How I See the Role of a Scrum Master

Although the accountabilities of a Scrum Master are laid out pretty clearly in the Scrum Guide, how the role is actually filled is highly individual and depends on the personal strengths and weaknesses of a Scrum Master, and on how they see the role themselves.

Coming from how I see organisations, product work and innovation, here's how I interpret the role of a Scrum Master, and how I live it:

I define my responsibilities from a product perspective. The ultimate goal of a Scrum team is to deliver a great product into the hands of their customers. So if a Scrum Master's ultimate goal is to make the team successful, the goal of the Scrum Master must be to support the team in their quest to create a great product. This is the main focus. In a well-designed environment, individual happiness, organisational wellbeing and customer satisfaction are intertwined, and creating great products in a sustainable way will lead to higher individual happiness and organisational success.

People want to do good work. Giving them a common mission that allows them to express themselves, apply their talents and skills, and helps them grow will give them purpose. This purpose can forge a group of people into a team. The responsibility of the Scrum Master is to facilitate this process. Great teams come from great purpose, not from great team building exercises. Team building is important, but it is not sufficient. And if you have a great common goal and purpose, exercises that focus solely on forming a team are much less important than many think.

Agile teams need End-to-End responsibility for the product. To effectively live this responsibility, they must make their own decisions. The Scrum Master must make sure that the team is enabled and empowered, and capable of coming to decisions, and that those decisions are not contradicting the expectations of their stakeholders (customers being the most important ones).

Scrum Masters are active change agents. Their responsibility reaches beyond the team they are working in, not only to remove impediments to the team's work, but also to address organisational issues that hinder the adaption of agile principles.

My idea of a Scrum Master is first and foremost that of a team coach who helps the team fulfill their purpose, which is creating a great product or service.

Published 2024~02~13