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As the scrum master is a mentor and guide for a team, the team trusts the scrum master to lead them on the right path to "being" agile. But how can a scrum master be sure of the same? Each team is different and there's no benchmark (Or is there?) to measure one's success in doing the same?

Personally, due to this vagueness/lack of clarity in measurability, I find it difficult to decide on SMART goals for myself.

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Many Agile coaches use the Scrum Master Checklist as a self-assessment tool:

What literature suggests, is to assign a score from 1 to 5 to each of the questions in the checklist and monitor your progress.

The list is also available in Google docs:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fohTlmsjlb90rrMESmEafoPQ8Gah-cRLwfudprbY2iY/edit#gid=0

It is important to note that the list was first published in 2007 by Michael James, and has been referenced by many authors. Indicatively:

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In literature, you will find many self-assessments. I suggest you read the article.

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As the scrum master is a mentor and guide for a team, the team trusts the scrum master to lead them on the right path to "being" agile.

I would suggest using this as your guide.

Measure the performance of the Scrum Master by the agility of the team and the effectiveness of their Scrum implementation.

Evaluate the team's:

  • Ability to respond to change
  • Ability to frequently deliver value
  • Ability to inspect and adapt

That evaluation is likely to be a good reflection of the effectiveness of the Scrum Master.

Each team is different and there's no benchmark (Or is there?)

You don't need a benchmark, instead you can track the trends. If it is trending up (i.e. getting better) then the metric is a positive indicator.

Personally, due to this vagueness/lack of clarity in measurability, I find it difficult to decide on SMART goals for myself.

If your organisation absolutely insists on concrete metrics then I would suggest using things like lead time, cycle time, delivered value, etc. You could also regularly survey your stakeholders and see if their appreciation of the team is trending up or down.

  • 1
    Your answer made me wonder about another aspect of this. People near the top of the hierarchy in an organization are sometimes so disconnected from the teams, that they rely mostly on numbers and it's kind of hard to explain to them(Unless you and they have enough time and patience to write and read multi-paragraph emails) that there are so many things a team can improve upon which cannot be represented by a number. Like some of the factors, you mentioned above. What are your thoughts on this? Is F2F communication the only option you see to effectively cascade the information to the top? – Shaunak Lawande Feb 5 at 10:48
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    It's a really difficult problem to solve. If you start using F2F communication then you open yourself up to bias. I have worked in places where bonuses were often awarded based on how friendly people were with their manager. As such, I think you do need to use some kind of quantifiable metrics, but need to be extremely careful how they are selected and used. – Barnaby Golden Feb 5 at 14:16
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Remember that your job as the Scrum Master is the effectiveness and improvement of the team and the organization. You help them in effectively implementing Scrum and, as Scrum is only a framework, help them find the process of building product that is most effective for them.

What I would recommend to measure your success is to try these steps:

  1. Observe what is happening in your team and organization. These can be your observations or you can ask other people what they are seeing (or ideally, both). Also, they shouldn't just be challenges or problems. What are the things that are going really well?

  2. Share these observations and work with the team and org to identify where they want to improve. It takes time and effort to improve, so it should be a place where the people involved are willing to spend that time and effort (and don't forget, those cost the organization money). I like to take it one thing at a time. This can be a challenge to solve or a success to get even more value out of by doubling down on it or spreading that success to other teams.

  3. Next step is just doing the mentoring, coaching, and facilitating to help the teams or organization make that improvement. Remember, if you have the answer, that's convenient, but for many problems you won't. You'll be helping them try different options and discover the answer.

  4. Once everyone has made as much improvement in that area as they would like, move on to another thing. Keep track of these improvements. These will be your record to yourself of the impact you've had but in addition, if your company does yearly reviews, it can be the center of that conversation too.

To your point about smart goals, you'll find those particularly useful in helping teams target their own improvement goals that you are coaching them on.

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