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Scrum Master And Its Key Roles For Project Success

Agile can mould the formative years in your IT career. It can transform you into the best cultural fit in any organization. But most of the organizations that embarked on the journey to achieve more operational agility are rather confused about the role of the Scrum Master and who can play it well enough.  What is Scrum? “Scrum is a powerful framework which implements Agile practices in IT and other business projects. This framework consists of a team of 3 to 9 members excluding Scrum Master and Product Owner who break their work and try to complete in timeboxed iterations called Sprints and plan the task in Stand-up meetings, called Daily Scrum.” There are three key roles in Scrum- Product Owner Scrum Master  The Development Team In this article, we shall discuss the primary roles of a Scrum Master. To carry out the key Scrum Master roles successfully, you should be aware of the qualities that make you a competent Certified Scrum Master.  Who is a Scrum Master? Scrum Master is a leader of the Scrum team, he is referred as a champion of the project. Scrum Master guides the team and the Product Owner and ensures that the team members are implementing all the Agile practices properly. The Scrum Master is not only responsible for addressing all the issues encountered in the Agile development process, but also helps the business, product owner, team, and individuals to achieve a target, in the following ways: At the Business level, the Scrum Master creates a creative, productive, and supportive development environment and enables bidirectional collaboration. At the Product Owner level, the Scrum Master facilitates planning and helps product owners to stick to Scrum practices. At the Team level, the Scrum master provides guidance, support and facilitation, and helps to remove all possible operational barriers. At an Individual level, the Scrum Master supports individual efforts, addresses any raised issues, and removes impediments to help individuals be focused and more productive. In an interview conducted by the InfoQ, Lisa Hershman, Interim CEO at Scrum Alliance answered the questions on the major changes in the 2017 State of Scrum Report. She was asked about the changed role of the Scrum Master. Here is her reply-  This clearly indicates the importance of Certified Scrum Master training, that renders ample clarity on the roles of a Scrum Master.  Roles of the Scrum Master The roles of the ScrumMaster are unique. Some of the key roles are discussed here- 1.The Scrum Master is a Facilitator: A “facilitator” for Agile teams, Scrum Master roles entail the following- Facilitates the meeting and Scrum ceremonies for the team members  Carries out a conversation between the team members and the Stakeholders. Uses different Agile techniques to achieve the targets of the project. Agrees on the “definition of done”. 2.The Scrum Master is a Coach: A Scrum Master is primarily a “Coach” or a “Guide” and is responsible for the following activities- Mentors teams on Scrum practices. Promotes ways for continuous improvements. Promotes standardized processes. Provides feedback. Helps to remove obstacles. 3.The Scrum Master is a Protector: A Scrum Master not only spearheads the team, but also protects it from imminent threats or risks, if any. Here’s how he does it-  Protects teams from external interruptions. Plays a key role in resolving conflicts between the team members. Promotes collaboration. 4.The Scrum Master is a work Enthusiast: Earlier, we have already stated that the Scrum Master is a Facilitator. Having said so, it is an imperative to mention that being an “Enthusiast” and an “Engager” is his way of facilitating project activities. An ideal Scrum Master-  Appreciates when the team does well. Celebrates with the team Promotes the success externally 5.The Scrum Master is a Motivator: A motivated team is a high-performing team. The motivator is typically the Scrum Master. Look at his many ways to motivate the team-  Carries out face to face communication Fosters team collaboration Adaptability to change Resolves problems without waiting for anyone to fix it. 6. The Scrum Master is a Servant Leader: This might sound paradoxical. But a Scrum Master both serves and leads his team. See for yourself-  Serves others Helps team members to develop and perform high Selfless management of team members Promotes team ownership 7. The Scrum Master is a Catalyst for change: A Scrum Master catalyzes changes in the team and boosts performance in no time through a few strategic strides-  Provides coaching in Scrum adoption Planning the Scrum implementation in an in-house organization Resulting as a Change agent, that increases the productivity Work with other Scrum Masters to increase the productivity of the Scrum team 8. An Embodiment of Agile values: If you are to call anyone the “Believer and Preacher” of Scrum values, it has to be none other than the Scrum Master. The following practices earn him the tag-  Reflects Agile and Scrum values to the team Reminds policies to the teams Assists the teams in continuously improving Checks all the models like Sprint backlog, metrics, product backlog of Scrum What a Scrum Master is “NOT” A lot of grounds has already been covered on what a Scrum Master “is”. However, it is equally essential for us to learn what all he “is not”. This will only help eliminate any opacity and ambiguity about his roles. Scrum Master (SM) is not a Project Manager (PM). Project Manager is a leader, a decision maker. PM manages the project and the teams to accomplish the project target. Scrum Master acts as a coach, facilitator and SM acts as a mediator between the project and the customer.  Scrum Master is not a Product Owner (PO). POs have the huge responsibility of a project. A PO maintains the product backlog. PO has to manage and reprioritize the backlog to fit these changes and drive the project. Concluding Thoughts- The role of the Scrum Master is still a matter of discourse. Organizations consider Scrum Masters as the voice of the Scrum framework. Usually, people see Scrum Master as a facilitator only, but firstly he/she is a coach. The world domination of Agile is clearly happening. But despite all your struggles, there is that glass-ceiling that is limiting your potential to perform as a Scrum Master. Break this limit and take a step  ahead to get laser-focused on the key Scrum Master roles. Certifications like CSM and other related training and courses can be the best way to do it.   
Scrum Master And Its Key Roles For Project Success
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Scrum Master And Its Key Roles For Project Success

KnowledgeHut Editor
Agile Management
29th Dec, 2017
Scrum Master And Its Key Roles For Project Success


Agile can mould the formative years in your IT career. It can transform you into the best cultural fit in any organization. But most of the organizations that embarked on the journey to achieve more operational agility are rather confused about the role of the Scrum Master and who can play it well enough. 

What is Scrum?

“Scrum is a powerful framework which implements Agile practices in IT and other business projects. This framework consists of a team of 3 to 9 members excluding Scrum Master and Product Owner who break their work and try to complete in timeboxed iterations called Sprints and plan the task in Stand-up meetings, called Daily Scrum.”

There are three key roles in Scrum-

  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master 
  • The Development Team

In this article, we shall discuss the primary roles of a Scrum Master. To carry out the key Scrum Master roles successfully, you should be aware of the qualities that make you a competent Certified Scrum Master. 

Who is a Scrum Master?

Scrum Master is a leader of the Scrum team, he is referred as a champion of the project. Scrum Master guides the team and the Product Owner and ensures that the team members are implementing all the Agile practices properly. The Scrum Master is not only responsible for addressing all the issues encountered in the Agile development process, but also helps the business, product owner, team, and individuals to achieve a target, in the following ways:

  • At the Business level, the Scrum Master creates a creative, productive, and supportive development environment and enables bidirectional collaboration.
  • At the Product Owner level, the Scrum Master facilitates planning and helps product owners to stick to Scrum practices.
  • At the Team level, the Scrum master provides guidance, support and facilitation, and helps to remove all possible operational barriers.
  • At an Individual level, the Scrum Master supports individual efforts, addresses any raised issues, and removes impediments to help individuals be focused and more productive.

In an interview conducted by the InfoQ, Lisa Hershman, Interim CEO at Scrum Alliance answered the questions on the major changes in the 2017 State of Scrum Report. She was asked about the changed role of the Scrum Master. Here is her reply- 

This clearly indicates the importance of Certified Scrum Master training, that renders ample clarity on the roles of a Scrum Master. 

Roles of the Scrum Master

The roles of the ScrumMaster are unique. Some of the key roles are discussed here-

1.The Scrum Master is a Facilitator: A “facilitator” for Agile teams, Scrum Master roles entail the following-

  • Facilitates the meeting and Scrum ceremonies for the team members 
  • Carries out a conversation between the team members and the Stakeholders.
  • Uses different Agile techniques to achieve the targets of the project.
  • Agrees on the “definition of done”.

2.The Scrum Master is a Coach: A Scrum Master is primarily a “Coach” or a “Guide” and is responsible for the following activities-

  • Mentors teams on Scrum practices.
  • Promotes ways for continuous improvements.
  • Promotes standardized processes.
  • Provides feedback.
  • Helps to remove obstacles.

3.The Scrum Master is a Protector: A Scrum Master not only spearheads the team, but also protects it from imminent threats or risks, if any. Here’s how he does it- 

  • Protects teams from external interruptions.
  • Plays a key role in resolving conflicts between the team members.
  • Promotes collaboration.

4.The Scrum Master is a work Enthusiast: Earlier, we have already stated that the Scrum Master is a Facilitator. Having said so, it is an imperative to mention that being an “Enthusiast” and an “Engager” is his way of facilitating project activities. An ideal Scrum Master- 

  • Appreciates when the team does well.
  • Celebrates with the team
  • Promotes the success externally

5.The Scrum Master is a Motivator: A motivated team is a high-performing team. The motivator is typically the Scrum Master. Look at his many ways to motivate the team- 

  • Carries out face to face communication
  • Fosters team collaboration
  • Adaptability to change
  • Resolves problems without waiting for anyone to fix it.

6. The Scrum Master is a Servant Leader: This might sound paradoxical. But a Scrum Master both serves and leads his team. See for yourself- 

  • Serves others
  • Helps team members to develop and perform high
  • Selfless management of team members
  • Promotes team ownership

7. The Scrum Master is a Catalyst for change: A Scrum Master catalyzes changes in the team and boosts performance in no time through a few strategic strides- 

  • Provides coaching in Scrum adoption
  • Planning the Scrum implementation in an in-house organization
  • Resulting as a Change agent, that increases the productivity
  • Work with other Scrum Masters to increase the productivity of the Scrum team

8. An Embodiment of Agile values: If you are to call anyone the “Believer and Preacher” of Scrum values, it has to be none other than the Scrum Master. The following practices earn him the tag- 

  • Reflects Agile and Scrum values to the team
  • Reminds policies to the teams
  • Assists the teams in continuously improving
  • Checks all the models like Sprint backlog, metrics, product backlog of Scrum

What a Scrum Master is “NOT”

A lot of grounds has already been covered on what a Scrum Master “is”. However, it is equally essential for us to learn what all he “is not”. This will only help eliminate any opacity and ambiguity about his roles. Scrum Master (SM) is not a Project Manager (PM). Project Manager is a leader, a decision maker. PM manages the project and the teams to accomplish the project target. Scrum Master acts as a coach, facilitator and SM acts as a mediator between the project and the customer. 

Scrum Master is not a Product Owner (PO). POs have the huge responsibility of a project. A PO maintains the product backlog. PO has to manage and reprioritize the backlog to fit these changes and drive the project.

Concluding Thoughts-
The role of the Scrum Master is still a matter of discourse. Organizations consider Scrum Masters as the voice of the Scrum framework. Usually, people see Scrum Master as a facilitator only, but firstly he/she is a coach. The world domination of Agile is clearly happening. But despite all your struggles, there is that glass-ceiling that is limiting your potential to perform as a Scrum Master. Break this limit and take a step  ahead to get laser-focused on the key Scrum Master roles. Certifications like CSM and other related training and courses can be the best way to do it. 


 

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