A scrum master functions as a facilitator, organizer and enabler of a team when designing, developing and creating a product, steering the team towards self-organization and implementation of quick changes, whenever needed, especially during emergency situations. Furthermore, the scrum master is tasked to process and supervise the information exchange.
While a lot of people think that a scrum master is that all-powerful force that directs the path an organization may take, the truth is, he is not a leader and does not hold liable whatever the outcomes of the group’s activity. What the scrum master does however is to ensure that the Scrum team lives by the values and practices of scrum, thus, the role is more of a coach, motivating the team to do and give his best. The scrum master may also be considered as the team’s process owner, serving the team by balancing the interest of the project’s key stakeholders, who are also known as the product owner. All in all, the team is the one in charge of the outcomes.
While a lot of people think that a scrum master’s task is easy, the truth is, it is not. The scrum master’s job description is wide ranging and it includes: assisting team members to come up with a consensus as to what should be the goal to attain in a specific period of time; assisting the team to reach consensus during the daily scrum; helping the team to keep their eyes on the goal while adhering to agreed-upon rules for daily scrums; elimination of obstacles that prevent the group from achieving their goals; and protecting the team from outside distractions.
It is the duty of the scrum master to do everything in his capacity to raise the team’s performance at highest level possible. This involves removing any impediments to progress, facilitating meetings, and doing things like working with the product owner to make sure the product backlog is in good shape and ready for the next sprint. The scrum master’s role is commonly filled by a former project manager or a technical team leader but can be anyone.
The scrum master is also often viewed as a protector of the team, with his authority limited only to safeguarding the team’s compliance to the process. This makes the scrum master’s functions actually more difficult than that of a manager. While project managers would often tell their colleagues “do as I say,” a scrum master cannot say the same but has to work as hard as any team member to set a pattern of behavior that the team might want to follow.