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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.

May 7, 2021

In this episode, Sam and Dan take a deep dive into a fantastic listener question, “What happens in a scaling environment with the Scrum Master?”


What happens when you have one Scrum Master with many teams or many teams and multiple Scrum Masters? With the Scrum Guide not explicitly providing guidance on this topic, Dan and Sam explore the realities of focusing on multiple teams as a Scrum Master, whether or not a Scrum Master can or should handle multiple teams, and real-world examples of scenarios they have seen play out with both. They also discuss the risks and challenges that come along with multiple Scrum Masters coordinating across many teams and share their advice on increasing communication and helping your teams (and organization) understand Scrum.


Key Takeaways

Can a Scrum Master handle multiple teams?

With so much on your plate as a Scrum Master, it is ideal to only handle one team at a time (especially if they’re very early on in their Scrum journey; they’re going to need a lot of your attention and focus)

It is possible to handle multiple teams but it is dependant on how far they are into their Scrum journey (if one of them is far along and another is newer, it is far easier to manage multiple)

It doesn’t make sense to split a Scrum Master’s attention between multiple teams if they are all start-ups

As a Scrum Master, you are already splitting your attention between your team and the organization (in helping them use Scrum effectively) — dividing your attention even further between teams can spread you too thin

If you are acting as more of an Agile Coach with less focus on the organization, it may be possible to handle multiple teams

An ideal scenario would be to have a Scrum Master master per team in the organization and have them coordinate and communicate across these teams

Note: In order to be a great Scrum Master, you need to look beyond limiting your role to organizing meetings, enforcing timeboxes, and responding to the impediments people explicitly report (reference Michael James’ Scrum Master Checklist to see the full breadth of what you could be doing in your role as a Scrum Master [if you have the time and capacity])

Advice for multiple Scrum Masters coordinating across multiple teams:

Have a Scrum Master Community of Practice — make sure that the Scrum Masters are meeting regularly to discuss what’s going on in their teams

When a Community of Practice is successfully implemented, you can exchange new ideas which can really help the agility of the teams and the entire organization

You can work together on the common challenges you are all facing and rally together to figure out solutions

Your understanding of Scrum and your ability to help teams will grow exponentially

A cautionary word about establishing a Community of Practice: you may not get outside ideas as easily which can develop a sense of “groupthink” 

Be sure to seek outside ideas — always ask: “What are we not doing? And what can we learn from the broader community?” (Try attending conferences, events, or webinars)

Get outside of your organization’s four walls whether that be through podcasts, books, or other resources — always be open to grow

The risks of Scrum Masters coordinating across too many teams:

The teams may struggle to understand the need for Scrum itself (the “why” behind Scrum becomes lost when Scrum Masters cannot spend enough time with a single team) which leads to dysfunctional behavior

Being commanded to do things for the sake of doing them rather than “We need to do Scrum to deliver well” leads teams to become disengaged

Simply finding the time to do sprint planning together and coordinate the teams

Closing thoughts and key takeaways:

The Scrum Master is an invaluable part of the Scrum team — do not try to short change your teams in order to save a little money (i.e. by spreading them thin in managing multiple teams)

The Scrum Master will help your team be effective and stay effective

By having a Scrum Master focus on one team they can better help them integrate with the larger organization

If you need to have multiple teams per Scrum Master, try to have some balance (in that not all of their teams are new or old)


Mentioned in this Episode:

Michael James’ Scrum Master Checklist

The Scrum Guide

Tampa Bay Scrum Masters Guild

The Nexus Integration Team

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 126: “What is Agile?”

Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 3: “Communities of Practice with Quincy Jordan”

Frederick W. Taylor

“Managing the Development of Large Software Systems,” by Dr. Winston W. Royce

The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West, by Patricia Nelson Limerick Ph.D.

The Dead March: A History of the Mexican-American War, by Peter Guardino


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