A day in the life of a Scrum Master

A day in the life of a Scrum Master

Vivek Jayaraman
2nd Aug, 2020

A day in the life of a Scrum Master

Be it in interviews or workshops; this happens to be a known question. People want to know what a typical day in the life of a Scrum Master looks like. It could be because of curiosity or to understand what it takes to be a Scrum Master. While straightforward answers make sense, let us know it with a metaphorical twist. 

Why metaphors? The human mind can relate and learn faster when presented with a symbolic reference. Orators, coaches, and authors use metaphors so much in their conversations. It is to ensure people digest the concepts easily as the majority of the information is raw. What if the Scrum Master is easy to relate to someone we know every day?

We will use the role of a mother of a family to refer to a Scrum Master. She is the mother of 7 to 9 children and is responsible for holding the family (Scrum Team) together. Let us see what a typical day looks like. 

  • The typical day starts with the siblings (Development Team) quarreling with each other over getting ready for school. The quarreling could be for a lot of reasons. It is the start of the day, and everyone is busy taking care of their own. Everyone has to get ready, and it's all chaos because of the sharing of available resources at home. They need to share it properly to get maximum utilization. The Mother (Scrum Master) has to be calm and composed and not let her emotions out. Emotional Intelligence is very much needed to understand every kid's needs and address them. 
  • The mother is a natural servant leader and understands all her kid's needs. She takes care of every single one of them without differentiating them. All are equal for her as they are her children. There is no discrimination. If someone is mature (experienced), they need to take care of their siblings. Enabling each one in the family helps them self-organized. It's not like the mother can be there all 24 hours for each of the kids. 
  • The kids blame each other for their responsibilities. If Mom focuses on one kid, the rest gets jealous. So, the mom has to ensure that she has no bias. Treating everyone equally is a must, even though some people prefer to be in their way without cooperation. Employing facilitation techniques helps her in bringing them to collaborate. It helps them resolve conflicts then and there. 
  • Though the rest gets jealous, the mom should focus on the weakest and the youngest in the family and ensure that they can manage themselves. If they fall behind, it's not right for the family.
  • The kids do whatever is asked of them by their Dad (PO), but how they do it is their choice. They frequently inspect and adapt to be empirical. Mom provides feedback on whatever the children do so they can continuously improve. She encourages them to collect feedback from whomever they work with and work on those feedback for their betterment and improvement. 
  • They have family get-togethers, and everything happens on a cadence. They get together on various occasions. The siblings meet every day to plan for their day, and mom helps them keep it within time. Different events, and different purposes, and moms have to be there if the kids are not mature enough to run it by themselves. 
  • Mom needs to take care of households (Organizational Processes/Policies/Structures) which will help the kids to perform their work better. She has to focus on the kids, dad, and other things that bind them together. Based on the kid's maturity, her focus shifts away from them towards households. 
  • She needs to take care of everything that might hinder their performance until they get matured. She nurtures them, teaches them, guides them, and is with them until they can stand on their own. 
  • Then she needs to take care of the man of the house (PO), observe and keep a check. She does help him to do his job even better. Consistently offering help and providing him feedback on his roles/responsibilities. When he is new to certain activities, she should help him understand the purpose of doing things and how it needs to be clear for the kids and those who might need it. 
  • She has no authority whatsoever but has to bring change as a change agent. As a servant leader, she cannot use authority. If she uses authority, then the kids will get cringy. They will wait for instructions instead of self-managing things. The purpose of being a mother is lost the moment she retreats to authority. 
  • Mom ensures that the kids and their dad get along every time without hassles. Dad has to work on so many things to run the family as well. They both need to get along to get the work done, and it is essential. 
  • She has to do all this, but she doesn't get credit for whatever she does because she knows that there is no individual success when it comes to being a family. They succeed or win as a family, and they lose as a family, together. So, they understand by standing up together for each other and helping each other succeed. 

Being a mom isn't easy; neither does being a Scrum Master. More than a job, it's about responsibility. Constantly upskilling oneself by helping others get better at their day-to-day job isn't easy. Most of the time, a Scrum Master job is like walking on a tightrope, balancing so many aspects of day-to-day work. 

People think that a Scrum Master's job isn't a full-time job, and anyone can become a Scrum Master just by being someone who conducts meetings. After waking up in the morning till going to bed in the evening, a mom's job is never-ending. Similarly, the Scrum Master has to take care of so many things, and their job is not just to facilitate meetings. Facilitation is part and parcel of being a Scrum Master. 

Just like a mom always thinks of her kid's welfare and growth, Scrum Masters does the same to their teams. 

PS: Mother is just a metaphor to understand certain things about Scrum Master. Please do not take it literally but metaphorically. 

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