The Scrum Master is one of the 3 roles defined in Scrum. It is primarily responsible for the success of Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide within the organization. They do this through helping others understand Scrum theory, practice and how using Scrum can benefit them.
The Scrum Master role breaks down into three key responsibilities:
- Service to the Scrum Team
- Service to the Product Owners
- Service to the organization
The Scrum Master is also accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness within the Scrum framework. Scrum Masters do this through coaching, facilitating continual improvement and removing impediments.
Scrum Masters act as servant leaders to the Scrum Team, Product Owners and the organization. They do not have authority but they lead through influence.
The Scrum Master serve the Scrum Team by:
- Facilitating and coaching the team to be self-organizing and cross-functional
- Introducing practices and theories that help the team to be higher performing
- Manage team dynamics and facilitate team cohesion
- Ensure that Scrum Events happen effectively, positive and productive
- Help the team realize value and deliver high quality, high value Product Increments
- Facilitate the removal of impediments
The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner by:
- Helping to find and introduce techniques for effective Product Backlog management
- Helping the Scrum Team write clear and effective Product Backlog items
- Helping the Product Owner craft effective Product Goals and Product Vision
- Helping to establish an empirical process for product planning and measuring team outcomes
- Facilitating stakeholder and team collaboration where needed
The Scrum Master serves the organization by:
- Coaching, training and upskilling the organization’s Scrum adoption
- Planning, leading and advising the organization on their Scrum implementation
- Removing organization impediments to ensure Scrum is effective
- Helping employees understand the empirical process to complex work
Although the Scrum Master role is defined by Scrum, many organizations have seen the benefits of having a role-focused on coaching the team and supporting continual improvement. As such many organizations have adopted the Scrum Master role even for non-Scrum teams. This role becomes more akin to a Team Coach or Agile Coach role whereby they serve as agile leaders to the team to help guide them either through the adoption of agile and/or to become a high performing team.