What does a ScrumMaster do?

27 January 2010

German Sakaryan
medavis GmbH

What does a ScrumMaster do?

Dr. German Sakaryan CSP, CSM

As a ScrumMaster, I was asked this question many times. Sometimes I had enough time to explain, sometimes not. But every time it was challenging to provide a clear picture of what a ScrumMaster really does.

To help myself and other ScrumMasters, I have started to write down general activities, which characterize the role of the ScrumMaster (see below).

The priority of activities varies by company.

  1. Keeps Scrum process running
  2. Ensures a proper power balance between PO, Team, Management
  3. Protects the Team
  4. Moderates in the Team
  5. Helps to organize (e.g., Meetings)
  6. Helps to keep the Team focused on the current Sprint
  7. Helps to achieve Sprint goals
  8. Works with PO
  9. Educates PO, Team, Management and Organization
  10. Solves impediments
  11. Encourages and helps to achieve transparency
  12. Strives to develop a Team into a High Performance Team
  13. Encourages and protects self-organization
  14. Educates and focuses a Team toward business-driven development
  15. Supports Team building and Team development by utilizing the abilities and skills of individuals, and fostering a Feedback culture
  16. Helps to self-help
  17. Ensures and supports Empowerment of the Team
  18. Addresses needs efficiently and effectively
  19. Detects hidden problems and strives to solve them
  20. Helps Team to learn from its experiences

Hints for management:

ScrumMaster is a very challenging job. If you are hiring someone for the position, consider which skills the ideal candidate would have.

In my opinion, the job profile is strongly oriented towards leadership and soft skills including moderation, facilitation, presentation, communication and conflict management, and less technically-oriented.


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

Current rating: 4.5 (4 ratings)

Comments

Frederico Carvallho Moura, CSM, 1/28/2010 9:50:36 AM
It's a short and well made description for the professionals, who want work with Project Management. Independent of the practices that they will use.
Very good
Rogerio Ramos da Silva, CSM, 2/6/2010 7:49:08 AM
Really, really heavy position, but if the aims have been achieved, the process become success and glory.
Great appointments.
Sameh Zeid, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 2/18/2010 2:04:35 PM
Very well and informative list.

If I may add, probably the CSM should be able to answer questions related to completion date.
Melba Haggins, CSM, 2/22/2010 1:25:24 PM
This is good. From my experience as ScrumMaster on a project, I would say that a 'servant leader' would actually describe the type of leader that best fits the role.
Ron Miller, CSM,CSPO, 2/23/2010 6:06:56 PM
I like this list; it points out the many things that a successful Scrum Master must do. To hone that point I would recommend reading Jean Tabaka's book on "Collaboration explained" as many of the skills needed to accomplish your task list are discussed here in more detail.

As Scrum Master I like to think that my role is to be the "Glue" or "Lubricant" depending on what the situation requires.


One area I feel slight disagreement on; In my experience having a technical background enables a Scrum Master to become better integrated into the team and become more accepted as a true team member as opposed to one that is simply a figure head. At the same time the Scrum Master must remember that they aren't there for technical prowness but instead as a servient leader.

- Ron
http://lifefive.blogspot.com/
Thijs de Hoop, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 3/26/2010 7:31:14 AM
I really like this list. Alot of times this is also a question I receive. And the answer is always depending on what first comes to mind. I Also started on a short list. But this is a nice list. I will use this list more often.
Juan Banda, CST,CSP,CSM,CSD,CSPO, 3/29/2010 4:56:27 PM
Interesting list. I guess the question that I have is how would you rotate the Scrum Master role in a team? I mean, would you suggest to take out the current Scrum Master and bring another one? Are you recommending that an Scrum Master doesn't do any engineering task?


Jody Wennerberg, CSM, 5/6/2010 9:26:28 AM
I think one of the things that has helped me is get to know the teams and their personalities. Also food helps to keep them motivated :). I find that a good scrum master is something more than a title, the personality of the Scrum Master and the ability to work well with others is very important.
Pankaj Kumar Nakhat, CSM, 7/5/2010 10:37:43 AM
One point on 'Solves impediments '. I dont think he solves impedimentsm hilself, does he not rather makes it is solved?
German Sakaryan, CSM, 8/6/2010 2:58:28 PM
//Juan Banda said on 29 Mar 10 16:56:
//Interesting list. I guess the question that I have is how
//would you rotate the Scrum Master role in a team? I mean,
//would you suggest to take out the current Scrum Master and
//bring another one? Are you recommending that an Scrum
//Master doesn't do any engineering task?

From my point of view, Scrum Master role requires not only bright personality but also a set of

special soft skills (e.g., moderation, process consulting, conflict management, understanding in change processes etc.)

It is very challenging to find such people with such qualification. Therefore, I am not sure that just rotating ScrumMuster role in Team would be effective and efficient in the long term.

I recommend to have a full-time professional skilled ScrumMaster. It is better to have one ScrumMaster for two Teams, than to have one person sharing 50%-development and 50% ScrumMaster role.
I
Amitav Bhattacharjee, CSM, 2/25/2014 12:17:58 AM
Concise and neat definition. It's a full time role though, but I agree it could be better to have one ScrumMaster managing two teams.

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