On the Nature of Scrum Masters


Not long ago, I found myself wondering about the proper role of a Scrum Master. What is their role on a team and within the organization as a whole? So naturally, I cracked open the Scrum Guide for some answers. What I found surprised me. Per the Guide, the Scrum Master serves many audiences. They serve the Team, the product owner, and the organization. That last one particularly caught my attention. In several of my roles, I’ve worked with people called ‘Agile Coaches’, besides the Scrum Masters. The main difference I can see is that the Agile Coach coaches the teams, including the Scrum Master. They aim at effectively applying agile principles. Further, they train and coach the organization in its agile transformation. But go back and read the Scrum Master section of the Guide right quick…

The role of Scrum Master, as defined by the guide, actually appears to be one that floats between scopes. On one end, the team and basic application of the Scrum framework. And on the other coaching and training the entire organization! Essentially there is an expected ebb and flow in the Scrum Master’s work. They are there rolling out Scrum to the organization. Thus the effective Scrum Master appears at times to focus on the team and at others to play the role of the Agile Coach. Curious, that we should separate the role in practice, isn’t it?