There’s a saying in the US Navy that every sailor is a firefighter. This is because when a ship is threatened by fire, there are few worse places to be than trapped on a ship, miles from land, with no place to go. When this happens, regardless of your title, everyone on the ship becomes one thing and one thing only…a firefighter.
A similar principle could be applied to Scrum teams.
What If There's No Scrum Master?
Scrum teams are comprised of 3 different roles…the Development Team, a Product Owner, and a Scrum Master. The Scrum Guide tells us that the Scrum Master is the team member responsible for keeping the team on track within the context of the Scrum Framework and for helping the entire team perform at their highest potential. This is great if you have a talented Scrum Master who’s always around to help the team. But what happens when that person isn’t around? Maybe she’s taken a vacation, has suddenly come down with the flu, or simply isn’t feeling up to the task? If so, then the responsibility of keeping the team on track must fall to the other members on the team.
In times like these, every team member is a Scrum Master.
Does your team seem to be falling behind your expected velocity? Or, are you in danger of missing your goal for the sprint? If so, then it’s your entire team’s responsibility to pull together to understand why your velocity is less than you expected. Or, to pull together to understand what you can do to accomplish your goal before the end of your sprint.
Is there someone on the team who seems to be struggling this sprint? Or, is there someone who just doesn’t seem to be connecting with the rest of the Scrum team? Then the rest of the team must work together to help that individual find their footing and get back to producing at the level that they’re truly capable of.
It's Everyone's Responsibility
When the sprint is in trouble, it’s everyone’s responsibility to to help right the ship…not just the Scrum Master. Sure, the Scrum Master may be who we think of first as the individual responsible, but if the Scrum Master is unable to right the ship by themselves then she’s not the only one who suffers…the whole team suffers. So if everyone is at risk, then why shouldn’t everyone pitch in to correct the problem?
Great Scrum Master's don't define truly high functioning Scrum teams. Teams in which every member is willing to contribute to the Scrum Master role define truly high functioning Scrum teams. This is because truly great teams know that when times get hard, every team member becomes a Scrum Master.
Are you new to the Scrum Master role and are just trying to find your way? Or, are you an experienced Scrum Master who has your feet wet but now you're ready to take your craft to the next level? Check out my course series, Using the Scrum Framework, to learn how to set yourself apart as a Scrum Master and help your team reach their highest potential.
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