate and one can learn so much from them. It helps to stay abreast with the industry, new trends and other related things.
10- Help your team attend one technical conference this year.
Just like Scrum Masters needs to attend conferences to stay abreast with the industry and trends, it is must for the team also to attend technical conferences. Scrum Master should encourage the team to attend technical conferences related to their work and interest. This will help them in understanding the related new technologies and industry best practices in product development.
11- Not promote favouritism within the team and treat everyone equally.
Scrum Master should not have any bias and should be accepted by all. Once a Scrum Master have preference over people and practices, it limits them. Also, Scrum Master loses trust of the team when have favouritism inside team. Favouritism to team members or to the Product Owner affects team morale and decline in outcomes. Treating everyone equally is one of the qualities of a leader and increases the chance of approachability.
12- Be the go-to person for my team impediments.
Scrum Master should be approachable for the team so that they can share their impediments and seek help. If the Scrum Master is unapproachable, then team will not share the constraints they have, and it will be impossible to help them.
13- Stand up for team when they are in distress.
In some cases, teams are pushed and micromanaged by their reporting managers and project managers. When the release dates are close, teams will be under constant stress. As Scrum Masters, it’s must to trust the teams to deliver and help them to do so by creating better environments. If teams are in constant distress, they will not be able to deliver, and it will add more stress to them. Teams can thrive better in stress free environments.
14- Believe people are basically good.
Good or bad is always subjective and it depends on individual’s ideologies and beliefs. Scrum Masters as coaches should have the belief that people are basically good and they can do better things. Without this belief, people will naturally have bias and prejudice.
15- Teach my team that there is no failure but learning and feedback.
Different people approach failures differently. Wrong understanding of failure will result in putting oneself down. What is failure? We need something, we are working towards it and sometimes we might be able to get it and sometimes not. We don’t quit just because the results are not in our favor. We take the learning from our failure, move forward with more learning to go further towards what we want. Get and take feedback wherever necessary and work towards betterment.
16- Believe that everyone is naturally creative and resourceful.
People naturally are equipped with all the resources that they need. They are born creative too. People can solve problems on their own and can achieve all the goals they aspire, on their own. Then why people are always in constant pursuit of resources? People are just not looking at the right place. They need coaching and Scrum Master can help them with that.
17- Flexible to my team’s choices and stringent on team’s comfort zone.
As discussed in earlier resolutions, getting different solutions is very important to arrive at a more efficient one. Moreover, it’s the team who decides how to build a product increment and thus they should decide. Scrum Master should be flexible with team’s choices. Once people attain comfort zone, they reach a point of stagnation and they do not learn new things or innovate. Spending long time in stagnation will become worsening and they will eventually fail.
18- Make my team cross functional.
Team is cross-functional, and they have different skills, experiences and ability. Together they are too strong and can deliver a valuable product. A cross functional team have all the competencies and they don’t have to depend on others who are not part of the Scrum Team. Dependencies on other members who are not part of the team increases the chances of not getting the work done within the time-box.
19- Promote team appreciation and appraisals from this year. Teach them that they fail as a team and succeed as a team.
Team members fail to understand that there is no individual success. Let’s take an example of an individual completing all his/her work for the sprint while the team haven’t delivered sprint commitment. Everyone failed including the one who thought that he/she have completed their work. End of the day, delivering the feature to the customer is the goal and not completing one’s own task is. The way we change the rewarding system in the Organization helps to achieve team appreciation rather than individual appreciation. Teamwork is essential in delivering value to the customers and there by bringing revenue to the Organization.
If a Scrum Master takes steps to follow these resolutions, they will definitely become a great Scrum Master by the end of 2019. Happy new year wishes to all the Scrum Masters who aspires to become great.