Scrum Rules: Your Scrum Master Has No Duties Outside of Scrum Master Duties

August 18, 2020
3 minute read

The Scrum Master duties make up a full-time job on a Scrum Team. The Scrum Master should not be a manager, a developer or have any other partial duties outside the role of Scrum Master. This focus allows a Scrum Master to complete their duties with complete focus and commitment to the success of the Scrum Team.

In many ways, the Scrum Master is like a firefighter. Firefighters should have no distractions from being ready to fight fires. If the Scrum Master has other duties outside of Scrum Master duties, then one or more of the Scrum Master duties are compromised, the Scrum Master job is not being done and the team suffers. An individual who feels unable to serve as a full-time Scrum Master should not accept this position or should work with their management to enable it to become a full-time position.

The way to make this position full time depends on where your Scrum Master is starting. If the Scrum Master is shared among multiple teams, then the first step is to get other Team Members in all but one of the teams to become “apprentice” part time Scrum Masters. It is better to be a Scrum Master who is part time on a single team than to be a Scrum Master full time but for multiple teams (due to focus). If your Scrum Master has part time responsibilities and is a member of a single team, then the next step is for the Scrum Master to recognize this condition as their own obstacle and to treat it like any other obstacle for a team. In many organizations, the root cause of this problem is a lack of belief that the team deserves the investment in a full time Scrum Master. In a typical team, this is an investment of less than 20% (1 out of 5 team members) in the future of the team. Since there are many organizations that understand the necessity of investment in continuous improvement and innovation, this may be a way to obtain the buy-in of your organization (e.g. Google’s 20% time).

The investment pays for itself quickly in productivity improvements, morale improvements and quality improvements as the Scrum Master uses the time gained to remove other obstacles.

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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