What does a Scrum Master do?
Scrum is an agile project management framework that enables teams to deliver value in 30 days or less. Arguably the most famous role in Scrum is the Scrum Master. But for those new to Scrum, it’s a bit of a mystery what a Scrum Master does day to day – here are five things that Scrum Masters do.
Scrum has a strong focus on collaboration through high value conversations. As such the Scrum Framework has a number of meetings that happen throughout the Sprint. These are the Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review and the Sprint Retrospective. People new to Scrum tend to worry that with so many scheduled conversations that they or Scrum Team will suffer death by meeting!
So how do we make these meetings effective and not a waste? A Scrum Master is usually found facilitating these meetings to be efficient, effective and valuable. Does the Scrum Master have to facilitate these conversations? No. The Scrum Master works to help the team learn the skills to facilitate well themselves (See next point), but until the do, the Scrum Master is usually found serving the team by facilitating most if not all meetings.
Trains, Mentors and Coaches
Remember one of the accountabilities of the Scrum Master is to help teams become self-organising and to help others in the organisation understand how to use Scrum well.
Because of this, the Scrum Master is constantly working to upskill the Scrum Teams in better use of Scrum – through overlapping approaches of training, mentoring and coaching. What skills does the Scrum Master help develop? What-ever is needed. Through observation, experimentation and experience, the Scrum Master steadily improves the team’s ability to self-organise, solve problems and become cross functional.
At an organisational level, the Scrum Master can be found working with leaders and managers, helping them to adopt their management styles to better facilitate the use of Scrum in the company. And again, the Scrum Master does this through different approaches; sometimes training, sometimes mentoring and at other times coaching. A good Scrum Master knows when to employ which approach.
Another part of the Scrum Masters role centres around removing impediments or blocks to the team’s progress.
During the Sprint, when the Scrum Team are working hard to get good stuff out the door, they will invariably come up with problems that slow or even stop progress. These challenges usually get surfaced at the Daily Scrum. If the Development Team can take care of the problem themselves, they usually will. But sometimes the Development Team cannot resolve the problem for whatever reason – time, skill, or something else. The impediment then falls on the Scrum Masters shoulders to resolve.
Being resourceful and active people, Scrum Masters work hard to resolve impediments. They will partner with other members of the team, talk to managers, escalate, find or create solution but generally do whatever they need to eliminate the blocks preventing their teams from delivering on their promises. As challenges come up frequently during a Sprint, the Scrum Master is usually found doing something to overcome the block and keep the team moving towards delivery.
Improves the Use of Scrum
We’ve mentioned how improvement is a component of the Scrum Masters accountabilities. Through great facilitation the Scrum Master uses the Retrospective as well as training, coaching and mentoring opportunities on-the-job to help the teams reflect on how they can steadily improve their working practices and continue to evolve.
In addition, organisational challenges that affect a teams ability to do Scrum well also get the Scrum Masters attention. As such, they are found working at higher levels to clear challenges, change antiquated processes or coach and mentor leaders in the effective use of Scrum.
Creates Adaptation and Learning
We talked about improvement above, but the Scrum Master doesn’t wait for a Retrospective to occur to cause adaptation. The key to continued growth and success is steady improvement, a great Scrum Master uses day to day challenges to find ways to help the team and organisation learn consistently and get better.
So there you have it, some thoughts around what a Scrum Master does. Did I miss something? Let me know.
If you really want to level up your Scrum Master skills, why not join us on one of our Scrum Training events here: https://fractalsystems.co.uk/agile-scrum-training/ or take our practice assessments here: https://fractalsystems.co.uk/scrum-practice-assessments/
Good luck in your Scrum journey!