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How To Build A Self-Organizing Team As A Scrum Master

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Last updated on
19th Apr, 2021
11th Jan, 2018
How To Build A Self-Organizing Team As A Scrum Master

The key element of implementing Scrum successfully in an Agile-oriented business is the self-organized team; however, it leads to a misconception that every team member will be loose cannon, working without the ownership and directions for the assigned task; which is just opposite to the actual experience because the self-organized team members work together under the agreed framework of norms, guidelines, and expectations to achieve iteration goal. Most Agile-Scrum organizations emphasize on building the self-organizing team - why? 

The 4 Key Benefits of Scrum Self-Organizing Team: 

 “Individuals in an empowered organization have the knowledge, skill, desire and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads towards collective success" (Stephen R. Covey, Principle-centered Leadership). The 4 key benefits that drive the experienced Scrum Master to build the self-organizing team are: 

  1. Motivation improves the performance of the Scrum team
  2. Innovative & creative environment is conducive to everyone’s growth
  3. Everyone learns from the failures and successes to perform the best with self-optimization
  4. Improves ownership because each member feels more responsible for the sprint result

Roadmap to Build a Self-organizing team as a Scrum Master: 

Who is responsible for building the self-organizing team? Definitely, Scrum Master is primarily responsible for building a self-organizing team ensuring the cohesive working environment for all the team members. Like the job itself, building Scrum self-organizing team is also a complex challenge for the Scrum Masters. The complete task can be simplified by dividing it into three steps:  

Step 1. Training: 

The problems can’t be solved with same level thoughts that create them; and, we need the motivated trained minds with a zeal to solve the particular problems. Each Scrum team member is expected to have the best level skill set; therefore, Scrum Master must provide classroom or on-the-site task-specific training to individuals. Often, the efficient Scrum masters tend to lead to problem-solving; but instead of solving the problems yourself, it is better to let the trained team members do it. In parallel, behavioural - communication training must be planned to shorten the training period. 

Certified Scrum Masters have mostly proved their potential in building such trained teams. 

Step 2. Coaching: 

Scrum Master must behave as a coach to guide the team members for solving the problems. Some team members may require more guidance at the start but analytical support trains them to crack the nut on their own. After proper Scrum training and coaching, you will experience the team heading for self-organizing but the task is not completed yet. Scrum Master is expected to observe the team members to make further improvements in identified areas. 

Step 3. Mentoring:

Keeping your team self-organizing is also a challenge because changing the traditional work habits is not so easy. The challenge can be easily managed by behaving like a mentor who helps the team members to perform at the next level. As per Scrum guidelines, the most efficient and capable Scrum team member to solve a specific problem is the one who needs to solve it. The mantra of building a successful Scrum self-organizing team is – “Self-organizing team need task oriented coaching & personalized mentoring not the “command & control”.

Conclusion with 7 Tips for the Scrum Masters to Build Self-Organizing Team: 

It takes time to make the people willing to take bigger responsibilities. I always say to Scrum self-organizing team members that they should take initiatives on their own instead of waiting for others to take action for problem-solving. This approach of Scrum self-organizing team speeds up the development besides providing more time for the Scrum Master to focus on other important issues. To conclude, I summarize the 7 points to help you build efficient and successful Scrum self-organizing teams:   

  1. To touch the extremes of your career as an efficient Scrum Master be honest in “Know your stuff & learn that you don’t” approach. 
  2.  Assert the influence but without taking over. Suggest new ideas to address impediments; and, authorize the team members to manage the problem in their own way. 
  3. Ask complex questions to motivate the members to come up with innovative concepts
  4. Support the team members to take actions 
  5. Use safe-to-fail tests to let the team members imply learned skills
  6. Be available for the team members to let them work in a flow 
  7. Be a practical hardliner because your Scrum team needs it

Shubhranshu Agarwal

Freelance content writer

Shubhranshu Agarwal is a technical writer with special interest in business management and project management subjects. Over the 15 years of freelance content writing, he has written a lot to help the industries, businesses and project managers to achieve the sustainable growth by implementing strategic critical management methodologies.