Ok, so how do Product Owners actually generate great User Stories? Are you tired of reading about how to deliver business value? Is creating big, upfront Business Requirements Documents (BRDs) not working? For those folks looking to create User Stories that are actually usable, please join me on July 29th for a full day workshop on Agile User Stories.
Every ScrumMaster must have basic skills in facilitation, coaching, mentoring, teaching, conflict resolution and, above all else, self-awareness. The responsibility for a good ScrumMaster to become a great ScrumMaster is to build up these basic skills with practice and time.
This is a series of blogs. Each blog will take a look at a particular skill necessary for a ScrumMaster to progress in their role from basic to experienced ScrumMaster.
ScrumMasters must have self-awareness
"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Know thy self:
As a ScrumMaster that has the responsibility of facilitating, coaching, mentoring and teaching you must be aware of what you bring and do not bring into each engagement you have with individuals, teams and outside of the teams – the organization. How you think, what your values and assumptions are, may bias your service to others. In The Skilled Facilitator by Roger Schwarz, Schwarz stresses the need to understand your mindset (your values and opinions). In order to effectively serve as a ScrumMaster, you need to evaluate your core assumptions and fundamental beliefs. Not so that you can change them or persuade others to join you in your mindset. Do this so that you can better prepare to serve as a facilitator, coach, mentor or teacher. In order to do this you will need to take the time to explore and reflect on who you are as person and as a ScrumMaster. Yes, self-reflection and introspection! Critical activities for growth and development. There are thousands of tools and sources to take on these critical activities – available at your fingertips, just Google it!
In additional to what you may find on the Internet, consider behavior assessments like Strengths Finder, DISC or Myers-Briggs. Also, talk with friends and colleagues. Ask them for input on your approach, delivery and behavior in different settings.
And, remember, you cannot help others if you have not helped yourself first. Put your oxygen mask on before assisting others!
Prepare and be Aware:
Once you have taken the time to know yourself better you can focus on preparing for specific session you will engage in as a ScrumMaster. As you prepare to step into each interaction, be aware of who you are in that moment. What is happening or just happened that may alter your mindset? Did you just have an uplifting call from a colleague? Did you just read an email from a client ranting about poor service? Was it an uber struggle to get the kids out the door this morning? These moments have the potential to alter your abilities as a coach, facilitator, teacher or mentor. Do a self-check before you engage - have you level set?
Don’t get hooked:
We have all had moments when we are caught off-guard by what was said by others. As the ScrumMaster, an individual may have touch on a sensitive area for you. A word, phrase or opinion may catch you and take you to a place of judgement and opinions. This will hinder your ability to actively listen. What ‘in the moment’ techniques do you have prepared? Relaxation, breathing, compartments. If you become overly distracted, suggest a break so that you can take care of yourself.
It’s not personal:
As a ScrumMaster working to improve your skills, you can at times find yourself trapped in self-analysis. At times you may allow emotions such as; judging, defending and annoyance to creep into a session or engagement. Stop! Be in the moment with the individual or group. Promise yourself that you will inspect after the event – and keep your promise to yourself!
If you would like to learn more about the ScrumMaster role, please join us at our next Certified ScrumMaster class. Details here.
This is a wonderful statement for any Scrum coach to hear. And over the past few years I have heard this or a version of this statement a lot. It’s the inevitable follow up question that has grabbed my attention over the last few years. ’How do we get the rest of the organization to start using Scrum?’