October 16, 2011

Diving deeper into Scrum

In the last two weeks there have been some additional events concerning my current role as a ScrumMaster for a development team. Both events have been trainings which were targeted not only but also for ScrumMasters. The first training was an internal one which was intended for ScrumMasters and Performance Managers (an internal role which is comparable to a coach for employees). This one was just an afternoon and quite relaxed because the trainers partly internal employees and was concentrating more on the psychological side of coaching and mentoring activities.

The second training was the more intensive one. It was lasting for three days and was performed by Boris Gloger who is THE professional Scrum trainer in Europe. He founded his consulting company bor!isgloger to spread Scrum and help organisations in implementing this methodology.

Performing the training with Boris was a refreshing experience. In our company we are already working using Scrum for quite some years. But I always had the feeling that some things did not work very well and that a few problems we experienced were caused by inconsistencies in our implementation of Scrum. Yet I could not name or pinpoint the exact causes. In our training with Boris we gained a lot of new insight into "our" methodology and we realized at least some of the difficulties which we are dealing with on a daily basis. To be fair, I think none of our problems poses a serious threat for any of our running projects. Nevertheless they limit our efficiency and effectivity when dealing with our work and on some occasions we're already hitting the borders of what we're currently capable of.

One of those problems affects me personally. A ScrumMaster should be a ScrumMaster for 100% of the time and within Scrum different roles should not be executed by a single person. Which is what I'm currently doing, I'm ScrumMaster and developer within my team. This makes it hard to stay objective on our work and also causes some more organizational problems.

This does all but smoothen the dillema I've already mentioned last time. In the meantime I received additional compliments for my work as a ScrumMaster for the new team which tells me that I'm doing that job not that bad. But if I really would try to improve my performance as a ScrumMaster it would result in having to give up my software development activity completely and concentrate on the development, guidance and coaching of the team.

Still no answer in sight for me....

October 9, 2011

One month in charge

For one month now I'm in charge of a team as a ScrumMaster. To be fair, it's not really a month because in the first week I've just been passively in the new team while we've been still working on our previous projects. My personal conclusion so far for the past 1 1/2 sprints? I think I'm doing a good job as a ScrumMaster. In the first retrospective which in fact was the first real retrospective for this team in a long time. The critic points could obviously be summarized to a lack of Scrum consequence in this team. At the beginning of "my" sprint I immediately began introducing a lot of the things I've been learning, experiencing and using in the last few years in fully integrated Scrum teams.

I did leave out some (admittedly important) aspects at first intentionally because I think I should guide the team back to Scrum step-by-step avoiding a shocking big-bang approach for the team-members. So for example we skipped the estimation meeting because there were no defined userstories yet and we concentrated on the work which had to be done anyway. For the next sprint I already organized a correct estimation and planning. And I think my approach worked out quite well because in our last retrospective almost all of the previous critique points have been resolved. Even better most of them came back as positive responses.

So, what's coming up in the future? Well, the project will be finished in a few weeks. I still have a sort of special position because I'm no exclusive ScrumMaster but also actively developing on the project. Of course it's not easy to keep the balance between ScrumMaster responsibilities and development tasks but for now it's in a green state. I still don't know in which direction I want to continue because I like doing active development but it's also very interesting having Scrum responsibility for a team. I'm also participating in the offered ScrumMaster trainings (upcoming week there'll be a ScrumMaster certification) and it's fun and interesting but I still don't know whats best for me and also my career development. From the feedback I got from my superiors I'm pretty sure they would appreciate it if I keep the ScrumMaster direction. Have to figure that one out, the sooner the better...

On to the personal stuff. This week the 3rd of four semesters of my masters degree started. Some surprises already awaited us, for example some deadlines which were so far completely untold to us. But not a big problem so far. Nevertheless I have still to finish some courses from the last semester and these examinations are already quite near. Some of my former bachelor degree colleagues also started to study on a masters degree. Their and my study situation are a bit different and furthermore I'm a year ahead with the studies but currently we all have the same feeling that our bachelors degree was something special and it seems we're all just comparing our current classes withAn the one from the bachelors degree. Currently the winner is clear (and for me the picture won't change much anymore I guess) but things could still change for my former colleagues when they have had more time in their semesters. Well... good ol' times... And one final thing, yesterday my old car which was still standing around and waiting for someone interested in buying it, found a buyer and was picked up yesterday. No more new memories with this old buddy anymore... farewell.