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What do Scrum Masters do?

When I was training to become a coach, my coach at the time, Jen Corburn, said something that answers this question beautifully.

She said, “Coaches don’t do things. Coaches help other people to do things.”

For Scrum Masters, it is a very similar vein. You are the coach of the development team, the Product Owner, and of the organisation. You are there to coach. To help others excel. To help others achieve.

It is not your job as a Scrum Master to do stuff. It is your job to make sure that things get done.

So, as a Scrum Master you are looking at the Scrum team as a whole. You are looking at the development team and asking whether there is anything that they are doing that is hindering them. Is there anything preventing them from achieving their sprint goals.

You need to be aware of that.

You need to be having conversations with the team or individuals within the team to discover if there is anything that can be done to improve the situation. Should something be done? Is it within the capability of the team to solve the problem?

A Scrum Master is having similar conversations with the Product Owner.

What do they need to do their job well? What tools and technologies are they missing? Do they know about them? If not, then it is your role to start introducing them to those tools and technologies.

Sometimes it is simply signposting. It does not have to be sitting down and teaching a Product Owner how to write a user story.

That could be a matter of supplying the Product Owner with a great resource to help them with user stories and then having a conversation the next day about the resource and how it could help him or her in their role. Having a conversation about how the team can assist with user stories.

Another thing you hear a lot is that Scrum Masters are there to fix impediments. This isn’t true. They are there to make sure that impediments are fixed.

There is a difference.

It may be that the team cannot progress because the IT Director has limited the organization to a specific version of windows or a specific browser. The Scrum Master doesn’t fix this. He or she would instead have a conversation with the IT Director and make the case for the impediment to be removed.

Often, a Scrum Master will be meeting with individuals within the organization and letting them know that the team cannot resolve the situation or problem on their own. Letting them know that we require help to overcome the obstacle and actively asking for that help.

A scrum master often goes out into the organization to find someone that is willing to make the changes that are required. Someone who has the level of influence or authority necessary to make that change.

In this way, the Scrum Master acts as an ambassador for the team and for Agile/Scrum within the organization. Actively making the case for change and helping the team achieve their goals by acquiring the resources or removing the impediments necessary for change to occur.

When you find someone, who is willing and able to get the changes you need, or to acquire the resources you need, then your role as a Scrum Master shifts to helping them get that done.

So, in summary, a good Scrum Master will be doing very little, but they will be integral to a lot of things being done.

If you are interested in becoming a Scrum Master, visit our Certified Scrum Master course page.

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