The following article is part of the self-preparation for the modern BVOP® Scrum Master Certification program.
Some of the responsibilities of the Scrum Master role are eliminating obstacles, protecting the team, assisting in Scrum events, collaboration with the Product Owner role, coaching, and guidance product stakeholders (Scrum team and business stakeholders) on Scrum practices and concepts.
- The need for a Scrum Master role
- The successful Scrum Master
- Key responsibilities of the Scrum Master role
- Scrum Master role as a servant leader
- Collaboration with the Development Team
- Organizing meetings
- The Scrum Master is a Coach
- Removing obstacles and problems
- Interpersonal problems and team conflicts
- Collaboration with the Product Owner role
- Who should be the Scrum Master?
- Working hours of the Scrum Master role
- Scrum Master role as part of Development Team
Scrum is a style of work that strives to maintain sustainable productivity for teams. Problems can quickly arise if the roles within the team and organization are not clearly defined and understood, and the team members do not follow the goals and purposes of the roles.
The Product Owner role represents the voice of consumers and the desires of stakeholders and businesses. The development team develops all these needs qualitatively.
Throughout this process, there is a need for a role that takes care of all parties and strives to comply with Scrum's rules and principles. Otherwise, chaos, micro-management, and disruption to the teams would emerge. Such negative situations can lead to a decline in motivation, defects in the product, difficult product maintenance, divergence of plans, and potential failure.
The Scrum Master role ensures that all possible negative results do not happen.
The Scrum Master strives for teams to work according to the principles and practices of Scrum.
The Scrum Master role, like all other roles in Scrum, has no authority to manage people, work, or anything. However, it has authority over everything related to Scrum processes, events, rules, ideas.
The Scrum Master acts as a leader for the team, not as a manager. Leads the team toward their goals.
The successful Scrum Master is committed and focused on the development of others and of the organization’s Scrum culture.
Key responsibilities of the Scrum Master role include:
- Monitoring and eliminating obstacles in the workflow.
- Protecting the team from unwanted outside interference.
- Assistance with meetings and Scrum events.
- Collaboration with the Product Owner role.
- Coaching and guidance of all product stakeholders (Scrum team and business stakeholders) on Scrum practices and concepts.
The Scrum Master must be able to represent the significance of Scrum clearly and without complex and disturbing terminology.
A servant leader is a popular term used to describe the Scrum Master in two words. The traditional style of leadership is usually understood as the expression of power by one person. The understanding of the serving leader is the opposite. The needs of others are first and foremost. Teams are being helped to do their jobs well and grow.
The highest priority for the Scrum Master role is to encourage and assist the Development team in maximizing their potential and productivity, in developing their skills, and in increasing the value they create.
The Scrum Master role acts as a buffer between the team and all external influences, problems, and processes.
BVOP brings a further understanding of the team’s protection from external stakeholders. It introduces the protection of the team from the Product Owner role. The Product Owner role is part of the Scrum team, therefore it is assumed that he or she knows and fully understands the principles and rules of Scrum. However, this is not always the case. Product Owner roles in different teams and organizations can have different interests, work styles, and can be driven by certain actions depending on many factors.
BVOP focuses on the important topic regarding the protection of the Development Team from its members.
Sometimes team participants may wish to manage their colleagues. In the classic management method in organizations, this would not be a problem and is even considered a positive situation.
According to Scrum rules, such management should not be accepted. Respect and equality should motivate team members and develop their creativity. Team leaders can often naturally lead to micro-management, individual decision making, assignment, and all Scrum principles will gradually be broken.
The Scrum Master role should be aware of such possible and potential violations of the Scrum rules. He or she should have a clear mind, insight, and the skills to evaluate any possible situation.
Scrum teaches that the Scrum Master role supports the team. However, there are no clear rules as to who organizes team meetings. We want to focus on the fact that a very appropriate role for this is the Scrum Master role.
Only if the team needs it, the Scrum Master role organizes meetings and events and invites everyone who needs to attend. He or she shares instructions, prepares attendees for meetings, explains discussion topics, and reminds of the Scrum rules.
If teams are disorganized and chaotic, the Scrum Master role restores order. For example, if a Product Owner role avoids an important meeting or provision of information, their presence and assistance needs to be sought.
Coaching is not just about the rules and principles of Scrum. The motivation, ambition, and focus of the team must be maintained.
Some team members may not understand the terminology or practices used by the rest of the team. The Scrum Master role helps everyone around to get into Scrum's atmosphere and ideas.
Every team, project, and organization has problems and obstacles of many kinds that can arise at any time.
The Scrum Master is actively working to resolve situations that impede the Development Team. If the Development Team is experiencing some deficiencies and is unable to do its job well and progress on the developments (technology, tools, or whatever), the Scrum Master role must have the ability and authority to fill the deficiencies immediately.
The Scrum Master does not work to remove obstacles and problems by taking self-directed decisions and actions. The options are always discussed with the team in advance to provide the best solution for them. Whenever possible, the Development Team should solve its problem by itself in the best possible way. The Scrum Master role only supports this activity.
Interpersonal problems and team conflicts are also important occurrences where the Scrum Master role must be involved to solve problems in the most constructive way possible for both the team and the product.
The Scrum Master serves as a coach and a supporting role for both the Development Team and the Product Owner role. An important aspect of working with the Product Owner is clarifying User Stories that need details and care for the Product Backlog, which needs to be prioritized and detailed for the next iteration.
It is of particular importance that the Scrum Master and the Product Owner roles are not taken over by the same person in the Scrum team to avoid conflicts of interest.
If the same Scrum team member is Scrum Master and Product Owner, the Product Owner functions excel and the focus is solely on the product and its fast development. In the end, the Scrum Master role loses some of its importance.
In another unpleasant situation, there may be a Scrum Master that also performs Product Owner functions, which can lead to too much focus on the Scrum team and impair the product’s progress and value.
Both roles require a considerable amount of invested time, and to be performed by one Scrum team member would be difficult. Organizations, teams, products, and business stakeholders may suffer losses.
There is much discussion as to whether the Scrum Master role is a full-time position or a part-time role. The official Scrum manuals do not answer these questions either. So we have to think logically again.
For some teams and projects, a part-time Scrum Master role might be enough. In this case, everything has been polished over time, and the problems are resolved and reduced. Everyone in the organization follows the Scrum principles. Business stakeholders look forward to the team completing the planned work at the end of the Sprint. The team is self-organized and focused on its goals.
In another case, if the team is new or Scrum is still an incomprehensible matter to everyone around, the Scrum Master role would be necessary and of particular importance, daily and throughout the working hours.
As the team cultivates respect, work, value, and collaboration, and business stakeholders become accustomed to the ideas of Scrum, the Scrum Master role gradually becomes simply a mentor who is always available and around. The critical need to solve problems and organize events is likely to decrease.
In this way, a Scrum Master can have the capacity, capability, energy, and time to serve multiple teams within the organization at a time.
Another common practice in Scrum teams is to have the Scrum Master take on the role of a technical person who is part of the Development Team. In this case, every time the team needs their Scrum mentor and assistant, the developer takes on the Scrum Master role and ceases to act as a Developer.
Although there are pros to the Scrum Master role being taken over by the Development role, this configuration has its logical drawbacks as well.
In addition to being distracting for a team member to change roles constantly, the Development Role is not likely to fully understand the business needs of the team and the organization. Assistance to the Product Owner role may also be detrimental.
The following issues related to chapter "The Scrum Master role" are included in the certification exam. The sequence of questions is presented in the table.
The data is current as of January 28, 2023, 4:18 am
|0||Organizing meetings||60 sec||SM, PO|
|1||Working hours of the Scrum Master role||60 sec||SM, PO|
|2||Who should be the Scrum Master?||60 sec||SM, PO|
|3||Interpersonal problems and team conflicts||60 sec||SM, PO|
|4||Key responsibilities of the Scrum Master role||60 sec||SM, PO|
|5||Collaboration with the Product Owner role||60 sec||SM, PO|
|6||Collaboration with the Development Team||60 sec||SM, PO|
|7||Protection of the team||60 sec||SM, PO|
|8||The successful Scrum Master||60 sec||SM, PO|
|9||Removing obstacles and problems||60 sec||SM, PO|
|10||The Scrum Master protects the Development team from the Product Owner||60 sec||SM, PO|
|11||Scrum Master role as a servant leader||60 sec||SM, PO|
|12||The need for a Scrum Master role||60 sec||SM, PO|
|13||The Scrum Master protects the Development team from the Development team||60 sec||SM, PO|
|14||The Scrum Master is a Coach||60 sec||SM, PO|
|15||Scrum Master role as part of Development Team||60 sec||SM, PO|