What usually trips Scrum Masters up?

Navigating the Pitfalls of a Scrum Master’s Journey

I had a chuckle today as I was reflecting on my early days as a Scrum Master, and to say my journey has been a bumpy ride would be true. I chuckled at the memory of a developer who took delight in tripping me up (literally, at times!).

But this slapstick office foolery got me thinking about the serious question of what usually trips up Scrum Masters.

There’s a real stumbling block that often trips Scrum Masters up in their professional journey. Although it’s way more subtle than slapstick comedy, it’s the tricky business of compromise.

Dance with Compromise

Compromise is part of our role as Scrum Masters, a term that comes up quite frequently in Scrum. As Scrum Masters, we must learn how to make compromises effectively.

Sure, we understand that, after all, we won’t win all the battles the first time around, and we’re often going to have to accept things as they are, things that are beyond our ability to change. And that’s perfectly okay.

But here’s the catch and where things can get tricky and what I call navigating the compromise conundrum. ⏰

You have to remember that this is not what you wanted. It’s not the ideal thing for the team. This is the point where Scrum Masters often trip up.

Perils of Compromising 🚧🔍

As I mentioned, compromise often trips up Scrum Masters repeatedly. I’ve seen Scrum Masters who’ve forgotten why they made certain compromises. These compromises become part of their processes, part of the DNA of their team, and they’ve forgotten why and suddenly we’re “doing things that don’t make sense”. 🤔

Why? Because we’ve made that compromise and it’s become ingrained in our working methods.

In this scenario, “they’re doing things that don’t make sense” because the compromise has become ingrained.

When the original reason for the compromise no longer exists, perhaps due to an organisational shift or a manager moving on, they’re left following a path that no longer serves them or the team.

Remembering Your “Why”

Now, you might wonder how we can prevent ourselves from falling into this trap and avoid the compromise pitfall.

One way is to have what I think of as an “expiry date” or a “use by” date for each compromise. Yes, accept the compromise for a set period, say three months. At the end of that period, reassess the situation.

Ask yourself, is this still the best thing we can be doing? Could we reopen that conversation? Could we make that change? 🔄

Reevaluating Compromises

In the early days of adopting Agile and Scrum, you’ll likely have to make a lot of compromises to get things working and to show the benefits of this new way of working.

Over time, you’ll win those battles individually, but only if you stay tenacious and return to those compromises.

Always be respectful, and always be accepting of the reality. But when the time comes again, be ready to start a conversation, always serving your team and your organisation.

Remember, there must always be a constant reevaluation of compromise and there’s power in persistence and respect.  ✔️

Keep Check of Your Compromises

So, if there’s one thing to watch out for in your role as a Scrum Master, it’s this: What compromises have you made in the past that may not serve your team today? 📝

Revisit those compromises, reassess them, and decide whether to have those conversations. 🎓

Remember, our primary aim as Scrum Masters is always to help people improve their jobs. And part of that involves navigating and managing compromises skillfully.

Take Your Scrum Mastery to the Next Level

Enjoyed this article?

Looking to deepen your understanding of Agile and Scrum?

Check out my Agile and Scrum courses, where I delve deeper into these subjects and equip you with the tools and insights you need to excel in your role. 🚀 🎓

Remember, as Scrum Masters, we are in the service business, which sometimes means navigating the murky waters of compromise.

Keep reevaluating, reassessing, and striving to move your team closer to what ‘great’ looks like for them.

Stay connected for more insights into Agile, Scrum, and all things related to mastering this dynamic field!

author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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