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This is a question about terminology.

If I say "I'm a developer, and the team I'm a part of does foo" then you'd understand my position.

If I'm a scrum master (who is a scrum master for two teams), I might say "one of the teams that I am a scrum master of", but I was wondering whether there was a way to say that in a less clunky way?

Am I ... scrum mastering them? That's not a word, I think.

So what do you call "the overall thing" that a scrum master does? What's the established industry term?

  • There is a big question around what the Scrum Master does after the team is up and running with Scrum. – Ewan Dec 3 '18 at 15:08
  • @KlaymenDK: as you see from the answers you got, there is nothing like the established industry term, there is a bunch of describing terms you can pick from. Our industry does not have a unique, fixed, unambigous, widely accepted term for everything. – Doc Brown Dec 3 '18 at 15:56
  • The best answer is probably the ones given by Thomas Owens, which reflect what the Scrum Guide use to describe a scrum master. For other people (like management ?) scrum master can just be anything they want to. We could eventually edit the question to ask what, in a simple summary, is a scrum master, following what a scrum master is supposed to do according to those that made this methodology. That would avoid the "opinion stuff". – Walfrat Dec 3 '18 at 16:02
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    @KlaymenDK: we do have standard terms for many things -- To which I would respond, what is it about our industry's obsession with vocabulary that we must attach a term to everything? – Robert Harvey Dec 3 '18 at 16:28
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The Scrum Master is supposed to be several things:

  • A coach to both the team and the organization. Someone who teaches and guides the team and organization on the implementation of the Scrum framework and removes any impediments to the team's success.
  • A facilitator. Someone who helps to ensure that the events, ceremonies, and process works as the team and organization needs it to.
  • A leader. Setting an example for the team to work in a way that embraces the principles of Agile Software Development and the Scrum framework, and possibly other frameworks and practices (Kanban, Lean Software Development, Extreme Programming, and others).
  • A change driver. Someone who encourages and helps the team and organization make changes that improve productivity.

In the Scrum Guide, the words "facilitating", "coaching", "leading", and "supporting" are often used to describe the things that the Scrum Master does.

Now, what the Scrum Master is to any particular organization depends on the organization. Some organizations choose to takes words and phrases and redefine them appropriately. When it comes to Scrum, the true definition can be found in the Scrum Guide.

  • +1 "Facilitating" is the word I would use in the context of the question asked. – Eric King Dec 3 '18 at 15:54
  • I like "Supporting" but they're all in the same vein – Liath Dec 4 '18 at 10:59
  • @Liath Yes - that word is also used in the Scrum Guide. I should edit that in. – Thomas Owens Dec 4 '18 at 11:06
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    @David Arno Scrum is an agile process. We name things to allow for easy communication. Scrum means the thing described in the Scrum Guide. It's not the only agile process, and it may not be the best agile process for you and your organization. But if you use the term Scrum to refer to a process other than what is described in the Scrum Guide, you are not helping yourself or others. – Thomas Owens Dec 4 '18 at 12:09
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    @DavidArno but Agile isn't agile... – HorusKol Dec 16 '18 at 21:15
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The Scrum Master role is many things to many people.

These days Scrum is sold to companies in the form of a (highly paid) consultant who will come in for a fix period, setup software, train staff and be the Scrum Master. Kick starting the process and moving people into "Agile"

Of course, when the consultant leaves, the Scrum Master has left. If the consultant did his job well, logically there should be no need for a Scrum Master anymore.

In the old days the scrum master would be the Team Lead, or the Project Manager. They would have a normal job to do as well as manage the Scrum.

But perhaps because the consultant was so highly paid, there is a reluctance to let the role fall into the hands of these lowly peons. They might leave and become Scrum Consultants!

Sometimes companies will have floating Scrum Masters, who hop between teams troubleshooting issues where they occur

Sometimes there will be a role above Project Manager, a Product Manager or Project Architect who will take over the Scrum Master role after the consultant leaves.

Unfortunately the role title "Scrum Master" was invented to appeal to techies in the days when it was fashionable to call yourself a "Web Master" and invent funny titles. If you are in management, your job title is a bit more important to you. So "Scrum Master" tends to be swept under the carpet in favour of "Manager of X" or "Vice President of Y"

In summary there is no established term for Scrum Mastering. You are a "Manager" running a team or a "Consultant" selling Scrum

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    uh... are you sure? I know plenty of Scrum Masters. And while they have more than one team each, none of them is a "Manager". Their job description says Scrum Master. – nvoigt Dec 3 '18 at 15:51
  • It's not often that I agree with your answers, Ewan. On this occasion, you have it 100% spot on. +1. – David Arno Dec 4 '18 at 12:07
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    @DavidArno high5 although my usual collection of downvotes shows that there are some titled Scrum Masters out there. I wonder if they correspond to companies which adopted Scrum earlier on, when perhaps agile wasn't as common as it is today? – Ewan Dec 4 '18 at 12:17

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