Scrum Master: Position or Role?

January 10, 2014

The Scrum Master is a facilitator who ensures that the Scrum Team is provided with an environment conducive to completing the product’s development successfully. The Scrum Master guides, facilitates, and teaches Scrum practices to everyone involved in the project; clears impediments for the team; and, ensures that Scrum processes are being followed. The Scrum Master is the person responsible for ensuring that the product development is progressing smoothly and the Development Team members have all the tools to necessary to get the work done. The Scrum Master monitors the Release Planning and sets up and oversees meetings. The role of the Scrum Master is based on the concept of servant leadership in which leaders achieve results by giving attention to the needs of those they serve.

Corresponding to a Scrum Master role in a project, there could be a Program Scrum Master for a program or a Portfolio Scrum Master for a portfolio. The Scrum Master is the “servant leader” of the Scrum Team who moderates and facilitates team interactions as team coach and motivator. The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the team has a productive work environment by guarding the team from external influences, removing any obstacles, and enforcing Scrum principles, aspects, and processes.

Thus, Scrum Master is more a role than a position. Note that the Scrum Master role is very different from the role played by the Project Manager in a traditional Waterfall model of project management, in which the Project Manager works as a manager or leader for the project. The Scrum Master only works as a facilitator and he or she is at the same hierarchical level as anyone else in the Scrum Team—any person from the Scrum Team who learns how to facilitate Scrum projects can become the Scrum Master for a project or for a Sprint.

Scrum Master – is a role and not a position because:

  • Acts as a guardian and facilitator for the team.
  • Protects the team from external interference
  • Does not get work done, but only facilitates the team.
  • Ensures the team follows and implement Scrum practices
  • Acts as a motivator and coach to the team
  • Acts as a change agent, ensuring a smooth and effective change process
  • Scrum Master is at the same hierarchical level as anyone else in the Scrum Team

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