Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Scrum Master role

What's a Scrum Master - what do they do all day?
Many companies seem to have trouble identifying the proper role for the Scrum Master, their job descriptions already hint that they're looking for something other than a Scrum Master, which implies that a successful hire is unlikely going to help the team succeed with Scrum.

What's not a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master is definitely not a rebranded management role in any form or fashion. They are not available to help managers retain command or control of the Scrum team. Their role is not intended to do any work either on the product or on the process. They also are not a secretary or a kind of errand person for the team.
Also, contrary to popular belief, the Scrum Master is in no way responsible for the delivery - neither in terms of quality, nor quantity.

Even terms like "Evangelist" or "Enforcer" might hint at behaviours a that could cause potentially detrimential behaviour.

A Scrum Master's power, as odd as that sounds, comes from not having any power. By empowering the Scrum Master in any regard, they lose this superpower.

Then what is a Scrum Master?

As hinted in another post, a Scrum Master's responsibility is primarily the people and their interactions - helping the team focus on their goal, deliver effectively and support the resolution of impediments towards higher performance.

Most notably, a Scrum Master would create transparency, visibility and thereby awareness of key impediments more than they would actively resolve them. Why? Everything the Scrum Master does reduces the learning effect of the team or the surrounding organization.
In knowledge work, learning leads to understanding, which then becomes the baseline for performance. Therefore, the main responsibility of the Scrum Master is to make learning happen.

In one sentence, the Scrum Master is a "Learning Maximizer".

To support you, here is a list of traits that you might want to be on the look out either in being or in choosing a Scrum Master:

Not helpfulHelpful
Project ManagerHelp management change from moving teams to work towards moving work to teams
Release ManagerAssist Product Owner and Developers in defining and tracking releases
Delivery ManagerRemind the teams of their responsibility to deliver
Process ManagerReflect on the process
Team ManagerRemind people when they break their Working Agreements
Problem solverSupport the team in solving their problems
Scrum EvangelistTeach Scrum in and around the team
Meeting Organizer / ModeratorHelp the team have effective meetings
Technical / Subject Matter ExpertExpert in regards to Scrum, change management, coaching
Jira AdminSupport the team in discovering and using appropriate tools
BouncerHelp people realize which interactions aren't helpful
Enforce ScrumRemind people when they break Scrum
Track team‘s progressSupport the team in making progress transparent
Produce reportsCreate transparency
Threaten, manipulate, coerceEncourage the team to do their best

To wrap it up, here's an illustration of what a Scrum Master does or doesn't:

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