The Scrum Master is one of the three roles that constitute every Scrum team (the others being the product owner and the development team). While the product owner is focused on building the right product and the development team is focused on building the product right, the Scrum Master is focused on helping everyone understand and embrace the Scrum values, principles, and practices. The Scrum Master acts as a coach to both the development team and the product owner. A Scrum Master also provides process leadership, helping the Scrum team and the rest of the organization develop their own high-performance, organization-specific Scrum approach.
According to the Scrum Guide, The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways, including:
• Ensuring that goals, scope, and product domain are understood by everyone on the Scrum Team as well as possible;
• Finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management;
• Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;
• Understanding product planning in an empirical environment;
• Ensuring the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value;
• Understanding and practicing agility; and,
• Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.
• Scrum Master Service to the Development Team
The Scrum Master serves the Development Team in several ways, including:
• Coaching the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality;
• Helping the Development Team to create high-value products;
• Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress;
• Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed; and,
• Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.
Scrum Master Service to the Organization
• The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including:
• Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;
• Planning Scrum implementations within the organization;
• Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development;
• Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team; and,
• Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.
What is expected from the Scrum Master?
• Scrum Coach: The Scrum Master coaches the Scrum Team and ensures that it understands and adheres to the Scrum way of working. As needed, the Scrum Master facilitates the events for the Product Owner and Development Team and ensures time-boxing.
• Servant Leadership: A strong inclination to serve the team by helping them to realize their own potential rather than commanding and controlling. Sets up the team to be self-organized by coaching them to come up with a work plan, an execution and control plan, and make daily decisions by themselves.
• Removes Impediments: While the Scrum Master mentors the team to solve issues by themselves, they own and remove other impediments that are outside the influence of the Team. In organizations starting Scrum, the Scrum Teams may get lot of external interruptions and requests for additional tasks. The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team to understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which are not. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.
• Champion of Transparency: Helps the team to increase transparency of planned work, product development progress, and impediments to progress. The Scrum Master spends time detecting incomplete transparency by inspecting the artifacts, sensing patterns, listening closely to what is being said, and detecting differences between expected and real results.
Coach: The Scrum Master is the agile coach for the Scrum team—both the development team and the product owner. By coaching both roles, the Scrum Master can remove barriers between the roles and enable the product owner to directly drive development.
The Scrum Master observes how the team is using Scrum and does anything possible to help it get to the next level of performance. When problems arise that the team can and should be able to solve, the Scrum Master’s attitude, like that of any good coach, is “I’m not here to solve your problems for you; instead, I’m here to help you solve your own problems.” If the problem is an impediment that the team can’t resolve, the Scrum Master takes ownership of getting it resolved.
The Scrum Master coaches a new product owner by helping him understand and perform his product owner responsibilities. Once the Scrum Master helps the product owner get established in his role, she provides him with ongoing assistance for activities such as grooming the product backlog. Furthermore, in keeping with the sports team analogy, the Scrum Master’s relationship with the product owner is very much like a sports team coach’s main role with the team’s owner: help the owner maximize business outcomes using Scrum, manage expectations, make sure the owner is providing the team with what it needs, and listen to the owner’s complaints and requests for change and translate those into actionable improvements for the team.
Servant Leader: The Scrum Master is often described as a servant leader of the Scrum team. Even when acting as the team’s coach, the Scrum Master is first and foremost a servant to the Scrum team, ensuring that its highest-priority needs are being met. A servant leader would never ask, “So, what are you going to do for me today?” Instead, a servant leader asks, “So, what can I do today to help you and the team be more effective?”
Process Authority: The Scrum Master is the Scrum team’s process authority. In this capacity, the Scrum Master is empowered to ensure that the Scrum team enacts and adheres to the Scrum values, principles, and practices along with the Scrum team’s specific approaches. The Scrum Master continuously helps the Scrum team improve the process, whenever possible, to maximize delivered business value.
Interference Shield: The Scrum Master protects the development team from outside interference so that it can remain focused on delivering business value every sprint. Interference can come from any number of sources, from managers who want to redirect team members in the middle of a sprint, to issues originating from other teams. No matter what the source of the interference, the Scrum Master acts as an interceptor (fielding inquiries, addressing management, and arbitrating disputes) so that the team can focus on delivering value.
Impediment Remover: The Scrum Master also takes responsibility for removing impediments that inhibit the team’s productivity (when the team members themselves cannot reasonably remove them). For example, I observed a Scrum team that was consistently unable to meet its sprint goals. The impediment was unstable production servers that the team used during testing (as part of its definition of done). The team itself had no control over these servers—that was the responsibility of the VP of Operations. Because the team itself could not remove the impediment, the Scrum Master took ownership of improving the server stability by working with the VP of Operations and others who could actually do something about the stability issue.
Change Agent: The Scrum Master must help change more than faulty servers and similar impediments. A good Scrum Master must help change minds as well. Scrum can be very disruptive to the status quo; the change that is required to be successful with Scrum can be difficult. The Scrum Master helps others understand the need for change, the impacts of Scrum outside of the Scrum team, and the broad-reaching benefits Scrum can help achieve. The Scrum Master also ensures that effective change is occurring at all levels of the organization, enabling not only short-term success but, more importantly, the long-term benefits from using Scrum. In large organizations, the Scrum Masters might band together to become a more effective force for change.
Now let’s summarize the main regarding the Scrum Master:
• The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted.
• The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. Scrum Masters ensure that the Scrum Team and those interacting with the Team from outside adhere to Scrum, so that the value created by the Scrum Team can be maximized.
• The Scrum Master also removes impediments and is the champion of transparency.
• They facilitate Scrum events as requested or needed.
• They serve the Product Owner in finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management, understanding product planning in an empirical environment, and knowing how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value.
• They serve the Development Team in coaching self-organization and cross-functionality, helping to create high-value products, and removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress.
• They serve the organization in its Scrum adoption, planning Scrum implementations within the organization, helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development, causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team, and working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.