When I ask this question in my Certified Scrum Master and Advanced Certified Scrum Master courses, the answer is invariably, ‘to remove impediments’.
Whilst removing impediments is an important role for scrum masters, it isn’t their primary responsibility. If it was, a scrum master would be building dependency rather than creating self-organising, autonomous teams.
As a coach, the scrum master is dedicated to helping the team find the right answers and take responsibility for every element of the product development process. Sometimes, that includes helping the team find ways to make their own decisions or remove impediments to progress.
So, their primary responsibility is instead to create an environment where others can excel.
They are responsible for creating self-managing, autonomous teams that are hyper productive and capable of solving a myriad of problems through the development and deployment of cross-functional skills and capabilities.
A scrum master is going to be coaching a scrum team to recognise and understand that they have the agency to improve and solve problems within their own working environment. Teaching them how to continuously improve and exploit opportunities that are available to them.
A scrum master will also work with the larger organisation to help them understand how certain long entrenched behaviours and ways of working may be impeding the progress of the scrum team.
Coaching is a very big part of becoming an effective scrum master and you will be deploying those coaching skills within and outside of the scrum team you primarily work with.
Coaching people outside of the team will help them understand how they might be getting in the way of successful product development, and also, help them understand how they might be of more service to the scrum team and product development process.
So, removing impediments is important but it’s only a part of the picture.
A scrum master will also be looking at how the scrum team work together, what their relationships are like, and how effectively they collaborate or swarm to solve problems.
They will be assessing whether individuals are getting on, whether they are able to have open and honest conversations, and whether they are working effectively and cohesively as a team.
Helping to foster a team dynamic is an important part of the Scrum Master’s role.
Helping them to hold each other to account for achieving sprint goals and team objectives.
A scrum master will also be working to develop interpersonal skills such as healthy disagreements or arguments. Helping the team to have the tough conversations that are necessary for the team to improve and consistently achieve their sprint goals.
There is lots to do as a scrum master in serving your team.
As a scrum master, you need to be asking yourself every day whether your actions and the actions that the team are taking helping the team to create an environment where each member can excel and the team are able to achieve the goals and objectives that they consider important.
That’s the primary role of a Scrum Master.
If you like the idea of becoming a Scrum Master, visit our Certified Scrum Master course page.
If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master course page.
If you are a scrum master with several years’ experience and want to validate your skills as a professional, visit our Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster course page.
If you like the idea of mentored and coach-driven skills development, visit our Agile Coach Academy.
If you have identified coaching as an important skillset to develop, visit our on-demand Introduction to Coaching course page.
For more on John McFadyen, visit https://www.johnmcfadyen.com