I Was Tricked Into Becoming A Scrum Master
Becoming a Scrum Master wasn’t the plan
So there I was, just doing my job
With a small band of trusty software testers to lead, I had almost convinced myself I’d arrived where I should stay. I tried not to look for opportunities, keeping my head down like a good little worker bee.
After our daily Scrum meetings, us testers banded together to talk through whatever came up that day. Then it was time to coordinate with the rest of the team.
My main task every day seemed to be making sure people talked with each other and, more importantly, that something useful came out of all that talking.
As I became more involved with processes and team dynamics, the time left over for hands-on test work grew more sparse.
Oddly, that didn’t frustrate me the way I thought it ought to.
People are interesting
I’m not a grumpy misanthrope but I am shy by nature. It took a while to work up enough confidence to create meaningful connections that first time.
When I did, I found I liked discussing and problem-solving with everyone. There was satisfaction in finding the dangling threads in the project and helping the team link them together.
Our then Scrum Master was a very busy person and in great demand to kick-start new projects and establish other teams.
There were a few occasions when he asked me to cover the some of the sprint meetings. I don’t think he ever explicitly asked me to make sure we followed up to resolve issues but I did anyway because what’s an Agile meeting if blockers aren’t raised and tackled?
Babysitting the project
A few became numerous occasions.
I was still answerable to our Scrum Master although he became more and more detached.
Eventually there came a time when he no longer intimately knew the backlog. He pulled me aside every now and again to check how the team was doing or ask how much work we had in progress.
That was about it.
You’ve twigged what he was doing, haven’t you?
Obviously I made a tonne of mistakes.
An encouraging mentor, he never gave me an earful for those mistakes. Instead, he urged me to tweak, turn and twist our headaches so I could look at them from a different angle and try again.
He did step in if he absolutely needed to but mostly he left me to do what I felt was best.
I learned and I learned.
It was lucky I had already built up that healthy rapport with the team, too. They were instrumental in subtly guiding me when I was lost, generously throwing themselves into my madcap experiments and reining me in when I was about to do something really daft.
How other people see you may not be how you see yourself
By the time I was formally offered the Scrum Master role, you’d think I ought to have cottoned on to what had been happening all this time.
But I was so bewildered that I tried to turn down the post.
My fellow team members had been supportive while I was “babysitting” the project but I felt it would be presumptuous to step into the Scrum Master’s boots for real.
Fortunately, the team didn’t see it that way. They didn’t even blink.
They had all witnessed me flounder and flourish.
They had seen me bumble, seen me fail and watched me improve.
Sometimes they had even seen me succeed.
Without being given another chance to say “no” I had been tricked into becoming the de facto Scrum Master. The team had a project to deliver. There were pressing issues that needed unblocking. There was a demo looming in the calendar and…
I felt cornered.
But only for a day or so.
Then I got on with the job.