The 7 Essential Roles to Being the Best Scrum Master

What are the 7 essential roles for being great at Scrum? The Scrum Master is seldom a ‘Master of Scrum’; but their primary responsibility is to help the Scrum Team improve its use of Scrum. This isn’t simply for Scrum’s sake; it’s because the Team needs to get better at doing what the Product Owner needs it to do. In practice this means that the Scrum Master works with the other Team Members to help the Team produce Quality Results at a rapid, though sustainable, pace.

The Scrum Master is a leadership role that is unique to Scrum. Even though it’s a leadership role, it comes with no management power. In this sense, the Scrum Master is frequently referred to as a “servant leader,” leading by example without management authority. Lastly, they have moral authority that is granted to them by the Team.

The Scrum Master uses this moral authority to help the Team improve its internal processes to become more self-organized and self-contained. Great Scrum Masters help their team become value-driven, in essence, a well-formed team. A Scrum Master works with the Organization and the Team to manage the impediments and constraints that are affecting the Team.

Not only that, but there are many essential roles to the Scrum Master. Each of these essential roles is familiar to us, but the combination of them is special.

The 7 Essential Roles

Are you working with the Team, to help them get better? Are you facilitating many of the Scrum Ceremonies or Events for your team? Do you facilitate the Team’s self-organization, ensuring the Team follows the Scrum process? These are all basic questions we can use to explore the seven roles.

Facilitator 

The Scrum Master is constantly working with the Team to improve. Facilitate where necessary the Scrum Ceremonies or Events. Facilitate the Team’s self-organization, ensuring the Team follows the Scrum process.

Facilitator

Mentor

The Scrum Master mentors the Team as to what Scrum is and how to use it. Help Team Members improve their technical abilities in whatever way he or she can. Or find someone who can provide the mentoring if a given neeeded skill is outside your range.

Mentor

Referee

The Scrum Master acts as a referee in escalated internal disputes and external disputes that heavily impact the Team. The ability for team to have good arguementative dialog and build robust ideas is critical for complex work.

Referee

Conscience

The Scrum Master acts as the conscience of the Team, especially when it comes to the Team Values. When a Team Member (or the Team as a whole) is not living the Values,  how is this fact made visible so that the behavior can be modulated.

Conscience

Canary

The Scrum Master acts as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ when it comes to process. That is, if things aren’t going as they should, who should be the first to notice the ‘process smell’ and bring it to the Team’s attention?

Canary

Impediment Manager

One of the Scrum Master’s primary responsibilities is to manage the impediments or constraints that are getting in the way of the Scrum Framework or keeping the Team from reaching their full potential of producing a quality product. Empower and encourage the Team to manage its own impediments and constraints. For externally based impediments, work with the Product Owner, Business Owner, or others in the Organization to help resolve. Some contraints are environmentally imposed such as regulatory constraints, in this case help the team recognize the difference and mitigate the afffects.

Impediment-Manager

Bridge

The Scrum Master brings his or her own skills to the Team. Understand how the Organization works and act as a bridge to help the Team adapt to the Organization and help the Organization adapt to the Team. Often this bridge work is in tandem with the Product Owner.

Bridge

Whatever It Takes

A great Scrum Master juggles these seven essential roles and does ‘whatever it takes’ to help the Team get better. Thus enabling, the Team can do the work the Product Owner requires. Because of this ‘whatever it takes’ attitude, the Scrum Master often needs to take the cultures of the Team and the Organization into account. As a reult, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to specific situations that may arise for the Scrum Master – it is all situationally dependent. Not all Scrum Masters are appropriate for all Teams. Scrum Masters must be constantly self-evaluating to determine if they are being effective. If they are not, they owe it to their Teams to refine their skills and work toward a path of improvement.


Looking to become a better Scrum Master?
We’ve got training for that.