In Certified ScrumMaster courses a common misunderstanding that new Scrum Masters have, is that they have to be the “secretary” or the administrative assistant for a team: telling people which tasks to perform, recording status of performing them, etc.
Nothing could be further from the truth! The ScrumMaster is a Coach. It is their job to help people improve for themselves. When we do work for someone, they are not learning. We then become a crutch and create a condition called “Learned Helplessness”. Why should they bother learning? You’re taking that opportunity away from them.
The other thing we want in our Scrum Development Team members is Accountability. When you do not allow them to experience this accountability, how will they ever learn?
Imagine if instead of learning to put his boots on himself, Chase sat by the door when it was time to go and waited for Mom or Dad to perform this task for him. And note, Dad even let him experience putting the boots on the wrong foot! Now he knows what the wrong way feels like so he puts them on the right foot by himself going forward. He’s experienced learning and accountability.
And please take note that nobody moved the cards on the board for Chase. He’s perfectly capable of doing this to manage his own work.
So why do some Scrum Masters insist on taking this opportunity away from the Development Teams? The Scrum Guide notes the purpose of the Sprint Backlog is for the Development Team to manage their work – not for an administrative assistant to update it for them.
Chase moved on from the hat, coats, boots, etc. cards after 10 daily instances and now handles this work autonomously so the board can be repurposed for new learning.
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Dad: What do we work on next?
Dad: Okay, so what do you do?
Dad: Well, what do you do with the card?
Chase: Move it.
Dad: Yep, flip it over and over. Awesome. Okay, now you're working on boots. What are you going to do?
Chase: Do it. Yes?
Dad: Is that the right foot?
Dad: Are you sure?
Dad: Okay, put the other one on. Okay, come over here. We gotta check. All right, are your boots on the right feet? Are the boots on the right feet?
Chase: Yes they are.
Dad: Nope, they're not, so what do we do?
Chase: Fix them.
Dad: That's right, we fix them. Okay.
Chase: These are right feet.
Dad: Now they're on the right feet. Okay, let's check. Are they on the right feet? Great. What do we do with the card?
Chase: Move it.
Dad: All right, and what's the last one. Yep, want to work on that next. Wait, wait, what do we do with the card though?
Chase: Move it.
Dad: Come move it. All right, hat and coat time.
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