I recently finished reading Community, the Structure of Belonging, by Peter Block. While reading the book, I could not help but draw parallels with what I teach about Scrum.

In his book, Block talks about the small group as the unit of transformation. I already wrote about Scrum as a tool to foment change. In the context of Scrum, the Scrum Team is that small group, that unit of transformation. It changes the context of work in a way that alters how we think, behave and thus work together, which in turn can radically improve performance. François shared a similar view recently on Scrum teams, compelling goals and performance.

Block also states that for real transformation to occur, it is not more or better leaders that we need, but more care and belonging. I’m often asked what role management plays in Scrum. People ask the question : “So in Scrum, that means we don’t need managers?”. Mike Cohn has already addressed part of that question in his last book, Succeeding with Agile, by saying that management has a key role to play by creating the right environment for self-organization to occur. To add to that idea, we can say that management task is to shift the context, so that it creates in the Team a sense of belonging and ownership. Engagement from the Team will come from care so we must be careful to choose care over speed or scale.

Scale, speed, and practicality are always the coded arguments for keeping the existing system in place.

Scrum is all about changing the existing system. This is why the ScrumMaster primary responsibility is to ensure the Scrum process is followed. He or she uses Scrum as a tool to ask powerful questions to spark off change.

The ScrumMaster job is to change the conversation. The ScrumMaster is initiator, facilitator and leader of real discussions. This is a leadership role about creating commitment and accountability, which are the building blocks of self-organization.

To make a difference we must start by naming the way things are, use powerful questions as a tool, and listen, rather than advocate or defend.

ScrumMasters, take the time to master the art of orchestrating conversations, for this is what your job is about.