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Essential Qualities of Highly Successful Scrum Masters

Scrum masters are servant leaders and coaches for Agile teams. They help the team in educating and ensuring whether Agile processes are being followed. Scrum Master helps in structuring a high-performing team dynamics, continuous flow, and relentless improvement.Scrum Master role is mainly one of a unique, Agile team member who spends much of his time helping other team members communicate, coordinate, and cooperate, generally he assists the team in meeting their delivery goals.When we talk about Scrum Masters, the basic roles and responsibilities include - being a Scrum Guide and a facilitator. And most importantly, being someone who removes impediments and shields the team from external interferences. Basically, a go-to person if any problem arises during Scrum implementations.Why do we put a Scrum Master in our teams?Scrum Master  is a mentor or a coach who makes sure that all the values, principles and procedures are followed properly. They take care of the team and help in removing impediments. A Scrum Master’s work follows basically the principle of self-organization and he/she also plays a mediator role which results in a balance in the work.The mediator role of a Scrum Master benefits in two ways. On the one hand, they are able to protect the team from an aggressive product owner who might have unrealistic demands. As a result, the team doesn’t fully commit to the work.On the other hand, the Scrum Master protects the team from complacency. This means that he or she is constantly encouraging them to learn better and also produce better results.What’s the added value of a Scrum Master?Scrum Master adds value to the Scrum team in several ways. Beyond the coaching and leadership roles, the Scrum Master plays a significant role in handling the administrative role as well, to check through whether the team has proper equipment and environment to perform their tasks. The Scrum Master also checks if all the requirements are up to the mark for meetings, where the open questions are asked, and deadlines are discussed.A Scrum Master ensures an effective communication among the different members of the project. And the team members share the information and knowledge with the client and make sure to follow a healthy environment and a better workflow.However, what makes you a highly successful Scrum Master? Just performing these basic roles and responsibilities? Of course not!Or If you are an HR hiring a Scrum Master, what would you look for in a highly successful Scrum Master?Let’s have a look at 5 essential qualities of highly successful Scrum Masters:1. A Great CoachScrum Masters are the ones who are most knowledgeable when it comes to the understanding of implementing Scrum Framework. It is very important that this Scrum knowledge flows through all levels within the organization.For the team to implement Scrum successfully., Scrum Masters must have strong coaching skills. They should be able to coach team members and explain the “what” to do, “how” to do, “why” to do within the process implementation. They should always work on the team’s motivation and growth.2. Servant LeaderServant leadership means putting other people before yourself. As the name implies- “Servant Leader”, is about the one who would like to serve. It’s not just about being a positional leader (a leader who leads because of higher position). Rather, it’s about being a servant for the team, helping them grow and assisting them in meeting their goals.You can learn more about “Servant Leadership - How To Put Your People Before Yourself”  in one of the articles by Forbes.3. Great Communicator & CollaboratorA large part of a Scrum Master’s job involves facilitating events and meetings. In order to do that, it’s very important that a Scrum Master is a great communicator as well as a collaborator.The person-Has to be a very good listenerNeeds to understand the project detailsShould be able to collaborate with team membersMust be able to communicate everything with Product OwnerHas to communicate and collaborate with StakeholdersShould be able to summarize everything to upper management, andMust be able to handle communication as well as collaboration in many different aspects of the project.4. Resolves ConflictsWe know that our Scrum teams comprise of different people. It is a cross-functional and self-organizing team. When people from different cultures, ideas, and working styles start collaborating and start working together, it’s very common to have conflicts. That is when a Scrum Master needs to jump in and resolve the conflicts as early as possible to keep the project going and the team working towards a common goal.5. Problem SolverThe basic responsibility of Scrum Master is to remove impediments. However, if the Scrum Masters themselves are problem solvers, this saves a lot of time. Instead of escalating the problem, they are able to solve it themselves.This is one of the most essential quality, a Scrum Master must have.A few more skills to masterWith respect to the above qualities, the Scrum Master should also have the following skills such as:Daily scrum, sprint planning, sprint demo are the responsibilities of a scrum master.Scrum master should be friendly and communicative, because when the team is moving fast in the process, communication is the effective force which holds the team together.A scrum master needs to forecast the numbers of deliverables can be done in iteration.A scrum master should be expert in estimation and planningHelp individual or team to clarify goals and actions in order to achieve them.Ability to ensure the correct use of scrum process.Ability to shield team from outside distractions and interferences.Have a look at the following Infographic for other qualities of Scrum Master:See where you land yourself with these qualities!Over the years, Scrum has found wide applications in cross-sectoral domains. Scrum masters are in high demand, as companies are increasingly looking for ways to get their projects completed and their products launched in a bid to capture a outsize market.According to LinkedIn’s “Most promising jobs of 2017,” job openings (by year over year growth) for Scrum masters is up 104%, and the career advancement score is 8 out of 10.To conclude, a Scrum Master is expected to perform many roles at one time. They should always balance their leadership, management, and technical skills to achieve their goals.
Essential Qualities of Highly Successful Scrum Masters
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Essential Qualities of Highly Successful Scrum Masters

Scrum masters are servant leaders and coaches for Agile teams. They help the team in educating and ensuring whether Agile processes are being followed. Scrum Master helps in structuring a high-performing team dynamics, continuous flow, and relentless improvement.Scrum Master role is mainly one of a unique, Agile team member who spends much of his time helping other team members communicate, coordinate, and cooperate, generally he assists the team in meeting their delivery goals.When we talk about Scrum Masters, the basic roles and responsibilities include - being a Scrum Guide and a facilitator. And most importantly, being someone who removes impediments and shields the team from external interferences. Basically, a go-to person if any problem arises during Scrum implementations.Why do we put a Scrum Master in our teams?Scrum Master  is a mentor or a coach who makes sure that all the values, principles and procedures are followed properly. They take care of the team and help in removing impediments. A Scrum Master’s work follows basically the principle of self-organization and he/she also plays a mediator role which results in a balance in the work.The mediator role of a Scrum Master benefits in two ways. On the one hand, they are able to protect the team from an aggressive product owner who might have unrealistic demands. As a result, the team doesn’t fully commit to the work.On the other hand, the Scrum Master protects the team from complacency. This means that he or she is constantly encouraging them to learn better and also produce better results.What’s the added value of a Scrum Master?Scrum Master adds value to the Scrum team in several ways. Beyond the coaching and leadership roles, the Scrum Master plays a significant role in handling the administrative role as well, to check through whether the team has proper equipment and environment to perform their tasks. The Scrum Master also checks if all the requirements are up to the mark for meetings, where the open questions are asked, and deadlines are discussed.A Scrum Master ensures an effective communication among the different members of the project. And the team members share the information and knowledge with the client and make sure to follow a healthy environment and a better workflow.However, what makes you a highly successful Scrum Master? Just performing these basic roles and responsibilities? Of course not!Or If you are an HR hiring a Scrum Master, what would you look for in a highly successful Scrum Master?Let’s have a look at 5 essential qualities of highly successful Scrum Masters:1. A Great CoachScrum Masters are the ones who are most knowledgeable when it comes to the understanding of implementing Scrum Framework. It is very important that this Scrum knowledge flows through all levels within the organization.For the team to implement Scrum successfully., Scrum Masters must have strong coaching skills. They should be able to coach team members and explain the “what” to do, “how” to do, “why” to do within the process implementation. They should always work on the team’s motivation and growth.2. Servant LeaderServant leadership means putting other people before yourself. As the name implies- “Servant Leader”, is about the one who would like to serve. It’s not just about being a positional leader (a leader who leads because of higher position). Rather, it’s about being a servant for the team, helping them grow and assisting them in meeting their goals.You can learn more about “Servant Leadership - How To Put Your People Before Yourself”  in one of the articles by Forbes.3. Great Communicator & CollaboratorA large part of a Scrum Master’s job involves facilitating events and meetings. In order to do that, it’s very important that a Scrum Master is a great communicator as well as a collaborator.The person-Has to be a very good listenerNeeds to understand the project detailsShould be able to collaborate with team membersMust be able to communicate everything with Product OwnerHas to communicate and collaborate with StakeholdersShould be able to summarize everything to upper management, andMust be able to handle communication as well as collaboration in many different aspects of the project.4. Resolves ConflictsWe know that our Scrum teams comprise of different people. It is a cross-functional and self-organizing team. When people from different cultures, ideas, and working styles start collaborating and start working together, it’s very common to have conflicts. That is when a Scrum Master needs to jump in and resolve the conflicts as early as possible to keep the project going and the team working towards a common goal.5. Problem SolverThe basic responsibility of Scrum Master is to remove impediments. However, if the Scrum Masters themselves are problem solvers, this saves a lot of time. Instead of escalating the problem, they are able to solve it themselves.This is one of the most essential quality, a Scrum Master must have.A few more skills to masterWith respect to the above qualities, the Scrum Master should also have the following skills such as:Daily scrum, sprint planning, sprint demo are the responsibilities of a scrum master.Scrum master should be friendly and communicative, because when the team is moving fast in the process, communication is the effective force which holds the team together.A scrum master needs to forecast the numbers of deliverables can be done in iteration.A scrum master should be expert in estimation and planningHelp individual or team to clarify goals and actions in order to achieve them.Ability to ensure the correct use of scrum process.Ability to shield team from outside distractions and interferences.Have a look at the following Infographic for other qualities of Scrum Master:See where you land yourself with these qualities!Over the years, Scrum has found wide applications in cross-sectoral domains. Scrum masters are in high demand, as companies are increasingly looking for ways to get their projects completed and their products launched in a bid to capture a outsize market.According to LinkedIn’s “Most promising jobs of 2017,” job openings (by year over year growth) for Scrum masters is up 104%, and the career advancement score is 8 out of 10.To conclude, a Scrum Master is expected to perform many roles at one time. They should always balance their leadership, management, and technical skills to achieve their goals.
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Are Soft Skills An Essential Stake In Project Management?

Individuals who interact effectively with other people on a consistent basis have strong soft skills. These skills are not easily quantified, but are nonetheless vital for any ambitious professional to obtain and sharpen. In contrast, those who are technically and functionally talented have time-tested hard skills. Hard skills are quantifiable, with specific metrics considered and evaluated to determine the level of professional performance and ability.Project managers who cultivate both soft and hard skill sets can quickly set themselves apart from the pack. Organizations see individuals with proven soft skills as huge contributors to the overall effectiveness and efficiency of a company's operations. The two types of skills are naturally complimentary in the modern workplace.The most widely-recognized soft skills in the workplace include:CommunicationTeamworkSelf-motivationResponsibilityLeadershipDecisivenessActive listeningEmpathyApplication of Soft Skills to the Four Cycles of Team DeliveryThe delivery cycle of any project is the nitty-gritty. It comprises the daily details each team member has responsibility for to ensure a project runs smoothly.The four cycles of team delivery are as follows:DefinitionDesign and PlanningDeployment and ExecutionClosingDefinition PhaseThe creation and deployment of a project charter are essential to the definition phase of the project process. Project charters define the scope and objectives of the project, and the roles of each team member going forward. As the team creates the project charter, communication and active listening skills are vital. This is to ensure there's a uniform vision for how the project should proceed. This is especially true during the standard kickoff meeting to set the tone for the project.Project managers with great hard skills, but weak soft skills, can derail a project early in the game. Team member input can be missed, or ignored if overall communication and active listening skills are weak or misdirected among leadership. Projects are in trouble from the outset if not properly defined and collectively bought into by all involved. so soft skills are the importance.Hard skills and  Soft skills:Design and Planning PhaseTeam members evaluate the project charter and the work it entails is broken down into smaller, actionable pieces during this phase. The resulting delegation of tasks is the project plan, often visualized in a Gantt chart or something similar. Each team member should have a clear picture of the tasks for which they are responsible, and deadlines set to ensure work is completed in a timely and precise manner.The planning stage requires careful application of soft skills, in particular, teamwork, to ensure communication about the elements of project design is consistent. Given execution of work comes next, it's essential all members of the project team are in agreement about the project plan before moving ahead. Any unresolved disagreements here, or communication gaps, could prove fatal to the success of the project.Deployment and Execution PhaseTeam members complete the lion’s share of the work during the deployment and execution phase. One can rest assured level of risk will fluctuate during this phase, issues will arise, and changes will occur. After all, in the world of project management, change is one of the only constants!Decisiveness is essential among all team members during this phase. Hesitation to make decisions could affect the outcome of the project and this could be a major issue during the execution phase. Given this, all team members must be willing to speak up, be decisive, and call for change or adaptation when necessary to ensure smooth sailing. Leaders (inside and outside of management) naturally emerge during change and issue management, and set the tone for the remainder of the project.Self-motivation is also vital during the execution phase. Individuals have to be able to stay on task and do great work without being motivated by project leaders who are also deep in the trenches of their own project responsibilities. The framework of project management doesn't allow much room for individuals who need constant external motivation.Closing PhaseProject leaders prepare final reporting during the closing phase to carefully wrap things up. Documenting successes and failures is invaluable to future project managers who will work on similar projects. This documentation process provides a great opportunity for learning, but also requires a highly attuned attention to detail to run smoothly, and identify where improvements could have been made and what went well.The last stage for the best outputEnd users must also accept the work completed during the project. End users may outline concerns which need to be addressed, and the responsibility of the project management team is to be empathetic to these and act accordingly. Assuming end users are happy, project deliverables and finalized and passed along to necessary stakeholders, and in some instances to other internal teams involved in project finalization to complete the project.There isn't a project in existence that went exactly according to plan.Project managers who can actively apply essential soft skills within the project framework stand out, and become invaluable to their organizations. It's easy to functionally complete work involved in projects with the proper hard skill set. Empathizing with the concerns of stakeholders, listening to your teammates, communicating when things are rough, and being motivated to get the job done is an entirely different ballgame. Those who are successful at mixing these essential soft skills with hard skills undoubtedly are the project management leaders of the future.ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software with real-time dashboards, online Gantt charts and a collaborative platform for your team. Make sure your team’s next project is the easiest they’ve ever worked on. Try it free with this 30-day trial.
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How To Run Fixed Date Projects In Agile?

I have been lucky to work in different organizations that have taught me different things and made me aware of different points of view. One thing I have learned early in my career is how to “smell” fake fixed dates. Unfortunately, there still are organizations or people in some organizations that believe that by setting deadlines people will be motivated to get work done.These are fake deadlines, without real urgency behind them and without any loss of business or clients. They are dangerous because they create fake rush, get people to work late hours for no good reason, and in the end there is nothing to celebrate for what they did.However, I do believe that there are some legitimate cases when a certain solution is required in place by a fixed date. I have seen these cases and I have seen how Agile teams have been able to deal with them successfully.Some of these examples are Regulatory changes, Event-driven or Promotional and Holidays. Regulatory: These are changes that are forced on a company usually by Government or Market regulations.  Event-driven: These changes are usually driven by Marketing and supported by Sales. They are opportunities to showcase the strength of the brand, enforce market presence and/or domination in events like expos, conferences, partner announcements, marketing announcements, etc.Promotional or Holidays: These changes are usually driven by Sales and supported by Marketing. Think Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or similar depending where you live. These are days that retailers “live for”. I can think of other cases, but they kind of boil down to the need for an area of the organization to have an offer ready by a certain date that is controlled by external factors/organizations. The good thing about these cases is that usually we have a decent amount time on hand to prepare and deliver. During this time, I have found tools and techniques that help you more than some others, and I want to share those with you. Good understanding of the meaning of a fixed dateWhat happens if we miss the date?What happens if we miss the date by a lot/by a little?Do we have to have in place feature A or will B do it?Can we do A manually?Is the deadline for all our clients or just a portion of them?Keep asking from all the points of view. This is a good exercise that Agile teams are used to doing since they constantly split their stories into smaller work. Now bring all that into splitting the work for the deadline into smaller BUT meaningful and valuable pieces.Presenting real-time examplesIn one of the cases, I assisted my team, we were given only five days to deal with a change required by one of the provinces of Canada. Two of those days were taken by speaking with lawyers to clarify all the details of the change requested. After that, the team was able to understand the amount of work and what was the minimum they had to do to satisfy this new regulation. It was done on time.In another case, the Retail company had to decide if what they were asking was possible to be done by mid November. They agreed that if it was not in place by then, there was no value in putting efforts towards it since it will be too late for Christmas promotions.In another case, a product company wanted to present the new features of their 3D software at the most prestigious event of the industry. They decided to be in a good place where the Product Owner knew what wasn’t working or how to get around the features that would be demoed on the expo floor. The goal was to get people excited to have them subscribe and then follow up when the software was ready with the features and high quality experience.So, keep asking, keep slicing and keep finding ways to do the minimum required. Unless, you have all the time you need and in that case, do what is needed with high quality.The image below will perfectly explain how asking questions can help you prioritize.Product Owner and people with all the skills required are available all the time or in very short noticeAlthough we have asked all the questions and we have figured out the smallest piece of work to start with, questions and issues will always come up. Without the Product Owner always present to respond to questions from the team, we end up with wasted time. Same is true for any specialist or any skill required to achieve the deadline. We manufacture Dependencies.If this fixed date is high-priority, then let’s give it the right attention and the right dedication. If many things are high priority, it is usually a smell that prioritization is not well and is probably based on who screams the loudest. This is where we need to make sure that expectations are set and clear, where we understand the priorities of the organization and where people will focus.Coming to dependency management, the following figure can help visualize the ideal ways to manage dependency and streamline your workflow.  Dependency management is done best when we remove dependencies rather than manage them. Take time to identify the dependencies on skills, knowledge, process, sequencing and any other area that affects you. Take time to look at the whole picture and set in place communication channels, core working hours, give heads up with enough time for other areas to prepare for your requests. But one thing that works the best is to have a team that works very closely, possibly co-located and supported with collaboration tools. It would be great if this team is already working together and this request is a new addition to their prioritized backlog.  Otherwise you will lose time with onboarding.Continuous Delivery PipelineWe are not done until we are done. And done means it is accepted all the way to production. There is work to develop the change and then there is work to deploy the change. If your company has a long deployment process with many layers of approvals or documents to complete, then you are shortening the time for development. This adds extra stress to the team that will work on this change and frankly speaking from the Lean Governance point of view, a lot of waste in your system.Often, teams are asked to justify the need for investing in automation and better technology. These are the days when that investment has high returns and pays you back many times over. Continuous Delivery gives teams the advantage of early and often feedback. The earlier you are able to deliver out a solution the faster you learn about what risks you have to deal with when the changes are in the hands of the customers.There are many ways to leverage early deployments when Continuous Delivery Pipeline is in place. You will be able to deliver a small portion of the change (often you hear MVP but I prefer Learning Release), you will be able to test with a small number of customers or for a specific geolocation of your customers.Like this, you reduce the risk of releasing a valuable solution on the requested fixed date. No need to work extra hours or late at night.   !! DO NOT !!Hire more people and make a bigger team.Big teams move slow. Also, onboarding new people on the team is down time for specialists as well because they will do the training. For changes that have a short time to deal with a fixed date, adding people on the team will only slow you down and create more confusion.Cut cornersUnfortunately, I often see the practice of “get it off my plate”, where a team just patches together a quick fix and then sends it over to production to call it success. Although everyone knows that this change was not done right, we never give time for teams to go back and do it right.So if you can, do it right from the beginning or make sure the team does not start working on something else until they refactor the solution. This will allow you to make future changes easier and faster, even if the future changes are urgent and have a fixed date.Stop asking “Why?”On everything we do, we need to continue asking “Why” and challenge better ways of working. Just because this is how things are done now, it doesn’t need to be how we have to keep doing it in the future. The spirit of Agile is continuous improvement and that is where we keep learning and getting better. Asking “why” is where we get out of our comfort zone and become creative with the solutions for our customers.
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How To Run Fixed Date Projects In Agile?

I have been lucky to work in different organizatio... Read More