Scrum Master

If you are new to the role of Scrum Master, there may be many questions that pop up about the work tasks in the role. Industry shows that there are as many implementations of the role as there are Scrum Masters.

In theory

The following text can be found on the official website for Scrum in connection with the definition of the Scrum Master’s responsibility:

“Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that Scrum is understood and enacted.”

Scrum Guide

Furthermore, it is mentioned that this is the “servant leader” for the team, and that services must be provided to the Product Owner, Development Team and the surrounding organization. But what does that mean?

The mechanical (important)

One of the first tasks a Scrum Master undertakes is to ensure that the mechanical elements in the Scrum are set in motion so that the wheels can begin to turn in the machinery. The following is convened:

  • Daily Standup
  • Sprint Planning
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

Typically, the Scrum Master is also the facilitator at these meetings – or at least responsible for finding a facilitator at the meetings – as well as ensuring that participants attend adequately prepared.

The soft values ​​(more important)

It is essential that the Scrum Master understands that the role is not superior to other members of the team and that the team should not see it as a leader. A more appropriate description could be a “coach”. The Scrum Master’s most important role is to ensure that the team is well and that they can get in flow on the tasks so that agreed functionality can be delivered at the end of the sprint.

What does it mean to be in flow?

The term comes from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who in 1989 came up with the following summary:

“Flow can be defined as a state of self-forgetting engulfment of an activity that completely seizes the individual’s attention and gives a sense of effortless and spontaneous control.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1989

Being in flow on your tasks is one of the best emotions you can have and is a big contributing factor in establishing a “high performing team”, as defined by the Tavistock Institute in the 1950s. To assist with this, the Scrum Master ensures to remove any impediment that the team may experience during a sprint in relation to solving the agreed tasks. Examples of this can be long response times at Product Owner, poor IT equipment, faulty development environment, etc. It is not the job of the Scrum Masters to solve these problems, but to ensure that they are solved so that the team can get back in flow.

In addition to removing obstacles, it is also essential to ensure that the Product Owner attends the Sprint Planning and Sprint Review meetings well prepared. The Scrum Master is interested in this to ensure the team’s flow in the upcoming Sprint. In collaboration with Product Owner, Scrum Master ensures that the elements on Product Backlog are defined in a state so that they are “ready to sprint” for the team – all clarifications that Product Owner can handle are performed and described in a sensible way. Furthermore, it is important that Scrum Master ensures that the Sprint Review takes place in a proper manner; that the Product Owner is required to provide a binary answer – yes or no – to the question of whether the agreed tasks have been solved as expected / described in “done criteria”. If the answer is yes, the task is closed, but if the answer is no, then a new task is placed on the Product Backlog for future prioritization. It is important that Scrum Master ensures that tasks do not “survive” from one Sprint to the next, as it does not reflect the team’s progress and can help to weaken the sense of flow.