Why Scrum Masters Need Facilitation Skills

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Why Scrum Masters Need Facilitation Skills

Why Scrum Masters Need Facilitation Skills

By Chris Daily

As a Scrum Master, you need to have facilitation skills. The Scrum Master role acts as a bridge between the product owner and the development team and needs to be able to manage and facilitate productive conversations that will lead to better products.

By understanding facilitation techniques, a Scrum Master serves the Scrum team and can keep scrum teams on track while ensuring that everyone’s voices are heard. In addition, they can help smooth over conflict over a difficult and sensitive subject when it arises. Group facilitation skills are essential for any Scrum Master who wants to be successful in their role in implementing the Scrum Framework.

What is Facilitation?

The Scrum Master serves the team and is responsible for facilitation within scrum teams. In simple terms, facilitation is the act of helping a group to work together effectively. This involves tasks such as keeping meetings on track, mediating between team members and helping the team to identify and overcome obstacles.

In addition to being knowledgeable about the Scrum Framework. Scrum Masters need to be competent facilitators in order to ensure that scrum teams are able to function effectively. Facilitation skills are also beneficial in other scrum roles, such as product owner and development team members. Utilizing Icebreakers can change a boring meeting into an engaging activity.  Scrum teams rely on effective facilitation in order to be successful.

Non-Scrum roles, such as project managers, department managers, business analysts, and coordinators can also benefit from having facilitation skills.

The different types of facilitation

There are many different types of facilitation, but all have the same goal: to help a group of people work together effectively. Scrum masters, for example, use facilitation to help Scrum Teams of developers work together to complete projects. The scrum master will facilitate meetings, help to resolve conflicts, and keep the team organized.

Types of facilitation include leadership development, training facilitation, and process improvement facilitation. Each type of facilitation has its own techniques and approaches, but all share the common goal of helping groups achieve their objectives. Whether you're a scrum master or a facilitator for another type of organization, the key is to find the approach that best suits the needs of your group.

Process facilitation helps groups to brainstorm and come up with creative solutions to problems. This type of facilitation can be used in a variety of settings, from businesses to nonprofits.

Organizational facilitation helps groups to run more efficiently and make better decisions. This type of facilitation is often used in corporate settings.

Strategic planning facilitation helps groups to develop long-term plans and set goals. This type of facilitation is often used in government agencies and businesses.

Change management facilitation helps groups to implement change effectively. This type of facilitation is often used in healthcare organizations and schools.

Conflict resolution facilitation helps groups to resolve conflicts peacefully.

How to become a better facilitator

When it comes to facilitation, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best way to become a better facilitator is to learn from experience and to continually adapt your methods to suit the needs of your team. However, there are a few scrum master techniques that can help you to become a more effective facilitator.

One of the most important scrum master techniques is active listening. This involves really paying attention to what a scrum team member is saying, in order to understand their point of view. It also means being aware of body language and other non-verbal cues. Another important scrum master technique is called brainstorming. This involves relying on group dynamics to generate ideas as a group, in order to identify the best possible solution to a problem. 

Tips for running successful scrum events

The scrum master is responsible for facilitating scrum events. Here are some tips for running successful scrum events and improving group dynamics using the facilitative approach:

  • Make sure everyone understands the purpose of the scrum event and the desired outcome.

  • Encourage all team members to participate in the discussion.

  • Keep the discussion focused on the topic at hand.

  • Encourage team members to share their ideas and thoughts openly.

  • Summarize the discussion and make sure everyone agrees with the decisions that were made.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your scrum meetings are productive and successful.

Examples of effective facilitation techniques

When most people think of facilitation, they think of someone who leads a meeting or group discussion. However, the role of the facilitator can be much more than that. A good facilitator is someone who can help a group to achieve its goals, whether it is developing a new product, project planning, or solving a problem. There are many different facilitation techniques that can be used, and the best one for any given situation will depend on the group's size, dynamic, and desired outcome. However, there are some general principles that all effective facilitators share. For example, they create an environment where all voices can be heard, they focus on the group's goals rather than their own agenda, and they encourage open communication and collaboration. In addition, the Scrum practitioners will embrace the scrum framework and live the Scrum values.

As a scrum master, you have a variety of facilitation techniques at your disposal. By understanding and utilizing these techniques, you can effectively guide a scrum team to success. Some common facilitation techniques include brainstorming, conflict resolution, and problem-solving. Brainstorming can help a scrum team generate new ideas and break out of old patterns of thinking. Conflict resolution can help team members resolve disagreements and move forward with a united front. Problem-solving can help Scrum teams identify and solve problems that are impeding their progress. By using these and other facilitation techniques, scrum masters can help their Scrum teams achieve their goals.

Tools and Resources

Facilitation is a key scrum master skill. Scrum masters need to be able to lead scrum teams through sprints and help them stay focused on their goals. There are a number of tools and resources that can help scrum masters with facilitation.

First, there are scrum management software platforms, like JIRA and Kanbanize, that can help scrum masters keep track of team progress and ensure that tasks are being completed on time. These types of tools allow for a Scrum Master to use them to focus the team on their progress.

Second, online tools such as Miro, Mural, and Lucid Charts, allow for facilitators to encourage participation regardless of one's location. In addition, online tools allow for asynchronous collaboration by allowing those who may not be able to attend.

Third, by utilizing work-related games and gamification practices, facilitators can turn boring meetings into collaborative, engaging workshops. Combining online tools with an approach of adding game-like elements, facilitators encourage collaboration by creating an environment that set's the stage for participants to engage in meaningful ways.

Tools List

Here are a few tools:

  1. Miro - Online whiteboard

  2. Mural - Online whiteboard

  3. Kahoot - Online Quizzes

  4. Jira - Agile Project Management System

  5. TastyCupcakes.org - Crowdsourced website with Agile/Facilitation games and techniques


In addition to tools, and facilitation courses and training There are also online scrum master courses that can provide scrum masters with the skills and knowledge they need to effectively facilitate scrum team activities. Finally, there are scrum master certification programs that can help scrum masters demonstrate their expertise in facilitation to potential employers. These tools and resources can all help a Scrum Master and an Agile team.

If you want to become an effective scrum master, or just improve your facilitation skills, sign up for our Agile Meridian Facilitation Masterclass. In this class, you’ll learn how to facilitate meetings so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute and achieve the team goal. You’ll also get practice facilitating different types of meetings. With these new skills under your belt, you’ll be able to help your team function more effectively and efficiently together.

Register now and join us for an exciting journey into the world of facilitation!

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