What is a Scrum Master
Scrum Master is one of the three roles that make up the Scrum Team as described by the Scrum Framework. The Scrum Master role is specific to Scrum and is a critical aspect in achieving the ambitious goals of helping the team and the organization be adaptable to rapidly changing customer needs through continuous inspect and adapt. To be adaptable the organization must develop the capability to continuously seek feedback from the customers about their needs and adapt their approach to meet these needs gracefully. The Scrum Master acts as a catalyst to this capability development within the team and the organization. Scrum Master achieves this by educating, facilitating and coaching the development team, the Product Owner and the organization.
While the Product Owner focuses on improving the product ROI by defining what is right to build, the development team focuses on building the product right, the Scrum Master acts as a servant-leader and focuses on building a high performing team to maximize the value created by the Scrum Team.
As per the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master collaborates with the Scrum Product Owner and serves by:
- Finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management;
- Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;
- Understanding product planning in an empirical environment;
- Ensuring the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value;
- Understanding and practicing agility; and,
- Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.
The Scrum Master serves the Development Team in several ways, including:
- Coaching the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality;
- Helping the Development Team to create high-value products;
- Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress;
- Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed; and,
- Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.
The Scrum Master according the Scrum Guide, is also responsible to serve the organization in below ways. However, most Scrum Masters fall short on serving the organization.
- Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;
- Planning Scrum implementations within the organization;
- Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development;
- Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team; and,
- Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.
How to become a Certified ScrumMaster
The Scrum Alliance is one of the most reputed and popular certification body. The Certified ScrumMaster certification from Scrum Alliance is the most credible certification as Scrum Alliance carefully through a rigorous process wets out the Certified Scrum Trainers. This is how you can get a ScrumMaster certification:
- Attend the 2-day Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) training facilitated by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST).
- Read the Scrum Guide and review the CSM participant workbook/reading content provided.
- After successful two days workshop, the CST recommends your name to Scrum Alliance.
- Scrum Alliance emails you a link to take the online CSM test.
- Take the CSM test and get 24 (out of 34 multiple choice questions) correct answers to pass the test.
- Upon passing the CSM test, download your Certified ScrumMaster certification from your Scrum Alliance member account dashboard. And here you are a Certified ScrumMaster 🙂
The empirical approach to product development doesn't have to be limited to the fine tuning the product direction, it's equally powerful when applied to the process of developing the product.
Sprint Retrospective meeting provides an in-built approach for the Scrum Teams to inspect and adapt. I observe in most organizations (almost 9 out of 10 times), everyone in organization is looking up to the development team to retrospect and improve their process. Most of the time the implicit desire is for the development team to deliver more features in less time.
What is almost always overlooked is if the Scrum Master is performing her job effectively in helping the Scrum Team become effective, creative and flexible - what the Scrum Team is designed to be.
Usually because the Scrum Master is the only most-Scrum-educated person available. No one (dares/) holds her responsible for improving at her own job, at what is she supposed to do.
Why most of the Scrum retrospective meetings neglect to inspect how the Scrum Master performed during the Sprint?
One common oversight is that Scrum Master by default sends the meeting invites and takes up the role of the facilitator during the Sprint Retrospective meeting. The facilitator by definition doesn't participate / contribute to the conversations as her focus is to hold the space and create structure for the participants to contribute effectively, resulting in the Scrum Master to usually escape the periphery of the retrospection.
Scrum Guide calls out the Scrum Master's service as;
Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed - Scrum Guide
One good approach to worth giving a try is, to rotate the facilitator and allow the Scrum Master to participate in the Sprint Retrospective meeting with the Scrum Team.
By rotating the facilitator, the Scrum Master also gets the chance to participate in the retrospective, reflect and share her own perspective and analysis of her performance. If she shielded the team well, if she was effective in helping the team to remove the impediments, if she did good in coaching the dev team, the product owner, as well as the organization, etc..
Does your team care and discuss if the Scrum Master performed her duties well during the sprint?
Becoming a real effective Scrum Master is tough journey. Those who are open to seek feedback and look for opportunities to continuously improve their own game, also stand chance to inspire their teams and leaders to improve.
What are your thoughts about the topic?
If you are Scrum Master, how do you ensure to inspect and adapt your own performance?