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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 11 months ago

What is a Scrum Master


Note: This page is not discussing the name of the Scrum Master role, but just the "job description". We have another page WhatsinaName to discuss the best name for the role. We also have DiscussScrummaster if you want to discuss before editing this page.


What does a Scrum Master do?


1. Provides initial training to a new Team

2. Provides initial training to Product Owner & Stakeholders


3. Provides team building training to the Team

4. Coaches the Product Owner & Stakeholders in their roles

5. Protects the Team and supports the Team in self-management

6. Manages the clearing of Blocks (or manages the overall Block clearing activities)


Note: Blocks can be a wide range of things. Including immediate hurdles, larger organizational blocks, etc. Blocks can also be called hurdles or impediments.


7. Facilitates the Agile process (for the project)

8. Coaches the Team towards high performance (including leadership that is not command and control)

9. Provides advanced training in Agile to the Team


10. Works on blocks.

11. As part of a scrum of scrums, helps his area/the company overcome hurdles more quickly


NET NET: They make the projects more productive (return better ROI).


Editor's note: If you want to add to this ("and"), then just do so (after or in-between). If you disagree ("but"), then maybe add an "Alternate View 1" or "Alternate View 2" to the bottom of the page.


See below for further discussion of each area.

See also DayinthelifeofaScrummaster


General Observations


  • It takes a lot of listening to do this job.
  • It takes a completely different kind of leadership to be a SM.
  • It does not require agreeing that the Team "can do anything it wants". (without consequences)


SM and self-management


Some have the notion that a Team can do anything, since it self-manages. Clearly there are limits to this notion. At the extreme, the PO might quickly see they are unproductive, and no longer pay for the Team.


More immediately, over certain areas of his expertise, the SM does not have to agree that the Team can self-organize (eg, as group decide to not hold standups). In a sense, he can not stop the Team (not himself having a police force). But he can say that

(a) he does not agree (and explain why)

(b) he does not agree that is Agile (and explain why)

(b) he will need report this non-agile behavior to management.

(Never wise to make idle "threats".)


This is not to suggest that every violation of a "scrum rule" or "agile rule" or "common agile practice" is wrong. (Sometimes it would feel easier if the "agile rules" were so clear-cut.) We believe some of the agile rules are clear-cut, while, especially in some circumstances, other "agile rules" are not valid in those situations. Knowing when to "blow the whistle" is (as in basketball) a fine art that takes much practice.


It is useful for the SM to explain to the Team that he is only advising against the most obvious "bad" actions. He is already letting them scrape their knee. He will not sit idly by if they will break an arm (or worse).


Up to a point, it is useful for the Team to rebel. (Not all teams wish to do this.) In teenagers, it is part of re-setting the boundaries. And for Teams, some need to do this to determine if some words are true (eg, "the Team is wholly responsible for delivering the project and is authorized to take all reasonable actions").


Comments on the above list


1 & 2 - This initial training does many things. Among them, team building (in a usefully indirect way). We note ideally a difference in the training between the Team and the PO. And somewhat different also between the PO and the stakeholders.


3. Team building here includes leading the Team toward higher performance. Perhaps better stated this way, to some audiences. See also #8.


6. Clearing blocks. This includes management (that all blocks are getting addressed by someone in a timely manner, and in priority order). Many blocks in the company are best referred to others. But the SM must still explain why the clearing is urgent, etc. It also includes doing the "real work" of actually clearing. One Example: Putting a lightbulb in a light fixture might actually be done by the SM.


8. This also includes helping the Team with Retrospectives. And in other ways helping them see how they could be more productive by being more Agile. In all the ways (communication, engineering practices, etc, etc).




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