Detailed introduction to eight responsibilities of Scrum master


Eight responsibilities of Scrum master

according toScrum Guide Scrum MasterResponsible for ensuring team understands and practices scrum. Scrum master does this by making scrum teams follow scrum’s theories, practices, and rules.

Scrum master is the service-oriented leader of Scrum team. Scrum master helps those who are outside the scrum team to know their interactions with the team, which are helpful to the team and which are not. Scrum master maximizes the output value of Scrum team by helping everyone inside and outside the team interact.

Scrum master characters have a lot of postures and great diversity. A great scrum master is aware of these diversities and knows when to apply them according to the actual situation and environment. It’s all about helping people understand the spirit of scrum.

Scrum Master stances

Scrum master can be a:

  • Service oriented leadership: a person who focuses on the needs of team members and provides value to customers through the realization of organizational values, principles and business objectives.
  • Guide: build a stage for teamwork and provide clear boundaries.
  • Coach: pay attention to each individual’s thought and behavior, and teach them, so that the team can be continuously improved, and the organization can really cooperate with Scrum team.
  • Managers: responsible for managing barriers, estimating waste, managing processes, team health, self-organizing boundaries and culture.
  • Mentor: impart agile knowledge and experience to the team.
  • Teacher: make sure the team understands and practices scrum and other related methods.
  • Scavenger: help the team to solve the obstacles that affect the team’s work progress while taking into account the team’s self-organization ability.
  • Master of change: create a culture that can make scrum team prosperous.

This article contains my personal experience as a scrum master. In addition to these experiences, I added what I found in reading books, reading articles, and watching videos. I also added the most common misunderstandings about the role of Scrum master, and why I changed myself from an agile coach to a 100% scrum master. The reason behind this change is also my motivation to write this article. I hope you like it.

Eight misunderstandings about scrum master’s responsibilities

Although the eight postures of Scrum master mentioned above may seem like common sense, they are not common practices. The role of Scrum master is often misunderstood as:

  • Clerk: take notes from the events in scrum, and record the commitment of the whole sprint plan, daily plan, requirement refinement discussion and review meeting. I’ve really experienced this with a client who wants scrum master to be a scribe for four hours a week.
  • Secretary: schedule all scrum events in everyone’s schedule, and ensure that team schedules are updated on holidays and off days.
  • Scrum police: strictly abide by scrum terms, and do not consider the current situation and environment of the team. If you don’t follow scrum’s instructions, you’re doing something wrong.
  • Team boss: the so-called “service-oriented leadership”, but in fact it’s just the boss of the team. The boss decides who to hire and who to fire. The boss decides whether someone should get a raise.
  • Administrator: if you need to make some changes in JIRA, TFs or other tools, Scrum master will be your good partner. He kept every workflow in mind.
  • Host: every morning, the team updates the status to the host through daily scrum. This provides scrum master with the data necessary to write a daily status report to his boss.
  • Superhero: This is the bird, this is the plane, this is the super scrum master!!! Clear every obstacle before it really becomes one. Heroes are addicted to adrenaline when they solve problems. It’s not about the team, it’s about raising his status as a hero.
  • Coffee shop assistant: there’s nothing wrong with serving coffee to your team members. It’s very academic. But if your main goal of the day is to provide coffee to the team… Then you lose the key to being a scrum master.

Scrum Master misunderstanding

As mentioned above, this article contains my personal experience as a scrum master. The misunderstanding of Scrum master is a good example. Most of the time, I have played the role of Scrum master as scrum policeman, team boss, superhero and so on. This is not my most successful experience. Despite my claim to promote self-organization, I didn’t give the team any chance to achieve it. I’m more like a project manager or team boss, but I give myself the title of Scrum master.

Through inquiry and feedback, learning from other scrum masters, and reading books related to scrum, I gradually improved myself. Posting the eight postures mentioned above on the blog is also part of the journey.

It’s my personal mission to create a better understanding of Scrum master’s role. I do not condemn the misunderstanding I have mentioned. I’d like to offer some different perspectives and invite people to rethink the role of Scrum master.

Scrum Master misunderstanding

From part-time agile coach to full-time scrum master

Considering my personal mission, I need to make an important change. I need to make people better understand the role of Scrum master through cases. So I decided to remove “agile coach” from my social media profile and replace it with “scrum master”. 100% scrum master. Although this seems to be only a small change, when I put forward this proposal, it still attracted some attention

  • “You should stick to being an agile coach. As a freelancer, this is a more popular job title. “
  • “No, don’t become a scrum master, you will get less income! “
  • “Why don’t you call yourself scrum expert? Agile transformation coach? Master of enterprise change? “
  • “At least call yourself senior scrum master or chief scrum master!”
  • “All the cool stuff is done by agile coaches; as a scrum master, you’ll get stuck with your scrum team. “
  • “Scrum is a hot word. It may be out of date in a year! “

But don’t call yourself scrum master, or your career as a freelancer will be cursed! I need to be honest, these concerns really make me have some thinking, except for the last one. If scrum is getting hot, it should have been popular for 21 years. It’s really quite an old thing. And it’s likely to continue over the next 21 years. At that time, Scrum will be 42 years old, and it will officially be the answer to the ultimate questions of life, the universe and everything. However, Gunther Verheyen’s prediction will come true: “the future state of Scrum will no longer be called scrum, what we now call scrum will become a specification, and a new template for the software industry will occupy the position and allow organizations to thoroughly transform around the template. “

So why did I change my title from agile coach to scrum master? Let me explain it to you through scrum’s values.

Scrum values

Commitment – scrum values

I want to deal with my personal frustrations, as described in the previous chapter, because of a misunderstanding of the role of Scrum master. I want to commit myself to helping individuals, teams and organizations improve their ability to deliver valuable products. I want to commit myself to creating an environment full of teamwork, cooperation and pleasure. I believe scrum master is a key player in creating such an environment. I want to contribute not only by offering scrum master courses, but also by performing this role myself. It’s like self production and self marketing, and so on. It’s a promise I’m trying to live up to.

Focus – scrum values

I believe that focusing, creating a compelling vision for myself, turning it into tangible goals, and then focusing on achieving them, is the best job for me. When I put myself in the position of agile coach, I couldn’t feel focused, just like an empty shell. Every organization seems to be full of agile coaches. Although I’m not aiming at agile coaches, I just don’t think of myself as an agile coach. An agile coach needs to have knowledge and experience of Kanban, XP, lean, and all the different scale methods and frameworks.

Although I can pretend to be an agile coach, I’m not an agile coach. I’m a scrum master. I want to be part of the scrum team. As a scrum master, I am interested in other frameworks and methods. As a scrum master, I am able to provide my advice to the organization in these areas. But if a different method can better adapt to the organization, I will take the team to contact with people who have more experience in that field.

I am focused on performing the role of Scrum master. As a scrum master, I provide guidance to the R & D team, product owners and organizations. As a self-employed scrum master, I try to make myself free so that I can teach other scrum masters and try to ensure the sustainable use of Scrum framework in this way. As a scrum master, I try to be a service leader, mentor, coach, conflict coordinator, manager, mentor, teacher, obstacle remover and change agent. The purpose of everything is to help people understand the spirit of scrum. Only with real focus, I believe it is possible to live in all the different positions of the scrum master character.

Courage – scrum values

True commitment and concentration are possible only by showing courage. Have the courage to say no. You need courage to choose. I chose to be a scrum master. So I say no to the role of agile coach. Everything I do is called scrum. I will write articles about scrum, discuss scrum events, and provide scrum training. I will be an active contributor to the scrum community. Of course, I will be inspired by other agile events, such as extreme programming day. Everything is for the purpose of better fulfilling the role of Scrum master.

Respect – scrum values

As a real person, I try to respect everyone I come into contact with. Respect others by showing them who they are. Be open, authentic and honest. As Geoff watts lists, “one of the great elements of respect is integrity. Integrity includes honesty, persistence, trustworthiness and strong moral principles. “

When I was at prowareness (an agile consulting company in the Netherlands), I was awarded the “most upright employee”. It’s a matter of pride to receive the description of my integrity. My goal is not to win the integrity award, but to be more authentic.

That’s exactly why I changed my role description from agile coach to scrum master. As a scrum master, I feel very real. Although the difference between these two roles may feel vague to some people, agile coach is not a proper name for me. In order to show respect for my customers, I chose to be a scrum master. I can provide customers with the service of general agile coach or excellent scrum master. I chose the latter.

Open scrum values

For me, openness and transparency are my beliefs. For me, openness and transparency are self-evident. I am such a WYSIWYG person, and I will be transparent about what I do. I will provide openness by sharing all my insights, mistakes and what I learned as a scrum master. It’s not just the material that I did well, but also the material that I did wrong. These experiences will be shared through articles, lectures and training.

Summary (eight responsibilities of Scrum master – opening)

So from now on, I will position myself as a scrum master. A scrum master with 100% investment. As long as scrum master makes me who I am, I will always practice this role. Because I can at least show others a high fidelity real myself.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (1) – scrum master as a service leader

Service oriented leadership is consistent with the values of courage, openness, respect, concentration and commitment advocated by agile. It’s the backbone of Scrum master’s role, so it’s the first position we’ll introduce. In this section, we will introduce what is service-oriented leadership, the relationship between service-oriented leadership and Agile Manifesto, and how scrum master can act as a service-oriented leader.

What is service leadership?

Service oriented leadership is a concept, as well as a series of practices to enrich individual life, build a better organization, and ultimately create a more just and caring world.. Service oriented leadership is a transformational way that has the potential to create a positive life and work change in the whole society. Service oriented leadership focuses on cooperation, trust, empathy and the use of power from an ethical perspective. Service oriented leadership includes:

  • Serve others, not yourself
  • Not through position leadership
  • Sustained leadership
  • Help others grow and express themselves as efficiently as possible
  • Selfless management of team members
  • Promote true team spirit
  • Using the power of the team

What is service leadership?

Robert K. Greenleaf, the founder of service-oriented leadership, describes service-oriented leadership as “service leader is a service provider first”. It comes from the natural feeling that people want to give, and then, conscious choice makes a person eager to be a leader. The best way to test whether people are service-oriented leaders is: are the personality of those being served more mature? When they are served, are they more healthy, intelligent, free and independent, and more likely to become service providers? At the same time, what is the impact on the least privileged people in society? Will they benefit, or at least not be deprived of more rights? “The goal of service-oriented leadership is to strengthen team cooperation and improve individual participation. They create a participatory environment to motivate employees by sharing power and decision-making power. A service leader:

  • Focus on building the foundation of trust
  • Incentives, empowerment and transparency
  • Encourage cooperation
  • He is a tolerant, receptive and empathetic person who can really listen
  • Moral, caring, putting the needs of others first
  • Humble, knowledgeable, positive, sociable and context aware

Agile Manifesto and service leadership

Service leadership can also be found in the Agile Manifesto. The agile core values of “individuals and interaction are higher than processes and tools”, “customer cooperation is higher than contract negotiation” clearly emphasize the importance of cooperative interaction, serving others (team members) rather than themselves, and improving team performance by supporting individual growth.

Among the twelve principles of Agile Manifesto, the one related to service-oriented leadership is: “motivate individuals to build projects with them as the core. Provide the environment and support they need and believe they can achieve their goals. “Business people and developers must work together, every day of the project is no exception. “

Scrum master as a service leader

Agile guide describes scrum master as the service-oriented leader of Scrum team. Scrum master is not a master of the team, but a master who encourages and inspires people to unite as a team and give full play to their potential. Scrum master is a service-oriented leader who focuses on the needs of team members and the people they serve (customers). His goal is to make the results achieved by the team consistent with the organizational values, principles and business objectives.

Scrum master leads agile teams by example, respect and effective influence on the organization and effectiveness of agile teams. Scrum master also leads the team through values, courage, commitment and stubbornness. Stubbornly have a strong belief, have a strong desire to change the organization.

As a service leader, Scrum master is responsible for:

  • Build scrum with service-oriented process instead of command oriented process
  • Guide the development team to develop into a self-organizing team
  • Lead the team through healthy conflict and debate
  • Teach, coach, and direct organizations and teams to adopt and use scrum
  • Protect the team from interference and external threats
  • Help the team identify, remove and prevent obstacles
  • Encourage and support the team to develop its full potential and ability
  • Create transparency by publishing information such as product to-do list, sprint to-do list, daily station meeting, review, visible workspace, etc
  • Ensure a culture of cooperation within the team

Responsibilities of Scrum master (1) – scrum master as a service leader – Summary

Service leadership has proven to be the backbone of Scrum master’s role. Its concept and practice increase team cooperation and create a working environment suitable for the vigorous and sustainable development of individuals. As a service-oriented leader, Scrum master can help the team practice the values of agility, courage, openness, respect, concentration and commitment, and realize the full potential of the team.

Scrum master responsibilities (2) – scrum master as coach

This chapter is about scrum master’s role as a coach. We often think of Scrum master as the coach of the team to help the team play to the best level to achieve the sprint goal. In this chapter, I will describe what a coach is and share three perspectives scrum master can use as a coach.

What is a coach

There are many good definitions for coaches. My final definition is: “coach is to release a person’s potential and make them play to the highest level. Help people learn, not teach them directly. “
Other good definitions are as follows:

  • “The ultimate goal of a coach is to help clients understand themselves better and make them reach their full potential. “
  • “Efficient coaching skills are guidelines, not mandatory. “
  • “The art of promoting the effectiveness, learning and development of others. “
  • “The coach narrowed the gap between what he wanted to do and what he actually did.”

What is efficient coaching

Through Portia Downton’s website (selfish programming), I came across “7 Habits of efficient coaches”. Scrum master can use these habits to check whether she or he is coaching in a way that has the highest probability of success. The habits she describes are:

  • make oneself an example. In other words, coaches will practice the values and principles they believe in and apply the tools and skills they know to themselves and their work.
  • Start with the end. The coach will start from the goal and find out the most effective and quick way from a to B
  • Set the pace of sustainable development. The coach keeps calm when people around him lose their heads.
  • Think with your head and feel with your heart. The coach takes care of both thinking and emotion. When solving problems, coaches use logical thinking and empathy at the same time.
  • Attract, not push. The coach waited and was always ready for help. Coaches create and offer learning opportunities rather than imposing their ideas, suggestions and opinions on others.
  • Speak less and listen more. Coaches are not in a hurry to judge what they hear. They listen patiently while others finish.
  • Teach like a stream. Coaches are patient, pragmatic and live in the moment.

Scrum master as coach

Describe scrum master as a coach from three different perspectives: individual, team and organization. Guide individuals to focus on thinking patterns and behaviors, guide teams to make continuous improvement, and guide organizations to truly work with Scrum teams. Consider what Lisa Adkins said: “coaching technology is not about giving advice, it’s about helping people come up with their own solutions. If you ask the right questions, they will often give effective help. “

Coaching individuals

  • Explain the thinking and behavior patterns needed to help individuals find new perspectives and possibilities.
  • Influence team members to make good use of scrum.
  • Help everyone take the next step in his or her agile journey.

Coaching team

  • Advocate a thinking mode of continuous improvement and create a learning culture.
  • Help the team solve problems and conflicts.
  • Guide team development and progress “until members know how to best learn from each other.
  • Change the attitudes, thinking patterns and behaviors that hinder scrum.
  • Coach team members to give open and honest feedback to each other.

Guidance organization

  • Help organizations deliver high quality and high value products and achieve amazing results.
  • Guide the whole organization to do product management, focusing on continuously adding business value to products.
  • Support and encourage collaboration between organizations and scrum teams.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (2) – scrum master as coach – Summary

Through some research, I have created a concise description of Scrum master as a coach. In addition to sharing the most common definitions of “coach,” this chapter also includes three perspectives that can be used to describe scrum master as a coach. Guide individuals to focus on thinking patterns and behaviors, guide teams to make continuous improvement, and guide organizations to truly work with Scrum teams.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (3) – scrum master as guide

This chapter describes how scrum master serves as a mentor to product owners and development teams. I will introduce the definition of a mentor, common misunderstandings and the characteristics of an excellent mentor.

What is a mentor?

“Mentors help the team understand the common goals of the team and lead the team to make plans for the common goals. Because of this, the mentor is always a ‘neutral’ role. This means that he / she does not bring the point of view of a particular character into the discussion. “The key skills (and some other important skills) a mentor needs are as follows:

  • Help and motivate the team to achieve their goals better.
  • Keep neutral in content and don’t stand in line.
  • Support everyone in the team to think and practice the best solution.
  • Guide and encourage teamwork and strive for synergy advantage.
  • It has charismatic authority and can be supported and followed by inspiring the team.

Misunderstanding of Scrum master as a mentor

When I ask people how to understand scrum master as a guide service team, I usually get only one answer: scrum master is responsible for organizing and arranging scrum events (usually refers to five meetings: Daily standing meeting, sprint planning meeting, sprint review meeting, sprint review meeting and demand carding meeting). To be sure, Scrum master is responsible for the process of scrum, supporting and leading the team in continuous improvement.

Scrum events are a very important part of the scrum process. Although scrum master does not have to participate in every meeting, he must ensure that:

  • The team uses the concept of time box in sprint to produce finished, valuable and releasable product increments.
  • The team checks the team’s work progress in the direction of sprint goal in the daily station meeting
  • During the sprint planning meeting, the team extracted items from the product to-do list for discussion, planning and agreement. The team needs to have the confidence to complete these items in the current sprint to ensure that the goals and strategies set by the product owner can be achieved on schedule.
  • During the review meeting, the team demonstrates and reviews the product increments produced by the current sprint, and adjusts the product task list as needed.
  • In the sprint review meeting, the team reviews and adjusts some practices and processes to try to optimize or solve some problems that may hinder the team’s progress. The biggest misunderstanding here is that organizing scrum events is the only thing scrum master needs to do as a guide. However, a good scrum master, as a guide, can do more effective and powerful things.

The real meaning of the instructor in Scrum

As mentioned in the previous definition of mentors, mentors help teams understand and achieve common goals, guide and encourage teamwork, work with teams to improve processes, and strive to achieve synergy. Based on this definition, the instructor has to do much more than hosting scrum events.

In his book scrum master, Geoff watts defines guidance as the basic skills and behaviors of a scrum master. “Scrum master always serves the goals of the team, the product owner and the organization. If there are contradictions and conflicts in these goals, they will consider in the long run and make compromises and concessions. “A scrum master must:

  • Guide the team and its environment to the direction of good relationship, full cooperation and smooth communication.
  • Lead the team to implement scrum process and continuously improve the process.
  • The successful integration of the leader team and the organization where the team is located.
  • Guide the team to conduct scrum events more purposefully and efficiently.
  • Guide the team to achieve team (even individual) goals effectively.

Lyssa Adkins uses a very good definition in her how to build an agile project management team: “as a facilitator, Scrum master needs to create a ‘container’ for the team to hold all their ideas and ideas. This container may be a series of issues on the agenda of the meeting, or it may be some lightweight or flexible structure to ensure that the team has enough appropriate framework to support their goals, enough positive environment to encourage more full collaboration, where every brilliant idea will be faced up to. Coaches create containers and teams create content. “

Characteristics of a good instructor

So a scrum master can discuss their ideas together by setting up a purposeful stage and providing clear boundaries. Here are some other qualities that a good instructor needs to possess:

  • Design and lead meetings that help the team achieve their goals and achieve results
  • Motivate the team to generate new insights and ideas by asking powerful questions
  • Understanding listening, not reactive listening
  • Develop a strong team, not a strong individual
  • Guide and promote rather than do it yourself
  • Know how to use smart guidance

What does a good leader of Scrum events look like

Every scrum event has a clear purpose to answer the question: why do we have this meeting? An excellent instructor must ensure that the goal of each event is clear and clear, the method is simple and effective, and the goal can be achieved effectively. The goals of Scrum events mentioned above are substantive. Through effective guidance, Scrum master can seek more value in each event. The characteristics of a well guided scrum event are: – the atmosphere of the daily station meeting is to maintain appropriate pressure, which is generated to ensure quality, achieve commitment and identify obstacles. -In the planning meeting, the product owner and the development team cooperate sincerely, focusing on the output of business value. All team members have a good understanding of the current work and actively participate in setting sprint goals and striving to achieve them. -The sprint review meeting is an energetic meeting. Here, Scrum team, sponsors and stakeholders check product increments and product task lists together, and review and improve their cooperation. They act like a team with a common purpose. There is no difference between “customer” and “supplier”. -The sprint review meeting is held in a safe atmosphere to ensure that the “elephant in the room” (a metaphor for things that are easy to be habitually ignored) is fully identified and discussed, and to work out the improvement plan that the team members agree to implement in the next sprint.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (3) – scrum master as guide – Summary

All in all, excellent instructors:

  • Serve the team, but avoid being a servant of the team.
  • Help the team make decisions and reach agreement
  • Identify misconceptions, behaviors, and attitudes that lead to inefficient meetings
  • Be a keen observer
  • Don’t interfere too much when the team can be self-organized
  • Know how to interrupt the team at the right time
  • Help teams improve collaboration efficiency
  • Ask effective questions and set necessary challenges

It takes a lot of time, practice and continuous reflection and improvement to master these guiding skills. But given the huge benefits it could bring, it’s definitely worth the effort.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (4) – scrum master as a teacher

This chapter is about scrum master as a teacher. I will describe the definition of a teacher, the theoretical point of view and some practical examples about what scrum master should teach.

What is a teacher?

The simplest definition I can find is: “someone who can help others learn something new. “Education is about imparting knowledge or skills, or instructing some people how to do something. Some good quotes about education:

  • “The art of teaching is the art of auxiliary discovery. “- Mark van Doren
  • “I never teach students, only provide them with the conditions to study. “- Albert Einstein
  • “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite imagination and instill a love of learning. “- Brad Henry

Scrum master as a teacher:

According to scrum guidelines, Scrum master is responsible for ensuring that scrum is understood and implemented. Scrum master ensures that scrum is understood and implemented by ensuring that scrum teams abide by scrum theories, practices and rules. They guide teams to return to agile practices and principles when they are lost. The instruction for scrum master is mainly focused on the development team and the product owner. But scrum master also wants to make sure that everyone else on the team understands scrum.

So what can scrum master teach?

  1. Teach agile when the team is set up. In my first week with the team, I often lead the team back to the core of agile and scrum. I taught them why and what is agile, Scrum framework, extreme programming and kanban. Although some of the team members may have a lot of agile experience, it can put everyone on the same plane. Explain the Agile Manifesto and emphasize the assumptions on which product development is based: customers know what they need, developers know how to build, and there is no change in the process. In reality, customers find out what they need, developers find out how to build and change in the process.
  2. Teach scrum the core. Using scrum can be compared to playing chess. You either play by the rules or you don’t play by the rules. Neither scrum nor chess will fail or succeed. They either play or they don’t. Those who play both and keep practicing can become very good at games. If it was chess, they would be masters. If it is scrum, they may become a very good development organization, valued by customers, loved by users, and feared by competitors. Some teams start using scrum by removing parts of the framework. For example, one or two “Daily” station meetings confuse multiple roles and skip retrospective meetings. It’s ok if the team understands this wisely, but scrum master should educate them about the consequences and emphasize that they are not using scrum.
  3. Teaching scrum is different from good habits. Nowadays, many good practices are strongly intertwined with Scrum core. It’s useful to teach the team the difference between the two. Examples of good practices are using story points, doing scrum daily meetings and using burn out charts to track the process. All good practices don’t force you to think about the core of scrum.
  4. The characteristics of educational teams about building sharing. Teams should be aware of the prerequisites for teamwork. How to become a team? What does a team mean? Sometimes I ask the team to share some personal experiences they have participated in in the past. What is the worst team and why? What is the best team and why? Team building Manifesto is a powerful way to build shared features.
  5. Educate the team about the importance of product versions. That’s part of the arrival of the product owner. It’s likely that the team building is purposeful, for example, building a new product. It is essential that the team know and understand all product versions of the product owner. Only by understanding the purpose of the product can the team make the right decision. In general, a clear version is like a beacon for the development team, which is necessary in difficult times.
  6. Education team about self-organization. As the Agile Manifesto says, “the best architecture, requirements and design come in self-organizing teams. “A self-organizing team is a group of positive individuals who can work together towards goals, have the ability and authority to make decisions, and adapt to changing requirements. A scrum master, as a promoter of Scrum and self-organization, should consider how to let the team solve their own problems, and provide tools, training and how to do the best observation.
  7. Educate the role of the scrum team. All members of the team are required to fully fulfill their roles. Any deficiency is a deficiency. How do the three roles in scrum complement and influence each other. The product owner wants to build the right thing, the development team wants to build it right, and scrum master wants to build it faster. A great team knows how to balance these interests.
  8. Educate the team about hindrance. In scrum, hindrance is anything that hinders team productivity. It is scrum master’s responsibility to ensure that obstructions are clear. Scrum master can improve the self-organization ability of development team only by removing obstacles. Otherwise, it’s not just a hindrance, but a problem that the development team has to solve on its own.
  9. Educate the team about visualizing progress. Transparency is one of the core of scrum. It is essential for inspection, adaptation and self-organization. Therefore, the need for visualization is obvious, without which self correction is difficult to achieve. It’s up to the development team to choose what to visualize and how to visualize. Visualizing product to-do lists and sprint to-do lists is a good practice to be explicitly encouraged. Other good practices for visualizing processes and improving assistance include burning out charts, creating a whiteboard about obstacles and improvements, showing team members’ availability, or creating a sprint calendar to show all events and meetings.
  10. The person in charge of educational products is responsible for the management of to-do list. Scrum master teaches the product owner how to create a product to-do list, how to sort based on priority, risk, value and dependency, and how to involve the whole team in the management of the to-do list.
  11. Education organization about scrum. Scrum architecture may be divisive for some organizations. This is because some people find it difficult to cope with change. To explain the purpose of scrum, the important need for some changes is to establish a common understanding and a foundation to ensure that changes really work.
  12. The education team should “have a good time”. Don’t take everything too seriously. Having a good time helps to cope with difficult conditions, enhance assistance and build a healthy team spirit. So making sure you “have a good time” is part of the team’s daily routine.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (4) – scrum master as a teacher – Summary

This chapter contains some examples of how scrum master can teach development teams, product owners, and organizations. The most important lesson I’ve learned is: don’t try to teach the team everything that’s important, give them a chance to fail and learn from their mistakes. Reminder: mistakes are the gateway to discovery.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (5) – scrum master as tutor

This chapter is about scrum master as a mentor. I will describe the definition of mentors, the relationship between coaching and mentoring, and Shu ha RI’s way of thinking.

What is a mentor?

I find the most direct definition is: “a mentor is a wise and trustworthy counselor or teacher. “Some good quotes about mentors are:

  • “We live by what we get, we live by what we give. “– Winston Churchill
  • “What you get most from life is not how much you keep for yourself, but how much you pour into others. “– David Stoddard
  • “Be the mentor you want to have. “

Guidance and guidance

“Coaching is a technique that stimulates one’s potential and maximizes one’s achievement. It helps people learn and grow, not impart something to them. “It helps people see new perspectives and possibilities. For coaching, it’s unnecessary to be an expert in a certain field. It may even be a trap. However, for guidance, it is important to have in-depth knowledge. Coaching agile teams requires a combination of coaching and coaching. Your coaching helps them reach their next goal in life; you can also share your agile experience and ideas when coaching them to use agile flexibly. Guidance and guidance are inseparable. They are a powerful combination. “Mentoring can transfer your agile knowledge and experience to the team when specific knowledge is relevant to what they encounter. “Both coaching and coaching have their own advantages and disadvantages. At the same time, they are a successful combination to help people accept agile and use it well. Mentors focus on the agile context; coaches focus on team performance. These two parts combine to make agile dynamic and under their control.


In the context of guidance, the concept of Shu ha RI is also worth mentioning. Shu ha RI is a way to learn technology. It describes the progress of training or learning. The name comes from Japanese martial arts, and Alistair Cockburn uses it as a way to learn software development techniques and methods. When learning new things, everyone goes through these three stages. In the end, it will result in students surpassing their tutors in knowledge and skills.

Shu – follow the rules

In the first stage, students strictly follow the tutor’s instruction. They follow these rules until they are really understood. Scrum master will be primarily a teacher. As a teacher, he shares knowledge or skills and instructs someone how to do something. For example, teach the core idea of Scrum and explain the purpose of different roles, artifacts, and events.

Ha – break the rules

At this stage, students begin to reflect on the rules, looking for exceptions and “breaking” the rules. He understands and can use the basic practice, and now he begins to learn the underlying principles. He also began to learn from other masters and integrated learning into his practice. As a coach, Scrum master will provide students with new perspectives and possibilities. Coach them to take the next step on the agile road.

RI (away) – become the rule

In RI stage, the rules are forgotten, because students master the development, the essence and basic principles. The student no longer learned from others, but from his own practice, he became a new rule. In an agile environment, students really understand all the principles and know when to use a certain practice in a specific situation. As a consultant or mentor, Scrum master can act as a consultant and give advice when students ask for it.
As a scrum master, it’s useful to realize this stage. Each team member can be at a different level, which will change constantly. Therefore, Scrum master should change his style, from teaching to coaching, to advice, to match the team’s Shu ha RI.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (5) – scrum master as a mentor – Summary

Scrum master is certainly not the right mentor for every team member. As mentioned earlier, the tutor has in-depth knowledge and experience of a topic. Sometimes another team member or someone outside the team happens to be the right mentor. A good scrum master has a keen eye for potential student mentor relationships and knows how to build them. Everyone wants to build a great team to help individuals thrive in their personal growth.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (6) – scrum master as manager

This section is about scrum master as a manager. The differences between manager and management, vertical and horizontal management, and the responsibilities of Scrum master as manager will be described

What is a manager?

The simplest and most direct definition I found is: “the manager, as an independent individual, is responsible for a task group or a sub team of a company. “

Here are some good descriptions of managers:

  • “Managers are looking for people who can accomplish tasks through other people. The most important thing for a good manager is that the people in his team feel that he or she has integrity. ” – Sam Wyly
  • “The manager is an assistant to his subordinates. ” – Thoman J. Watson
  • “Everyone should be responsible for management, whether there is a manager or not. ” – Jurgen Appelo
  • “The right approach is that management is the act of serving and supporting everyone’s natural spirit” – Woody zuill

Management and managers

There are differences between “management” and “manager”: management is a behavior; manager is a role. As a kind of behavior, management will always exist in the organization. On the contrary, there will always be managers in the organization to carry out these behaviors. The difference from the traditional organization is the implementation of management. Management in agile organizations is a “horizontal” activity, not a “vertical” traditional organization using specific management positions. Individuals compete for promotion in organizations that are “vertically” managed. Managers assign tasks. Managers evaluate performance. Communication is top-down. The aim is to make money for shareholders. The purpose of “level” management is to satisfy customers. Making money is the result, not the goal of the activity. It supports self-control, stimulates innovation, and focuses on horizontal communication.

Agile embraces level management

The agile team will apply the level management mode. In these organizations, the team manages itself. They make their own decisions about their work and manage the execution process. Team members have a strong motivation to cooperate and know that unless they all succeed, none of them will succeed. The team achieves a common goal through publishing, sprint and team goals. The key words are trust, transparency, open communication, collaboration, initiative, learning and collective commitment. When you compare horizontal management with Scrum teams, they can be seen as a team of all managers. The development team manages their own work. The product owner manages the product vision, roadmap and return on investment. Scrum master manages processes and transcends barriers to team self-organization.

Scrum master as manager

Yes, Scrum master is also a manager in an agile environment. As a manager, Scrum master is responsible for:

  • Manage barriers and eliminate waste. In a development team, remove the barriers that limit the efficiency and progress of the development team in areas outside the scope of self-organization.
  • Management process. Support team to optimize process. Organize the team. Promote the team to keep scrum activities purposeful and effective. Ensure that people, teams, and organizations use scrum to maximize benefits.
  • Manage the health of the team. Create a trust environment through high-quality interaction among team members and support the team to achieve (individual) goals.
  • Managing the boundaries of self-organization. Scrum master manages the boundary of enhanced self-organization provided by scrum; time block of limiting risk, concentration, interaction and cooperation, publishing results and verifying learning.
  • Management culture. Make room for failure. Management culture change, so that the team has the opportunity to flourish.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (6) – scrum master as manager – Summary

Management is still a very important activity in the organization, and the role of managers is still effective and valuable. However, a key indicator of agile organization management is “level”, rather than vertical management of traditional organization. In the horizontal organizational structure, the team manages by itself. In this environment, Scrum master can be regarded as a wise leader who inspires people through organizational goals and vision. Scrum master optimizes the management value of an organization by identifying useless activities, eliminating waste, removing obstacles, and maximizing management scrum. As Jurgen appelo said, “management is too important for managers. Management is everyone’s job.”.

Gunther Verheyen, by the way, did a great job of describing scrum master as a manager. Of course, this is also the inspiration for this chapter.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (7) – scrum master as a “scavenger”

This chapter is about scrum master to help the development team remove obstacles like a scavenger. I will use the most common definitions and examples to explain what is “obstacle” and how scrum master, as a scavenger, deals with obstacles.

What are the barriers?

After a lot of research, I found that there are some good definitions of “obstacle”:

  • Obstacles in scrum refer to the factors that hinder the development team from producing valuable software increments in sprint or restrict the development team from achieving its inherent progress goals. thirty-one
  • Self organized development team can not solve the internal problems.
  • An event that prevents development team members from working at the expected capacity within sprint.

A good quote for “obstacles” is as follows:

  • A good scrum master creates an environment that can report obstacles, while a good scrum master creates an environment that is creative.
  • A good scrum master strives for permission to remove team productivity barriers, while a good scrum master is always ready to be forgiven by the team.

Examples of obstacles

So far, you have known the most common definitions of obstacles. You must want to see some specific examples of obstacles. Here are some examples of possible obstacles:

  • Team member sick
  • Unforeseen and unpopular changes in team composition.
  • There was a problem with the tools used by the development team.
  • Lack of skills
  • A lot of technical debt
  • Problems with suppliers
  • Hard to work with product owners
  • Pressure from management
  • Conflicts among team members
  • A large number of unimportant meetings that the development team has to attend
  • Limitations of team environment
  • Hesitant product owner

Scrum master as scavenger

According to the scrum guidelines, one of the responsibilities of Scrum master for the development team is to remove the obstacles that hinder the progress of the development team. As a service-oriented leader, Scrum master aims to build a self-organizing and cross functional development team. Scrum master encourages, supports and empowers the development team so that the team can give full play to its potential and talents. To achieve the above, Scrum master should carefully consider the following issues before removing obstacles:

  • Is it really an obstacle? Or can it be solved by the development team itself?
  • Do we really need to remove this barrier?
  • What is the fundamental problem here?

It is important to know that the above examples of “possible” obstacles do not necessarily become obstacles. Only when an obstacle cannot be solved by the self-organizing team, it is called an obstacle. Lack of skills can be an obstacle, but trust the self-organizing nature of the development team, and then think about other possibilities of the development team: maybe team members want to learn this skill and see it as a rare opportunity. In addition, conflicts among team members may not be an obstacle. Scrum master guides the team to have a heated discussion through healthy conflicts and debates, and eventually the team will become stronger. Scrum master should create an environment in which development teams feel they can safely report obstacles. In terms of team self-organization, Scrum master should encourage teams to try to solve their own problems, and then stifle obstacles in the cradle.

Strategies for removing obstacles

Removing obstacles is a challenge. I will share some strategies and ideas for scrum master to refer to when encountering obstacles.

  • Don’t wait for the daily station meeting to report obstacles. As we all know, one of the questions recommended by scrum guide is “what obstacles do I see that may prevent me or the development team from achieving sprint goals?”. However, this does not mean that the development team can only discuss obstacles at the daily station meeting.
  • Set sprint goals. A clear sprint goal is an indicator of whether something is a real obstacle. If something prevents the development team from achieving sprint goals, it’s an obstacle.
  • Understand the difference between “obstruction” and “obstacle”. “Blocking” generally affects only a single task, while “blocking” slows down the overall progress like a parachute. Generally speaking, “blocking” can be solved by the team itself, while “blocking” can only be solved by scrum master.
  • Improve transparency through “barrier Kanban”. Just move your finger to reveal the obstacles on the board. Add some swimming lanes, such as “to do”, “in progress”, “done”, so that the status of obstacles is transparent to everyone. Of course, you can also add obstacles to the scrum board. Because of the obstacle information on the task board, the visualization and transparency of the state become more important.
  • Keep track of identified obstacles. This will be an important input to the sprint review and review.
  • Understand the organization. Scrum master should understand the culture of the organization, know how to do things in the organization, and use the right way, so many obstacles can be easily solved.
  • Remove obstacles bravely and creatively. When you need to make bold decisions to ensure the productivity of your team, be prepared to ask the team to forgive you for your possible mistakes.
  • Work with product owner. Barriers are often associated with the collaboration of product management teams with stakeholders and suppliers. The product owner is the key role. Therefore, we must maintain a good relationship with the person in charge of the product.
  • Don’t waste energy on solving the wrong problems. When encountering obstacles, Scrum master must resist the impulse to immediately locate problems, solve problems, and provide solutions. Scrum master should focus on solving the real problem, not every problem it encounters. Through continuous inquiry to understand the detailed situation, we can identify which obstacles need to be solved and which learning opportunities can be seized by the development team.

Responsibilities of Scrum master (7) – scrum master as a “scavenger” – Summary

After a lot of research and thinking, I summed up a simple description of how scrum master works as a scavenger. A large number of materials show that this is undoubtedly a very important part of Scrum master’s ability. The lesson I learned is to respect the self-organization of the development team. Just imagine, if every small obstacle has to be solved by scrum master, how can the team be promoted as a whole?

Responsibilities of Scrum master (8) – scrum master as a master of change

This chapter is about scrum master as a master of change. It will describe the most common definitions, the characteristics of Scrum friendly culture, and how scrum master acts as a master of change.

What is a master of change?

Some better definitions of change masters are as follows:

  • “People who help organizations transform themselves by focusing on their effectiveness, improvement and development”
  • “People as catalysts for change”
  • Within the scope of scrum, Geoff watt described the role of the agile coach as a change promoter as follows: “a good scrum master helps the scrum team survive in the organizational culture. A good scrum master can help change the culture and make the scrum team grow and thrive. “

Characteristics of Scrum friendly culture

A short description of Scrum’s friendly culture is the Agile Manifesto. While I recognize these values and principles as valid features, I also believe that an environment with a scrum friendly culture is:

  • Team success is better than individual success
  • Motivate team members to be responsible for themselves and others
  • Promote continuous improvement and trial and error
  • Appreciate everyone’s unique talents and skills
  • Actions are better than results
  • Regard customers as the center of operation
  • Value planning process more than actual planning
  • In a long period of time to ensure a stable team composition will improve team output
  • Invite and motivate employees to pursue the maximum realization of self-worth
  • Give employees full trust and authorization, so that the team can flourish in self-discipline
  • Support, trust and guide team members to help them succeed
  • Face to face communication replaces temporary, complete documentation
  • Focus on products rather than projects
  • Deliver business value in a small, unified, cross functional and self-organizing team

Scrum master as a change facilitator

In order to give the scrum team a culture that can make it flourish, the scrum master should participate as a change promoter. Scrum master helps create an environment where the spirit of Scrum can thrive. The scrum guide defines the role of Scrum master as several levels in a service organization:

  • Lead and guide organizations to adopt Scrum
  • Implementation of Scrum in planning organization
  • Help employees and stakeholders understand and develop scrum and ensure product development
  • Drive change to improve the productivity of Scrum team
  • Work with other scrum masters to improve the effectiveness of Scrum application in the organization

Responsibilities of Scrum master (8) – scrum master as a master of change – Summary

As a master of change, a really good scrum master will be in love at first sight. Scrum master knows how to change the status quo and help create a more appropriate environment. They know when to be destructive and when to be careful. They understand that organizational change may take longer. However, their willingness to change will play a catalytic role in pushing the organization forward. The advantage of Scrum is to make bottlenecks and problems visible. A good scrum master supports organizations to really solve these problems. The ultimate goal is to create a culture where scrum team can flourish!

Scrum master responsibilities – Summary

As mentioned earlier, it’s my personal mission to create a better understanding of the role of Scrum master. By writing this article, I hope to share my views on this cool position. Scrum master has the potential to be a valuable person in every organization. To improve its contribution, Scrum master can be used as:

  • Service oriented leadership: a person who focuses on the needs of team members and provides value to customers through the realization of organizational values, principles and business goals.
  • Guide: build a stage for teamwork and provide clear boundaries.
  • Coach: pay attention to each individual’s thought and behavior, and teach them, so that the team can be continuously improved, and the organization can really cooperate with Scrum team.
  • Managers: responsible for managing barriers, estimating waste, managing processes, team health, self-organizing boundaries and culture.
  • Mentor: impart agile knowledge and experience to the team.
  • Teacher: make sure the team understands and practices scrum and other related methods.
  • Scavenger: help the team to solve the obstacles that affect the progress of team work while taking into account the self-organization ability of the team
  • Master of change: create a culture that can make scrum team prosperous.

This article contains my experience as a teacherScrum MasterMy personal experience. In addition to these experiences, I added what I found in reading, writing, and watching videos. I also added some of the most common misunderstandings about the role of Scrum master, and why I changed myself from an agile coach to a 100% scrum master. I hope you can enjoy reading this article and help you build a better understanding of the role of Scrum master through this article.

Original English

By Barry overeem
Translator: (in no particular order)
Tian Ying, Gong Zheng, Zhong Guanzhi, Zhang Yunlei, Minxin, Xu Xuan, Zhang Feng, Hu Xinyue
Checked by: Bob Jiang

If there is any improper translation in this paper [email protected]

This article first appeared inBob Jiang’s blogFor reprint, please contactBob Jiang

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