Scrum Master Responsibilities Explained

Are you thinking of becoming a Scrum Master? Or maybe your organization is in need of agile practices, so you’re trying to understand what role a Scrum Master plays. The first thing you should know is this: Scrum Masters are awesome. They fly in donning a cape and effectively save businesses from themselves, forcing them to think differently and more flexibly––without the traditional bureaucratic nonsense. 

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; they obviously can’t fly. 

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Still, they do help to transform traditional business with more agile practices that lead to better products, happier people, and (most importantly) satisfied end-users. Here are Scrum Master responsibilities explained. 

What Are The Roles and Responsibilities of a Scrum Master?

Although the word “master” implies a commanding role, a Scrum Master is not the leader of a project. Rather, he or she works collaboratively with the Product Owner and Scrum Team to refine their methods. Think of the term more like a “karate master”, someone with a lot of experience and the ability to teach.

Some Scrum Master responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring Daily Scrums happen and stick to the 15 minute timebox
  • Coaching and empowering team members
  • Identifying and removing impediments
  • Teaching the principles of Scrum

A Scum Master’s duties lie somewhere between a manager, mentor, and fixer. Innately dynamic, these people carefully assess their teams and adapt their skill sets accordingly.

What Does a Scrum Master Do All Day?

For a Scrum Master, no two days will look exactly the same, and they prefer it that way. Still, here’s what you might expect:

  • 6am: Wake up, eat a donut, and drink a protein shake to negate the donut. 
  • 7am: Do ten burpees and then put on the cape. 
  • 8am: Get to work before the Sprint Planning, during which they–the Product Owner and the Developers–will determine which backlog items to tackle and what their Sprint Goal should be. 
  • 10am: Stops by the Daily Scrum of a new team to see if they’re getting the hang of it
  • 11am: Teaches the Product Owner better techniques to refine the Product backlog
  • 12pm: Goes for a walk, leaving their phone and computer on the desk
  • 2pm: Hosts a workshop on Agile practices
  • 3pm: Meets with a portion of the Scrum team to facilitate a discussion about a disagreement

What is NOT a Scrum Master Responsibility?

Though versatile and capable of many things a Scrum Master is not the boss of the Scrum team; rather, they are facilitators, coaches, teachers, and systems thinkers who are tasked with teaching and promoting the best Scrum practices.

For example, they are not a boss that delegates all tasks to give the final stamp of approval, nor are they a secretary who organizes meetings, takes everyone’s notes, or manages Jira and other productivity rules. 

The best way to think of a Scrum Master is as a  leader who serves. Rather than making decisions, a Scrum Master asks strategic questions and provides the framework through which teams can manage themselves. Done right, self-managing teams are faster to get things done and identify problems than teams who require external management.

How Does the Scrum Master Ensure Developers are Working Effectively?

To ensure Developers are working effectively, Scrum Masters employ careful observation of their goals, their plans, and any potential roadblocks standing in the way of them. In accordance with Agile approaches, Scrum Masters do not dictate the nature of the work; rather, they facilitate it. 

This work could include:

  • Teaching them to focus on Sprint Goals
  • Coaching them to maximize Daily Scrum
  • Creating space for growth and continuous improvement

A Scrum Master will also ask thoughtful questions related to the process and potential roadblocks. This ultimately helps prepare Developers for the Sprint.

Hiring or Being the Best Scrum Master

To find the best Scrum Master for your organization, you’ll want to look deeper than the CVs. When interviewing a Scrum professional, consider testing their knowledge of Agile vs. Scrum and the potential financial impacts of properly performed Scrum responsibilities. Alternatively, if you’re looking to become a Scrum Master––or transitioning to a more Agile organization––you might consider employing some outside help. 

Responsive Advisors is a team of Scrum professionals who can help educate and launch a Scrum team within your organization. By teaching a Scrum foundations course and allowing your team to practice applying its principles, Responsive Advisors can prepare your organization for a successful Scrum launch. Once your Scrum team begins to function, Responsive Advisors will provide support in the aftermath. 

One of the key principles of Scrum is self-management, and with the help of Responsive Advisors, your team will learn to do just that. Oh, and don’t forget the cape part. 

Robert Pieper

I like Metalcore, and cupcakes.
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