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Scrum Master — 4 Stances

Based on Will-Skill Matrix


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Rohit Ratan Mani

3 years ago | 2 min read

Based on Will-Skill Matrix

In my agile journey, I have tried to understand the stance I should take as SM in different situations and it has been a difficult trait to master. One thing that has helped me is the Will-Skill matrix. I was introduced to this matrix years back and it helped me select my stance while interacting with individuals or teams.

Will-Skill Matrix

Stances based on each quadrant:

1) Low Will — Low Skill

Individuals, teams or organizations find themselves in this quadrant when they

· Lack support

· Lack vision

· Work in an organization where failure is not appreciated

· Have been doing the same thing for a long time and are in their comfort zone without working on enhancing their skill

· Don’t believe in continuous improvement

In this quadrant, individuals, teams or organizations are looking for direction. In this scenario a “Teacher” stance is helpful. With this stance, you can help educate new concepts.

Using 4Cs techniques from Training from the Back of the Room will help not create dependencies. You will not be a know-it-all person, so identify people who can help teach and share their learnings.

2) Low Will — High Skill

Individuals, teams or organizations find themselves in this quadrant when they

· Have been doing the same thing for a long time

· Plateaued out after tasting success

· Have not been given some new challenge

In this quadrant, individuals, teams or organizations are looking for motivation. In this scenario a “Mentor” stance is helpful. To help people move from this quadrant to another, the Scrum Master would need to identify ways to motivate and bring the spark. There would be a need to run experiments, do some hand-holding, and inspire.

3) High Will — Low Skill

Individuals, teams or organizations find themselves in this quadrant when they

· Are running an experiment

· Lack expertise be it technical or domain knowledge

· Are lacking expertise

In this quadrant, individuals, teams or organizations are looking for guidance. In this scenario a “Facilitator” stance is helpful. Using this stance, Scrum Master can help build an environment where people provide feedback, recognize each others’ effort, brainstorm and make collaborative decisions. Using Liberating Structures techniques helps in building this environment.

4) High Will — High Skill

Individuals, teams or organizations find themselves in this quadrant when they

· Believe in continuous improvement

· Strive for excellence

· Looking for new avenues of moving forward

· Like challenging the Status Quo

In this quadrant, individuals, teams or organizations are looking for empowerment. In this scenario a “Coaching” stance is helpful. Using this stance, the Scrum Master can help build a culture where failure is accepted, people feel committed and responsible, empowered to speak up and celebrate successes.

Individuals, teams or organizations will not be stuck in one quadrant. They will move between quadrants as Scrum Masters help them using the right stance.

As a Scrum Master, the key is to identify the quadrant and work on using the appropriate stance. Using these stances being a servant leader is vital for Scrum Masters otherwise they will create dependencies and people will remain stuck in their quadrant.

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Rohit Ratan Mani

I am a life coach working as an Agile Coach supporting individual, teams and organisation in transforming.


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