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The 8 stances of a Scrum Master (and false myths)

25 Mar, 2021 Methodologies
The 8 stances of a Scrum Master (and false myths)

A Scrum Master is a leader at the service of the team: but what are exactly his/her roles? Let's see them together in this article.

A silent and crucial work

In the new 2020 Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master is defined as "the one responsible for the efficacy of the Scrum Team" and as "a true leader at the service of the Scrum Team and the overall organization".

It is a complex job: the Scrum Master, in fact, is committed to promoting the understanding of the Agile mindset and then shaping future actions in terms of change and continuous improvement by adopting the Scrum framework and principles. We talked about it in this article.

To do this, he/she helps create the conditions in which the Scrum Team, and consequently the entire organization, can be successful. All without much drama and without drawing attention.

This holistic approach to work caters directly to individual members, the team and ultimately the entire organization. 

The 8 stances

To better understand the essence of this role, Barry Overeem, professional Scrum Trainer, starting from his personal experience, described the 8 ‘hats’ that a Scrum Master can wear within a team.

An excellent SM is, therefore, able to play many roles smoothly and to switch according to the team’s needs and the requirements of the moment. 

The Scrum Master acts as:

1. Servant Leader

Servant-leadership focuses on collaboration, trust, empathy and the ethical use of power. As a servant leader, the Scrum Master is fully aligned with the Scrum values of courage, openness, respect, focus and commitment.

He/she focuses on the needs of team members with the aim of achieving results in line with the company's values and goals.

2. Coach

Just like a sports coach, the Scrum Master focuses on team building, guides and encourages the team to self-organize, stay focused and have a continuous improvement-oriented mindset.

Not only that, he/she trains every single team member with a focus on mindset, behavior and organization to collaborate effectively with Scrum Teams. 

3. Facilitator

The task of the Scrum Master is to facilitate the work of the Product Owner and the team. Contrary to popular belief, he/she does not only facilitate events but the whole Scrum process, ensuring a smooth and sustainable pace.

Finally, he/she facilitates relationships, promoting collaboration and creating synergies within the team and with clients. 

4. Teacher

The Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum principles and framework are understood and put into practice. For this he/she guides the Product Owner and the team towards Agile practices and principles whenever they move away from them. 

5. Mentor

"A mentor is a wise and trustworthy counselor or teacher." The Scrum Master has the task of transferring knowledge and experience to the team, guiding it in the adoption of an Agile mindset.

6. Manager

He/she is responsible for the process management, with an eye on team health and waste elimination, while managing the boundaries of self-organization and promoting the Agile culture. 

7. Impediment Remover

One of the fundamental responsibilities of the Scrum Master is the resolution of impediments, those critical issues that block the team and require external intervention.

To do this, he/she needs to make informed decisions regarding the removal of impediments. 

8. Change Agent

The Scrum Master helps create an environment that allows the Scrum spirit to thrive within the Team and the organization. 

False myths: what ISN’T a Scrum Master

In many companies the role of the Scrum Master is misunderstood and the confusion surrounding this complex entity often generates false myths.

After seeing the 8 basic stances, let's see what a Scrum Master does not do: 

Now you should see more clearly the profile of this “enigmatic” professional figure.

And if you want to find out how a Scrum Master actually works, take a look at this article: here we have talked about our Retrospectives.

Beatrice Bottini

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