What Makes a Good Scrum Master
The most popular Agile framework, especially in IT projects, is Scrum, which is why many people are interested in the career of a Scrum Master. What features should a good Scrum Master have? Is this a job for everyone?
Let's find out!
What is Scrum?Agile methodologies in project management conquer the market and many teams decide to work “without a boss”. Scrum is an agile work framework in which the Scrum Team consisting of developers, Product Owner, and Scrum Master implements the project in an iterative model. The principles of this framework are described in the Scrum Guide, yet a lot of ambiguities have arisen around it, especially when it comes to the role of a Scrum Master. SM is not a person with technical skills – he does not program but also does not report and supervise employees like a manager. So what does he do?
What does the Scrum Guide say about Scrum Master?As defined in the Scrum Guide (a set of principles and good practices), “The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. they do it by helping everyone understand Scrum Theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organization”
In practice, Scrum Master works with both the Product Owner, responsible for the list of tasks (so-called Product Backlog), and the team of developers, responsible for their implementation, to provide the desired value. SM acts as a servant leader who observes, asks questions, advises, looks for blockages, and supports the team in removing them.
What features should a good Scrum Master have?
- Communicativeness – as a facilitator, Scrum Master supports the team through dialogue and talks to each team member. A conversation is their work tool. Good Scrum Master will find a common language with both the developer and the person on the business side (most often the Product Owner), he can chatter about both the IT project and holidays, the football tournament, as well as new trends in home decoration. Scrum Master communicates clearly and understandably to everyone, asks a lot of questions to understand others, get to know their motivations, and concerns, and thereby - get to know how to best serve them.
- Openness – do you value working peacefully at home and consider the exchange of opinions and discussions as a necessary evil? Most likely, the role of Scrum Master will not be a good choice for you. Scrum Master, to understand people and the essence of their activities, must be open-minded. After all, he will have to deal with various creative (sometimes extraordinary) ideas in the field of task implementation. Some of them will turn out to be bull 's-eye, and others will have to undergo constructive feedback. Then another very important feature will come in handy, namely...
- Assertiveness – the fact that a Scrum Master is a servant leader does not mean that he is submissive. In everyday work, there are conflict situations, tensions, and disagreements. The timid, submissive Scrum Master will not bring value to the team and will not help them achieve their goal. It is also worth remembering that Scrum promotes mutual respect and Scrum Master is also a guardian of this value.
- Humbleness – this may seem contrary to the previous feature, but we will recognize a good Scrum Master by the fact that he is not trying to be a "star of the show". Even if he is a leader, mentor, and facilitator, he doesn't do it as a boss. Scrum Master strives for the joint success of the team, not to promote himself. Socrates used to say, “I know that I know nothing,” at the same time consistently striving to discover the truth. Scrum Master acts pretty much the same.
- Curiosity – in discovering the truth, it will be useful to be inquisitive, to be able to dig, to inquire, a bit like a journalist pushed out the door and coming back through the window. “Why isn't it working?", "Why we have had problems with achieving the goal", "Why have we incorrectly estimated this task?", and "Does everyone know what to do?" - these are just a few of the examples of questions Scrum Masters may ask while looking for ideas for improvement.
Summary – can everyone become a Scrum Master?Although it seems that there is nothing simpler than Scrum Master's work (zero programming, testing, etc.), this person should
have a set of unique features. Sometimes even somewhat contradictory. It is good, if Scrum Masters knowledge is confirmed by appropriate Scrum.org or Agile Alliance certificates. However, In the end, it is the personality of Scrum Master that determines if he brings value to the team.