Venkatesh Rajamani

What is One Prerogative of a Scrum Master?

I often get one question in common, who is responsible for the overall effectiveness of the Scrum team?

Is it the Product Owner, Or Is it the Scrum Master, Or Is it the developers themselves?

While the question is a topic of high debate, there is no denying that these three accountabilities have their significance, vitality, and prerogatives. In this blog, we will try to look at the role of the Scrum Master and the importance of a Scrum Master.

What exactly does a Scrum Master do?

As per the Scrum Guide, 

“The Scrum Master is one person who is accountable for establishing scrum as it has been defined in the Scrum Guide. They do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organisation”.

As written in the Scrum Guide, the responsibility of the Scrum Master is broader, often misunderstood by Organisations and restricted only at a team level. But the fact is they serve the Scrum Team and the entire Organisation.

What are the Prerogatives of a Scrum Master?

The Scrum Masters have many prerogatives. I want to relate the three levels of Services and connect the role of a Scrum Master in this article. 

Services to the Scrum Team

1) Culture of Schooling: Like the more significant social culture, the Scrum team’s culture results from conscious and unconscious perspectives. The Scrum Master enables the Scrum team and Organisation understands the why’s behind the framework. They typically help the group understand the competing views from the self-managing individuals and integrate them into the group’s behaviour for the team’s benefit. When I was a Scrum Master, I focused on the cultural aspects to help people understand behavioural change. So, in my view, this is one of the essential accountabilities of a Scrum Master.

2) Accentuate and Fixate: The Scrum Team, who can maintain a keen focus on ascending out the increments of the high-value product, can substantially thrive in the complex world. Scrum Master’s help the team understand how to leverage the Scrum framework to discover emergent solutions through an iterative and incremental approach.

3) Removing Barriers: The Scrum Master must arbitrate any impediments that can add hindrances to the progress of the Scrum Team. They do this by helping the team understand how to remove obstacles for themselves.  

4) Facilitate Events: One of the powerful duties of a Scrum Master is to ensure that the Scrum events are utilised and serve their purpose. It’s not about running or facilitating a bunch of events. It is about maximising opportunities for inspection and adaptation.

Services to the Product Owner

 1) Upholding and Reinforcing the Product Goal and Product Backlog: Even though the product owner is accountable for establishing an inspiring product goal and managing the product backlog. Great Scrum Masters ensure that the product owners understand techniques to order the product backlog to maximise the product’s value.

2) Empirical Planning: From my experience, Without the intervention of Scrum Master, even an effective Scrum team may find it challenging to figure out how product planning works in an empirical environment. Great Scrum Master introduces techniques that can help product owners plan incremental releases.

3) Facilitation of Stakeholders Collaboration: In my experience, Scrum teams can significantly benefit from engaging with all the necessary stakeholders and onboarding them to the new ways of working. Often, it is both challenging and time-consuming for product owners. In this case, Scrum Masters can certainly help bridge the gap between product owners and stakeholders. But, again, it is challenging but possible.

Services to the Organisation 

1) Lead, Train and Coach: There is no methodology for a Scrum Master to follow, yet there is a set of intervention choices and behavioural stances to choose depending on context. Scrum Masters should leverage teaching, coaching and leading my examples depending on the situation. The situation dictates the approach, and in my view, there is no best approach. For instance, if the Organisation is new to scrum, taking a teaching stance may be helpful. On the other hand, if the Scrum teams face conflicts, taking a facilitator stance may be appropriate.

2) Scrum Advisory: While transitioning into the Agile environment, Agility often requires a change in organisational approach and how individuals and teams and those around their behaviour. Scrum helps move towards enabling. So, great Scrum Masters act as advisors on applying scrum in a complex and multi-team environment.

3) Helping with a pragmatic approach for the convoluted work: Scrum Masters map out the most helpful strategy that will work for the Scrum Team based on their own experience. Blending the Scrum Framework and expertise will help unleash the intelligence of the Scrum teams.

4) Removing Organisational Impediments: Sometimes, the stakeholders and the Scrum Team are not in sync. Therefore, the Scrum Master tries to smoothen that line in communication, make sure that everyone stays on the same page, and remove any barriers that hinder the team’s progress. Working at an Organisational level takes time, and with enough patience and wisdom, one can onboard stakeholders to the new ways of working.

Concluding Thoughts

Doing scrum right is not the prerogative of Scrum Masters. However, helping people understand the benefits of the Scrum Framework is one prerogative for any Scrum Masters. I know it is easier said than done. Scrum Master should blend soft skills, knowledge and capabilities to overcome obstacles and achieve the set goals. These abilities come from experience, the proper training, practices, and experiences that help you in various walks of life. 

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