The last link in the nerves chain

If you are in a group or environment where, for whatever reason, the nerves spread, the best thing you can do is to become the last link in that chain.

Transmit security or calm is not easy but, if you somehow lead teams, it is your best option. In my opinion, it should be the only acceptable one.

Never continue the spiral. Do not transmit your nervousness to someone to force others to solve what presses you.

Better transmit the importance of the facts and facilitate the resolution or search for solutions. Help others, if they can really help you to get over it, to work on ways to improve things instead of putting a backpack of pressure on them. That would make it harder for them to move clearly. If it is not something that is in their hand to resolve, you should directly manage that anxiety by yourself.

If in one way or another you lead or manage a team make your best effort to be the one who breaks the chain. “They put pressure on me” or “they hurry me up” is a childish response; As they beat me in the yard, I beat you.

Do not get carried away, stop a moment, breathe, be objective and seek collaboration. Is not the simplest at all but differentiates who leads who simply rule.

It is not about the Scrum Master’s success

The Scrum Master doesn’t have teams in the path through the ones he will succeed. The teams find a Scrum Master in the path that will be able to provide value that will help them succeed.

Sure we need to do it well and be the best Scrum Master we can be. But not for the sake of our own success, but for the sake of doing the teams succeed. Don’t focus on what you are doing good and communicating it to the world so loudly that you forget that you are there to serve.

As was said by Albert Einstein:

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.

More people should understand the tech side of everything

When you tell someone how a creative, unpredictable and intricate thing it is to create software, do they usually get it? I’d guess that usually no.

Sometimes maybe you get some “OKs”, a few “Ahas” and other times maybe a few “I don’t think so”. But at the end, most of the people who haven’t been in direct contact with this process at deep level, not necessarily coding, don’t have a clue of how a complex topic it is and the amount of variants that it has.

As Carl Sagan said:

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.

Could be that a good idea, before talking to non believers on Agile methodologies about why Agile is a better approach, make them understand how complex the process it is and why. Then, when they have understood the whole real problem, you could be able to talk about what we try to do to deal with all this complexity.

Be an action Scrum Master

Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.
— Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt gave a scheduled speech for 90 minutes after being shot in the chest during a political campaign. He carried the bullet in his chest for the rest of his life. But no, my idea is not to talk about politics but about action.

We probably don’t need to go as far as Roosevelt had to go, but there is something we can learn from that: be an action person. Probably nobody would remember that speech if he wouldn’t have done this.

As Scrum Masters, we need to be also action people.

Don’t let me be misunderstood. I know that I write about letting the team solve some problems, about philosophy and getting to know people but don’t think that then, for me, being a Scrum Master is just talking and walking around making people feel well. That is very naive.

Let your actions and not just your words talk about your job.

Actively work on the things, be involved. Get you hands dirty. Work on the trenches. Call it however you want but please don’t think that you don’t need to actually go and actually do stuff.

Never understand that having real uncomfortable conversations inside the organisation is not your job when it is being an impediment for your team.  Sit with the team and work with them on whatever you can automate to make all their work smoother – This doesn’t mean that you have to be coding- . Investigate and come back with solutions. Have action plans and execute them. Don’t just navigate from one retro to the next one and expect that people will trust you and whatever you say that should be done.

Work hard on what you have to do. The concept itself is easy to explain: Do your job. And your actions and the impact in the teams will talk about you. Then don’t fight to get the credit, you shouldn’t and you will probably won’t even need it. Even if some people don’t understand it.

Helping the team is not doing everything for the team

The Scrum Master must exercise servant leadership for his team, but beware of misunderstanding what it is to serve a team.

Our job is to get a team of people who are increasingly able to solve their problems, not to solve them all and create a group that depends on us for everything.

The point is that, especially in the early phases of the team, perhaps their perspective does not allow them to identify many of the improvements they need. To the teams at the beginning the trees do not let them see the forest or the other way around.

I believe that the good leader is in charge of providing the environment, the tools and conditions for the team to grow. Direct intervention, especially with teams with a minimum of maturity, should be only done when there is no other remedy or the consequences of not doing so can be serious. This implies not only patience and coaching with the team itself but also managing the nerves and doubts of other members of the organisation. That is clearly a space that we must win for the team.

Sometimes the solution may be one they do not dare to apply, for example, out of fear of the company’s reaction. The Scrum Master will have to assess if it is time to act for them or pave the way for them to do it alone.

Perhaps it is not clear how to solve their internal communication problems. Decide if you should tell them and explain how to solve it or it is better to provide them with tools to know how to deal with them both now and in the future.

My approach is to encourage them to grow in responsibility as they have already controlled others. But this must always be destined to take a step towards independence. He never made his dependence on you.

Always think about the team of the future. How can it become? What needs to change so that they can become it?

It is also not responsible to just ask questions and do nothing for them. You have to be able to understand the moment in which each team and each individual is and, depending on this, accompany them in the process but not do it for them.

What you have to keep in mind is that everything you can help them solve for themselves is a new focus that you can work outside the team to make their area and their confidence even bigger.