Tip of the week by Scrum Master Ari: Every team is unique

Published: 13.6.2023
Categories: Delivery
Reading time: 2 min
Portrait of Ari Ruuska

Scrum Master’s task is to ensure teamwork is as smooth and as easy as possible by supporting teams' self-organization, communication, and, of course, removing obstacles in any sense. We conclude the first season of the Scrum Master Diaries series with our very special universal soldier with 15 years of Scrum Master experience – Ari Ruuska. Instead of sharing one of his tips, we couldn’t but share all the nine he offered – they are too good not to be shared!

Hi, my name is Ari, and at Wunder, I fill several roles like Solution Architect, Technical Advisor, Project Manager, and the lead of the Psychological Safety Group, just to name a few. I also have been a Scrum Master since 2007.

For me, the Scrum Master role is really enjoyable. It’s always a pleasure to see how new teams start working together and how teamwork evolves over time. And finally, when the team reaches the point of starting to steer by themselves, I feel honored to witness it. But sometimes, if the teamwork does not develop towards self-steering, it is hard for me to recognize the thin line between just “picking socks from the floor” by myself or asking a team member to do it.

A couple of suggestions from my 15-year-long Scrum Master experience I am happy to share:

  • Create a climate that supports trust and openness in the team. Ensure that all the roles are clear for all team members and also that everyone has a shared knowledge of the goals.
  • Arrange a slot in the very first meeting for teammates to get to know each other.
  • Use some of the already existing templates for DoD (Definition of Done), and there are plenty of good ones available out there, so pick the one that feels the best.
  • In sprint planning, ensure that acceptance criteria exist for EVERY user story/ task. The client accepts tasks based on acceptance criteria.
  • Remember that sprint planning also is the place to ensure that all persons who are responsible for the project implementation understand the acceptance criteria for each ticket,
  • Scrum pokeropens in a new tab(different website, new window) is a good way to manage task evaluation/ estimation,
  • Psychological safety offers excellent tools for improving microclimate and collaboration in a team. There are plenty of tools for openness, framing work as a learning process, admitting mistakes, and so on,
  • Backlog refinement is the place to involve the client in Scrum teamwork. Also, it is important to encourage the Product Owner to be reachable to other team members,
  • Communication is the heartbeat of Scrum. It can happen in multiple ways – mutual ad-hoc meetings, face-to-face, in video calls, or in written form. Encourage your team to use a ticketing system for communication on certain tasks and so on. Whatever works best for the team to succeed.
“Every team is unique. Let and support the team find ways to make success happen. Don't force but encourage them to talk.”

Ari Ruuska, Solution Architect and Scrum Master, Wunder

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