Removing Impediments

If as a scrum master you can do only one thing, then make sure it is removing impediments for your team.

Many Scrum Masters have dynamic personalities, they can motivate teams to great success; inspire and support product owners, dev teams and external stakeholders. But if scrum masters cannot remove impediments that are blocking the dev team to achieve their current sprint goal, then —in my view— they are not doing their job.
To be a great scrum master, you need to be a reliable servant leader; you need to be there for your team, if they succeed you succeed. The rest is irrelevant. To do this, your first and most important task is to remove impediments.
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

How do you unblock your team?

First let's take a look at the different types of impediments and how you can address them. The impediments I will be discussing scrum team (includes the dev team, the scrum master and product owner).

Regardless of agency or product company, these issues affect every scrum team. I have grouped them as follows:
  • Team conflict
  • Dependency, and
  • organisational obstacles.

Team conflict

This is the general team building issues. From personality clashes to lack of communication. This has been well documented in Bruce Tuckman's Stages of Group Development, which include the four stages: Forming > Storming > Norming > Performing stages. These issues are very common for scrum teams that work closely together.  If you have not studied this, do so. It will help you get a better understanding of group dynamics and provide you with some very useful insights.

For personality clashes —which include team conflicts— it is best to bring both parties together. Face to face resolution is always best. And this is still the case if your remote workers. However, this is a process. And like any process, it is important you keep working at it. And in time you will improve, you will become more comfortable with the process and more comfortable your team.
One tip during daily stand up is to watch your team. For example, If a team player is vague or too short in their daily stand up report. Then, it is vital for you as the scrum master to use this observation as an indicator that they are distracted.

Dependency on management

There are certain things you and your team can control, and that really is the sprint backlog. As for lack of direction, a lack of vision or lack of relationship building and communication from management, all you can do is escalate. Any of these issues will need to be addressed quickly, especially when you are in a sprint, because it affects your team's reliance on the leadership team to make decisions.

However, scaling scrum to cover a leadership component might be helpful. If your bosses, need some help in this issue. Perhaps consider a scrum of scrums might be the answer.

Scrum of Scrums can be used to help scale the daily stand up meetings when more than one scrum team is involved in a project. It will help leadership teams of each scrum team get alignment. They do this by simply meeting together after their own team scrums have occurred with the aim to collaborate and coordinate their own work with other teams. Simply put, to get alignment and escalate issues accordingly.

Organisational Obstacles

This issue continues on from the previous one. Like I said, there are only certain things that are in your control but if the team is awaiting important decisions to be made that are not getting traction that the scrum master will need to inform the product owner and stakeholders. The scrum master will work with both parties along with the dev ream to find the best way on how to work through this efficiently.

 Next steps

Being a scrum master is a journey, but you have to start somewhere. If you are new to the team or want to try something new, address your job one step at a time. If you start with removing impediments for your team and focus on small incremental improvements. You will be on the way to pave the roads of success smoothly.
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