Mastering Scrum: The Scrum Master

Insights | 06 August 2019

Mention the word ‘agile’ and often the word ‘Scrum’ enters the conversation. Scrum is a popular Agile approach, originally developed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland as a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products. Scrum is an adaptive and iterative approach focussing on creating products of the highest possible value.

Scrum is described as ‘lightweight, simple to understand yet difficult to master’. So how do we ‘master’ scrum? To help understand this, let’s delve into the role of Scrum Master.

So, what is a Scrum Master?

Simply put, a Scrum Master is an expert in Scrum, promoting and supporting Scrum by helping everyone understand what Scrum is, including theory, practices, rules and values.

The Scrum Master ensures that the team embraces the agile mindset and executes scrum practices.  They enable an optimal working environment and provide facilitation services where required.

The Scrum Master is a servant leader of the Scrum Team.

What is a Servant Leader?

A servant-leader means that you lead your team best by serving them. You put their needs ahead of your own and you do everything in your power to enable team members to succeed. This includes removing any impediments encountered and shielding the team from unnecessary distractions.

Is a Scrum Master a Project Manager?

The simple answer is no – the Scrum Master role does not naturally correspond to that of a project manager (nor vice versa). A Scrum Master focuses on ensuring Scrum is understood and enacted upon appropriately by the team and the organisation overall.

This means the Scrum Master is like a coach to the team, not a manager of a team.

So, what does a Scrum Master need to understand?

The Scrum Master serves not only the (development) team, but also the organisation and the Product Owner (the ‘customer’).

The Scrum Master needs an in-depth understanding and experience of:

  • Including the 3 pillars of Transparency, Inspection, and Adaptation
  • Scrum Events. The Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective
  • Scrum Artefacts. Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog and Product Increment
  • Scrum Values. Commitment, Courage, Focus, Openness and Respect

The Scrum Master guides, facilitates, and teaches Scrum practices to all involved parties. The work overall involves learning, convincing and change.

How do I become a Scrum Master?

Our 2-day Scrum Master Certified course is a collaborative learning experience, including round tables, group discussions, team activities and role-plays, preparing participants for the Scrum Master Certification (SMC™) examination. Contact us today on 1300 70 13 14 for more information.

SMC™ is a trademark of SCRUMstudy.

About The Author

Tracey Copland, Head of Best Practice at PM-Partners group

Tracey has been involved in management, finance and business consulting including Portfolio, Programme & Project management for 20+ years. Together with her skills and experience, Tracey is a flexible professional seeking to achieve a high work standard, focussing on value-add.

Having been with PM-Partners group for 15 years, Tracey has held roles including Consultant/Trainer, Head of Training and currently, Head of Development. Tracey has provided training and consultation services to clients in both the public and private sectors, across various disciplines and at all levels including Project, Programme, Portfolio and Change Management, and Agile practices.

2 thoughts on “Mastering Scrum: The Scrum Master”

  1. Stuart lymn says:

    Hi tracey. No argument with any of the above. IntereSted that you didn’t comment on the relationship between pm and sm, given that in some circumstances we Find both. A longer Article no doubt. But An area of particular Interest to me. ID be happy to discuss.

    1. PM-Partners says:

      Thanks Stuart – agree there are definitely circumstances where there would be both a Scrum Master and PM. Yes the topic of a future article – did leave this as a bit of a teaser.

      Would be interested in hearing your thoughts – please feel to contact me direct on

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