The Scrum Master is a role in Scrum – an Agile Framework for optimising the delivery of products. In most organisations, when someone is given this responsibility, they are concurrently given the authority necessary for success. Scrum Masters are in a different situation.
The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. They do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organisation.
Understanding and mastering Scrum Theory helps a Scrum Master talk with their team and stakeholders and communicate “why” Scrum is important and effective. Understanding empiricism is key. Empiricism, inspecting Scrum artefacts and adapting the plan, is an important risk mitigation strategy. The transparency that results from empiricism helps teams and their stakeholders be confident that delivery will be successful.
The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices, within the Scrum framework. Through working together using Scrum, inspecting progress and adapting their plans, the whole Scrum Team assure delivery is low risk. As a Scrum Master isn’t accountable for the work itself, they’re not responsible for delivery in the same way a Delivery Manager or Project Manager is responsible for delivery.
Scrum Masters are expected to be true leaders who serve the Scrum Team and the larger organisation. The Scrum Master serves the Scrum Team in several ways, including:
The Scrum Master isn’t:
Download the Scrum Master Checklist (PDF) to print and use in your team design.
1. Sutherland, J. and Schwaber, K. (2020) The Scrum Guide. The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game.