During my first week at NewVoiceMedia I attended an Agile community of interest gathering. Fondly known as the Scrum Master ‘Stand up and Hoe Down’. During which one of our Agile coaches Helen introduced me to the concept of Scrum buddies.
The idea is that we pair up as Scrum Masters, and attempt to keep each other honest. Unlike team members we do not have tickets on a board, and it can be harder to hold ourselves to account. The idea of a Scrum buddy is to introduce some level of accountability, and peer support.
I have now been meeting with my Scrum buddy (a delightful chap named Will) twice a week for 9 weeks. Upon reflection I believe it really works.
This is how it runs for us. We meet for coffee in the morning, partake in some enjoyable small talk, and then get down to business. We ask each other how we got on with what we agreed to achieve from the last meet up. An example of this from a recent meet up was that I agreed to journal everyday on my way home. I would say how I am getting on and Will would provide helpful advice or just say well done. We would then of course reverse the process.
This has benefited me in many ways:
Unlike other roles within a software development team (such as Tester or Developer) there is only one Scrum Master in each team. Having a Scrum buddy has given me a regular opportunity to chat about agile development and seek advice. We do have a community of interest, but that is more formal. Scrum buddy sessions are a great chance to just chat about a cool pod cast or book, and have pointed me in the direction of some real gems. I believe it is the small interactions that build a community.
The frequency being every couple of days allows me to set small and achievable goals. Over the weeks I have made small steps to achieving goals I have had in my head for months.
A number of my goals have been around improving my personal process for managing work. The scrum buddy sessions feel like a mini retrospective. Where I can reflect on what I have tried and have a scrum master coach out the detail and possible improvements.
Face the Hard Stuff
I often put off things that just seem too big and overwhelming. The fact you are asked what you would like to improve every few days means that these hard things will likely come up. Your Scrum buddy can then help coach you through that difficult issue. Encouraging you to pick a small step towards tackling the overall goal. Another nice effect is that if you fail you get to reset every few days.