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Bob Hartman has spent 30+ years in software development. His logic-based approach to development and quality was honed early in his career when he obtained Bachelors and Masters degrees in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Over the past 10 years he has grown from being an early adopter of agile to his current status as a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) and Certified Scrum Coach (CSC). He also remembers the pain of long waterfall development cycles and understands the human and business interactions necessary to achieve success regardless of development methodology. Bob is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 22 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

The Funniest ScrumMasters I've Ever Met

12.30.2012
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Have you ever had one of those days when you wondered if your ScrumMaster was on crack? Or maybe you’re the ScrumMaster and the you wonder why you are doing what you’re doing! I think we’ve all been there, so this post is for when you are having one of those days. A little bit of humor to brighten things up (while also being somewhat serious at the same time).

Bill Engvall is one of my favorite comedians. The guy just cracks me up every time I watch or listen to him. His most famous line is “Here’s your sign.” So here are a few “sign” stories for you to ponder.

[Imagine Bill Engvall voice]

So the other day I was watching a Daily Scrum meeting at the office and this ScrumMaster was doing something I’ve never seen before. He was asking and answering questions like he owned the place! I may be a bit slow now that I’m getting older, but even I know the ScrumMaster is supposed to make sure this meeting allows the team members to talk to each other and not to others. So, like an idiot, I asked him about it. He said… get this… he said… “If I don’t do the talking, no one will!” Well, Mr. ScrumMaster, here’s your sign!

[still in Bill Engvall voice]

That reminds me of another ScrumMaster I met once under unusual circumstances. I was answering a question from a team member when out of nowhere this ScrumMaster comes up behind me. She had that look that seems to say “You’re a dead man.” You know that look. Right, THAT look. The look your mom or a teacher gave to you when you were disappointing them terrible. Anyway, she gives me that look and I wonder what her problem is. I’m just minding my own business, and besides, it was her team member that asked me the question! It CAN’T be me, right? Welllllll… I’ll never learn my lesson around ScrumMasters, so I asked her what her problem was. Turns out she didn’t think I had a problem, she thought I WAS the problem! According to her, as a stakeholder I should never speak directly to a team member. That’s reserved for her and the Product Owner only. So, Ms. ScrumMaster, for ignoring the agile value of “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” as well as the principle of “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.” well, all I can say is, here’s your sign!

Finally, one more quick story before I go. The funniest, well, ok, maybe not funniest, but you can decide that in a minute. Anyway, the funniest ScrumMaster ever was the one that told me the team was committed to getting 40 story points done within their sprint. I asked why the team felt that was possible since they had never exceeded 25 points in any previous sprint. The ScrumMaster response was classic: “We calculated the velocity we need to finish all the features before the release date and we need to get 40 points done per sprint, so that’s our new commitment.” I asked what they would do if they fell short in a sprint and the response was those points would carry over to the next sprint and increase the commitment. A couple of sprints later I was in that area of the building again and asked the ScrumMaster how the team was doing. He said their new commitment was 84 points. I looked at the release burn-up chart on the wall behind him and saw that a whopping 27 points was their new high for any sprint. Then I turned and said here’s your sign!

[End Bill Engvall voice]

Ok, so I don’t write as well as Bill Engvall does his routine. I hope you at least see some humor in the stories.  ScrumMasters, please remember that being a ScrumMaster isn’t about YOU getting results. Your role is to help enable the team to be great, while also helping them understand reality.

If you need help figuring out how to be a good ScrumMaster or you have a ScrumMaster who needs help, get signed up for Certified ScrumMaster Training. It will make a big difference in how well the team performs!

Until next time I’ll be Making Agile a Reality® by helping ScrumMasters recognize when they are about to get a sign – and stopping themselves in time!

Since it is that time of year, I hope everyone has a wonderful and prosperous 2012!

Published at DZone with permission of Bob Hartman, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)