What on Earth is Scrumming?
Scrumming…what a strange word. Prior to this internship, I had never heard of it. In fact, the first few times the word was tossed around in meetings, I thought people were saying scum. Needless to say, I had to look a few things up and ask some questions.
When I was given the opportunity to help our chief marketing officer on a project, I of course jumped at the opportunity. All I knew at that point was that I would be helping to build a presentation. I quickly came to learn that I would also, if I wanted to, be serving as the Scrum master of a diamond team working in an Agile framework for the project. If you’re like me, those words sound like a different language. Without a second thought, I said sure.
An hour later, I felt a bit of panic. I had no idea what I was doing or what exactly I had agreed to. I knew that there were plenty of people to help answer questions and guide me along the way, but I felt like I needed to take some of this learning into my own hands. I decided to log into Percipio, Skillsoft’s online learning platform, and search for courses on Scrum and Agile. I was able to find a lot of relevant material and started in on it right away. I also met with scrum and agile experts within the company to help me get acclimated and understand what the expectations would be.
For those of you still in the dark and reading this with a great deal of confusion, allow me to elaborate:
- Scrum: a set of practices used in agile project management that emphasize daily communication and the flexible reassessment of plans that are carried out in short, iterative phases of work.
- Agile: a set of organization and workflow patterns intended to guide enterprises in scaling lean and agile practices.
- Diamond team: consists of a scrum master, a product owner, and the development team.
- Scrum master = keeps team organized and moving forward, helps with roadblocks and makes sure goals are being met
- Product owner = in charge or creating and assigning tasks and deadlines
- Development team = completes assigned tasks and updates the rest of the diamond on progress
If you are still curious to learn more, check out this site. This framework originated in data science teams and our marketing team has adapted it to fit our needs. We may alter steps and wording here and there, but the main and pivotal components are still present. Creating an Agile team framework has allowed us to purposefully design our teams and be quick to respond to any and all marketing needs for the company. It makes problem solving quick and easy and also breaks down large projects to be manageable and easy to follow.
As the Scrum master for my team, I do a myriad of tasks to make sure we stay on track and stay focused on our overall goals of the projects. For starters, I schedule the different meetings that are required. This includes daily stand-ups, a sprint review, a sprint retrospective, and a sprint planning session. In these meetings, I help facilitate if necessary and keep the conversations on track while making sure we are focused on goals. The daily stand-ups are fifteen minutes and occur every day. The review is typically an hour and is run by the diamond team in a presentation format for key stakeholders to show what we accomplished and what we plan to accomplish in the next sprint. The planning and retrospective usually take one to two hours. In the retrospective section, we discuss what went well and what could have been done better. In the planning section, we discuss what we want to accomplish in the next sprint and assign tasks to team members with due dates. In addition to scheduling these meetings, I act as the problem-solver for our team and work to make sure everyone is on track for success. In addition to these scrum master tasks, I have been assigned tasks within this project, something that is less typical for a Scrum master but is a challenge I enjoy nonetheless.
In our daily stand ups, it is always nice to see and talk with everyone to check in. I join two diamond team stand-ups daily, so I have double the fun and learning experiences. On Wednesdays, we often share Wednesday Wins, things that we are happy about or have accomplished (personally or professionally) to keep us motivated and share positivity. On Fridays, we often share our weekend plans if time allows. On Mondays, we discuss how our weekends went. These daily discussions not only help to keep us all on track, but also help to bring a sense of normalcy and friendly communication into work despite us all being behind different screens. Even though I have never met anyone on my diamond team in person and may never get the chance to do so, I have relationships with them all and have been able to get to know them through our daily check-ins.
As I write this, my team is nearing the end of our second sprint and we are producing some amazing and pivotal work. I am so excited to see what we continue to produce and to watch how it impacts the company.
For me, the biggest realization I have had from taking on the role of Scrum master has been it never hurts to just try something new. I said yes before I even knew what the role entailed and have learned so much and met so many new people in different parts of the company because of it. I’ve also learned a tremendous amount about the industries we are involved in as a company. This opportunity was one that could not be passed up.