in General, Tips and Techniques

The Most Important Trait of an Effective ScrumMaster

When it comes about being an effective ScrumMaster, I often give an example of orchestra. I conclude by saying, “If even one team member is out of sync, the produced software feature might be out-of-order. That’s an impediment the ScrumMaster must remove.”

(If you want to read about the orchestra example, please have a look at my ScrumAlliance Article and read point #6.)

A couple of days ago, I got an interesting counter argument on my above mention.

The argument was: The ScrumMaster herself may not have required skills to bring the team member back in sync so she needs to empower the team and otherwise it may take more time etc.

My point of view: ScrumMaster does not have required technical skills? So What?

The Most Important Trait of an Effective ScrumMaster

Sure, the ScrumMaster may not have all the required skills to solve the problem but the most important trait of an effective ScrumMaster is to lead without a title and cause the right change.

ScrumMaster would have many impediments to deal with. Not enough technical skills…not enough authority…no access to needed resources. ScrumMaster would have tons of constraints.

Nonetheless, the ScrumMaster needs to presume the responsibility of the situation and influence respective persons to make things happen.

For example, consider this impediment: Because of a system failure, payroll will be processed 4 days later and hence salaries would be delayed by 4 days. A key team member has house loan installment to pay. Since the key team member is stressed fearing what will happen if he would miss the installment date, he’s not able to concentrate. Now in this situation, ScrumMaster has almost no expertise or authority to resolve the problem with Payroll department.

Regardless, the ScrumMaster may choose to communicate with respective persons and figure out the alternative ways by which the key team member’s loan installment issue can be resolved. Whenever anything is going wrong with the team members – either directly related with work or otherwise – ScrumMaster has to take the right actions and help the team member to focus on the work the team member has committed.

Obviously there could be more than one way to solve this problem but the bottom line remains the same – The ScrumMaster has to facilitate the team, remove the impediments and help the team focus to carry out the work they have committed.

That’s what effective ScrumMasters choose to do. They do it by presuming the responsibility and causing the right actions. Their ways may vary, though.