Why You Should Grow Your Own Scrum Masters Instead of Bringing in Outside Scrum Masters

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Bottom line: If you really want to bring in an outside Scrum Master Coach for three months, by shortening the engagement by one week, you can pay for three of your Scrum Masters to be in the Coaching Academy for Scrum Masters and Agile Team Coaches.

When adopting Scrum it is critical to have Scrum Masters who both understand Scrum and who understand your company’s culture and products/services. The two common approaches of bringing in outside Scrum Masters to coach, or having your own Scrum Master learn on their own are expensive and ineffective, respectively. 

There is a third option, however. This is to provide your own people with an effective support system so that they can guide improvements on their own or with just a little guidance from an outside consultant. This approach has the advantage of you investing in your own people – something guaranteed to be worthwhile. But is it really possible? Yes. Let’s look at why.

What is the difference between an effective Scrum Master and one who just has 2-days training under their belt. The first is obviously experience. The second is confidence.  Let’s look at each of these.

What is experience?

Experience is a word that hides the reality of what it means. It sounds like they’ve been doing it for a long time so know more. But many people have 20 years of the same experience. While in the physical world this may be useful (“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” – Bruce Lee) in the knowledge world it is quite different. People don’t get better just be doing the same thing in the knowledge world, they get better by learning as they go.

This learning includes:

  • how they perceive the world and its challenges
  • the size of their toolbox they can access when they have challenges
    • both what they can try
    • what works best when

Proper perception is what is most difficult to achieve. People are somewhat attached to their belief sytems. Looking at new things and ignoring comfortable ones is difficult. This is where the second aspect of effective comes in: confidence.

Instilling confidence

Confidence can be instilled in one of several ways.

  1. Have a coach provide assistance
  2. Spend a lot of time making decisions and seeing what works
  3. Be provided a support system

The first approach is expensive. And it has the additional disadvantage of often having the Scrum Master who is being supported not making decisions on their own, which is the best way to learn.  This may also lead to a dependency on the coach. The second approach takes a long time. And people may not overcome making mistakes and then becoming dogmatic about following Scrum. The third approach is not only less expensive but also guaranteed to lead to an improvement in the Scrum Masters being provided a support system. While it may take longer to not have someone by their side, it is more likely to lead to improvement.  The key is the support system:

Provide experience, instill confidence

By focusing on providing experience and instilling confidence in your own staff your investment will be guaranteed to be worthwhile.  If you feel you must bring in a coach, bring them in one or two days later and use the money saved to put one of your own staff in the  Coaching Academy for Scrum Masters and Agile Team Coaches