Six years, three companies, five ScrumMaster's later...what have I learnt? This blog post isn't going to be your bog standard "A ScrumMaster should have these skills" or "A ScrumMaster should be doing x, y, z based on certification blah blah blah". This blog post is how I think a great ScrumMaster can change so much in three ways.
The missing piece of the puzzle
Sometimes it seems that ScrumMaster's forget that they are part of a scrum team, which may not necessarily be a deliberate thing. It can be down to different factors such as they having responsibility for two or more scrum teams hence no team being a real priority, for example. My thoughts and ideas have always steered in the direction that Scrum teams should have a dedicated ScrumMaster. I am not saying this to go by the book or follow a rule which this and that person have stated, but I say this because I am going back to this concept that we are working as a team and the ScrumMaster is as much a vital part of the Scrum team as is programmer or tester. They have a responsibility to coach, motivate, improve, facilitate and aid the team to perform the best that they can.
A great ScrumMaster adds the missing puzzle piece and makes themselves a dedicated part of the team
If a piece of the jigsaw is missing, I think to myself, can we really call ourselves a scrum teams if we're not engaging in new ideas and ways of working? There's not much point being told "This is Scrum, these are the principles and here is the manifesto" if you're not really being trained in different ways to self improve, develop and collaborate. Without ScrumMasters, would scrum really work?
We're the guinea pigs
Something I always enjoyed about working with one of my previous ScrumMasters, was this idea of trying something new out. Try a new process, retrospective game, or stand up method, see if it works, if it does awesome! if not, then change it again, until you have a working solution to your problem, or if there isn't a problem per-say, maybe it's just a solution to be better, more efficient, churn out better code, better tests, better quality working software. The way I see it the team is like a bunch of "guinea pigs" and I feel ScrumMaster's should have the comfort to change and challenge us with theories and ideas. It not only allows them to see if their theories worked, but it also allows the team to question and work with them, make them think about how they can improve and essentially it could could solve a potential team impediment, which if you want a better example of what I mean, have a read of my one of my previous blog.
A great ScrumMaster keeps the team interested!
It also keeps things new, fresh and fun. The same work every single day can get boring, so what better way to keep a team motivated and upbeat than by changing the rhythm, and taking things out of their boring repetitive drone effect.
Changing the "status quo"
"I know these guys. I know the way they think, and they will erase us. And everything we've done here, none of it'll matter. Any other team wins the World Series, good for them. They're drinking champagne, they get a ring. But if we win, on our budget, with this team... we'll have changed the game. And that's what I want. I want it to mean something." Brad Pitt, MoneyBall
A great ScrumMaster isn't afraid to change the Status quo!
It's all about challenging what already exists and building something better, something new, something that makes other people think and ask questions. By changing the status quo, you make others have that belief that they can inspect and adapt to new things which are out there and that it doesn't have to be a "well we have always done it this way" mentality. When you bring a new idea, which works and works well, others start seeing that success and you get a massive competitive drive around you, much like the ending in MoneyBall ... I won't give it away if you haven't seen it (which I recommend btw), but it proves my point, that you start to set a trend and others see something new, better and successful.
I will probably never be as great of a ScrumMaster as many of those out there and those I have worked with (that is if i ever wanted to go down that route), but what I can say from experience is that if you add that missing piece to the jigsaw, and change the status quo, you not only change the mentality of the team, you totally change the dynamics and concept of the game.