The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about a ninja is the movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” – the 1990 version, not the 2014 reboot. Modern culture views a ninja as a sort of super hero. According to Wikipedia, a ninja (or shinobi) was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. Folklore depicts the ninja as having legendary and often supernatural abilities. Sound like any Scrum Master you know?
The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted by the team, and also helps those outside the team interact with the Scrum Team in a way that maximizes the value created by the team. Sound like a ninja yet? Well, the Scrum Master also… wait for it – facilitates Scrum ceremonies. Now does it sound like a ninja? No? OK, another key focus of the Scrum Master is to remove impediments and distractions that might negatively impact the team’s progress or results – by any means necessary! OK, I added the “by any means necessary” part, but that isn’t too far off how I’d expect a good Scrum Master to behave. Impediment removal is critical to creating an environment where the team can focus on their work and deliver quality and value. Anything that gets in the way of building teams, developing backlogs and producing working, tested software is an impediment, an enemy that needs to be obliterated! Now we’re sounding more like a ninja.
The enemy (impediment) can take many forms, is able to morph into other forms easily, and can also remain invisible for long periods of time. Some more common enemies may appear in the form of team dynamics challenges, transparency issues, poor communication, and logistical or technical blockers. Sometimes they are as unassuming as poor Scrum practices or mechanics, which are often simple to repair. More often, though, the enemy is a culture or mindset impediment. This type of impediment is frequently hidden behind visible symptoms, or disguised as something else.
Destroying impediments requires different tactics that depend on the enemy’s strength, frequency of attack and other factors. The first step to defeating your enemy is to know who your enemy is. How do we find impediments that aren’t clearly visible?
Battle plans and a field manual are great tools, but when you come face-to-face with the enemy, experience is what really counts. Here are a few advanced tips from experience in the field:
A ninja knows their objective and does not stop until the goal is achieved, sometimes running straight into the flaming arrows flying toward them. Attacking impediments requires preparation, courage, and tact. Ninjas are known to be warriors – legendary, almost supernatural beings. Start your journey today to become an impediment-removing ninja Scrum Master. Pick an impediment from your list, choose your weapon, make a plan of attack, then run full speed toward the enemy – victory is yours for the taking!