Servant leader, coach, and facilitator. Learn more about a Scrum Master’s essential role
The Scrum Master fills an essential role on the team by acting as the team’s servant leader, coach, and facilitator. They are the individuals that drive the process, facilitate the ceremonies, remove impediments, and protect the team from distractions so they can focus on delivering value within their timeboxes. These individuals are responsible for enabling the team and enforcing the values and practices that the team and the organisation have made commitments around. The Scrum Master is a leader, not a functional manager, and is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum team is able to run at maximum efficiency and to coach stakeholders, Product Owners and the team on all things agile.
With all this being said the Scrum Master is NOT the “authority” figure within, or for the team and won’t commit to work on the team’s behalf. Also, these individuals are not strictly coordinators, since empowered and self-organising teams have the ability to coordinate with other teams and/or departments within the organisation.
So what does a servant leader, coach, and facilitator do?
A servant leader is a champion for the adoption and execution of agile frameworks within an organisation and serves as the change agent driving agile behaviours. They foster a culture of helping others, either within their team or in the organisation as a whole. They remove impediments or blockers for the delivery team and shield them from distractions and fly-by requests. Servant leaders support a sustainable pace for the team and the individuals on the team. They help the team identify ways they can grow their engineering practices and/or technical skills and overall serve as a role model for the team and the organisation.
A coach leads and mentors a team on an Agile framework and the supporting scrum processes. Coaches create a learning organisation encouraging teams to experiment, self-organise, and inspect and adapt which helps with identifying continuous improvement opportunities. A coach helps improve delivery team effectiveness by helping them to create and adhere to working agreements, team (rather than individual) commitments, the definition of ready, and the definition of done. They encourage team building through collaborative activities and they can help improve functional manager effectiveness by helping managers find ways to support the team.
A facilitator guides the team through their core ceremonies ensuring that the team members understand their role in each of these meetings, encourage the team to honour the session timeboxes, and identify duplicate or unnecessary meetings for the team. For each of these ceremonies the scrum master’s responsibilities are a little bit different but overall their goal is to help the team reach consensus and stay focused so the sessions are as efficient and effective as possible. The core ceremonies that a scrum master facilitates for the team and their main responsibility for the session are as follows:
- Observe lack of story refinement based on the team’s definition of ready
- Coach Product Owner and Delivery team on how to determine capacity and velocity before committing to sprint plans
- Take on the resolution of impediments, as needed
Iteration Demo and Review
- Ensure the team demonstrates working software that satisfies the agreed upon acceptance criteria and the definition of done
- Encourage equal voice for all team members
- Utilise metrics for continuous improvement
- Encourage the team to focus on a few improvements versus tackling everything at once
In summary, the scrum master empowers team level continuous improvement by serving as a full time transformation agent.