When you have been scrum master for the same team for a longer period, it can become more difficult to find areas of improvement for the team. If you are unsure of what the next step in the development of your team should be, the Scrum master shuffle might be interesting for you.

In this blogpost we will dive into the Scrum master shuffle, I’ll explain what it is, how to use it, and the lessons I learned from it.

The Scrum master shuffle

The goal of the Scrum master shuffle is to switch teams with another Scrum master in your organization for a short time, usually, we do one or two sprints. During this shuffle, you will effectively become a Scrum master for a different team.

If you are a Scrum master in one team for a longer period of time, it is normal to get blind spots. There are things you don’t notice anymore but will catch the eye of a fresh Scrum master.

The other benefit besides having a fresh pair of eyes on your blind spots, is to get the team outside of their normal routine. A new Scrum master will probably shake up things, and it might get some of team members that have settled down to the situation to get that spark again.

Steps

The steps for a successful Scrum master shuffle are the following:

  • Pick a Scrum master to shuffle with.
  • Inform your team that this is for gathering insights, and the goal is to improve. It is in no way a punishment for underperforming.
  • Do a short 1 on 1 with the product owner and stakeholder of your new team, and inform them that the idea behind the shuffle is to improve the team.
  • During the shuffle write down things that catch your attention. This will be input for the bullet point below.
  • Do a weekly or biweekly meeting with the Scrum master you are shuffling with. The main goal of the meeting: “Is there anything that caught your eye?”
  • At the end of the shuffle plan a small retrospective with the team, “is there anything I did differently than your Scrum master?”, try to get input on the team what they liked, and what they liked less.
  • Evaluate all findings, and pick which ones you or the team wants to implement.

Takeaways

In the past I have done the Scrum master shuffle a couple of times now, my main takeaways and tips for the best result are:

  • Pick a Scrum master that has a different “style” than you have, this will usually result in better results than if you pick a Scrum master with the same style, as they will probably notice the same things.
  • Make sure the team trusts the situation and doesn’t feel like they have a temporary Scrum master to get them back on track.
  • At the start of shuffling you want to be in an observing mode, try to observe what is happening before you try to correct behavior.
  • Keep an open mind, and try not to judge the team for their behaviour, its a result of working together.

As you can see in the takeaways above, the key to a successful Scrum master shuffle is to keep an open mind, try not to judge the team you are in and get them to trust you.

If you are interested in other lessons I learned as a starting Scrum master? Check out the following article.