The Scrum Master and Scrum Foundations
19 July 2022
Who is the Scrum Master?
The Scrum Master is responsible for the process’ performance, “holding it all together”: they help the Product Owner to realise the value of the product and to plan the work with the team; they guide the Team to self-organise, to realise the required value and to remove operational impediments; they support the organisation in continuous improvement by understanding what Scrum is and how to create an environment that supports its adoption.
The Scrum Master helps the team members to balance between tradition and innovation: they assist the team in implementing the Scrum Foundations and support them in running experiments, whenever they autonomously want to try to do something differently. The Scrum rules are recommendations based on past experience and subsequent refinement. In this sense, the team trusts the Scrum Master for every change or variation of Scrum rules, as they bring expertise and experience requires reflection and planning,
Values of the Scrum Master
The way the scrum Master supports the team is grounded in transparency, self-organisation, empiricism and to the Agile Manifesto.
The Scrum Master also pays attention to people’s feelings during Scrum events and changes the communication format when necessary.
The Scrum Master in Scrum Foundations
Scrum Foundations are all the official Scrum events, roles and related responsibilities, tools and techniques used in implementing the framework.
Just as the Product Owner is the “owner” of the backlog, the artefact that shows the product’s value, so the Scrum Master is the “master” of the process, supporting the team in the implementation of Scrum. So, their main responsibility is to facilitate the process and support the team in maturing their agile mindset as a Scrum Master is also a coach.
The Scrum Master in Sprint Planning
The Scrum Master has to manage the execution of Sprint Planning and facilitate the self-organised team discussion during the sprint backlog’s creation, helping the team to agree on future capacity and previous speed.
The Scrum Master in Daily Scrum
The Scrum Master will ensure that the meeting is held (e.g. in the early stages of framework adoption) and help to facilitate the event.
It is important to work with the development team so that they quickly reach full autonomy to be aligned on the work.
The Scrum Master in Refinement
The Scrum Master must ensure that the event is organised at a cadence the team feels is best.
The Scrum Master should point out to the team the importance of taking notes on corrections and things to be done and to make items “ready” for the next planning session.
The Scrum Master in Sprint Review
How the teams work will be demonstrated to the stakeholders, so the Scrum Master will facilitate the discussion and in collecting feedback, which is crucial to improve the team’s effectiveness.
The Scrum Master in Sprint Retrospective
The Scrum Master facilitates retrospectives: they choose the most suitable format according to the needs of the team, timing and tools.
In addition to the management of official Scrum events, the Scrum Master must also know how to lead and support the team in the early stages of their learning: in defining timing and business needs, in facilitating the set up and use of operational tools, following the design and implementation of physical or digital boards to clearly visualise the team’s work.
The Scrum Master in a continuous improvement perspective
One of the pillars of the Agile methodology is continuous improvement. This is the reason why the Scrum Master must not only support the team in “knowing how to do Scrum”, but also stimulate an experimental mindset among team members. The aim is to insight people towards the benefits of observing reality, empowerment and experiments; an attitude of always finding better ways to do things.
Lastly, the Scrum Master will work with the team to understand what they should be measuring, learn how to read what those measures will be showing them and ways it can help them to improve as they complete more and more sprints.
The Scrum Master observes the progress of the team and collects results, which are then analysed together with the team.
What, then, must the Scrum Master be able to do?
The required skills for a good Scrum Master are wide and varied.
First of all, although this role is strongly linked to the Scrum framework, you will need to know that elements from other methodologies are also used. Kanban is an example, which helps to manage unexpected and critical issues which allows you to organise your time between planned activities (planned and with a backlog) and unplanned activities (emergencies, urgencies, bug fixing).
A good Scrum Master is dynamic and able to move between tradition and innovation. It is also important to be able to perform different tasks to meet the needs and culture of the team; we refer you to a previous article “The ‘8 hats’ of a Scrum Master”.
In upcoming articles, we will analyse the the way that a Scrum Master supports a team early on in the adoption of Scrum, as well how they collaborate with another critical role in Scrum – the Product Owner.
- Puliti G. “III parte: Tra tradizione e innovazione. Meccaniche di base, sperimentazione e metriche”, Vita da Scrum Master, October 2020, Mokabyte.it
- Puliti G. “XV parte: Cosa deve saper fare uno Scrum Master, in sintesi”, Vita da Scrum Master, September 2021, Mokabyte.it