Role of a Scrum Master
Like the Product Owner, the Scrum Master is a special role within an official Scrum team. Their role is an unusual one quite unique to Scrum. They are responsible for several things.
They are the guardians of the ‘spirit’ of Scrum, and coach the team (and the business) in how to do Scrum well. This usually includes facilitating the Scrum events, like the Daily Scrum, the Retrospective, and so on, and making sure they stay within the time-box allotted. After a while, a strong Scrum team will be able to self-organise to run these events, but it’s still useful to have a person who is the focal point for making sure these events don’t become meaningless meetings.
They are also there to find ways to remove impediments that the team is facing. This could mean they protect the team from unnecessary interruptions, but not to the point of being a bottle-neck between the team and stakeholders. It could mean liaising with other parts of the organisation to dismantle systemic impediments, like making sure that the team members are supported in their chosen ways of working (e.g. advocating for a good work-from-home policy), or lobbying management to restructure how budgets are done so that projects can be run in a more agile way, rather than under strict time-limits.
I’ve found Scrum Masters to be absolutely crucial for maintaining high team morale. However, Francis and I have never fully, officially adopted the role of the Scrum Master for one of us. I guess I am our Scrum Master, by knowing more about Scrum and by often being the driving force behind keeping our Scrum system going in the past. But unfortunately, we just don’t have enough team members to assign one to focusing on enabling all the others to do their jobs better. Perhaps in a larger family, a parent could take this role, or the role could be rotated between members of the household.