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  • Stephanie Lindstrom

ScrumMaster DOs and 'Donuts'


The Scrum Master, the servant leader. The one who shepherds teams to become self organizing, efficient and effective. The core and soul to a great team. Strong, understanding, firm and flexible. This individual is the key to success.

As a Certified Scrum Master and Agile coach, I have a few observations and tips to share as to how to be effective in this critical role in the scrum process. I have worked with experienced Scrum Masters, Scrum Masters new to the job and Scrum Masters that have changed roles within teams. All the previous observations lead to the following:

DO motivate your team and empower them to become self organizing. While this will come in time, it will be necessary for the Scrum Master to take a more commanding role as teams move towards the agile process. DO NOT exercise an innate inner passion or need to micromanage anyone. Remember Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools. As they move forward and mature, be confident to step back and let them lead the discussions. You will facilitate, but not dominate the ceremonies.

DO be a liaison with the product owner team and your team(s). Encourage team members to engage with one another, rather than fixing the impediment yourself. Suggest desk drop-bys, occasional meetings with others to solve these issues.

DO listen to your team... diligently. Listen to your product owner... diligently. While doing that, keep in mind the velocity, behavior and productivity of your team. Know that there will be “firestorms”. That's ok, plan for them. This will enable you as the facilitator to help your team stay in balance rather than frantically panic when unknown items are added to a sprint.

DO be understanding, forgiving and nimble. That is what agile is all about, right? The process to adapt and adjust based on current circumstances.

DO know how to say NO. Stand your ground. You know the velocity of your team, stay true to that. Oftentimes, a product owner or stakeholder may need to hear that unthinkable word, NO! This does not mean no forever, just a no for this current sprint. Again, stand your ground and do what is best for your team.

At the end of the day, you are the one shepherding a team towards success. Be confident, firm and for goodness sakes, buy them some donuts!

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