The organisation is planning a roadshow and they ask you, as the scrum master, to contribute to several events. What would your response be?
Welcome to part 42 in our scrum master interview questions series where John McFadyen answers common questions asked of scrum masters in interviews and client engagements.
This is definitely an HR-driven question. Your interviewer is trying to assess how willing and able you are to assist the organization achieve their objectives outside of your primary role as a scrum master.
Truthfully, this sounds awful to me. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than attending roadshows and doing a little scrum rain dance to impress others. I would run as far as I could from that kind of opportunity, but I do understand that you may really want the job and need help in answering this question, so here goes.
Contribute value in alignment with your skills.
As a scrum master, you have great coaching, mentoring, and facilitation skills. I suspect that what you offer is not what they are looking for, but it’s worth offering to help bring your knowledge and capabilities around scrum to help them design, produce, and implement the event.
Instead of parading the team and how they work to a room full of strangers, I would offer to help the events, PR and marketing teams adopt and implement scrum.
I would offer to help the team use empirical process control to develop a hypothesis, design the experiment to prove or disprove that hypothesis, and use the data and evidence they gather through that experiment to inform what they might attempt next.
I would offer to lead them through sprint planning, the daily scrums, the sprint review to assess how effective the work has been, and the sprint retrospective to help them identify areas where they can improve.
I suspect they would prefer me to bring the scrum team onto a stage and host a Q&A around how we work and why that provides us with competitive advantage, but I don’t think that’s a great use of my time nor do I think it is something that the team would opt in for either, so it’s best to stick to the areas where you can contribute value as a scrum master.
Help the events team discover if Scrum is the right answer.
Agile and scrum are great answers to complex questions, but they aren’t the only answer, and they certainly aren’t always the right answer.
If something is simple or straightforward, you don’t need scrum, traditional project management will do the trick nicely and ensure that everyone stays on point for the delivery of the event.
If, however, the team are encountering complexity and want to find ways to create the kind of event or customer experience that truly moves the needle on the metrics that matter, that is definitely something that scrum can assist with.
If scrum is the right answer, I would offer to help lead the team through a series of evolutions with the aim of empowering them to become more autonomous, more capable, and more effective with each iteration.
I would use a blend of teaching, coaching, and facilitating to help them achieve that.
If they have never encountered scrum before, it’s a matter of teaching and demonstrating in the early weeks to help them experience scrum and develop a frame of reference for where and how they can improve in the next sprint.
As they progress, I would switch to more of a consulting and mentoring approach to help them adopt the best practices for their application, and implement the kind of processes and tools that best serve their needs.
From there, I would evolve into a coaching stance to help the team identify the best answers for their application, and challenge them to embrace continuous improvement and evolution. Allowing them to discover the best answers and design processes and systems that best support their work.
Who knows, maybe once the team have achieved a rock-solid style of work using the scrum framework, they would be happy to take to that stage themselves and speak about how scrum and agile have transformed how they work and the results they achieve.
About John McFadyen
For more information on John McFadyen, connect with John on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnmcfadyen/.
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