Scrum Master – An Overview
A scrum framework has three roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and the Development Team. These form the scrum team. This framework allows all team players to act and move quickly in the ever-changing and fast-growing Information Technology industry. Moving swiftly allows an Agile Development Team to organize themselves and make a rapid change according to the Agile principles.
Principle of a Scrum Master
- The scrum master oversees information interchanges.
- As described in the Scrum Guide, the scrum master manages and maintains the Scrum Framework by offering support and guidance.
- The scrum master has a responsibility to help all the others in the Scrum Framework to understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values.
- The Scrum Master is described as the servant-leader in the scrum guide and works with the whole scrum team encouraging and energizing people to gel as a team. The scrum master also interacts with external influences (customers).
Roles of a Scrum Master
The scrum master teaches problem-solving techniques and helps the team get better at problem-solving for themselves. As a servant-leader, the Scrum Master is accountable for:
- The Product Owner
- The Development Tem
- The Organization
Services to the Product Owner
The Scrum Master:
- Ensuring that the product owner understands the scrum and Agility concepts and how these are used.
- Ensuring everyone on the team understands the goals, scope, and final target output and product domain.
- Ensuring the product owner completely understands how to organize product backlog to its fullest potential.
- Is responsible for discovering techniques to manage the product backlog to ensure efficient results.
- Assists the Scrum Team in understanding the necessity of clear and concise Product Backlog items.
- Assists in understanding product planning in an empirical environment.
- Figures out and applies Agility.
- Can communicate and facilitate Scrum Events and product owner requests and enables the fulfillment of any expectations.
- Makes certain product planning originates through observation and experimentation.
Services to the Development Team
The Scrum Master:
- Helps the team to identify and eliminate weaknesses.
- Coach Scrum and guide them to adopt Scrum and Agile practices.
- Instruct on methods and techniques that will enhance the quality of work delivered and engineering practices.
- Teach self-organization and cross-functionality.
- Help in creating a robust Definition of Done.
- Enable Scrum events whenever necessary to assist the team in achieving the objective of the event.
- Help the team improve as a unit and as individuals, nurturing personal and professional growth, and guarding the team against external distractions.
Services to the Organization
The Scrum Master:
- Coaches stakeholders and the entire organization to adopt and support the Scrum.
- Offers assistance to the entire organization, especially when the organization is transitioning from one phase to the next.
- Explains to the stakeholders and organization how to support the team and remove weaknesses.
- Plans the implementation of the Scrum processes.
- Makes the many aspects of the Scrum framework transition quickly and effectively.
- Assess the organization and analyze any changes that are needed and how to implement them to increase productivity.
- Engage with every Scrum member and offer good communication and support to enhance productivity, efficiency, and the organization’s business value.
Management of the Scrum Framework
- Ensuring the purpose for all Scrum Events is understood by all attending.
- Ensuring all scrum events run on time and are accessible to all scrum team members.
- Ensuring there are no holdups or disruptions caused by attendants outside of the Development Team.
- Ensuring that the Sprint Retrospective is constructive and dynamic.
- Acting as peer team member and facilitator – per request – during Sprint Retrospective.
- Encouraging all Scrum Team members to enhance their performance continually.
- Ensuring transparency is applied to Scrum Artifacts, and if not possible, the best practices are upheld.
Tasks associated with the Scrum Master Role
The Scrum Master:
- Training people by providing workshops where team members can gain a better understanding of how to apply and use the Scrum Framework.
- Facilitates Scrum Events as and when needed or per request.
- Helps tackle hurdles when needed or when asked to by the Scrum Team, helping to accelerate product development, and ensure the successful completion of the product.
- Acts in a timely manner to arrange, enable, and schedule meetings to ensure certain project milestones are reached without issues.
- Operates in a supportive role towards the Product Owner and the Development Team.
- Ensures that Scrum Artifacts are entirely transparent.
- Coaches the stakeholders on Agility and the conceptualization of the Scrum Framework, as well as how to network with the Scrum Team efficiently.
- Preparing and hosting the Sprint Retrospective by assembling data and observations during the Sprint.
Challenges of a Scrum Master
Sometimes organizations and upper management can confuse the role of the Scrum Master with that of a Project Manager. The scrum master must help the organization transition to the Scrum Framework, and this can be challenging.
- As explained by Mike Cohn, the social aspect of change can create resistance. All resistance comes from specific individuals. Teams or departments do not resist changing to Scrum. Individuals do!
- Not understanding the process.
- Scrum is an entirely different way of working. It can be hard to implement and understand which can create confusion. It is not uncommon for employees to think the Scrum Framework is just new terms and procedures for old methods, which is entirely wrong because it is not.
- Failure to adjust to new roles.
- The transition to the Scrum Framework means significant changes to roles employees have in the team. Words such as cross-functional and self-organization will be trending in the company. If an employee isn’t a team player, they may find it hard to adjust to the group driven idea of Scrum. In management, stepping away from the traditional role of management could be unsettling.
Characteristics, skills and traits of a Scrum Master
The best Scrum Master must be innovative, proficient, understand the team’s practical and technical issues, and know the market. They will be highly skilled in Agile frameworks, methods, and processes. They must have expert knowledge of Agile values and principles, with an ability to train and facilitate others in adopting these values. The scrum master will assist the team in pursuit of its goal.
A Scrum Master must be patient and humble. The scrum master is not a just a leader or ego-driven. They will work for the team always. They must have expert knowledge of Agile values and principles, with an ability to coach, guide, and support all team members. The scrum master’s role is to help the team find solutions at their own pace. Scrum Masters oversee far more than they forge the way ahead.
The scrum master ensures a collaborative culture exists within the team. Teamwork and cooperation are necessary between the Product Owner, Development Team, Organization, and all relevant stakeholders. The Scrum Master should help create a collaborative mood throughout the team. Scrum Masters act as facilitators driving, not pressuring the Scrum Team towards the goal.
Scrum Masters must be honest, committed, and transparent 100% of the time in all their dealings, from communication to planning, to the implementation of the Sprint. Scrum Teams should trust what they see in Scrum Master is what they will get today and every day.
Scrum Masters take on the coaching role for the Scrum Team. A Scrum Master must adapt their attitude, mindsets, and behavior by engaging and not telling. Scrum Masters act as consultants that offer advice, provide suggestions, and give support.
Humility is essential in a Scrum Master; they must lead by example and show the way forward by acting in the manner necessary to make the change happen.
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