The Scrum Master is one of the three roles that constitute every Scrum Team (the others being the Product Owner and the Development Team). While the Product Owner is focused on building the right product and the Development Team is focused on building the product right, the Scrum Master is focused on helping everyone understand and embrace the Scrum Values, principles, and practices. The Scrum Master acts as a coach to both the Development Team and the Product Owner. A Scrum Master also provides process leadership, helping the Scrum Team and the rest of the organization develop their own high-performance, organization-specific Scrum approach.
The Scrum Master is a servant leader, helping the rest of the Scrum Team follow their process. The Scrum Master must have a good understanding of the Scrum framework and the ability to train others in its subtleties.
The Scrum Master works with the Product Owner to help the Product Owner understand how to create and maintain the Product Backlog. He works with the Development Team to find and implement the technical practices that will allow them to get the job done at the end of each Sprint. He works with the whole Scrum Team to evolve the Definition of Done. The Scrum Master continuously helps the Scrum Team improve the process, whenever possible, to maximize delivered business value.
Another responsibility of the Scrum Master is to see that impediments which inhibit the team’s productivity and progress are removed. These impediments may be external to the team, such as lack of support from another team, or internal, such as the Product Owner not knowing how to properly prepare the Product Backlog.
The Scrum Master fosters self-organization. Issues should be removed by the team wherever possible. When problems arise that the team can and should be able to solve, the Scrum Master’s attitude, like that of any good coach, is “I’m not here to solve your problems for you; instead, I’m here to help you solve your own problems.” If the problem is an impediment that the team can’t resolve, the Scrum Master takes ownership of getting it resolved.
The Scrum Master acts as a coach for the Scrum Team, helping them to execute the Scrum process. He helps them to work together and to learn the Scrum framework, and protects them from both internal and external distractions. He may facilitate meetings, and helps keep the Scrum Team on track, productive, and growing in ability.
The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that Scrum is understood and in place, inside the team and outside. He helps people outside the team understand the process, and understand which interactions with the team are helpful and which are not. The Scrum Master helps everyone improve to make the Scrum Team more productive and valuable.
A good Scrum Master must help change minds as well. Scrum can be very disruptive to the status quo; the change that is required to be successful with Scrum can be difficult. The Scrum Master helps others understand the need for change, the impacts of Scrum outside of the Scrum Team, and the broad-reaching benefits Scrum can help achieve. The Scrum Master also ensures that effective change is occurring at all levels of the organization, enabling not only short-term success but, more importantly, the long-term benefits from using Scrum.
The Scrum Master is often described as a servant leader of the Scrum Team. Even when acting as the team’s coach, the Scrum Master is first and foremost a servant to the Scrum Team, ensuring that its highest-priority needs are being met. A servant leader would never ask, “So, what are you going to do for me today?” Instead, a servant leader asks, “So, what can I do today to help you and the team be more effective?”