Embarking on the Road to Scrum Mastery

Creating a space for Scrum Masters to learn and grow 

When we started the agile transformation at Swisscom back in 2016, we did not focus on Scrum Masters. Only a few of our 100+ certified Scrum Masters were experienced. Therefore, role-models were scarce, and know-how was limited to the content of the certification trainings.

As a result, the Scrum Master role was strongly misunderstood and highly undervalued, leaving Scrum Masters struggling to do an effective job. Lacking a clear role-understanding, skills, and competencies, and even career opportunities. All in all, the Scrum Master role was rather unattractive.

Within our internal Agile Coaching team, we asked ourselves: what can we do to establish an effective and impactful Scrum Master role that sets a new standard for the organization?

Inspired by a blog post by Barry Overeem and Christiaan Verwijs, we created our Scrum Master Journey: a group of inspired Scrum Masters co-created their own 6 month-long training program to learn from each other and work together.

Let us embark together on the road to Scrum Mastery, our Swisscom journey to establish an effective and impactful Scrum Master role that sets a new standard within our organization! In this blog post I will guide you through the process of how we designed a powerful invitation, uncovered a shared purpose, created experiences, and used a completion to start anew and redefine Swisscom’s Scrum master role.

 

It all starts with a powerful Invitation 

To make this experiment a success we asked the question “How can we find motivated Scrum Masters who will make the experiment a success?”. As it turned out, the key was a powerful invitation in form of a blog post that addressed Swisscom’s Scrum Master population. In the blog post we laid out our plan to create a space for Scrum Masters to learn and grow together. Furthermore, we requested, that they send in a creative application in any form. As a result, we received 12 applications. Each application was convincing in its own way, which is why we decided that everyone who took the time to apply for this learning path should become part of our first Scrum Master Journey class.

 

Uncovering a shared purpose 

There we were, 12 Scrum Masters starting the journey. The first workshop was key: we wanted to initiate a forward momentum for the whole journey. For this reason, we used the time to create a common understanding of what we wanted to achieve together and compiled a backlog with all the topics we deemed necessary to achieve our purpose. In this learning backlog we placed the following topics:

  • the art of listening and asking powerful questions
  • Retrospective: establishing sustainable feedback loops that create an impact in the team
  • Flow and Kanban: understanding that focus and continuous flow are the basis of effective value delivery
  • Facilitation: the skill to create a space for the team where they can solve their problems themselves

To complete the kickoff, we agreed on the topic for the first Scrum Master Journey gathering and we all looked forward to getting the learning started.

 

Creating Experiences and Impact 

The six, monthly workshops were all designed to create personal experiences, establish a peer network, and have an impact in the Scrum Masters’ teams. Hence, the one-day gatherings followed the same structure: a topic selected by the participants served as the red string throughout the day, experiments opened new perspectives and homework created tangible action back to the organization. Furthermore, we created a far-reaching learning network inside and outside of Swisscom.

 

It is Harvesting Time 

So, what was the outcome of the Scrum Master Journey? It exceeded our highest hopes: during the past two years, Journey alumni are expanding role-awareness, develop new key competencies and skills and become ambassadors of the community. We shifted the understanding of the role from a meeting organizer towards facilitator, coach and servant leader and made the role an interesting career choice with many opportunities. Outside of Swisscom, participants have built a far-reaching Scrum Master network with other companies and have inspired the launch of other Scrum Master Journeys. Currently, the Scrum Master Journey is in its 4th iteration. After roughly six months, each class self-organizes and identifies Scrum Masters who want to step up in the facilitator role and thus offers another journey for another class.

 

Summary 

In essence the success story “Swisscom Scrum Master Journey” consists of four elements:

  • a powerful invitation to identify the right people,
  • uncovering a shared purpose to create something meaningful,
  • creating experiences and building learning networks, and
  • handing it over to the next generation of facilitators.

If you are intrigued and want to start your own Scrum Master Learning Journey feel free to contact me!