What is a Scrum Master?

Learn About the Role of the Scrum Master

Servant LeadershipAs described in the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted. Scrum Masters do this by helping the Scrum Team adhere to Scrum theory, practices, and rules.

The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. The Scrum Master helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.

Roles a Scrum Master Plays

Scrum Master Service to the Overall Scrum Team

  • Lead by example. Be the first one to be vulnerable.  Be a living demonstration of team assets and Scrum Values. Admit your missteps.
  • Create an environment of safety. Encourage debate, support it and keep it productive.  Use coaching techniques like open questions.
  • Facilitate consensus. Try to have key decisions made clear at the end of team discussions, making responsibility and deadlines clear.
  • Learn to read the room. Be connected without being present.
  • Show patience. Be okay with silence. Let the team take action.
  • Restrain from solving. Reveal, not resolve. Be careful not to steer the team towards premature resolution of conflict to protect people. Help team members develop conflict resolution skills.
  • Be comfortable with failure.  Team decisions may not lead to the anticipated outcome.  This is part of learning and growth.
  • Care for people.  Listen to them without judgment.  Assume positive intent.  Meet them where they are and help them find the next step.
  • Show low tolerance for organizational impediments.

Service to the Product Owner

Sprint Planning Workflow
                    Sprint Planning Workflow Example

The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways, including:

  • Finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management.
  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items.
  • Understanding product planning in an empirical environment.
  • Ensuring the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value.
  • Understanding and practicing agility.
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.


Scrum Master Service to the Development Team

The Scrum Master serves the Development Team in several ways, including:

  • Coaching the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality.
  • Helping the Development Team to create high-value products.
  • Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress.
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.
  • Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.Project Definition

Scrum Master Service to the Organization

The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including:

  • Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organization;
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development;
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team; and,
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.

Scrum Master TrainingProfessional Scrum Master Training

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) course is a 2-day course where students learn how to use Scrum to optimize value, productivity and the total cost of ownership of software products. Tools are provided to enable students to relate to behavioral shifts, work with people and teams, coach and facilitate techniques, and address the organization.

Scrum Master Certification

Scrum.org provides 3 levels of ProScrum Master CertificationProfessional Scrum Master certification.  

  • PSM level I demonstrates a fundamental level of Scrum mastery.
  • PSM level II demonstrates an advanced level of Scrum mastery.
  • PSM level III demonstrates a distinguished level of Scrum mastery.

Videos and Webcasts


Many Personalities of a Scrum Masater

As part of the Scrum Tapas video series, Professional Scrum Trainer Krystian Kaczor talks about how a Scrum Master must take on many personalities when working with their Scrum Teams and a few examples of the types of personalities they may take on. Those personalities may also evolve over time with the team as the team learns to become more independent.




Being an Effective Scrum Master

In this edition of ScrumPulse,  Hiren Doshi, Scrum.org Trainer and Coach talks through his practical experience leading numerous Agile Transformations for clients like Tesco, BookMyShow, DELL EMC, Bank of America, Sabre Travels, etc. on what it takes to be an effective Scrum Coach. 




Psychological Models of Scrum

Learning, responsibility and power - the three psychological models very useful in a Scrum Master's daily work.

Scrum Masters, while working with teams, battle multiple problems and dysfunctions. Having three lines of responsibility - towards the Development Team, the Product Owner and the Organization - they tackle different problems in those areas, but they often originate at one point.



Servant Leadership


As part of the Scrum Tapas video series, Professional Scrum Trainer Ian Mitchell discusses what a servant leader is and some ideas on how to be a good one.

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Suggested Reading

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