Author: Alexey Krivitsky
Following my article on What ScrumMasters Really Do? I've decided to describe a day in a life of a ScrumMaster - one of my Mondays - to give a very practical yet real example of those kind of things ScrumMasters on large organizations are engaged.
I have been asked many-many times if a ScrumMaster / Agile Coach is a full-time job. Instead of answering that I'd like to show what I typically do within my working days. Not to mention, that this article was heavily inspired by the series of Joakim Sundén from Spotify.
To give you the context:
This post describes me working as a ScrumMaster (the official title is 'Agile Project Manager' but it is just another name) in a large product development organization.
I work with two mobile teams (have I worked with web teams my activities would be more or less the same) and play a role of a ScrumMaster for them. Besides of the team involvement I'm engaged in (or should I rather say "I'm engaging myself with") company-wide organizational topics, building up coaching community of practice, change processes, a bit of in-house trainings and stuff like this.
One of my Mondays (quite a busy one)
Arriving to the office. Well, I'm a late-comer comparing to some other folks (we have quite flexible office hours). But what matters is that you do what you need to do.
A cup of coffee (OK, two). Reading my recent mails. Most of them I've already read either on the week-ends (yes, I know...) or on the way to the office in the train.
Just for a record: per day I receive around 30-60 per day (excluding Jira and Confluence notifications), I send out 15-20 mails a day. Isn't it too many?
9:45 - 10:00
On Mondays we have an all-mobile stand-up. We are around 40 people (6 teams) so it has become necessary to keep everyone informed of our mobile family's news, changes, big wins.
This is not too be confused with a Scrum of Scrum or a kinda of scaled Daily Scrum. No. Our meeting serves a complete different purpose. It is not project/product focused. It is community
We have a company-wide meeting on Fridays, that lasts for 30-60 minutes (depending on the content) where our board of directors share the company-wide news (like we acquired someone, released a new product to the market, started a TV campaign, or just made a good week in terms of member growth).
So we decided to do a similar (but much simpler and shorter format) just inside our part of the company - the mobile teams.
So weekly we share with each other:
- [per a team] the biggest achievements of previous week (like epics, features finished)
- [per a team] the biggest hopes for the current week
- [per a platform] release statuses of the apps
- [per a platform] interesting numbers from the analytics on app usage
- hiring news - yes we hire!
- news from other teams and departments that affect us, other company-wide news
- invitations and reminders for important events of the week
10:00 - 10:15
Now I have to run to join a stand-up of one of my teams.
Oh and today it is special, because on Friday we have just changed our Scrum wall by moving it to another side of the room. So now we have much more space for everyone to stand around. Today we are also bigger because we have two students joining us for a working practice for several weeks. I wish I had such an experience when I was 15...
Some people come quite prepared for the stand-up: holding their notes to read from. Some prefer to improvise.
It is the 2nd week of the sprint (we do bi-weekly sprints in the team). We are discussing how to deal with the stories pending testing (the ones in the 'dev done' column).
I typically come out of the meeting with several todos. Today it is not big: I was just asked by the UX folks (who are the part of the team and hence present on the stand-up) to reschedule our Thursday's weekly test session for earlier because they have so-called "user coffee" sessions (user interviews and prototype testing with real users).
I'm reminding the team that we have our grooming session today. The Product Owner says we will need the whole two-hour slot today as he and UX would like to share and get some ideas on the next big thing on our roadmap.
PO and QA are rushing for their weekly meetings with the customer-care team (here it is a dedicate department) to review some non-standard questions on Google Play.
10:15 - 10:30
Another stand-up with my second Scrum team (I have two teams).
We are realizing that we need to prioritize the bugs after our Friday's test session. We won't put them into Jira as we are going to fix them right within the current sprint.
After the stand-up several people quickly sort the bugs out.
The last stand-up of the day. It is a Scrum-of-Scrum for all iOS teams.
Among the things we discuss the current status of the next release train that is to be ready for final pre-release testing by the end of the week.
10:45 - 11:30
No meetings planned. But I was approached by a team member who wanted to discuss how best to share feedback with another colleague.
Not that I'm a guru in that (quite the opposite), but the power of coaching is that you should not be an expert to help out!
We quickly find a free meeting room and have a 15-minute chat. I briefly explain the options of giving feedback that is based on observations, feelings and request for a change (based on Non-Violent Communication). As an example I give him feedback based on something from the last week. I asked him questions how could he apply this in his situation at hand. We make some jokes and go the kitchen to get some fruits.
11:30 - 12:00
A short meeting with two other ScrumMasters on improving our Sprint Reviews. Since the last month we have been experimenting with having our teams run reviews together. And now seems it is the time to learn and improve.
We grab a flip-chart and brainstorm a vision of an ideal review that we are all happy of. Based on that we agree that everyone of us will raise this topic in his/her next retrospectives.
I make a picture of the flip-chart and right after the meeting add it to the 'meeting minutes' space in the Confluence.
12:00 - 14:00
This is no-meeting time for us per agreement in the mobile teams.
But since I do a private Skype coaching (I give private coaching sessions) session I ran out to get a fast lunch.
14:00 - 14:30
One of my teams has a scheduled weekly grooming from 2pm. But this time I decided not to be there. Over the last months they have become quite good at self-facilitation and also the Product Owner has been doing a great job of leading those meetings. So I started to feel I'm not needed at the moment and can focus on other things which are burning. Next week I'll most likely join their grooming to be up-to-date.
But now - I'm on something else.
Some months ago we realized we needed to start breaking the silo thinking between the coaches and agreed to do more pairing. So we came up with the idea of cross-mentorship. We started with a fellow coach by attending each others' key meetings as observers to collect feedback and help each other improve as facilitators.
Last week we both attended each others' retrospectives and now it was the time to share. We met in the Office Bar, occupied the sofa and shared our findings.
He was pleased with my idea of using Spotify's team health check model on a retro. But also shared feedback that my time-boxing was not perfect as we lacked time in the end (yes, I'm still learning).
One common insight was to experiment with simplified retrospectives over the next sprint. The feedback from our teams (backed up with our feelings) was that sometimes teams just need to discuss the topics in an open format. So now we decided to experiment with a 'lean coffee' format on next retrospectives.
14:30 - 16:00
Mails, Confluence, chats, coffee.
Was able to focus on preparing for our Agile Coaches offsite that we are planning for next month. Now the venue is booked and logistics is all set.
16:00 - 17:00
Running a workshop with one of the teams on improving our release pipelines. We clarified the intention of the internal beta builds and discussed ways of attracting more internal users into beta testing.
17:00 - 18:00
Chatting with one of the P.O.s in the hallway. Adding the meeting notes from the last workshop to the Confluence. Closing the day and heading to a German class.