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Scrum Tutorial

A Scrum Master (Scrum Master), popularly known as the “servant leader” is a coach, motivator and leader of an Agile team. The role of a Scrum Master is to educate the team on Agile processes and help team members follow Scrum practices religiously.  A good Scrum Master helps to establish a high-performing team dynamic, a continuous flow, and an exponential improvement in processes. They are required to play a pivotal role and are responsible for the progressive development of a Scrum team.  The Scrum Master collaborates both with the Product Owner (PO) who focuses on building the right product, and the development team that focuses on building the product right. A Scrum Master’s job is essentially to help everyone understand and imbibe Scrum values, principles, and practices and get the best product out to the customer.Read on to find out about the Scrum Master role and responsibilities, and much more!So, who exactly is a Scrum Master?A Scrum Master is a 'master' or expert in Scrum and has the ability to coach the team in the values, principals and processes of the Scrum framework.  Despite what the title implies, the Scrum Master does not have the full authority to make strategic product decisions. However, he or she is accountable for the Scrum process and the effectiveness of the scrum team. Any decisions on the scope of the work are the responsibility of the Product Owner and not the Scrum Master.The Scrum Guide has defined a set of roles, rules, values and rituals that should be followed to get the optimum benefit of Scrum. The Scrum Master works in sync with the development team, Product Owner as well as the entire organization and coaches them through the implementation of the Scrum framework.  Scrum is very easy to understand, but at the same time equally tough to implement. While the Scrum Guide lays out precise instructions for following Scrum, almost all participants tell me in my training programs that they are using their own version of Scrum and not doing it by the book!Let’s try and understand the challenges faced by the Scrum Master and how he or she plays the role of a servant leader.Scrum Master’s RoleA Scrum Master collaborates with all the members of the team, and is required to provide various services to the Product Owner, the Team and the organisation.1. Scrum Master’s service to the Product OwnerWhat is one service the Scrum Master provides to the Product Owner?The Scrum Master both guides and serves the Product Owner in more ways than one including:Formulating techniques for effective Product Backlog Management,Helping the team understand the need for clear and concise product backlog items, Imparting the understanding of product planning in an empirical environment, Ensuring that the Product Owner has clarity on arranging the product backlog to yield maximized value, Understanding and practicing agility, and Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.2. Scrum Master’s service to the development teamWhat is one service the Scrum Master provides to the Development Team?The Scrum Master has an important role to play with respect to the development team.Removing project impediments that stand in the way of team productivity and performanceHelping the development team to create high-value productsEnsuring the development team is working effectively, by conducting regular reviewsCreating transparency in processes and resolving conflictsHelping the team to understand and follow the goals, scope of work and product domainFacilitating Scrum events as requested or needed, and Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.3. Scrum Master’s service to the organizationWhat is one service the Scrum Master provides to the organization?The Scrum Master has several responsibilities to the organization as well.Helping employees and stakeholders understand and implement Scrum practices Acting as a change agent that increases the productivity of the team Leading and guiding the organization in successful Scrum adoption, by streamlining processes and ensuring that every member on the team follows the Scrum frameworkTaking part in planning Scrum implementations within the organization, and Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.Scrum Master on a SAFe TeamA Scrum Master on a SAFe team creates and nurtures an environment that supports smooth team dynamics, ensures continuous flow through the Agile Release Train, and facilitates ongoing improvement.A SAFe Scrum Master undertakes the following responsibilitiesPromotes a Lean-Agile mindset and exhibits leadership behaviour, supporting and enforcing team rulesHelps the team to drive relentless improvement and progress toward goalsHosts and facilitates Scrum eventsSupports the PO and acts as a bridge between the PO, team and the organizationRemoves obstacles  Promotes SAFe practices, and supports SAFe adoption across the enterpriseCoordinates activities on the ART, and prepares for ART events, andWorks in tandem with Scrum Masters on other teams to improve the overall Value Stream.A SAFe Scrum Master represents the team in the Scrum of Scrums, keeping them aware of all efforts to engage and build upon program effectiveness across teams.Some common pitfalls / mistakes made by the Scrum MasterScrum Master acts like a commanderProject managers turned Scrum Master are still hung up on the 'command and control' style of leadership. They need to behave like an agile coach but they often end up behaving like wardens handling their jail prisoners. In many cases, they take over the full ownership and responsibility of the project, which goes against the grain of Scrum.In such a scenario, the team never starts to take on the responsibility for their actions. Instead, a good Scrum Master can just show the way by which the team can carry out their own work, and assume ownership of the product.Scrum Master and Product Owner are the sameMost often this does not work well because of the different kinds of focus that these two roles have. The Product Owner is the VOC – Voice of Customer, and speaks in the best interest of the stakeholders and the product that is being visualized.  The Scrum Master is supposed to be focussed on the long-term effectiveness of the team, so that the team structurally improves in delivering value to the stakeholders. He or she has to make sure that the interest of the team doesn’t suffer.When one individual is tasked with assuming the role of both Scrum Master and Product Owner on the team, more attention could be paid to the short-term needs of stakeholders at the cost of the team.Interfering in technical issues of the teamIt might happen that the Scrum Master is someone who has a strong technical background. They could then feel the urge to advise the development team on technical issues, since they may think that work will progress faster if they give the solution to the team.This is not always the best way to go about matters. The Scrum Master should trust the team to take the right technical decisions and should not interfere in technical aspects.Characteristics/Must-Have Skills for a Scrum MasterWhat are the characteristics that a Scrum Master must possess, to be exceptional at their job? Here are the top traits of a successful Scrum Master.KnowledgeableFirst and foremost, a person who wants to be an effective process coach should be knowledgeable. The same holds true for a Scrum Master, who must understand the technical issues the team needs to address and the technologies the team will use to come up with end solutions. However, while they should be aware of the domain, they are not required to be an expert.PatientA Scrum Master needs to be patient and give time to the team to arrive at appropriate answers on their own. At times, all that may be needed is to oversee how the team is dealing with a certain issue, and step in only when they are unable to deal with it without support.CollaborativeAs a Scrum Master, you should have the right collaboration skills to work with the product owner, development team, and all other parties; even those who might not be directly involved with Scrum. The Scrum Master works as a process coach to help the Scrum team members achieve their goals.TransparentLast but not least, the Scrum Master should be transparent in all forms of communication. When working with team members, there should be no hidden agendas; what you see and hear from the Scrum Master must be what you get. People expect nothing less of a servant leader.The Scrum Master also promotes transparent communication outside of the Scrum team. Without transparency, it is difficult for the organization to inspect and adapt to achieve the desired business results using Scrum.Top 7 responsibilities of a Scrum MasterThe Scrum Master wears many hats, and carries out several mission-critical responsibilities on the Scrum project. Here is a curated Scrum Master responsibilities list.1. Coaches team membersThe Scrum Master acts as the coach for both the development team and the product owner. By acting as a bridge between the roles, he or she can enable the product owner to directly drive development.  The Scrum Master knows the capabilities of the team and constantly finds ways to help the team to boost performances and enhance productivity. He or she makes sure that the team is well trained, and understands Agile well enough to address challenges on its own.Like any good coach, the Scrum Master does not solve the problems faced by the team, rather, they facilitate them in solving the problem themselves. Only in extreme cases when the team is unable to find a resolution, the Scrum Master takes full accountability and ownership of the problem and gets it resolved.2. Hosts Daily Stand-up Meetings, Sprint Planning Meetings, Retrospectives and ReviewsThe Scrum Master will facilitate and host all the Scrum events, including Sprint Planning Meetings, Daily Stand-up Meetings, Reviews and Retrospectives.Sprint Planning MeetingThe Scrum Master in this meeting shall prevent the development team from being over ambitious by selecting more Product Backlog items than they can deliver. If the Scrum team is not very mature, they may also require help in estimation.Daily Stand-upWhile the Scrum Master is not required to be a part of the Daily Scrum, he or she should make sure that the development team conducts it on time. In case the development team is distributed, the logistics to coordinate the Daily Scrum are made available to the development team.Sprint ReviewThe Scrum Master is a part of the review meeting and captures the feedback raised by the stakeholders. This feedback is used to take inputs from the team in the retrospective meeting.Sprint RetrospectivesThe Scrum Master conducts the retrospective meeting, noting down the areas of improvement that were suggested by the team. At times, the Scrum Master could ask someone else to conduct the retrospective meeting so as to get a different point of view on the process improvement.3. Acts as a Servant LeaderThe Scrum Master is often referred to as a servant leader. A servant leader is someone who asks, “what can I do today to help you and the team be more effective?” rather than asking “what are you going to do for me today?”His or her objective is to enhance and increase teamwork and personal involvement. Rather than being a master of the team, the Scrum Master is a master at encouraging, enabling and energizing people and helping them to realize their potential.A servant leader should have the following qualities:Listening skills Empathy Cultivating a culture of trust Acting with humility Encouraging othersAs a servant leader, the Scrum Master’s duties include:Leading the team through healthy conflict and debate on ideas Teaching, mentoring and coaching the organization and team in adopting and using Scrum Helping the team remove and prevent impediments Empowering and guiding the development team on self-management.4. Helps the Product Owner with the Product BacklogWhile it is the Product Owner’s responsibility to create and maintain the product backlog, the Scrum master helps the product owner refine and groom the tasks, based on current status of the work and development needs. The Scrum Master is in the best position to do this, using the information gathered from the daily stand-up meetings.The Scrum Master helps with the product backlog by scheduling review meetings and prioritizing tasks on user stories.5. Protects the Team from outside interferenceThe Scrum Master acts as a protector and helps the team by protecting it from outside interference that comes in the way of delivering the business value during each sprint.Interference can come from many sources; for instance it can be from managers who want to redirect team members in the middle of a sprint. No matter what the source of the interference, the Scrum Master acts as an interceptor and solves the issue amicably.6. Removes obstaclesA core responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the team stay focused on the tasks that need to be done in each iteration, and for this, any distractions and roadblocks that can impede progress must be ironed out. This is important especially when the team members cannot easily remove those impediments on their own.For instance, if team members are being forced to attend too many unimportant meetings that do not allow them to make progress on the work, the Scrum Master can work with meeting organizers to pare down the number of attendees for each meeting. Only those who are absolutely essential can participate.If a team member is being assigned tasks on multiple teams, the Scrum Master can work to redistribute the workload.Again, there could be internal disagreements in the team about their individual working styles or there could be disagreements about the Scrum process itself. The Scrum Master may have a one-on-one meeting with development team members to understand the same, and resolve such conflicts before they escalate into full blown disagreements.7. Teaches and upholds Scrum practices and principlesThe Scrum Master is well versed in all key Scrum practices and processes, and knows how to follow the core values of Scrum. If the other team members are new to Agile, the Scrum Master acts as a mentor and teacher to guide new team members, helping them to learn the ropes and ensuring work does not slow down. The Scrum Master has the authority to ensure whether the team enacts and adheres to the Scrum values, principles, and practices. Whenever they are found wanting, as a teacher, the Scrum master will help them to understand the scope and vision, and adhere to Scrum practices and rules.In doing so, the Scrum Master helps the Scrum team to improve the process and helps in maximizing the delivered business value.Ready to get started?The 14th State of Agile Report reports that 58% of companies use Scrum and its related variants, making it by far the most popular Agile methodology. 85% of participating organizations practiced the Daily Stand-up, and 46% of companies believed that there was immense business value delivered through Agile.  SAFe was considered the most popular scaling method, at 35% against 30% in the previous year.What is the Learning Path for a Scrum Master Role?Ready to embark on the journey of a Scrum Master? Are you a project manager transitioning into a Scrum Master’s role and looking for a primer on Scrum fundamentals? Or, are you a Scrum Master, who is looking to deepen your understanding of the Scrum Framework and the Scrum Master role? Consider getting a Scrum Master certification that matches your requirements and helps you to achieve your goals.Scrum Master TrainingKnowledgeHut’s CSM® Certification Training is a sought-after course where professionals learn to use Scrum to optimize value and boost productivity.Become an exceptional Scrum Master with real-time Scrum activities and simulations. These are some of the highlights of the course:Get trained by a Global Registered Education Provider (REP) of Scrum AllianceTraining delivered by globally renowned Certified Scrum Trainers (CSTs)Earn 16 PDUs and 16 SEUs in 2 days (14 to 16 hours of training)Experiential learning with Case studies, Scrum Activities, Role plays, & Simulations Progressive learning and support to further your Scrum knowledge Enjoy 2-year membership with Scrum Alliance Get Free E-learning Access to 100+ coursesWhat are the top benefits of the CSM Certification?CSM is one of the most sought-after certifications by recruiters, with a 61% growth in job listings (Source: Scrum Alliance salary survey). It will show your commitment to stay abreast with advancements in the Scrum world. It will keep you relevant in the job market and pave the way for better opportunities.   Certified Scrum Masters earn higher than their non-certified peers.Certified Scrum Masters are a great asset to the organization.FAQs1. What is one service a Scrum Master provides to the development team?The Scrum Master smoothens out obstacles, facilitates events, ensures transparency in processes, resolves conflicts and helps the team understand the scope of work and how to follow goals to create high-end products.2. What is one service a Scrum Master provides to the Product Owner?The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner to prioritize and groom the Product backlog, imparts a clear understanding of product planning, and facilitates Scrum events as required by the Product Owner. He or she acts smoothens communications between the team and the Product owner.3. What is one service a Scrum Master provides to the organization?As a Scrum coach and mentor, the Scrum Master helps all employees and stakeholders to appreciate the value of Scrum practices. He or she acts as a change agent for the Scrum transformation, helping in the adoption and scaling of Scrum across all levels and ensuring that everyone is on board with the Agile mindset and culture.4. In SAFe, which activity is a Scrum Master's responsibility?A Scrum Master on a SAFe team performs all the responsibilities of a Scrum Master on a single Scrum team, but has a 360-degree view of the enterprise context as well. A SAFe SM facilitates an environment that is conducive to scale Agile adoption across the whole enterprise, working along with other Scrum Masters to improve the entire value stream.5. The SAFe Scrum Master role includes responsibilities to which other group?The SAFe Scrum Master has the core responsibility of assisting the team to manage its goals. In the SAFe context, he or she also works with other teams, as well as the management, to increase the effectiveness of the adoption of the framework across all levels.6. What is the role of the Scrum Master in SAFe?If there are a hundred teams in the whole organization, having full time Scrum Masters on each team is practically impossible. So, depending on the size of the team and the responsibilities, the Scrum Master in a SAFe enterprise can play a part time, full time or consultant role. He or she carries out the role of the Scrum Master on a Scrum Team, but shoulders the responsibilities of helping to scale Scrum across the whole enterprise.7. What are the SAFe Scrum Master’s responsibilities?The SAFe Scrum Master is a Lean-Agile leader who helps the team adopt SAFe values, and is responsible for enforcing the practices of Scrum or other frameworks that are being adopted across the enterprise. He or she facilitates the progress toward goals, helps the team improve themselves and create high quality products, and smoothens the processes by removing any hindrances to work.The SAFe Scrum Master also has responsibilities on the Agile Release Train, and represents the team in the Scrum of Scrums. Additionally, they are required to take part in the Scrum Master Community of Practice, and support the organization’s SPCs.8. How does the Scrum Master lead and guide the organization in adopting Scrum?As a coach and mentor, the Scrum Master coaches the team and other stakeholders on effective Agile interactions, and ensures that Scrum best practices are followed implicitly. If there is any conflict between Agile and waterfall, the Scrum Master will guide the team by endorsing the benefits of Scrum. He or she will act as a teacher and onboard those who are new to Agile to the principles and practices of Scrum.9. How does the Scrum Master help to ensure the development team is working effectively?The Scrum Master facilitates and hosts Scrum events such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Planning, Retrospective and Review, among others, which increases transparency and boosts productivity across the team. He or she ensures that the team follows Scrum theory, practices, and rules, which will maximise the value created.10. What should a Scrum Master do when the goal, scope and product domain are not understood by the scrum team?As a coach, mentor and guide, the Scrum Master is expected to help them to clear doubts and smoothen the progress of the project. If there are any Agile newbies on the team, the Scrum Master can advocate to the management that they should be given the required basic training to onboard them to the Agile ways of thinking.11. As a true leader, who does the Scrum Master serve?As a servant leader, the Scrum Master’s goal is to serve the team. He or she helps people to achieve their potential, puts others needs first, and focuses on optimising performances.ConclusionThe Scrum Master acts as the protector of the team, making sure that everyone is on the right track, and the project is up and running smoothly.Scrum Masters play a pivotal role in balancing the interests of the other two Scrum-roles: the product owner and the development team. To act as a bridge between these two different forces, the Scrum Master should be cooperative and supportive.Typically, the Scrum Master helps in developing and streamlining clear channels of communication, ironing out impediments and streamlining processes, thus ensuring timely deliveries of high-quality projects.As the adoption of Agile keep increasing year on year, certified Scrum Masters are more sought after than ever before. Capitalize on the growing demand, and start your Scrum journey today!
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Scrum Tutorial

Roles & Responsibilities of a Scrum Master - Deep Dive

A Scrum Master (Scrum Master), popularly known as the “servant leader” is a coach, motivator and leader of an Agile team. The role of a Scrum Master is to educate the team on Agile processes and help team members follow Scrum practices religiously.  

A good Scrum Master helps to establish a high-performing team dynamic, a continuous flow, and an exponential improvement in processes. They are required to play a pivotal role and are responsible for the progressive development of a Scrum team.  

The Scrum Master collaborates both with the Product Owner (PO) who focuses on building the right product, and the development team that focuses on building the product right. A Scrum Master’s job is essentially to help everyone understand and imbibe Scrum values, principles, and practices and get the best product out to the customer.

Read on to find out about the Scrum Master role and responsibilities, and much more!

So, who exactly is a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master is a 'master' or expert in Scrum and has the ability to coach the team in the values, principals and processes of the Scrum framework.  

Despite what the title implies, the Scrum Master does not have the full authority to make strategic product decisions. However, he or she is accountable for the Scrum process and the effectiveness of the scrum team. Any decisions on the scope of the work are the responsibility of the Product Owner and not the Scrum Master.

The Scrum Guide has defined a set of roles, rules, values and rituals that should be followed to get the optimum benefit of Scrum. The Scrum Master works in sync with the development team, Product Owner as well as the entire organization and coaches them through the implementation of the Scrum framework.  

Scrum is very easy to understand, but at the same time equally tough to implement. While the Scrum Guide lays out precise instructions for following Scrum, almost all participants tell me in my training programs that they are using their own version of Scrum and not doing it by the book!

Let’s try and understand the challenges faced by the Scrum Master and how he or she plays the role of a servant leader.

Scrum Master’s Role

A Scrum Master collaborates with all the members of the team, and is required to provide various services to the Product Owner, the Team and the organisation.

Scrum Master’s Role

1. Scrum Master’s service to the Product Owner

What is one service the Scrum Master provides to the Product Owner?

The Scrum Master both guides and serves the Product Owner in more ways than one including:

  • Formulating techniques for effective Product Backlog Management,
  • Helping the team understand the need for clear and concise product backlog items, 
  • Imparting the understanding of product planning in an empirical environment, 
  • Ensuring that the Product Owner has clarity on arranging the product backlog to yield maximized value, 
  • Understanding and practicing agility, and 
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.

2. Scrum Master’s service to the development team

What is one service the Scrum Master provides to the Development Team?

The Scrum Master has an important role to play with respect to the development team.

  • Removing project impediments that stand in the way of team productivity and performance
  • Helping the development team to create high-value products
  • Ensuring the development team is working effectively, by conducting regular reviews
  • Creating transparency in processes and resolving conflicts
  • Helping the team to understand and follow the goals, scope of work and product domain
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed, and 
  • Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.

3. Scrum Master’s service to the organization

What is one service the Scrum Master provides to the organization?

The Scrum Master has several responsibilities to the organization as well.

  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and implement Scrum practices 
  • Acting as a change agent that increases the productivity of the team 
  • Leading and guiding the organization in successful Scrum adoption, by streamlining processes and ensuring that every member on the team follows the Scrum framework
  • Taking part in planning Scrum implementations within the organization, and 
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.

Scrum Master on a SAFe Team

A Scrum Master on a SAFe team creates and nurtures an environment that supports smooth team dynamics, ensures continuous flow through the Agile Release Train, and facilitates ongoing improvement.

A SAFe Scrum Master undertakes the following responsibilities

  • Promotes a Lean-Agile mindset and exhibits leadership behaviour, supporting and enforcing team rules
  • Helps the team to drive relentless improvement and progress toward goals
  • Hosts and facilitates Scrum events
  • Supports the PO and acts as a bridge between the PO, team and the organization
  • Removes obstacles  
  • Promotes SAFe practices, and supports SAFe adoption across the enterprise
  • Coordinates activities on the ART, and prepares for ART events, and
  • Works in tandem with Scrum Masters on other teams to improve the overall Value Stream.

A SAFe Scrum Master represents the team in the Scrum of Scrums, keeping them aware of all efforts to engage and build upon program effectiveness across teams.

Some common pitfalls / mistakes made by the Scrum Master

Scrum Master acts like a commander

Project managers turned Scrum Master are still hung up on the 'command and control' style of leadership. They need to behave like an agile coach but they often end up behaving like wardens handling their jail prisoners. In many cases, they take over the full ownership and responsibility of the project, which goes against the grain of Scrum.

In such a scenario, the team never starts to take on the responsibility for their actions. Instead, a good Scrum Master can just show the way by which the team can carry out their own work, and assume ownership of the product.

Scrum Master and Product Owner are the same

Most often this does not work well because of the different kinds of focus that these two roles have. The Product Owner is the VOC – Voice of Customer, and speaks in the best interest of the stakeholders and the product that is being visualized.  

The Scrum Master is supposed to be focussed on the long-term effectiveness of the team, so that the team structurally improves in delivering value to the stakeholders. He or she has to make sure that the interest of the team doesn’t suffer.

When one individual is tasked with assuming the role of both Scrum Master and Product Owner on the team, more attention could be paid to the short-term needs of stakeholders at the cost of the team.

Interfering in technical issues of the team

It might happen that the Scrum Master is someone who has a strong technical background. They could then feel the urge to advise the development team on technical issues, since they may think that work will progress faster if they give the solution to the team.

This is not always the best way to go about matters. The Scrum Master should trust the team to take the right technical decisions and should not interfere in technical aspects.

Characteristics/Must-Have Skills for a Scrum Master

What are the characteristics that a Scrum Master must possess, to be exceptional at their job? Here are the top traits of a successful Scrum Master.

Knowledgeable

First and foremost, a person who wants to be an effective process coach should be knowledgeable. The same holds true for a Scrum Master, who must understand the technical issues the team needs to address and the technologies the team will use to come up with end solutions. However, while they should be aware of the domain, they are not required to be an expert.

Patient

A Scrum Master needs to be patient and give time to the team to arrive at appropriate answers on their own. At times, all that may be needed is to oversee how the team is dealing with a certain issue, and step in only when they are unable to deal with it without support.

Collaborative

As a Scrum Master, you should have the right collaboration skills to work with the product owner, development team, and all other parties; even those who might not be directly involved with Scrum. The Scrum Master works as a process coach to help the Scrum team members achieve their goals.

Transparent

Last but not least, the Scrum Master should be transparent in all forms of communication. When working with team members, there should be no hidden agendas; what you see and hear from the Scrum Master must be what you get. People expect nothing less of a servant leader.

The Scrum Master also promotes transparent communication outside of the Scrum team. Without transparency, it is difficult for the organization to inspect and adapt to achieve the desired business results using Scrum.

Top 7 responsibilities of a Scrum Master

The Scrum Master wears many hats, and carries out several mission-critical responsibilities on the Scrum project. Here is a curated Scrum Master responsibilities list.

Coaches team members

1. Coaches team members

The Scrum Master acts as the coach for both the development team and the product owner. By acting as a bridge between the roles, he or she can enable the product owner to directly drive development.  

The Scrum Master knows the capabilities of the team and constantly finds ways to help the team to boost performances and enhance productivity. 

He or she makes sure that the team is well trained, and understands Agile well enough to address challenges on its own.

Like any good coach, the Scrum Master does not solve the problems faced by the team, rather, they facilitate them in solving the problem themselves. Only in extreme cases when the team is unable to find a resolution, the Scrum Master takes full accountability and ownership of the problem and gets it resolved.

2. Hosts Daily Stand-up Meetings, Sprint Planning Meetings, Retrospectives and Reviews

The Scrum Master will facilitate and host all the Scrum events, including Sprint Planning Meetings, Daily Stand-up Meetings, Reviews and Retrospectives.

Sprint Planning Meeting

The Scrum Master in this meeting shall prevent the development team from being over ambitious by selecting more Product Backlog items than they can deliver. If the Scrum team is not very mature, they may also require help in estimation.

Daily Stand-up

While the Scrum Master is not required to be a part of the Daily Scrum, he or she should make sure that the development team conducts it on time. In case the development team is distributed, the logistics to coordinate the Daily Scrum are made available to the development team.

Sprint Review

The Scrum Master is a part of the review meeting and captures the feedback raised by the stakeholders. This feedback is used to take inputs from the team in the retrospective meeting.

Sprint Retrospectives

The Scrum Master conducts the retrospective meeting, noting down the areas of improvement that were suggested by the team. At times, the Scrum Master could ask someone else to conduct the retrospective meeting so as to get a different point of view on the process improvement.

3. Acts as a Servant Leader

The Scrum Master is often referred to as a servant leader. A servant leader is someone who asks, “what can I do today to help you and the team be more effective?” rather than asking “what are you going to do for me today?”

His or her objective is to enhance and increase teamwork and personal involvement. Rather than being a master of the team, the Scrum Master is a master at encouraging, enabling and energizing people and helping them to realize their potential.

A servant leader should have the following qualities:

  • Listening skills 
  • Empathy 
  • Cultivating a culture of trust 
  • Acting with humility 
  • Encouraging others

As a servant leader, the Scrum Master’s duties include:

  • Leading the team through healthy conflict and debate on ideas 
  • Teaching, mentoring and coaching the organization and team in adopting and using Scrum 
  • Helping the team remove and prevent impediments 
  • Empowering and guiding the development team on self-management.

4. Helps the Product Owner with the Product Backlog

While it is the Product Owner’s responsibility to create and maintain the product backlog, the Scrum master helps the product owner refine and groom the tasks, based on current status of the work and development needs. The Scrum Master is in the best position to do this, using the information gathered from the daily stand-up meetings.

The Scrum Master helps with the product backlog by scheduling review meetings and prioritizing tasks on user stories.

5. Protects the Team from outside interference

The Scrum Master acts as a protector and helps the team by protecting it from outside interference that comes in the way of delivering the business value during each sprint.

Interference can come from many sources; for instance it can be from managers who want to redirect team members in the middle of a sprint. No matter what the source of the interference, the Scrum Master acts as an interceptor and solves the issue amicably.

6. Removes obstacles

A core responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the team stay focused on the tasks that need to be done in each iteration, and for this, any distractions and roadblocks that can impede progress must be ironed out. This is important especially when the team members cannot easily remove those impediments on their own.

For instance, if team members are being forced to attend too many unimportant meetings that do not allow them to make progress on the work, the Scrum Master can work with meeting organizers to pare down the number of attendees for each meeting. Only those who are absolutely essential can participate.

If a team member is being assigned tasks on multiple teams, the Scrum Master can work to redistribute the workload.

Again, there could be internal disagreements in the team about their individual working styles or there could be disagreements about the Scrum process itself. The Scrum Master may have a one-on-one meeting with development team members to understand the same, and resolve such conflicts before they escalate into full blown disagreements.

7. Teaches and upholds Scrum practices and principles

The Scrum Master is well versed in all key Scrum practices and processes, and knows how to follow the core values of Scrum. If the other team members are new to Agile, the Scrum Master acts as a mentor and teacher to guide new team members, helping them to learn the ropes and ensuring work does not slow down. 

The Scrum Master has the authority to ensure whether the team enacts and adheres to the Scrum values, principles, and practices. Whenever they are found wanting, as a teacher, the Scrum master will help them to understand the scope and vision, and adhere to Scrum practices and rules.

In doing so, the Scrum Master helps the Scrum team to improve the process and helps in maximizing the delivered business value.

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Agile Methods and Practices

The 14th State of Agile Report reports that 58% of companies use Scrum and its related variants, making it by far the most popular Agile methodology. 85% of participating organizations practiced the Daily Stand-up, and 46% of companies believed that there was immense business value delivered through Agile.  SAFe was considered the most popular scaling method, at 35% against 30% in the previous year.

What is the Learning Path for a Scrum Master Role?

Ready to embark on the journey of a Scrum Master? Are you a project manager transitioning into a Scrum Master’s role and looking for a primer on Scrum fundamentals? Or, are you a Scrum Master, who is looking to deepen your understanding of the Scrum Framework and the Scrum Master role? Consider getting a Scrum Master certification that matches your requirements and helps you to achieve your goals.

Scrum Master Training

KnowledgeHut’s CSM® Certification Training is a sought-after course where professionals learn to use Scrum to optimize value and boost productivity.

Become an exceptional Scrum Master with real-time Scrum activities and simulations. These are some of the highlights of the course:

  • Get trained by a Global Registered Education Provider (REP) of Scrum Alliance
  • Training delivered by globally renowned Certified Scrum Trainers (CSTs)
  • Earn 16 PDUs and 16 SEUs in 2 days (14 to 16 hours of training)
  • Experiential learning with Case studies, Scrum Activities, Role plays, & Simulations 
  • Progressive learning and support to further your Scrum knowledge 
  • Enjoy 2-year membership with Scrum Alliance 
  • Get Free E-learning Access to 100+ courses

What are the top benefits of the CSM Certification?

  • CSM is one of the most sought-after certifications by recruiters, with a 61% growth in job listings (Source: Scrum Alliance salary survey). 
  • It will show your commitment to stay abreast with advancements in the Scrum world. 
  • It will keep you relevant in the job market and pave the way for better opportunities.   
  • Certified Scrum Masters earn higher than their non-certified peers.
  • Certified Scrum Masters are a great asset to the organization.

FAQs

1. What is one service a Scrum Master provides to the development team?

The Scrum Master smoothens out obstacles, facilitates events, ensures transparency in processes, resolves conflicts and helps the team understand the scope of work and how to follow goals to create high-end products.

2. What is one service a Scrum Master provides to the Product Owner?

The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner to prioritize and groom the Product backlog, imparts a clear understanding of product planning, and facilitates Scrum events as required by the Product Owner. He or she acts smoothens communications between the team and the Product owner.

3. What is one service a Scrum Master provides to the organization?

As a Scrum coach and mentor, the Scrum Master helps all employees and stakeholders to appreciate the value of Scrum practices. He or she acts as a change agent for the Scrum transformation, helping in the adoption and scaling of Scrum across all levels and ensuring that everyone is on board with the Agile mindset and culture.

4. In SAFe, which activity is a Scrum Master's responsibility?

A Scrum Master on a SAFe team performs all the responsibilities of a Scrum Master on a single Scrum team, but has a 360-degree view of the enterprise context as well. A SAFe SM facilitates an environment that is conducive to scale Agile adoption across the whole enterprise, working along with other Scrum Masters to improve the entire value stream.

5. The SAFe Scrum Master role includes responsibilities to which other group?

The SAFe Scrum Master has the core responsibility of assisting the team to manage its goals. In the SAFe context, he or she also works with other teams, as well as the management, to increase the effectiveness of the adoption of the framework across all levels.

6. What is the role of the Scrum Master in SAFe?

If there are a hundred teams in the whole organization, having full time Scrum Masters on each team is practically impossible. So, depending on the size of the team and the responsibilities, the Scrum Master in a SAFe enterprise can play a part time, full time or consultant role. He or she carries out the role of the Scrum Master on a Scrum Team, but shoulders the responsibilities of helping to scale Scrum across the whole enterprise.

7. What are the SAFe Scrum Master’s responsibilities?

The SAFe Scrum Master is a Lean-Agile leader who helps the team adopt SAFe values, and is responsible for enforcing the practices of Scrum or other frameworks that are being adopted across the enterprise. He or she facilitates the progress toward goals, helps the team improve themselves and create high quality products, and smoothens the processes by removing any hindrances to work.

The SAFe Scrum Master also has responsibilities on the Agile Release Train, and represents the team in the Scrum of Scrums. Additionally, they are required to take part in the Scrum Master Community of Practice, and support the organization’s SPCs.

8. How does the Scrum Master lead and guide the organization in adopting Scrum?

As a coach and mentor, the Scrum Master coaches the team and other stakeholders on effective Agile interactions, and ensures that Scrum best practices are followed implicitly. If there is any conflict between Agile and waterfall, the Scrum Master will guide the team by endorsing the benefits of Scrum. He or she will act as a teacher and onboard those who are new to Agile to the principles and practices of Scrum.

9. How does the Scrum Master help to ensure the development team is working effectively?

The Scrum Master facilitates and hosts Scrum events such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Planning, Retrospective and Review, among others, which increases transparency and boosts productivity across the team. He or she ensures that the team follows Scrum theory, practices, and rules, which will maximise the value created.

10. What should a Scrum Master do when the goal, scope and product domain are not understood by the scrum team?

As a coach, mentor and guide, the Scrum Master is expected to help them to clear doubts and smoothen the progress of the project. If there are any Agile newbies on the team, the Scrum Master can advocate to the management that they should be given the required basic training to onboard them to the Agile ways of thinking.

11. As a true leader, who does the Scrum Master serve?

As a servant leader, the Scrum Master’s goal is to serve the team. He or she helps people to achieve their potential, puts others needs first, and focuses on optimising performances.

Conclusion

The Scrum Master acts as the protector of the team, making sure that everyone is on the right track, and the project is up and running smoothly.

Scrum Masters play a pivotal role in balancing the interests of the other two Scrum-roles: the product owner and the development team. To act as a bridge between these two different forces, the Scrum Master should be cooperative and supportive.

Typically, the Scrum Master helps in developing and streamlining clear channels of communication, ironing out impediments and streamlining processes, thus ensuring timely deliveries of high-quality projects.

As the adoption of Agile keep increasing year on year, certified Scrum Masters are more sought after than ever before. Capitalize on the growing demand, and start your Scrum journey today!

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