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Why Scrum Masters Should Report into the Agile Transformation Office


Scrum Masters Reporting Structure

The adoption of Agile frameworks has grown dramatically in recent years. The use of Scrum for software development grew from 37% of teams in 2020 to 86% of teams in 2021. (Figures taken from the 13th and 14th annual State of Agile reports published by Digita.ai) In order to better manage the rapid adoption of Agile frameworks and complementary practices, many organizations have created an Agile Center of Excellent or Agile Transformation office to help their organizations improve business agility within their organizations.


Who staffs this Center of Excellence? Should Scrum Masters be moved to report into the new Agile Transformation office, or should Scrum Masters report into the same organizational structure as the Developers on their Scrum teams?


In this article, we will make the case that the Scrum Master accountability is pivotal for a successful Agile transformation. The Scrum Master is accountable for improving the adoption of Scrum within the organization; therefore, their interests are in alignment with the Agile transformation office. In this article, we explore three compelling reasons why Scrum Masters should report into the Agile Transformation office.


Expert Accountability for Agile Practices

According to Courtney Cerdena, Senior Manager of Agile Strategy and Delivery at The Hershey Company, “You wouldn't have software developers reporting into someone who has no experience with software. Why would you have Scrum Masters reporting into people who don't have experience with Agile?”


By reporting into the Agile Transformation office led by experienced Agile practitioners, Scrum Masters benefit from accountability and guidance from those who understand the nuances of their role.


Agile Transformation leaders are familiar with the intricacies of Agile frameworks, most with previous Scrum Master, Product Ownership or coaching experience. This expertise enables them to accurately assess whether Scrum Masters are fulfilling their responsibilities. They can ensure that Scrum Masters are effectively coaching their teams, facilitating the five Scrum events, and removing impediments. Moreover, Agile Transformation leaders can provide valuable insights on adapting Agile practices to unique organizational contexts, enhancing the effectiveness of Scrum Masters' coaching efforts.


Nurturing Scrum Master Skills

The Agile Transformation office often serves as a knowledge hub for all things Agile. By reporting into this office, Scrum Masters have access to a wealth of expertise that can help them grow their skills. Rather than operating in isolation, Scrum Masters can engage in regular knowledge-sharing sessions, workshops, and mentorship opportunities provided by Agile Transformation leaders. This collaborative environment accelerates their learning curve and equips them with advanced coaching techniques, conflict resolution strategies, and innovative approaches to problem-solving.


With Agile Transformation leaders as mentors, Scrum Masters can hone their abilities in fostering a culture of continuous improvement, guiding teams towards self-organization, and maximizing the benefits of Agile practices. This professional development not only elevates individual Scrum Masters but also creates a ripple effect, positively impacting the teams they serve.


Amplifying Organizational Change

Agile transformation is not just about adopting a set of practices; it's a holistic organizational shift towards a more responsive and collaborative culture. Scrum Masters are uniquely positioned to drive this change at the grassroots level. By having Scrum Masters report into the Agile Transformation office, organizations can leverage their influence to propel larger-scale change initiatives.


Scrum Masters, armed with practical experience and expertise, become change agents who can facilitate the adoption of Agile principles across various teams and departments. They can share success stories, best practices, and lessons learned, fostering a culture of transparency and learning. Moreover, Agile Transformation leaders can strategically utilize Scrum Masters to disseminate change-related communication, minimizing the need for a separate change management team and thereby reducing organizational overhead.


Conclusion

The Agile journey is not a solitary endeavor but a collective effort that demands alignment, collaboration, and shared knowledge. By having Scrum Masters report into the Agile Transformation office, organizations can unlock a myriad of benefits. This structural alignment fosters expert accountability, accelerates skill development, and amplifies the impact of organizational change initiatives. Just as a symphony's success hinges on the harmony between each instrument, an organization's Agile transformation thrives when Scrum Masters collaborate with Agile Transformation leaders.



Scrum Day conference in Madison, Wisconsin

Expand your horizons and learn from thought leaders in Scrum and Kanban at this year’s Scrum Day conference in Madison, Wisconsin. This conference has something for everyone from our groundbreaking keynotes to break-out sessions for Scrum Masters, Executives, Product Owners, Developers and those who are just curious about Scrum.


And while you are in town, don’t miss the Badger game at Camp Randall Stadium on September 16!

1 Comment


All excellent points... and here's one more.


Scrum Masters need to be empowered in their area of expertise -- which will sometimes involve speaking truth to power. If they report to the same managers who serve the rest of their team, they're not going to feel as free to address team problems that originate from that manager's office. They need backing from a separate leader who is not personally invested in the rest of the team structure.

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