What is the Role of a Scrum Master?

Background

The Scrum Master / Coach is the coach and facilitator of the team. He / she works to improves the productivity of the Team. He / she always has a training plan for the Team. The Scrum Master controls the “inspect and adapt” cycles of Scrum / Agile. The Scrum Master protects the Team and works with the Product Owner to maximize the return on investment. He / she ensures that the Scrum / Agile ideals are understood and respected by all stakeholders.

The main characteristic of the Scrum Master is the determination that he / she will do whatever is needed to help the Team deliver top quality results (product / project / etc) that meets the customer's needs every Sprint / Iteration, and that anything else is an obstacle and they'll work to remove it.

Responsibility

  • Process improvements:
    • Ensures that the Team is fully functional and productive
    • Improve the lives of the (Development) Team by facilitating creativity and empowerment.
    • Improve the productivity of the (Development) Team in any way possible
    • Improve the engineering practices and tools so that each increment of functionality is potentially shippable
  • Diplomacy
    • Enables close cooperation across all roles and functions and removes barriers
    • Remove the barriers between the (Development) Team and the Product Owner, so the Product Owner directly drives value production.
  • Coaching
    • Comprehensively understands the broader Scrum / Agile framework
    • Expert in various tools and techniques
  • Managing change
    • Control changes as they come in and guide various parties in working the change through the system to best effect
    • Shields the team from external interferences
  • Manages impediments / obstacles
  • Maintains Definition of Done
  • Encourage effective communication
    • Conflict facilitation
    • Teaching others to be more effective at communication
    • Ensures that part-time team members are kept informed
    • Facilitating Scrum activities
  • Ensures that the process is followed
    • Logistics and facilitation associated with Daily scrum, Sprint Review, Sprint Planning and Retrospectives as well as other meetings such as Product Owner meetings
  • Updating artifacts
    • Keeps information about the Team's progress up-to-date and visible to all parties.

Personality characteristics that will help a Scrum Master work these responsibilities are captured at What Are The Characteristics of a Great Scrum Master?

What We Don't Want to See

  • The Scrum Master is not a manager of the Team. The Scrum Master is a coach, facilitator and protector. About the only power the Scrum Master has is to enforce the process - expect Daily Scrum meetings, Sprint Reviews and so on.
  • The Scrum Master is an engaged coach. The most under-rated aspect of the Scrum Master's role is the idea that someone can help people get better as a team. Properly done, a Scrum Master can help a Team become much more than the sum of its parts and the additional productivity is typically much more than the person had contributed as another team member. For example, it is not unheard of for a Scrum Team to increase their productivity by more than 2X and 3X … I’ve seen 9X.

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