Posted in My Scrum Notes, Scrum Roles

New Scrum Master Role Considerations

Learnings from Previous Scrum Master 

To the team

  • What responsibilities did the Scrum Master assume for the team?
  • What was the SM role in Scrum events?
  • How did the SM mentor/ coach/ teach?
  • Are there any recent improvements/ teachings that the SM has been implementing?

To the organisation 

  • What was the SM relationship like with the wider organisation?
  • What were the improvements the SM was heading up across the business? What were the recent successes/ failures?

In a scaled Scrum environment

  • What is the SM relationship with other SMs and teams?
  • Are there any further assumed responsibilities towards other teams?

Relationship with Your Manager

Five Conversations (1, page 93-4)

  1. The situational diagnosis conversation
    1. How did the organisation reach this point?
    2. What factors make this situation a challenge?
    3. What resources within the organisation can you draw on?
  2. The expectations conversation
    1. What does your new boss need you to do in the short term and in the medium term?
    2. What will contitute success?
    3. How will your performance be measured?
  3. The resource conversation 
    1. What do you need to be successful?
    2. What do you need your boss to do?
    3. Not just people/ equipment, but support for change in the organisation
  4. The style conversation 
    1. How you and your new boss can best interact on an ongoing basiss
    2. Medium and how often 
  5. The personal development conversation (a few months into your new role)
    1. How you are doing and what your development priorities should be

What to focus on

Early wins evaluation tool (1, page 129)

Use the resulting score from the below table to compare candidates for early wins.

 Not at allTo a small extentSomewhatTo a significant extentTo a great extent
Does the focal point offer an opportunity to make a substantial improvement in the performance of your unit?01234
Is this improvement achievable in a reasonably short time with available resources?01234
Would success also help lay the foundation for achieving agreed-to-business goals?01234
Will the process used to achieve the win help you make needed changes in behaviour in the organisation?01234


FOGLAMP Project Checklist (1, page 131)

Tool to help you cut through the haze and plan your critical projects

  • FOCUS: What is the focus for this project?
  • OVERSIGHT: How will you oversee this project? Who else should participate to help you get buy-in for implementing results?
  • GOALS: What are the goals and intermediate milestones and time frames for achieving them?
  • LEADERSHIP: What will lead the project? What training, if any, do they need to be successful?
  • ABILITIES: What mix of skills and representation needs to be included? Who needs to be included because of their skills? 
  • MEANS: What additional resources, such a facilitation, does the team need to be successful?
  • PROCESS: Are there change models or structured processes you want the team to use? How will they become familiar with this approach?

Decision Making

Team decision making (1, page 193)

  • If the decision is likely to be highly devisive (creating winners and losers) you need to take the heat
  • If your team are inexperienced as build consensus is unlikely to work and you risk imposing a decision anyway 
  • If you need to establish your authority (do not use once you are established)
Build consensus
  • If the decision requires energetic support for implementation from people whose performance you cannot adequately observe and control

Framing arguments (1, page 214 – 5)

Framing means carefully crafting your persuasive arguments on a person-by-person basis

Logos – data and reasoned argumentsWhat data or analysis might they find persuasive?What logic(s) might appeal to them?Are there biases to which they are falling prey and, if so, how might you demonstrate this?
Ethos – principles, policies, and other ‘rules’Are tehre principles or policies that they could be convinced should operate here?If you are asking them to act counter to a princple or policy, can you help them justify making an exception?
Pathos – emotions and meaningAre there emotional ‘triggers’ for example loyalty or contribution to the common good, to which you could appeal?Can you help them create a sense of meaning by supporting or opposing a cause?If they are reacting too emotionally, can you help them step back and get perspective?


Guidelines for Structures Self-reflection (1, page 223)

On a scale of high to low, do you feel:
  • Excited? If not, why not? What can you do about it?
  • Confident? If not, why not? What can you do about it?
  • In control of your success? If not, why now? What can you do about it?
What has bothered you so far?
  • With whom have you failed to connect? Why?
  • Of the meetings you’ve attended, which has been the most troubling? Why?
  • Of all that you’ve seen or heard, what has disturbed you most? Why?
What has gone well or poorly?
  • Which interactions would you handle differently if you could? Which exceeded your expectations? Why?
  • Which of your decisions have turned out particularly well? Not so well? Why?
  • What missed opportunities do you regret the most? Was a better result blocked primarily by you, or by something beyond your control?

Potentially Dysfunctional Behaviours

Action imperative (1, page 48)
  • when you feel too anxious or too busy to devote time to learning, and feel pressure to ‘do’ 
  • Leads to a death spiral 
  • Don’t learn – make a poor decision and undermine your credibility – alienate people – they don’t share info with you – start the loop again  
Undefended boundaries (1, page 224)
  • Fail to establish what you are willing and not willing to do. People will take whatever you have to give
  • The more you give, the less they will respect you and the more they will ask of you – another vicious cycle
  • If you cannot establish boundaries for yourself, you cannot expect others to do it for you
Brittleness (1, page 224)
  • Rigidity and defensiveness, resulting in overcommiting to failing courses of action
  • Finding it hard to admit you were wrong
Isolation (1, page 224)
  • Not taking time to make the right connections, perhaps overrelying on a few people or on official information
Work avoidance (1, page 224)
  • Choosing to delay work/ decisions by burying yourself in other work or fool yourself into believing that the time isn’t ripe to make the call
  • Avoiding taking the bull by the horns, resulting in the tough problems becoming even tougher
Yerkes-Dodson Law (1, page 227). Image from Wikipedia


  1. The First 90 days by Michael D. Watkins

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