What does a scrum master do?

Scrum master is a career path that open source enthusiasts should consider. Here's what a day in the life of one looks like.
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Turning a love of open source communities into a career is possible, and there are plenty of directions you can take. The path I'm on these days is as a scrum master.

Scrum is a framework in which software development teams deliver working software in increments of 30 days or less called "sprints." There are three roles: scrum master, product owner, and development team. A scrum master is a facilitator, coach, teacher/mentor, and servant/leader that guides the development team through executing the scrum framework correctly.

The scrum master heads up the daily scrum, sprint planning, sprint review, and sprint retrospectives. As a scrum master, you also remove impediments and help the team to become self-organizing and empowered to create, innovate, and make decisions for themselves as a unit. As a scrum master with a full list of responsibilities, I appreciate a well-organized daily schedule—here's what mine looks like.

A day in the life of a scrum master

5:00am—Wake up and go to the gym for at least 45 minutes, but given the fact that we are working from home now, I will either walk/run on the treadmill or jump rope for 30 minutes

5:45am—Shower and get dressed

6:15am—Have some breakfast and make coffee or espresso

6:40am—Drive into work (or go for a walk around the neighborhood when working remotely)

7:00am—I get to work and clean up the team room before the team gets in (for remote work, I clean up our team wiki)

8:00am—Read emails and respond to priority emails from the team, team manager, or agile coach

8:45am —Get a caffeine refill from the break room

9:00am—Check in with the team and review the team's scrum board in Jira (or another open source alternative) just to see if there are any patterns of behavior I might need to address. Modify the team's impediment board if any impediments have been removed.

10:00am—Daily scrum (time-boxed for 15 minutes)

10:15am—Discuss parking lot items following the scrum

11:00am—Meet with the team's manager/leadership, or facilitate a community of practice or brown bag lunch around topics such as effective engineering practices

12:00pm—Lunch meeting or coffee with a product owner

1:00pm—Lunch (30 minutes is more than enough time for me)

1:30pm—Possible tasks include facilitating a backlog refinement event leading up to sprint planning, sprint review/demo, or sprint retrospective

2:30pm—Meet with test automation or DevSecOps team

3:00pm—Facilitate a team-building workshop

4:00pm—Final check-ins with the team and then answer final emails

4:30pm—Update the team's scrum journal

5:00pm—Layout my to-do list for the next day

Scrum team room setup with sticky notes

I had been in traditional IT for many years prior to becoming a scrum master. I eventually decided that I could use other skills such as my business experience and management experience to work with software development and DevOps teams to create high-performing teams.

Software/DevOps teams use scrum to deliver software incrementally, yet faster and with a high level of quality and sustainability. To me, it was a great decision. Being a scrum master is also about removing impediments. I coach the team on how to solve their own problems, but if it becomes necessary, I will step in and help resolve the issues.

The scrum master role is fun, exciting, and fulfilling, but also pressure-filled and stressful sometimes. But it ultimately, it is worth it to me, as I get to see my teams grow and not only deliver best in class software, but become better people.

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Taz Brown, is a Sr. Technical Scrum Master & Agile Expert at Cisco Systems as well as a Product Manager  working with DevOps and Software Development teams.  She is an avid writer and speaker with a diverse background in Scrum, Agile, digital product management, Linux systems engineering, management and deployment of DevOps solutions.  

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