What is a Scrum Master Cycle?

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We already talked about Scrum itself and its importance for a whole agile process in a team’s productivity. Scrum at Scale has two cycles: ”The What”, which is the Product Owner cycle, and “The How”, which is the Scrum Master cycle.

By that, we will go further into the Scrum Master cycle and what is its objective to help the team’s productivity in any aspect of the process. This process was created by Jeff Sutherland and it is available on scrumatscale.com.

Here is more of what we already wrote about Scrum:

What is the difference between Large at Scale Scrum and Scrum of Scrums?
The importance of Scrum teams to Speed Up Productivity
5 Steps to Execute Scrum Methodology in your Project

Scrum Lifecycle Artifacts: Defining Work Tools

When you have a project which is about to start, the Product Owner meets with stakeholders in order to align expectations and understand the real needs of the customer. From this meeting, the Product Backlog is born, which corresponds to a set of requirements that the project must contemplate.

Once the Product Backlog has been defined, the customer and the Product Owner align which requirements are the highest priority, which has the most value to the customer.

Priority requirements are selected and each of them is transported to the Sprint Backlog so that they are part of the Sprint. At this point, within the Sprint Backlog, the requirements are broken down into smaller parts, the activities.

These three items — Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and Burndown Chart — are the artifacts needed to execute the agile project methodology.

Scrum Master Cycle — the ‘HOW’

The Scrum of Scrums  Master (SoSM) is majorly responsible for controlling impediments that trouble coordination across teams. By that, the SoSM makes events to refine these impediments. The Scrum of Scrums (SoS) identifies those that are ‘ready to be removed, the team determines how best to remove them and when they are ‘done.’

The Scrum of Scrums Master may be one of the team’s Scrum Masters or a person specifically dedicated to this role.

In order to achieve these goals, they must:

  • Work closely with the Chief Product Owner to deliver a potentially releasable product increment at least every Sprint
  • Coordinate the teams’ delivery with the Product Owners Team’s release plans
  • Make impediments, process improvements, and progress visible to the organization
  • Facilitate the prioritization and removal of impediments, paying particular attention to cross-team dependencies

The Scrum of Scrums Master is a true leader who serves the teams and the organization by understanding cross-team dependencies, including that outside of the Scrum of Scrums, and enabling cross-team coordination and communication.

They are accountable for keeping the Chief Product Owner, stakeholders, and larger organization informed by radiating information about product development progress, impediments removal status, and other metrics.

The Scrum of Scrums Master leads by example, in order to mentor others to increase the effectiveness and adoption of Scrum throughout the organization.

In the case where multiple Scrum of Scrums are grouped into a Scrum of Scrum of Scrums, then a Scrum of Scrums Master (SoSoSM) is needed to coordinate from that wider perspective.

The Hub of the Scrum Master Cycle: The Executive Action Team (EAT)

The Executive Action Team (EAT) helps the Scrum Master accountabilities for an entire agile organization. This kind of leadership team creates an agile ecosystem that permits the Reference Model to function optimally, by:

  • implementing the Scrum values
  • assuring that Scrum roles are created and supported
  • Scrum events are held and attended
  • Scrum Artifacts and their associated commitments are generated, made transparent, and updated throughout each Sprint.
  • formulating guidelines and procedures that act as a translation layer between the Reference model and any part of the organization that is not agile.

The Executive Action Team is accountable for removing impediments that cannot be removed by members of the Scrum of Scrums (or wider network).

Therefore, it must be comprised of individuals who are empowered, politically and financially, to remove them.

The function of the Executive Action Team is to coordinate multiple Scrums of Scrums (or wider networks) and to interface with any non-agile parts of the organization. As with any Scrum Team, it needs a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, and a transparent backlog.

EAT Backlog and Responsibilities

The product of the Executive Action Team (EAT) is a invention and a creation of an Agile operating system for the organization. The EAT curates a Product Backlog consisting of initiatives for the ongoing transformation of the organization to achieve the goal of greater business agility. This backlog also includes process improvements that remove impediments and ones that need to be standardized.

The Executive Action Team’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating an agile operating system for the Reference Model as it scales through an organization, including corporate operational rules, procedures, and guidelines to enable agility
  • Ensuring a Product Owner organization is created, funded, and supported
  • Measuring and improving the quality of Scrum in an organization
  • Building capability within an organization for business agility
  • Creating a center for continuous learning for Scrum professionals
  • Supporting the exploration of new ways of working

The function of the Executive Action Team is to see that this backlog is carried out. They may do this themselves or empower another group to do it. As the Executive Action Team is accountable for the quality of Scrum within the organization, the entire Scrum Master organization reports into them.

The Scrum Master organization (Scrum Masters, Scrum of Scrum Masters, and the Executive Action Team) work as a whole to implement the Scrum Master Cycle components. These unique components are:

1) Continuous Improvement and Impediment Removal

In this component,  it is better to remove impediments as quickly as possible. It is urgent to avoid scaling the impediments themselves, and because unresolved impediments may turn down productivity. Therefore, the goals of Continuous Improvement and Impediment Removal are to:

  • identify impediments and reframe them as opportunities to improve
  • ensure transparency and visibility in the organization to effect change
  • maintain an effective environment for prioritizing and removing impediments
  • verify that improvements have positively impacted the team and/or product metrics

2) Cross-Team Coordination

The success of streamlined collaboration needs the creation of some shared product of multiple teams. Therefore, the goals of Cross-Team Coordination are to:

  • sync up similar processes across multiple related teams
  • mitigate cross-team dependencies to ensure they do not become impediments
  • maintain alignment of team norms and guidelines for consistent output

3) Delivery

Since the goal of the Scrum of Scrums is to function as a single unit and release together, how the product is delivered falls under their scope as a group.

The Product Owner Team determines both the content of the release and the optimal time to deliver the increment to customers. Therefore, the goals of Delivery for the Scrum of Scrums are to:

  • deliver a consistent flow of valuable finished products to customers
  • integrate the work of different teams into one seamless product
  • ensure a high-quality customer experience

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