In many classes, I get the question ‘What is a competent Scrum Master?’. It is also a question that I like to ponder in class to check on participants’ understanding of the Scrum Master role.

During enterprise transitions where Scrum is going to be used as the new way of developing complex products, I find it necessary to elaborately explain the Scrum Master role with the accountabilities and responsibilities that come with the role. One of the first things to do is to establish this role in order to help the organisation in starting to use Scrum. This is necessary information to have in order to look for Scrum Masters in the organisation, or even to set up vacancies to attract Scrum Masters to the organisation.

So, where do we start?

Other Scrum Trainers have written about Scrum Master maturity levels (Ron Eringa) and Scrum Master stances (Barry Overeem). I would like to elaborate on establishing something like a competence model for Scrum Masters.

First, I establish four levels of Scrum Mastery, heavily based on the work of Ron Eringa and my own observations of Scrum Master growth.

Scrum Administrator

The Scrum Administrator is not selected out of a pool of job applicants. And most of professional Scrum Masters that are self-employed do not fall in this category. So how do we get them? They are appointed within the organisation. They act as assistants to the team, performing some of the duties of a Scrum Master as a role next to his current role.

Facilitator

After some time, good Scrum Masters that originated from the Scrum Administrator level start to truly understand what ‘self-organizing’ teams entail. The Scrum Master is starting to gain facilitation experience, and is letting go of the command and control mode that is so apparent in Administrators. The Scrum Master now understands that upholding clear boundaries, making purpose clear, and providing for technical mastery to evolve, is the best way to get motivated Scrumteams.

Coach

The Scrum Master is moving into enabling continuous improvement. In previous levels it was more about pushing a change (Administrator) and focusing on inter-team dynamics, this level is more about looking further than the Scrumteam. The Coach is starting to, as the name suggests, coach people outside of the Scrumteam to continuously improve the environment of the Scrumteam with the aim of maximizing performance, quality, and value-based decision-making.

Servant Leader

Ultimately, in my opinion, a Scrum Master is on-stage. He acts as a Change Agent in the organisation, but is also able and willing to do this in other organisations. He is a frequent speaker at events, writes blogs, helps organisations and is an active participant in further developing Scrum.

More information

I have created an overview of characteristics, example behavior, and even a full-swing competence model for the four levels that I described above. If you would like to receive that information, contact me directly at LinkedIn.

 

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