• Gianni Sawyer

Sorry…from your Scrum Master

To my dearest Product Owners, my Stakeholders, my Project and Programme Managers, Developers and teammates around the world…please believe me when I say that I’m sorry.

For not immediately accepting more work to the sprint.

When I don’t immediately say yes to adding more work to our current sprint, and challenge you on the need to do this, don’t assume that I’m being defensive, or un-helpful or even just rude.

There are many reasons for this;

I’d like to understand if this new work REALLY is that high of a priority that it needs to go in right away. Have you promised this to someone without talking to me, or the team? Does this new piece of work add value to the goals we are trying to achieve? Is there a reason why this piece of work wasn’t identified during our backlog refinement? Was it because it wasn’t ready in time to be planned into the sprint? Do we still have uncompleted work that we need to take care of?

You may have very good reasons for this, and I am willing to listen — but please don’t think negative of me for wanting to understand those reasons.

I’d like to minimise the disruption, whilst ensuring that we maximise our learnings from this.

Most importantly, I need to speak to the team about it.

For highlighting a truth

I totally understand that it’s hard to hear about an observation that I have made which I believe is either harming the team or creating waste in the way we work.

I would absolutely love it if there was nothing for me to highlight, but then again you wouldn’t need me, and I wouldn’t be here.

When I do this, I do it because I want us to find an answer to this together, explore different ideas and opportunities on how we can fix this.

I will never stop doing this, but what I will promise is that when I do, it comes from a place of serving you and your team and in a way that provides the room for you to solve it yourself.

For not agreeing with you 100% of the time

We expect to not agree all the time, don’t we?

I’m truly sorry that we don’t, but that’s probably because we have different ideas on how something can be done and different ways to get to that answer.

I want to protect the team, which includes you, and I want us to find an answer as a collective. Rarely will I simply accept your way without further discussion with the team.

For being stubborn

This job requires me to have a thick skin, to not let things get on top of me, and to be resilient.

If needed, I can be the voice against anything I think can harm the team, our product, our quality and our relationships.

I will stand up for my ideas and decisions firmly, especially when I’m acting in the best interest of the team.

You call it stubborn, I call it integrity and standing up for my morals and values as a person and a professional.

For repeating myself

I will keep saying it.

I will keep saying it.

If it needs to be said, and it hasn’t quite landed, I will keep saying it in different ways to help you see what I’m trying to tell you.

If I think it’s that important, I will keep saying it.

When it is no longer needed to be said, I will stop.

My job is to make sure that what I’m saying is providing valuable insight and opportunities for you and your team to improve. I will not tell you what to do, I will tell what is being done and help you adapt where necessary.

This is what I need to do, and it’s what you need me to do.

I’m here to challenge, to ask why, to be a servant and a leader.


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