ScrumMaster File: Positively Neutral

You are a ScrumMaster for a personal care products company.  You and the other ScrumMasters have formed a Community of Practice, getting together periodically to share coaching tips to improve how you serve your Development Teams, your Product Owners and the Organization at large.

One of the other Scrum Masters, Sheila, has asked you to sit in on a Sprint Planning session.  You have been asked to observe and then provide feedback to Sheila after the session.

Part One of Sprint Planning seems to go pretty well with the Development Team and the Product Owner using their Velocity and upcoming Capacity to agree upon a Sprint Goal.  Product Backlog Items (PBIs) are committed to the Development Team’s Sprint Backlog and there is good collaboration about Definition of Done.

Part Two of Sprint Planning begins and Development Team members start discussing how to achieve a number of the PBIs as they identify those Tasks.  Two team members disagree over a solution approach and the tension starts to build.

Sheila, the ScrumMaster, is listening intently to as Scott and Rob banter back and forth – each advocating for their own solution.  Both gentlemen’s faces are red, their fists are clenched and you believe they may actually start fist-fighting.

Nobody else is speaking.  The remaining Development Team members and Product Owner all have fearful looks on their faces or are staring down at the table.

You lean over to Sheila and whisper “Scrum Master, get in there…”

Sheila turns to you and says “No. I am remaining neutral.”

What do you do in this situation?

Do you think that Sheila’s behavior, or lack of behavior is what is meant by the neutral quality of the ScrumMaster?

If you were the ScrumMaster for this team, what are some questions you would ask?