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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Oct 16, 2020

Joining Dan today is his colleague and collaborator, Sam Falco, to discuss whether or not Scrum Masters are expendable. Is it possible for things to be running so smoothly that you’re working yourself out of a job as a Scrum Master? Is there anything left for a Scrum Master to do once best practices become team culture, the team is self-sufficient, and the organization reaches a high level of performance? Why or why not should an organization keep a Scrum Master around? How does the role evolve over time? Tune in as Sam and Dan answer all of these questions and more on this week’s episode!


Key Takeaways

  • Can or should a Scrum Master be trying to “work themselves out of a job”?
    • The idea that they can work themselves out of a job is an inherently flawed concept as it arises from the common misconception that they’re only a team coach
    • A Scrum Master can always serve an organization (as there is no such thing as 100% perfection; the goal post is constantly moving/evolving)
    • Sports analogy: If a team is doing really well, you don’t fire the coach! The same goes for Scrum (you still need the Scrum Master to keep the team and organization at a high-level and help finetune their performance)
  • Why is a Scrum Master necessary?
    • To help the team and organization continually improve (there is no ultimate level of performance)
    • What is perfect now, may change there is no pinnacle; there is always room for improvement
    • If you reach a plateau, more experiments need to be conducted and other areas need to be examined
    • Even if everything seems perfect, it is important to stay on top of things and continue retrospectives, etc.
  • Qualities of a high-performing Scrum Master that delivers continuous improvement and value to the team and organization:
    • Help the entire organization embrace empiricism in what it’s doing; not just team development
    • Make decisions based on sound data (through transparency, inspection, and adaptation)
    • Teach about empiricism with the Product Owner, finding better ways to refine the product backlog, experiments to run, etc.
    • Help the whole organization improve; not just the team
    • Value outcomes rather than output
    • Make sure that the whole organization is living the Agile values and Scrum principles
    • Help the team and organization resolve problems themselves and remove impediments
    • Don’t trade efficiencies for throughput (a bit of slack in efficiency is actually beneficial for higher throughput)
    • Know that in any complex endeavor, there are many variables and you will never get everything correct; situations always change, so be sure to not be overly optimized and be willing to adjust and adapt
  • How does a Scrum Master’s role evolve over time?
    • Through innovation, experimentation, and creating new best practices
    • Always have something to do, reevaluate, and ask yourself, “How can I be of service? How can I help? What can I do that’s useful?”
    • Look at the overall system and figure out hidden/less obvious impediments
    • Always find opportunities to further optimize within an organization
    • Always find new ways to deliver value


Mentioned in this Episode:

Live AgileThought Community Event: “Agile Heard Around the World” with Special Guests — Oct. 29th


Cynefin Framework

The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done, by Stephen Denning

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt  and Jeff Cox

Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds, by Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees 

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, by Edgar Schein


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