"Agility is the ability to adapt and respond to change ... agile organizations view change as an opportunity, not a threat."

– Jim Highsmith

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Professional Scrum Master 2

What is a Scrum Master?

While the official term from the Scrum Guide is “Scrum Master”, I prefer to use the term “Scrum Champion” or “Scrum Helper”.

Scrum is a lightweight agile framework that defines three roles: Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Developers.

As an overview, the Scrum Master fosters an environment where:

1. A Product Owner orders the work for a complex problem into a Product Backlog.

2. The Scrum Team turns a selection of the work into an Increment of value during a Sprint.

3. The Scrum Team and its stakeholders inspect the results and adjust for the next Sprint.

4. Do it all again…

I’d like to correct a possible misunderstanding with the above artwork of a daily scrum meeting. The person on the left wearing orange is NOT the Scrum Master coordinating the daily scrum. A properly run daily scrum meeting is self-managed by the developers. Are your development teams self-managed?

Scrum Master and the Team

How does the Scrum Master assist the development team? Several ways:

1. Coaching the team members in self-management and cross-functionality.

2. Helping the Team focus on creating high-value work every sprint that meet the Definition of Done.

3. Removing impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress.

4. Ensuring all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox (timebox is the maximum amount of time for an event; scrum has timeboxes for events to improve focus and efficiency).

Scrum Master and the Product Owner

In Scrum, the Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value gained by the Scrum Team. The primary way this is done is by ordering the Product Backlog and by placing the most valuable tasks at the top of the Product Backlog. Sounds easy – but determining what is most valuable and measuring that value isn’t always so easy.

The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by:

1. Helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management;

2. Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;

3. Helping establish empirical product planning for a complex environment; and,

4. Facilitating stakeholder collaboration as requested or needed.

Scrum Master and the Organization

The Scrum Master’s focus extends beyond the team to the organization itself. The Scrum Master serves the organization by: 

1. Leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption.

2. Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization;

3. Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work.

4. Removing barriers between stakeholders and Scrum Teams.

Contact Christopher Maxwell