I wanted to create a simple one-pager to represent the Scrum Master responsibilities, as defined by the official Scrum Guide.
I hope this will be of use to folks who operate in this role or similar, or are interested in doing so. I also hope it will help organisations who use Scrum (and would like to validate if their Scrum Masters have the correct focus), are looking to adopt Scrum, are using other agile methods and frameworks to improve their agility or are simply interested in the idea of having continuous improvement champions helping those around them become more effective in empirical product development.
While Scrum Master is clearly a Scrum-specific role, the responsibilities are also a very useful frame of reference for any non-Scrum agile leadership role, so long as we look beyond those responsibilities directly referencing Scrum mechanics and read between the lines.
To create this 1-pager, I have taken all of the mentioned Scrum Master responsibilities scattered throughout the guide and put them each into one of 4 sections, representing the 4 entities whom they serve — the Development Team, the Product Owner, the Scrum Team (as a whole) and the wider Organisation.
Most of the responsibilities are verbatim and in the “right” spot; some are re-worded and/or re-jigged slightly to (hopefully) increase clarity.
I would welcome feedback to improve the 1-pager below, so please feel free to leave comments suggesting improvements. Please note, however, that this 1-pager will no longer be so if I try and fill it out with detail that is not present in Scrum. The idea is to make the role as defined in the Scrum Guide more accessible, not to add to Scrum. Feedback for improving Scrum itself should be directed at its creators, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber.
Scrum Master 1-pager
The Scrum Master is primarily a servant-leader for a Scrum Team (comprising of themselves, a Development Team and a Product Owner), trying to help them become increasingly effective at maximising value in complex environments by supporting and coaching agility and empirical product development.
In order to perform that role effectively they must also serve the wider Organisation. In fact, when one looks at all of the organisation-wide responsibilities listed in the Scrum Guide (and below), one might argue that, contrary to popular belief, the Scrum Master role is at least equally organisation focused as team focused, if not more so.
Scrum Master service to the Scrum Team
- Encouraging the Scrum Team to improve, within the Scrum process framework, its development process and practices to make it more effective and enjoyable for the next Sprint;
- Ensuring that goals, scope, and product domain are understood by everyone on the Scrum Team as well as possible;
- Helping the Scrum Team understand and practice agility;
- Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;
- Ensuring each Scrum event takes place, and that attendants understand its purpose;
- Teaching the Scrum Team to keep each event within the time-box;
- Ensuring the Retrospective is positive and productive;
- Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.
Scrum Master service to the Development Team
- Coaching the Development Team in self-organisation and cross-functionality;
- Helping the Development Team to create high-value products;
- Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress;
- Ensuring other attendees (outside of the Development Team) do not disrupt the Daily Scrum;
- Coaching the Development Team in organisational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.
Scrum Master service to the Product Owner
- Helping the Product Owner understand product planning in an empirical environment;
- Supporting the Product Owner in finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management;
- Ensuring the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value.
Scrum Master service to the Organisation
- Ensuring the Scrum artifacts (Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog and Product Increment) are transparent, or at least increasing in transparency; this work usually involves learning, convincing, and change. Transparency doesn’t occur overnight, but is a path.;
- Detecting incomplete transparency by inspecting the artifacts, sensing patterns, listening closely to what is being said, and detecting differences between expected and real results;
- Helping everyone apply the most appropriate practices in the absence of complete transparency;
- Promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide;
- Helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values;
- Leading and coaching the organisation in its Scrum adoption;
- Helping those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t, and helping everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team;
- Planning Scrum implementations within the organisation;
- Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development;
- Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team;
- Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organisation.
If you have any questions about any of the concepts in this article, or need a hand with your service design, lean/agile product development or agile transformation endeavours, please reach out directly to me or my company Hypothesis.