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Conclusions

At Trey Research and Litware, we saw that it’s not always easy to understand the role of the ScrumMaster. At Contoso.com, we saw how a ScrumMaster can self-destruct. At MegaFund, we saw a ScrumMaster both fulfill his responsibilities and embed Scrum practices and rules in the organization. Something unique happened in each situation. The ScrumMaster was aware of Scrum’s practices and rules and responded. Sometimes the response was good for the organization, and sometimes it wasn’t good. In each instance, the ScrumMaster interpreted the job differently, and the results varied dramatically.

Over the last several years, I’ve wrestled with the question of how to make the difference between project manager and ScrumMaster, between coach and boss, more readily understood. How can I explain the shift in a way that is easy to absorb regardless of a person’s background and inclination? When experienced Scrum practitioners are around to mentor a new ScrumMaster, the transition to Scrum is usually smooth. When I mentor new ScrumMasters, for example, I can help them understand many of the consequences of failure in part because I’ve failed so many times! I can also show them the difference between failure and success. We first fill the role of ScrumMaster ourselves, setting an example. Then we invite the new ScrumMaster to begin. We coach the new ScrumMaster after every meeting and throughout the day. We point out opportunities for the ScrumMaster to help the team. We point out ways that the ScrumMaster can tell when the team needs help. We also point out instances in which the ScrumMaster is controlling rather than guiding and explain what the consequences of such acts are likely to be.


  

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