Is a Scrum Master a full-time role?

Scrum Master: A Full-time Role or Not?

Here’s a question I get asked a lot by newbie Scrum Masters or Agile Consultants – “Is a Scrum Master a full-time role?

And I always respond the same, which is, ‘No, it doesn’t have to be… but the chances are that working with your team in your organisation likely needs to be. 🎯

So, that’s the short answer, but I’d like to delve into this a bit more and unpack my reasoning a little.

The Perfect Agile Scenario

Imagine working with a team that deeply understands Scrum and the Agile ways of working—a team with excellent working practices, great relationships, and absolute trust in each other.

You’re going to be there on the sidelines, cheering them, keeping an eye out, trying to work out how they can be better. 💫

But essentially, they’re a team that’s got it under control.

Imagine you’re working with a team that’s all over this stuff. They’ve got Scrum down to an art.

A much sought-after ‘self-sufficient’ team. 💫

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

In such an organisation, this team will be well versed in Agile principles and that way of working. They’ve established solid relationships where they’ve talked to HR about policies, talked to leadership, got great communities of practice going, and they trust each other to the hilt.

There may be no need for a full-time Scrum Master. 🧩

It seems like the perfect Agile scenario and you’re in a place many of us can only dream of.

So, what to do with the rest of the time?

As I would say, “Go find something valuable to do… be it as a developer across multiple teams or as a chef somewhere!” 😄

A dose of Reality Check

But here’s the catch. This type of almost perfect Agile scenario is “vanishingly rare.”

So, let’s get real.

More often than not, you’re in a situation where you’re working with a team that is still learning about Agile and still learning about Scrum. Even if they’ve got a few years under their belts and think they know it all, they’re still on a journey.

There is always so much more to learn, and they need to grasp that they will always be learning. 🔨

This is where you come in.

Full-time Role? It’s Likely So

When your team is on a learning curve, and your organisation understands it needs to change but doesn’t know how, your role as a Scrum Master is very much a full-time role.

You’re going to work with the team to understand Scrum, constantly crafting and recrafting their process to deliver amazing work.

Here’s why a Scrum Master’s full-time role might involve:

  1. Nurturing Team Relationships: You’re watching out for the team’s dynamics, helping them foster stronger relationships to perform better as a team.
  • Establishing Safety: You’re ensuring safety within and around the team so they can have open, honest conversations without fear of reprisals.
  • Defusing Grenades: You’re dealing with the issues the organisation unknowingly throws at the team, causing unintentional damage.
  • Facilitating Conversations: You’re engaging with HR, finance, compliance, and other departments, helping them understand how everyone can work better together.
  • Shaping Adoption: You’re helping shape the adoption of Agile and Scrum within the organisation and improving its ability to deliver excellent products to the marketplace.

6. Experimenting & Innovating: You’re experimenting and trying out new things with the team and the organisation, keeping an eye on the team’s effectiveness and finding ways to improve.

The Brutal Truth

If you think that you can do that and another job in that situation, you’re in for a surprise.

You’re probably fooling yourself.

The reality is that you’re either way, way better than anybody I’ve ever met, or you underestimate the size of the task at hand.

We’re talking about changes that can take months, if not years, to come to fruition, and we need to be there, shepherding it every step of the way. 🎯

Does this resonate with you?

Are you a Scrum Master juggling and grappling with multiple responsibilities, or someone looking to step into this pivotal role?

Join my Agile and Scrum courses to get insights, best practices, and the tools you need to succeed and gain insights, best practices, and the tools you need to succeed in your Agile journey. 🎯

author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.
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