Scrum Master role

Last post 05:58 pm August 9, 2020
by Mark Adams
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10:01 pm February 9, 2015

While the Scrum Master plays a servant-leadership role to the P.O, Dev Team and organization, could it be interpreted/considered that the Scrum Master plays a "management" role in some form or shape (e.g. due to impediment removal outside dev team's control, Scrum process compliance, championing/leading Scrum adoption in the broader org.) -- even though there are no management "titles" or "positions" in a scrum team and the Scrum Master plays this role from a collaborative, facilitative standpoint?

Thoughts?

04:15 am February 10, 2015

> could it be interpreted/considered that the Scrum Master plays a "management" role in some form

Not a role. It's better to say that the SM has management *responsibilties* including the ones you have broadly outlined.

Management responsibilities are taken seriously in Scrum, to the point that all three roles have their parts to play.

12:05 pm February 12, 2015

John

My interpretation is that the Scrum Master manages the Scrum framework, but doesn't manage the other Scrum team members.

This was the hardest concept for me to grasp in my initial studies of the Scrum framework. I think we are all used to the traditional management approach. I was thinking of the Scrum Master as more of a Project Manager and not as a servant-leader to the other Scrum team members.

07:34 am March 12, 2015

Can we way then that the SM is a facilitator for the Scrum Team and the organization.about what's included in the Scrum framework of a particular Scrum team???

02:26 pm August 7, 2020

Hi! I have a similar question- does the Scrum master serve in a leadership role on the team, hence is a decision maker? I’m talking about how the SM syncs with the Product Owner to discuss issues that the team may be experiencing or looking at the roadmap. My current Product Owner told me there are multiple interpretations of Agile and she sees the Scrum Master as a facilitator with no leadership/ decision making power. 
So two questions- is the SM a facilitator and nothing else? And do interpretations of Agile vary so that in another context the roles would look different?

Thanks in advance!

04:18 pm August 7, 2020

does the Scrum master serve in a leadership role on the team, hence is a decision maker?

I'd suggest that a Scrum Master ought to be a servant leader rather than the kind of leader you perhaps envision. A Scrum Master is more likely to influence and reveal than to decide and resolve.

A Scrum Master can be thought of as a manager in so far as he or she manages people's understanding of the Scrum Framework.

08:25 pm August 7, 2020

As a Scrum Master, I make decisions all the time, but they're all about how I conduct my role. I'm nobody's boss, and I certainly don't tell anyone what to do.

But one of my gifts is being able to add a lot of transparency to situations. I therefore have to be careful how I communicate with other team members or stakeholders. What may seem like an idea or preference of mine can often be a hint or more direct call to action so that colleagues are well positioned to handle a situation that I'm going to make visible.

08:34 pm August 7, 2020

Thanks! Both of these answers help me. Would you say that interpretations of Agile vary by person? 

09:18 am August 9, 2020

Both of these answers help me. Would you say that interpretations of Agile vary by person? 

Interpretations of Agile abound - Lean, Kanban, Scrum, and Extreme Programing are all Agile.

Scrum Master is a Scrum role. So if you're working to Prince-2 Agile you may well not have one. But if you don't have one, you aren't doing Scrum.

The Scrum Guide tells you what the SM should do and how they behave. If they are telling people which task to do, when - then they are behaving as a Project Manager not a Scrum Master.

09:44 am August 9, 2020

Would you say that interpretations of Agile vary by person? 

"agile" is an adjective; and like most adjectives, it's subject to interpretation. It's also not a binary state: one can become more or less agile.

I sometimes have a role during the interview process for prospective developers and Product Owners, and I often ask a very open question, inviting the candidate to share their interpretation of "agile".

Some will talk about processes, perhaps from certain methodologies or frameworks; others quote directly from the agile manifesto; some might mention what they think agile working is designed to achieve; and others will talk about why they see a need to be agile. There is an enormous variance in the answers, ranging from very practical actions, to preferred ways of working, and views on mindset and behaviour.

I wouldn't say there's a specific right or wrong answer to this question, but it does reveal other areas that I would then ask more about.

As a result of the interview, I will form an opinion, already based on my own interpretations (of agile, of the candidate, and of the company/team needs), and I'll share that with the other people involved in the hiring process, who will also have their own interpretations.

05:58 pm August 9, 2020

With almost every client I've worked with, the Scrum Master was a quasi-lead role and they were no different than Project Managers. They wanted everybody to report on status, they wanted everybody to use a tool to track their work, they removed impediments, and then they ran reports in the tool for management to track performance and progress.