22 Stances of a Scrum Master

Many people think a Scrum Master’s role is to remove impediments from the team. You might be surprised to learn that this isn’t the case.

What does a Scrum Master really do?

Recently, I ran an Advanced Scrum Master Training course for those looking to develop their agile coaching skills. We discussed the role of a Scrum Master beyond serving team and how an advanced Scrum Master also looks at how to support and develop their Product Owner as well as the wider organisation.

The role of a Scrum Master has many stances.  In the PSM II class we did an exercise where we looked at different real life scenarios for Agile teams and Organisations. The participants were asked:

  • What is your first reaction to this scenario?
  • What stances would you choose? They had 22 stances to choose from (and could use multiple stances if appropriate).
  • How would you use this stance?

Participants then reflected on whether the stance would vary based on team maturity and organisational context.

Anti-patterns for Scrum Master actions

Some behaviours for Scrum Masters don’t support teams to self-organise. An integral part of the discussion in this class involved some stances participants had used in the past, and whether these were in fact anti-patterns.

As a new Scrum Master you may tend to fall back on being a Scribe, Admin, Scrum Mum, or Scrum Police, however as you develop in maturity the key for a good Scrum Master is to look beyond the team and to the wider organisation. When the Scrum Master focuses their attention on the wider system of work, stances such as facilitation, coaching, mentoring, counselling, consulting, acting as a change agent and lean leader, help them to be more successful at promoting and supporting self organisation.

How many stances are there?

The are 8 preferred stances and these reflect the 8 elements of agile coaching that an advanced Scrum Master would use, but these are only applicable in certain situations based on experience and the context.

A great Scrum Master is aware of all the stances and the preferred 8 elements of agile coaching  and knows when and how to apply them, depending on situation, context as well as the, team’s level of maturity and their own experience and capability.

How many stances should a Scrum Master be aware of?

We’re collecting new stances all the time, based on our experiences working with new teams and experienced ones, software teams, executive and management agile teams, and large programs of over a thousand people. Overall, we’ve identified 22 stances and these have become an integral part of our PSM II course.

Download the 22 stances of a Scrum Master

Register your details and download ZXM’s 22 Stances for use in your own context. They’re great to reflect on emerging situations and to support consideration regarding how you could act to support others in your role as a Scrum Master and agile coach.

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