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A Scrum Master is a leader as well as a servant of the Scrum Team. This means that the Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum Team works as per the defined principles, practices, and values of Scrum. The Scrum Master is also accountable for helping others understand the essence of Scrum; especially, those that do not belong to the Scrum Team, and ensure that the interactions between the Scrum Team and the non-Scrum Team are effective and helpful. His objective is to see that the interactions provide optimized value.
The value of a Scrum Master is incomparable in an Agile enterprise. The key components of the framework include Sprints or tiny work iterations; daily Scrum Meetings; Sprint Reviews, Sprint Retrospectives, and Sprint Demos.
Scrum is one of the most popular Agile frameworks in the domain of software development - The State of Agile report in April 2018 stated that 56% of teams in Agile ecosystems use the Scrum Framework. Of the 2000 practitioners surveyed by The State of Agile, 94% reported that they use Scrum of which 78% said that they use Scrum with other frameworks while 16% make use of Scrum alone. With such a high-demand for Scrum as an Agile framework, it is not a surprise that the Scrum Masters are in demand too.
The Scrum Master is the perfect fit between the enterprise, the Product Owner, and the Scrum Team. So, he needs to work at the enterprise level, at the Product Owner level, at the team level as well as the individual level.
Let us now delve deep into the world of Scrum and find out about what a Scrum Master does
Responsibilities of a Scrum Master
The person works in different roles and capacities with a unique set of responsibilities for each role.
1. Responsibility of the Scrum Master towards the enterprise
The Scrum Master is the change leader in the enterprise.
Leading the way in enterprise-level Scrum adoption.
Making all internal Stakeholders understand the essence of Scrum.
Detail out the implementation plan for Scrum within the enterprise and ensure the enactment of a Scrum during product development.
Collaborate with other Scrum Masters to enable effective applicability of Scrum.
To increase the Scrum Team's productivity, work towards bringing in required changes.
2. Responsibility of the Scrum Master towards the Scrum Team
Mentoring and coaching the Development Team especially where Scrum is being introduced and is relatively new.
Facilitate the Scrum team to self-organize and work in cross-functional roles.
Address obstacles and impediments that have the potential to reduce the progress of the Development Team.
Facilitate the Development Team in the creation of enhanced value products.
Take charge of Scrum events as and when required.
3. Responsibility of the Scrum Master towards the Product Owner
Communicate the objective and the scope of the product to everyone in the Scrum Team and ensure that each of them comprehends the same with clarity.
Organize Scrum events as and when required.
Help the Product Owner understand the Product Backlog effectively so that the items can be arranged to achieve maximum value.
Undertaking Product Backlog management and improvising techniques for the same.
Ensure that every member of the Scrum team understands the essence of the items in the Product Backlog with clarity and precision.
What does a Scrum Master do all day?
The above are the responsibilities that a Scrum Master needs to fulfill towards various entities within the organization. But, what does he do the entire day? A lot actually; but most of it is unscheduled, unplanned, and last-minute activities. The challenge of being a Scrum Master is that the person needs to be mentally attuned to face this unpredictability - not one day or two days, this is the story day in and day out.
Scrum Masters have a defined role but no amount of pre-planning can prepare them for the day to come. Each day is different and needs on-the-spot handling. This is primarily because each Sprint has different sets of challenges, complexities, and surprises.
It may so happen that the Scrum Master is never at his desk anytime during the day. On the face of it all, it may seem that the Scrum Master has nothing much to do the entire day because there is no tangible work that is seen happening. However, the Scrum Master, at every moment, is engaged in adding value to the development process.
Since, in many Agile organizations, the question, what does a Scrum Master do remains unfathomable, therefore Scrum Masters are given the task of Project Management or Development work. In many other enterprises, lack of Scrum understanding leads to the appointment of the most inexperienced person as a Scrum Master - this defeats the entire purpose of having a Scrum Master. It is not a big surprise that such Scrum Masters end up working more as a clerk rather than being a proper Scrum Master.
Some of the day-to-day tasks that the Scrum Master needs to do include:
Rapport building with every individual in the system so that he can influence interactions between different individuals empirically.
The Scrum Master connects with people at all levels - senior management, team members, cross-functional teams like marketing, finance, legal, and so on.
Coaching and mentoring team members and cross-functional teams.
Training is an integral part of the Scrum Master's daily role.
To influence change management, observing people closely to understand what is causing certain issues to get repeated.
Indulge in active listening, trying to understand verbal and non-verbal communication when someone else speaks.
Being mindful, especially in between training sessions so that the Scrum Master can remain unbiased during the session.
Indulge in upskilling so that the Scrum Master is always prepared to face the unknown and ready for all kinds of situations.
The benefit of having a Scrum Master is that the team has someone well-versed with Agile and Scrum practices in various settings and therefore can help the team to effectively work for value. Scrum Masters are also expected to address obstacles, issues, and disruptions meaningfully well leaving the Development Team to work dedicatedly on enhancing their performance.
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