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The Different Layers of the ScrumMaster Role

11 May 2016

Dr. Swapn (Sam) Sinha
Strategism Inc


A ScrumMaster is responsible for removing all impediments that stand in the way of the Scrum team during a sprint. The ScrumMaster is a guide, a motivator, and a path clearer. Though the role of a ScrumMaster seems pretty straightforward, there are many aspects to what he or she does.

One definition of a ScrumMaster that captures the essence of the role is from ScrumHub.com: "The ScrumMaster takes on the administrative, coaching, and leadership roles that make the Scrum development possible." The ScrumMaster does all of this without having any real authority over the team; the ScrumMaster cannot fire or remove anyone from the team, because he or she is not a leader in the traditional sense. The ScrumMaster is more of a facilitator and a motivator.

Without actively enforcing or specifically instructing anyone on the team, the ScrumMaster actually does a lot. A quick overview of the ScrumMaster's main responsibilities would include:
  • Facilitating the daily stand-up
  • Keeping an eye on the burn-down chart
  • Facilitating and setting up retrospectives and sprint reviews
  • Ensuring that impediments or interruptions do not affect the team during the sprint
  • Guiding team members
  • Creating a strong collaborative relationship between the team and the product owner
  • Maintaining the alignment of the work method with the Scrum process
Let's focus on only one of these aspects in more detail. For example, a guide is one of the ScrumMaster's roles. He guides team members in all aspects of Scrum, aligning with the goals of each sprint and the product owner's viewpoint, and also resolves any issues or conflicts. Now, let us take a closer look at this aspect. All the layers and hues of the role of a guide will become clear only when we break down the different components within that role:
  • Coaching the team members
  • Conducting one-on-one sessions with team members
  • Mediating any conflicts
  • Guiding the team through decision making
  • Facilitating the self-organization of the developer team
  • Advising the team on the Scrum process and method
  • Giving regular feedback to team members
  • Encouraging and guiding the development team to adopt and use Agile practices
  • Helping team members shift their thinking to the Agile way of working
  • Ensuring communication among members
  • Bringing together people from the team and across functions, when needed
  • Familiarizing oneself with the work and skills of team members
  • Creating specific learning opportunities for team members
  • Infusing the core Agile and Scrum values into the team
  • Helping the team continuously improve the process
  • Raising relevant issues and asking questions that impact the overall direction of the sprint
  • Observing the team as an outsider and advising them as an insider
As you can see, there are many things that go into the guidance aspect of a ScrumMaster. Therefore, when we consider the role in its entirety, we can see that the ScrumMaster is much more than what appears on the surface. In fact, the ScrumMaster can rightly be called the glue that holds the entire Scrum development process together.
 

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.



Article Rating

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Comments

Alex DiPasquale, CSM, 5/14/2016 8:53:54 AM
Nicely written article - each bullet point could be an article itself.

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