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What does a Scrum Master do all day?

February 18, 2024

(Japanese version・日本語版)

When people are first introduced to Scrum, often one of the questions they have is “what do Scrum Masters *really* do all day?”. This is a question I get in my training classes as well. Often, people end up discovering the answer to this question by themselves during the training, or as they start practicing Scrum in their teams.

In this blog post I'll try to answer this question from different perspectives.

The Scrum Master’s accountability

One way to start answering the question is to look at what Scrum, as described in the Scrum Guide, says about it. Scrum defines the Scrum Master as an accountability, not a role. This is a subtle nuance but this is intentional. By using the word “accountability”, Scrum makes it clear that the focus should be on:

  1. Fulfilling the accountability, rather than on “doing certain activities”
  2. Deciding what to do based on the situation of the Scrum Team and the organization, rather than carrying out a predefined series of actions.

Scrum however clearly lays out a number of services a Scrum Master provides to the Product Owner, the entire Scrum Team, and the organization. Some examples of these services are: 

  • coaching the Team members in self-organization and cross-functionality.
  • helping the Product Owner finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management.
  • supporting the organization in its Scrum adoption.

The Scrum Master acts at multiple levels

Scrum Master Multiple LevelsScrum Masters are sometimes restricted to acting at the level of the Scrum Team. In organizations that have this misconception, the value of the Scrum Masters is often limited. Focusing on the Scrum Team can be necessary and valuable, especially early on when the Scrum Team is not used to Scrum or to working together.


However in reality, the Scrum Master is in an excellent position to promote changes at all levels. Depending on the situation and the needs of the Scrum Team and the organization, Scrum Masters may end up spending the vast majority of their time outside their Scrum Team.

What the Scrum Master does evolves over time

If you ask a Scrum Master who has been supporting a team for more than one year to compare what they are doing now with what they were doing one year ago, most likely they will tell you that the two are very different.

There are several reasons for that:

  1. The Scrum Team learns a lot and becomes more autonomous over time. As a result, a lot of the issues that required Scrum Master intervention a year ago are now being dealt with autonomously. This creates more time for the Scrum Master to work with the broader organization.
  2. The Scrum Master themselves learns a lot as well and is getting better at deciding when to intervene and what techniques to use when doing so.
  3. When teams truly embrace the spirit of continuous improvement, whenever a new problem is solved or a new challenge is overcome, then a new “ideal” emerges, with its new set of challenges on the road to get there.
  4. In a complex environment, things can change at any moment, constantly creating new challenges for the Scrum Team. e.g. members resigning, major conflicts happening, financial instability in the company, a new direction for the Product, etc.

Answering the question for two different scenarios

In order to illustrate how different Scrum Masters supporting different teams and organizations may end up doing radically different things during the day, let’s take a look at two scenarios.

Scenario 1: New Scrum Team in a Traditional Organization

The organization is transitioning from a traditional waterfall project management approach. The team is new to Scrum. They are in the middle of their second Sprint. There is a mix of excitement and skepticism. The broader organization still operates under a lot of traditional management and reporting structures.

What might the Scrum Master want to focus on in this case?

In this scenario, the Scrum Master may decide to concentrate on educating the team about the Scrum principles and practices, and on working to remove organizational impediments that hinder the team's transition to Scrum.

What might the Scrum Master do exactly during a day in this scenario?

  • 8:30am: Facilitate a "weekly virtual coffee" session to build rapport among team members.
  • 9am: Since the Developers are still uncomfortable facilitating the Daily Scrum on their own, the Scrum Master is joining the Daily Scrum to ensure it's productive and time-boxed.
  • 10am: Work with the Product Owner on the state of the Product Backlog. After spotting a few Product Backlog Items that lacked clarity, discuss with the Product Owner what could be done in order to have the Product Backlog in a good shape for the next Sprint Planning in three days. e.g. gathering product usage data, gathering user feedback, talking to developers. Answer a few questions the Product Owner has about Scrum, Product Backlog Management techniques, the Product Goal, etc. on the spot.
  • 1pm: Spend time with individual Developers who need help understanding when and how to collaborate with others and how to make their work transparent in the Sprint Backlog.
  • 2pm: Meet with the Engineering Manager to exchange ideas on how to help everyone feel comfortable with the new way of working and the new expectations.
  • 3pm: Talk to stakeholders from Finance in order to understand how Budgeting and Funding work in the organization. Start socializing the idea that the Organization might benefit from separating Budgeting from Funding moving forward in order to increase its agility.
  • 4pm: Hop on a phone call with a Developer who suddenly reached out, complaining that “the Acceptance Criteria provided by the Product Owner” for a certain PBI were not clear enough. With the Developer, discuss two things:
    • What needs to happen right now, so that the Developer can make progress towards the Sprint Goal
    • What underlying issues may exist and how they could go about addressing those.


Scenario 2: Mature Scrum Team Facing a new Complex Project

The team is experienced with Scrum and has a high level of autonomy. But they are about to start a new, complex project that will have them interface with different teams, and involve new tools and technology.

What might the Scrum Master want to focus on in this case?

The Scrum Master may decide to focus on helping the team adapt its way of working to meet the demand of the new project. This may include finding effective ways to eliminate or handle dependencies with other teams. This is likely to involve some collaboration with Scrum Masters from other Teams. The Scrum Master may also have to work actively with the Product Owner on the Product Backlog.

What might the Scrum Master do exactly during a day in this scenario?

  • 9am: Work with the Product Owner to help them understand how to create and order the Product Backlog Items in such a way that minimizes dependencies between teams. Plan with the Product Owner ways to engage the Scrum Teams in the process of creating and refining the Product Backlog as soon as possible.
  • 11am: Simply be present with the team, in order to both observe team interactions, and to create opportunities for unplanned conversations with everyone.
  • 1pm: Facilitate a brainstorming session to tackle a specific technical challenge, inviting members from different Scrum Teams and other experts as well.
  • 2pm: Participate in a workshop with Scrum Masters of other teams, about the challenges the teams are likely to face with this new project, and what solutions may exist.
  • 4pm: Work on creating a shared “Digital Product Wall” that enhances transparency and makes collaboration easier.
  • 5pm: With the whole Scrum Team, participate in a study session organized by the internal Test Automation Community.



Scrum Master Choices

None of these examples are perfect representations of what Scrum Masters do in a day. However, notice how in each of these scenarios, the Scrum Master's role is fluid, adapting to the team's needs and the broader organizational environment. Their day is a mix of facilitation, coaching, problem-solving, teaching, mentoring, observation and learning, all aimed at fulfilling the accountability as outlined in Scrum.


About the author
Professional Scrum Trainer PST Gregory Fontaine Agorax

Gregory Fontaine is among about 350 Professional Scrum Trainer™ (PST) at and the CEO at Agorax GK. He has many years of experience applying Scrum both in software development and in a variety of other fields. He is the only Japanese Speaking PST and has been supporting clients and students in Japan for many years. If you want to learn more, please consult Gregory’s class schedule or Agorax’s website.

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