How to Measure a Scrum Master: Effort as Meta-Metric

CONGRATS! You have Agile metrics that are ‘good’, or even improving: cycle time, code coverage, heck, even Sprint velocity. Now, how do you know if the Scrum Master had a part in that ‘success’? YOU DON’T. These metrics track team performance, not Scrum Master performance, thus I’m proposing “new process experiments over time” as the meta-metric uniquely aligned with the Scrum Master role, which can be a leading indicator for the other metrics.

(If you got here from my LinkedIn post – why, hello! The feed allows for only so much text, so I’m learning to have that first paragraph be either really really catchy, or act as an abstract. Or both. But now that you’re at my blog, I can afford parenthetical paragraphs. And other personal stylings. Deliberately poor grammar ‘n’ all. Again, welcome to the show.)

If an Agile metric improves in a sustainable manner, then, again, congrats, you have an outcome that’s demonstrating improvement with your process – “the how” – yet it doesn’t clearly connote a Scrum Master action. If y’wanna do good stuff like that again, if you want to demonstrate continuous improvement, you would hopefully tie that back to a team behaviour change: a process experiment, a notion uniquely able to be owned by Scrum Masters.

Focus on the effort, related to process experiments, over the outcome, of Agile metrics.

Focusing on “new experiments over time” translates to focusing on “continuous effort”. It shows the Scrum Master is continuously acting – she is doing her job – with an intent to targetedly improve the team.

Yes, tracking experiments for experiments’ sake is useless in and of itself, but if they target an Agile metric we care about, then the meta-metric becomes a leading indicator.

(Hopefully relevant analogy of extremes: would you rather, over time, invest in a group that’s just sitting on lots of money, or in a group that’s continuously looking for new ways to get more money?)

Picking my thinking back up from a previous post, How to Measure Agile Coaching, this blog post is meant to tie in two ideas:

  • specificity on how we focus on the conducting of Agile experiments
    • (for Scrum Masters, use: new process experiments over time)
  • appropriateness of Agile metrics
    • (for Scrum Masters: inappropriate, if tracked in isolation of actionable items of continuous improvement)
    • (for Agile teams: appropriate)

Regarding the process experiments, these should make sense, leaning on the shorter side, definitely targeting a team KPI or Agile metric, confidently doable, and towards either solving a problem (flip side: capitalizing on a strength) or learning from your environment.

Remember, Scrum Masters, you are the Chief Agilist on the team. If you embrace this identity, then since you are what you frequently do, you should similarly embrace the frequent actions that exhibit the uniquely Agile mindset of continuous improvement.

What are these frequent actions, of continuous improvement?

  • The setting of & facilitating & learning from process experiments. Over and over again.

This is the effort. The continuous effort. How would you measure this, thus measuring the performance of a Scrum Master?

  • new process experiments over time

Focus on this effort, and watch how the outcomes, those Agile metrics, sustainably take care of themselves.