What do Scrum Masters do?

When I was training to become a coach, my coach at the time, Jen Corburn, said something that answers this question beautifully.

She said, “Coaches don’t do things. Coaches help other people to do things.”

For s, it is a very similar vein. You are the coach of the development team, the Product Owner, and of the organisation. You are there to coach. To help others excel. To help others achieve.

It is not your job as a to do stuff. It is your job to make sure that things get done.

So, as a you are looking at the Scrum team as a whole. You are looking at the development team and asking whether there is anything that they are doing that is hindering them. Is there anything preventing them from achieving their sprint goals.

You need to be aware of that.

You need to be having conversations with the team or individuals within the team to discover if there is anything that can be done to improve the situation. Should something be done? Is it within the capability of the team to solve the problem?

A is having similar conversations with the Product Owner.

What do they need to do their job well? What tools and technologies are they missing? Do they know about them? If not, then it is your role to start introducing them to those tools and technologies.

Sometimes it is simply signposting. It does not have to be sitting down and teaching a Product Owner how to write a user story.

That could be a matter of supplying the Product Owner with a great resource to help them with user stories and then having a conversation the next day about the resource and how it could help him or her in their role. Having a conversation about how the team can assist with user stories.

Another thing you hear a lot is that s are there to fix impediments. This isn’t true. They are there to make sure that impediments are fixed.

There is a difference.

It may be that the team cannot progress because the IT Director has limited the organisation to a specific version of windows or a specific browser. The doesn’t fix this. He or she would instead have a conversation with the IT Director and make the case for the impediment to be removed.

Often, a will be meeting with individuals within the organisation and letting them know that the team cannot resolve the situation or problem on their own. Letting them know that we require help to overcome the obstacle and actively asking for that help.

A scrum master often goes out into the organisation to find someone that is willing to make the changes that are required. Someone who has the level of influence or authority necessary to make that change.

In this way, the acts as an ambassador for the team and for Agile/Scrum within the organisation. Actively making the case for change and helping the team achieve their goals by acquiring the resources or removing the impediments necessary for change to occur.

When you find someone, who is willing and able to get the changes you need, or to acquire the resources you need, then your role as a shifts to helping them get that done.

So, in summary, a good will be doing very little, but they will be integral to a lot of things being done.

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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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