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So this is a question that many people have answered on their blogs and I think one person even wrote a mini book a answering this question. However, I wasn't able to relate to them so I am hoping to get some input from experienced Scrum Masters / Coaches over here.

Let me elaborate with some scenarios:

  • You are a SM, you saw the daily scrum take place smoothly, the team is gone back to their desks to work.
  • You are a SM, you have worked with the PO and the team and the Product Backlog is appropriately groomed for the upcoming Sprint, due in say 2 weeks.
  • The organization is doing quite well in their agile journey and doesn't necessarily need any urgent coaching
  • All the artefacts are up to date thanks to an online tool that automates quite a bit

Also, you can assume the team is in the "Performing" stage of team development and you are a full time employee for this one team.

So how do you fill the rest of your day/s?

I am not look for answers listing responsibilities of a SM, like removing impediments or coaching. Neither do I want a daily schedule with entries like "meet with John to discuss XYZ". That doesn't take much time.

Instead, I am hoping to get some real-life examples that can be replicated. Something that is actually common for all SM of software teams.

For example, in my own case, I have mostly worked on mega projects so the backlog grooming took forever in the early stages of the project and as things progressed, I would help out with end user support, training, pick up some independent technical tasks and get them done, or just do documentation. These would take from a day to a whole sprint, especially if I pick up a couple of stories.

What about you guys? I am particularly keen to get some feedback from purists who say 1 SM, and only 1 SM, per 1 or 2 teams at most.

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    The best answer I know is too short to count as an answer: scrummasterchecklist.org – Daniel Aug 17 '17 at 23:30
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    I have never come across any scenario like that which you have described above except in startups. Quite simply, in Enterprise organisations what you have described does not exist. There is constant work which is not captured in any SM guide because the Devleopment community consider them distractions. Steering Co's, forums, updates, roadshows, appraisals, presentations, disciplinary issues, stakeholder coaching, new technologies to learn, offshore team members to directly manage, sponsor updates, PO deputisation. The list is endless in reality. As SM I get 200-400 emails a day... – Venture2099 Aug 18 '17 at 12:37
  • ...strategy meetings, departmental meetings, budgets, staff churn, product owner coaching, BA educating, organizational changes...all of which would go to the lead dev. Being a good SM is like being a good maintainer. If the team is not broken it is because the SM is doing well even if it looks effortless. – Venture2099 Aug 18 '17 at 12:41
  • Thats helpful Venture! I agree in more technical setups or start ups, you end up doing more tasks within the team. With enterprises, you do tasks like what you mentioned. Of course, at the end, its a gradient between the two. However, I do believe there is a group of purists out there whose brain I am hoping to pick. – Muhammad Aug 18 '17 at 12:56
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    I have met such SM's who flat out refuse to do any job considered "managing" in any way. I avoid them and label them as fantasists to be honest. – Venture2099 Aug 20 '17 at 12:12
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Personally I've taken on extra responsibilities that don't necessarily sit with a team, e.g. like managing the companies Software Licences .

Generally helping out in the smooth running of the office, helping management with non development related tasks. Researching new Agile topics.

Additionally linking in with other scrum masters to ensure the scrum experience is as closely aligned as possible across the company.

But hey ... that's just me

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I've worked as a project manager for 15 years and have been working as a scrum master part-time (of the 15 years of PM work) for 3 years and full-time as a scrum master for 3 years. Here is what I typically do, but in the end my job is to help teams be as productive, effective and efficient as possible to deliver the highest business value as they possibly can in each release:

1 - Facilitate retrospectives, sprint and release planning sessions. This involves all the up front planning needed to make the meetings effective. For retros, I will look at how the team has been doing and choose a retro plan that is a good match for the team's needs at the time. For planning, I'll be reviewing all of the metrics I've been capturing for the sprint or the release (sprint and release velocities, throughput, cycle times of story and feature completion, and WIP). I try not to run daily standups (aka daily scrums). I let the team do that, as it is their meeting. I will intervene only when I need to.

2 - Track story and feature metrics. I use this to track the performance of the team. I use velocity, cycle time, WIP, throughput, and Cumulative Flow Diagrams. I will use this information to provide to the team before all retros so we have facts to back up our conversation instead of guesswork.

3 - I am a scrum master for two teams, so my time is broken up between the two. Still, I do have some downtime in between. So, what else do I do?

4 - I have 1-on-1's with team members (usually a few times during the sprint) to see how things are going for them and what I can do to help them as a team member and in their professional growth. I'll work with their functional manager to support the team members achieve their goals by trying to get them exposed to new modules of the application or manage team capacity to get them training where needed.

5 - I work on side projects like process improvement initiatives. I've worked with QA groups to help build a QA Community of Practice for instance. I have mentored and coached other scrum masters and Product Owners. I also usually facilitate release retrospectives, which requires weeks of preparation and collaboration with other scrum masters and management to make sure it is a good use of everyone's time. I will then follow up with any action items that come out of it.

6 - I work with scrum masters from other products to share ideas and collaborate on new tools, techniques and such.

7 - I do training sessions with teams on how to conduct presentations (internal / external), and teach them about different agile topics (scrum, lean, kanban, navigating conflict, etc.).

0

Learn. Read blogs, books, scientific articles or whatever you like to do to learn. Or code in new languages. Whatever you can think of that the team might benefit from later on. One of the most important things the SM does is learning. About the team, about the organisation and always be on the lookout for new things to try out. If you're really bored you can always find some other bored Scrum Masters and try out a workshop or just talk over coffee if they have some ideas on what to do.

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