In an environment where people don’t have a great scrum master, there can be a little confusion around why a Scrum Master is such a critical element of the Scrum Team.
Let me answer this question with another question.
How many elite professional athletes work without a coach? How many elite football teams work without a coach?
In my experience, none.
In fact, I remember reading an article about Andy Murray that made international news. He had just sacked his tennis coach and although that was newsworthy, the fact that he had no replacement coach was of even greater interest to sports journalists around the world.
That’s how critical coaches are in helping others achieve excellence and high performance.
A Scrum Master is a coach.
They are the glue that binds the scrum team together and work with teams and individuals to create environments where others can succeed.
A large part of their role lies in helping to remove impediments to progress for the scrum team. Sometimes those impediments arise from the scrum team but they do also happen outside of the scum team in the wider organisation.
A Scrum Master also acts as a coach outside of the scrum team to help people in the organisation remove the impediments to progress for the scrum team.
A scrum master is focused on how things can be improved. They have a deep belief that each individual and each team they serve can do things better, become better, and reach their highest potential.
It is this belief structure that drives the Scrum Master to work with teams to help clarify their own thinking. To help them examine their own belief structures and lines of reasoning to identify opportunities and threats to progress.
At times they will be working with individuals to discover new ways of solving a problem or new ways to create a product or service that has never existed before.
They will be working with those individuals to identify where they currently are, what needs doing, what is working, and in some cases, they will also help the team to uncover the ‘how’ element of what needs doing.
In much the same way that Sir Alex Ferguson was not the best football player on the team at Manchester United, a Scrum Master is not the best developer on the scrum team.
Both Sir Alex Ferguson and the Scrum Master demonstrate their value in helping individuals and the team achieve their best performances. They are paid to create an environment where the exceptional players on the team can continue to excel, week in and week out.
They are experts at creating an environment that promotes and sustains continuous improvement regardless of the variables that the team encounter.
If you like the idea of mentored and coach-driven skills development, visit our Agile Coach Academy course page.