A few years ago, people used to wait for days and months to communicate with others who were living far away. Their primary mode of communication was sending letters, postcards, telegram etc. Now it’s a significant part of history. Something disruptive happened that transformed the way we all communicate, disrupting the entire postal industry; that is Email. The world transformed from handwritten letters to typewriter and computer; telephone to smartphones; traditional hosted service to Cloud computing and many more, which has forever changed the way we work and communicate. These are some instances of disruptive technology; that is groundbreaking and shakes up all industries.

The world is being disrupted as we speak, where Cloud, DevOps, AI & ML have been frequently talked about and we wish to be aware of this growing technology. There is a need to challenge ourselves to change and adapt to this world. Adapting to these disruptive technologies requires us to be Agile at an individual and organizational level and we need to use the Agile methodology to help us adapt to the changes.

Scrum masters

Let’s see the first part of the topic i.e. Scrum master. Who is a Scrum Master? In fact, what is a Scrum?

In childhood days most of us have playfully constructed some structure, be it from polystyrene (Thermocol), sand or stones. Let’s revisit it.

A group of children is provided with blocks to construct a building. They randomly start putting blocks on their own and eventually fail to construct it. A teacher guides them to evaluate what went wrong and find why they failed. This time the children get a plan for constructing it and start piling blocks accordingly. Suddenly blocks fall again. They analyze what went wrong, and the teacher guides them to have a plan and evaluate steps often to see how good they are now and if needed refine further steps to accomplish it. They finally succeed in constructing a building from blocks.

Here we can realize there is a small iterative process of planning, refining, analyzing work towards the progress of accomplishment, review, and retrospect. This simple process is Scrum and the teacher who guided for accomplishing this is the Scrum Master. Let’s brief it.

Scrum is a framework for effective team collaboration and address complex products productively and creatively delivering the highest possible value.

It consists of

  • Values – Courage, Focus, Commitment, Respect and Openness;
  • Events – Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective
  • Artifacts – Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Increment

A Scrum Master is responsible for promoting & supporting Scrum, coaching the development team in self – organizing and cross-functionality, removing impediments and helping development team to create a high valued product.

Continuing to use blocks for building showed drawbacks to construct complex and stable structures. This led to disruption and Lego came into market stating it has more stability, durability and that it can help you build more complex structures.

Take two

Adapting to the market, the group of children are given Lego bricks to construct a building.

This scenario brings up a few questions.

  • Will this change the role of a teacher?
  • What can the teacher do to help the kids build more complex structures successfully?

These questions are no different for a Scrum Master in our disruptive technology world.

It is indeed a challenge for a Scrum Master to drive a development team towards innovation and product delivery with market standards considering the challenges in a disruptive technology world. But being Agile will help to overcome it, as Agile is the ability to create and respond to disruption.

How to do that?

We need to disrupt ourselves and get out of our comfort zone. Broaden awareness about the problems and the need to change, collaborate with customers to know their need & vision and guide team to understand and respond to it.

Facilitate products to be disruptive by having a backlog for innovation, improvements and disruption, develop disruptive mindsets and ensure strategies disruptively evolve.

Few ways to do this are: by sharing knowledge and conducting brainstorming sessions & discussions, getting expert consultation, research and explore for better views, Retrospection and challenging current process & way of work, channelizing the implementation by collaborating with customers.

Scrum being a framework doesn’t depend on technologies and is adaptable to any disruptive technology pertaining the agile values. This corresponds to Scrum Master roles and responsibilities.

Knowing change is the only constant and challenges everything to be better than what they were, makes it vivid that we should leverage and enhance our skills, knowledge, product and way of work. And this helps to handle any critical situation.

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