February 19, 2018

Myth:  Scrum Master is a Project Coordinator

The Scrum Master role is a new one and often mis-understood by teams and organizations who are Implementing Scrum. When I work with organizations often I see Scrum Masters role is not taken very seriously,

 A frequent response is to make the “leftover people” the Scrum Masters. They might be nice people but often lack the right traits, motivation, and Scrum knowledge to be effective Scrum Masters. They might morph the role into something else which then becomes accepted “definition “ within the organization as the way a Scrum Master should be.  So, eventually that leads to False assumptions about the Scrum Master role . 

After all, the Scrum Master should know if they’re doing things correctly, right? Sometimes well-meaning Scrum Masters who are new to Scrum or not a good fit for the Scrum Master role cause things to happen that are actually counter to Scrum and detrimental to Scrum adoption, thereby transforming them into anti-Scrum Masters.


Scrum guide clearly articulates that,


“The Scrum Master’s job is to work with the Scrum Teams and the organization to increase the transparency of the artifacts. This work usually involves learning, convincing, and change. Transparency doesn’t occur overnight, but is a path” 


Surviving the Traditional Corporate Culture

Traditional organizations have a project coordinator who coordinates work between teams.  When you adopt Scrum, the multi-team coordination is the responsibility of the teams. Many teams are so used to having a coordinator role to do this type of work, But Scrum Masters enable the teams to do this on their own. There are many ways than Organization's culture may need to change, in order for Scrum teams to thrive. Perhaps your Organization has a culture of "dictating" and "telling" the teams on what to do and coordinate on their daily activities. 

Often, this starts with some Constraints. But,

Constraints foster Creativity

 Help the teams this way by Introducing Some of the Practices listed,


  • Create Team Agreements on Co-ordination Mechanism, eg: Nexus Daily Scrum - The Nexus Daily Scrum is an event for appropriate representatives from individual Development Teams to inspect the current state of the Integrated Increment and to identify integration issues or newly discovered cross-team dependencies or cross-team impacts. For more information on Nexus please refer : https://www.scrum.org/resources/online-nexus-guide 
  • Introduce teams to each other.
  • Facilitate a discussion , only if needed
  • Enhance the Transparency of the teams using, Information Radiators (For ex: Dependencies, for the teams to Inspect & Adapt themselves).
  • Teach the teams the purpose of each of the events and ensure the purpose is understood by the entire Scrum team and the Organization.
  • Work with other Scrum Masters in the Organization to improve the effectiveness of the Scrum Implementation.
  • If teams are Distributed, Help the teams by Introducing “Good” practices on Distributed Model.
  • If multiple teams are working on the same backlog , help the teams create mutually accepted “Definition of Done” which will make their Integrated increments potentially releasable.

Inspect & Adapt!