Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Scrum Master Competencies

The Scrum Master is a complex, challenging and rewarding role. Consequently they need to develop a broad range of competencies. A diverse skill set will allow them to succeed; no matter what the world throws at them and their team.

What follows is the list of competencies that I believe a great Scrum Master / agile Iteration Manager should develop over time.

Tree of competencies

August 2014: I updated list in conjunction with adding my Agile Coach Competencies blog. Additionally a two page PDF cheat sheet of Scrum Master Competencies are now available.

Scrum Master Competencies cheat sheet

Organising the Team

* Knowledge of Scrum rules
* Communicating internally
* Communicating externally
* Up to date Team level documentation
* Reporting team status
* Involving whole team in Sprint planning

  • Setting clear elevating goals
  • Appropriate commitment level
  • Ownership of the commitment
  • Adjustment of the Sprint Plan

* Provides Clear Direction 

  • Set clear and elevating goals
  • Balances conflicting team priorities
  • Focuses team on delivering priority/valuable items
  • Limits team WIP

* Dealing with impediments

  • Identifying impediments
  • Resolving team impediments
  • Resolving cross team impediments
  • Appropriate Escalation

* Effective Facilitation

  • Outcome focused Meetings
  • Time Boxing
  • Adjusting to different situations
  • Dealing with Difficult people
  • Observe while participating
  • Be Participant and Facilitator
  • Create safety
  • Root Cause Analysis

* Using Collaborative engagement techniques 

  • Planning Poker
  • Fast Estimation
  • Visual Planning
  • Dot Voting
  • Story Maps
  • Brainstorming
  • Cause Effect Diagrams

Improving the team

* Managing Technical Debt
* Establishing a good Team Culture

  • Celebrate successes
  • Social bonding
  • Supporting each other
  • Promotes cross skilling
  • Let’s the team experience failures

* Improving team members

  • Providing Feedback
  • Motivating 
  • Coaching
  • Teaching

* Using Agile Technical Practices

  • Refactoring
  • Agile Testing
  • Test First
  • Test Driven Development
  • Acceptance Test Driven Development
  • Continuous Integration
  • Pair Programming
  • Simple Design

* Using Continuous Validated Learning 

  • Plan, Do, Check, Act
  • Designing Experiments
  • Collecting & using Data
  • Safe to Fail
  • Varied Retrospective Approaches

* Leading change

  • Effective Retrospectives
  • Influence without authority
  • Challenging the status quo
  • Kaizen / Continuous Improvement
  • Celebrate successes

* Using Lean principles in decisions

  • Eliminate waste
  • Build Quality in
  • Create Knowledge
  • Defer Commitment
  • Deliver Fast
  • Respect People
  • Optimise the whole

Establishing a Self-organising team 

* Exhibit Servant leadership
* Exhibit Scrum Values
* Using Agile Principles in decisions
* Ownership of team commitments
* Making it visible & get the team to take action
* Get team to identify and remove impediments
* Involving whole team in grooming / design
* Involving whole team in medium term planning
* Encouraging ‘leaders’ within the team
* Do yourself out of a job

Thinking Big

* Basic medium term planning
* Visualise teams medium term progress
* Ownership of Department level commitments
* Optimising the whole

  • High level knowledge of medium term plan for all teams
  • Volunteering to help other teams

* Communicating with other teams 
* Identifying and resolving cross team impediments
* Improving cross team Technical Practices
* Recording appropriate feature information for future teams
* Up to date Department level documentation
* Up to date Company level documentation
* Improving other Scrum Masters and POs

  • Providing Feedback
  • Motivating
  • Supporting


* Balances Responsibilities of SM, Team Contribution, Self-Development
* Learns by reading / researching
* Learns by experimenting / doing
* Learns by discussing
* Coachable

User Stories

* Formats
* Personas
* Splitting Approaches
* Vertical Slicing
* Sizing

Other Characteristics

* Patient
* Assertive
* Self-Starter
* Organised

  • Prepares well for meetings

* Consistent
* Understands people

Getting Team Based Results

* Team delivering consistently
* Team regularly finishing their top priority stories first 
* Team regularly finishing >=33% of stories prior to the Sprint half way mark 
* Team and PO collaborating extensively on stories (planning, splitting, design, implementation, verification)
* Team not building up inappropriate Technical Debt
* Retrospectives regularly result in positive changes
* Innovation is occurring

Your Thoughts...

Have I missed anything? 

Is there any that you disagree with?

Photo Credit: angus clyne via Compfight cc