The Scrum Guide defines the ScrumMaster at length, but in this blog post, we’re going to take apart some of that description and take a much closer look.

According to the Scrum Guide, “the ScrumMaster is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. ScrumMasters do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values.” This first part of the definition of the role is pretty straightforward — the role of the ScrumMaster is to make sure that everyone understands Scrum. A couple important things to note here is that the definition includes everyone, not just the Scrum team. So, yes, this extends the responsibility of the ScrumMaster to everyone in the organization including the Scrum team.

Another important note is that the ScrumMaster doesn’t actually have any authority to enforce Scrum (the word “enforce” was, in fact, removed from the definition in 2017). The implications here should not be overlooked: not only is the ScrumMaster responsible for helping the organization use and understand Scrum, but he or she has to do this by convincing people that Scrum is the right way to go. This requires the development of coaching and facilitation skills as well as the ability to see conflict and disagreement from multiple perspectives so as to allow the ScrumMaster to help others see Scrum from their perspective.

The Scrum Guide goes on to say, “the ScrumMaster is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. The ScrumMaster helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t. The ScrumMaster helps everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.” In this portion of the definition of the ScrumMaster, we see some more description around what “helping everyone understand Scrum” means. The ScrumMaster needs to be a servant leader to his or her team, helping the team to learn how to find innovative answers, reach decisions, resolve conflict, and become more and more productive. We see, also, that the ScrumMaster can support the Scrum team and the organization by helping those outside the Scrum team learn how to most efficiently work with those inside the Scrum team.

So, yes, while the ScrumMaster might facilitate Sprint Planning when necessary, a good ScrumMaster goes far beyond just running Scrum events into the realm of coaching, facilitation, and servant leadership.

Artisan’s CSM training can provide an excellent start for a new Scrum Master looking for direction on what it means to do the job. If you’re really into being a Scrum Master and want to take the next step, try Artisan’s Advanced Certified Scrum Master training.

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