Scrum Rules: Your Scrum Master Is Empowered to Remove In-Team Obstacles

August 26, 2020
4 minute read

One of the primary ways that the Scrum Master serves the team is by removing impediments to the progress of the team. If the team does not have what it needs to progress in its work, whether it be technology, tools, the right space, etc., the Scrum Master must have the authority to immediately fill those gaps for the team.

The Scrum Master should not need permission from management in order to get the team what it needs. Many of these impediments are internal to the team. For example, if there are interpersonal issues between team members, the Scrum Master must be empowered to intervene and help individuals overcome their differences without the involvement or permission from their direct line managers. Any process or procedure that the Scrum Master is forced to follow as they remove internal impediments prolongs the impediment for the team as well as the consequential waste and unrealized delivery of value. Some obstacles come from problems outside the team. These may take longer to deal with and involve other stakeholders. In-team obstacles need to be resolved immediately.

The best way to empower a Scrum Master is through a formal statement from a high level executive giving the Scrum Master the authority to remove in-team obstacles. This might be a written letter with the executive’s signature, and it should state that the Scrum Master does not need to ask permission to make appropriate changes, and that any dispute with the actions of a Scrum Master should be brought to the executive (or some Agile steering committee). The lower in the organization this support comes from, the less effective it is. The immediate functional manager of a Scrum Master will have very little sway on other stakeholders who might be affected by the actions of the Scrum Master. Even so, this support is better than none. As well, the person chosen to be a Scrum Master should have strong problem-solving skills and the ability to be both assertive and persuasive. This is a form of inherent empowerment for your Scrum Master. In many ways, this responsibility of a Scrum Master is similar to the responsibility of a project manager to resolve project issues for the project team.

The Scrum Master serves the Development Team in several ways, including:…. Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress — The Scrum Guide

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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