‘Scrum’ and ‘agile’ have become fairly ubiquitous terms in business today, and there are a few good reasons why. Mention a ‘sprint’ or ‘daily stand-up’ and most people know what you’re talking about. With COVID-19 thrown into the works, these terms quickly became the lifeblood of most corporate teams.
The question is – are most companies following agile and scrum methodology, or have they cherry-picked a few ideas and run with it? If they’re ditching some aspects in favour of others, is their customisation of the concept yielding the same result?
What is agile?
First, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the agile way of work. Okay, a quick rundown. Agile is an iterative approach to project management and software development that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer headaches.
Agile teams do sprints instead of an entire marathon, often with a better outcome. Instead of a big prize at the end of the race, an agile team delivers work in small, but consumable, increments.
This means that plans, tasks and results are evaluated continuously – usually on a daily basis – so teams have the ability and opportunity to change quickly. Everyone knows what the next team player is doing, what their own role is and can share any blockers.
What is scrum?
As defined in the Scrum Guide, scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organisations use adaptive solutions for complex problems to create value.
Much like a rugby game, where scrums abound, scrum is comparable to training for the big game. Scrum encourages teams to:
- Learn through experiences
- Self-organise while working on a problem
- Reflect on their wins and losses to continuously improve.
Originally used by software development teams, the principles and lessons of scrum can be, and have been, applied to all kinds of teamwork. Scrum is a team effort that has a clearly defined set of roles and rituals that should be followed within time-boxed iterations called sprints.
In a nutshell, scrum is structured to help teams naturally adapt to changing conditions and user requirements. Reprioritisation is built into the scrum process in short release cycles, giving the team the opportunity to constantly learn and improve.
What’s a scrum master?
The scrum master works with each member of the scrum team to guide and coach the team through the scrum framework. Scrum masters are the facilitators of scrum and act as coaches to the rest of the scrum team.
The scrum master is defined as a servant leader in the Scrum Guide and their main goal is remaining committed to the scrum foundation and values, while remaining flexible and open to opportunities for the team to improve their workflow.
The role of a scrum master
The scrum master serves the team in several ways, including:
- Coaching the team members in self-management and cross-functionality
- Helping the team focus on creating high-value increments that meet the Definition of Done (an agreed-upon set of items to be done before a project is considered complete)
- Removing deterrents to the scrum team’s progress
- Ensuring that all scrum events take place as planned, and adjusting accordingly
- Keeping all tasks positive, productive, and within the allotted time limit.
So, if your organisation is practicing something custom, not scrum “by the book,” it will affect the role of a scrum master, which is mainly to coach and help their team understand scrum and implement it correctly for “best” results. The question, as mentioned earlier, is where does the scrum master fit into the ever-evolving, not-by-the-book agile world?
Today, many agile teams combine practices from a few different agile frameworks, spiced up with practices unique to the team. While some teams adopt a few agile rituals – including regular stand-ups, retro and backlogs – while others created their new agile practice to suit their specific requirements for the task at hand.
Scrum may be structured, but it isn’t entirely rigid. Its execution can be tailored to the needs of any organisation, making the role of the scrum master that much more interesting.
Master the scrum
Keen on becoming a master of scrum? Get in touch with Torque IT today for access to courses that will get you ahead in the competitive and ever-advancing workplace with future fit skills.