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Avoidance of Organizational Dysfunction Leads to Scrum Masters' Failure

| by Savita Pahuja Follow 3 Followers on Oct 17, 2014. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

Bob Marshall, coach and tech business specialist, explains the reason of failing of scrum master in most of the organizations in his recent blog as the lack of awareness on the part of adopting scrum and scrum master’s responsibility to tackle organizational dysfunction.

Purpose of scrum is to expose organizational dysfunction. Dysfunction by definition is impaired functioning. That means in organization things aren’t working like leadership, relationships, processes, communication, programs etc.

Patrick Lencioni mentioned in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, avoidance of accountability and lack of clarity of roles and responsibilities are some reason of organizational dysfunction.

Bob says that organizational dysfunction impact the development team. The causes of which generally lie outside its immediate control. He mentions that based on his experience scrum masters and teams don’t focus on tackling the organizational dysfunction. As per Tobias Meyer, agile coach at Yahoo:

Scrum is a framework for surfacing organizational dysfunction.

As per Deborah Hartmann-Preuss, agile coach at Abiggerga:

Scrum highlights organizational dysfunctions and challenges us in uncomfortable ways.

Bob says that scrum master needs to take care of the communication within the scrum team and with outside people. As per scrum guide:

The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.

As the responsibility of the scrum master is to remove the impediments. As per Bob 80% of the impediments impacting the development team originate from outside the team, and resolution of these impediments mostly falls to folks outside the team, managers and senior managers across the organization. Therefore scrum master should take care of those impediments as well.

The absolutely key role for any Scrum Master is to establish and nurture channels from the team outwards into the diaspora of wider management. Nothing else is as important.

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Collaboration is key! by Ben Linders

Addressing impediments can't be done by the Scrum Master alone.

When the causes of the impediment are inside the team, the Scrum Masters and the other team members need to work together to address and solve them.

As Bob mentioned in his blog the causes of impediments are often outside the team. Collaboration with the stakeholders (product owners, line or project managers) and the other team members is essential to get a shared understanding of the causes, come up with solutions, and solve the problems.

Question arises if we can expect Scrum Masters to be able to do this effectively. Do they have the skills and experience that is needed for it. Can give sufficient attention to issues next to any other duties in or outside the team? This is what often worries me!

Re: Collaboration is key! by savita pahuja

yes, Ben you are right. Scrum Master alone can't address the impediments, entire team is responsible for this. Scrum Masters should have enough skills to resolve the impediments whether the cause is inside the team or outside.

Management should try to cultivate this skillset in scrum masters and scrum masters by themselves should work on this. Even Scrum Master should take help from others to resolve the issues. He can get help from product owner , team , higher management.

Key point is we can't park those issues just because we don't have control on those issue. If anything is impacting development work should be addressed and resolved.

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