I got a call from Raghavan, from the HR team of a company, handling recruitment.

His question was:

I am filling the post of a scrum master. The requirement is urgent, this team needs to become Agile in order to work well with other related teams working on the same platform.

I have three candidates who have been rated favourably by an interview panel.

While there are some comments on the three persons, I understand that getting an ideal fit may not be easy.

Can you help me rank the three candidates, so that I can make the offers in that sequence as preference?

The Challenge for this week is to help Raghavan.

Please share your ranking and reasons for the ranking.

Here is the summary of the three candidates.

 

CandidateTotal years in IT# years as scrum masterComments
Krithika G

4

3

Joining as a fresher, she has handled the scrum master role of coordinating standups for the team for 3 years
Though the juniormost in the team, when she joined, she has been well accepted in this role [actually, she said that nobody wanted to be scrum master] most of her time is spent in scheduling meetings [resolving calendar conflicts is not simple] and share the summary of meeting minutes
Anant Arora

7

2

Anant started as a developer, then moved to QA after the first year – as he had to manage some personal priorities and preferred to work on test automation, that give him more flexibility with his time
Has a good understanding of new technologies, as a tester
Based on his attention to detail and perseverance, he was made scrum master 2 years ago
Rakesh Poonawala

8

6 months

Rakesh, a business management graduate, enjoyed project management more than software development.
With his background and ability to push people to get things done, was very successful in completing a major multi team project in time with a prestigious customer
As a recognition of his contributions, he was recently given the role of a scrum master for a team that is expected to ramp up very soon, to twice the size of the project he managed

 

Suggested Solution:

Thanks to Ananth and Srini for their inputs in this case.

Before sharing my ranking with Raghavan, wanted to explain the role of the scrum master and the qualities that would make one successful.

A scrum maaster is not just a master of ceremonies to coordinate the standups and other meetings and to have the reports created for management.

The success of a high performing scrum team is significantly influenced by a scrum master.

We usually talk about four categories of influence for a scrum master:
– Education
– Enablement
– Ensuring (Success) and
– Leadership

While the first two require a good internalization of the values and principles behind the Agile approaches, the later two involve the ability to inspire and influence the team towards high performance.

In this context, unfortunately, none of the three candidates would be ‘clear choices’, as each one – while bringing some experience and strengths, does not have the roundedness required for the role.

While Krithika claims the maximum experience in the role, her activities as SM seem to be merely administrative in nature – organizing meetings and publishing minutes. Her organization has misunderstood the SM role. Moreover, with 4 years experience, she may not have developed the maturity demanded by the SM role.

In order to succeed in SM role, Rakesh would have to unlearn many things that worked for him as an aggressive PM. SM role demands servant leadership and the ability to relate to the engineering team. Ability to perceive and remove obstacles is key. He may be able to shield the team better from external pressures. He may be able to relate to management groups better and may also be better at enabling collaboration with product management. If he demonstrates awareness of what the SM role entails, he is a potential candidate.

Anant has couple of years in that role and has come from engineering background. He has 7 years behind him – hopefully he has adequate maturity in balancing team dynamics and management pressure. That ability needs to be verified in the interview. If he ends up being a techie with limited inter-personal skills, he is the wrong choice for us.

But, in the context of this CHOW, if i were to force rank the three, the preference would be to have:
Anant, Rakesh and Krithika in that preference.

In any case, the person chosen would need some coaching or mentoring [as well as some training] to get into this role.
This could also be provided by the reporting [engineering or delivery] manager, if that person has the aptitude and bandwidth.

p.s.
if you have questions on any of the above aspects, please get in touch. we can have a more detailed discussion.