Sladjana Culjic: Let me take you on a tour down the Scrum Master's roles lane

March 30th 2020

By Slađana Čuljić, Scrum Master at Klika


Hi, I am a Scrum Master and I have a sprint! - This does sound like a sentence one would say at a therapy, or at an AA meeting, but this is actually what goes through my mind, the mind of a Scrum Master, every day, through every new sprint.

Being a Scrum Master of a large team, and our team is a team of around 20 people, and communicating over the borders in a multi-team environment is a challenge that seeks the good and organize cadence, but all of you who work as scrum masters in similar conditions, already know this, right?

A role of a Scrum Master in the sprint attend to take different shapes and forms as the sprint moves along, and since it is easier for all of us to understand things if they are being presented in a more interesting way, I will try to be creative and present these roles that I feel I’m having, and my perception of them, in an interesting way. And maybe this is the moment for me to say that everything that follows is not based, but, more, inspired by actually events and actual people, and augmented along the way. 😊

So, let’s start from the very beginning: Challenge No 1! For quite a long time I had been an experienced Project Manager (PM), and all of the sudden I found myself in a different role, the role of a Scrum Master (SM). I used to think that being a Scrum Mater (SM) is just a part of being a PM. But now I have a different perception of these two roles, and I definitely think that the transition from one role to another is possible. But as a Scrum Master, I don’t feel like I am just a Scrum Master. As I said, I tend to apply a creative approach to what I do, so at times I am a sheepdog, a doctor or a chief nurse, a mother I law, a therapist (wannabe), a coach, a friend, and what else not. Would you like to know how is all of this possible? Let me take you on a tour down the Scrum Master's roles lane.


1. Scrum Master as a sheepdog: Every single day!

Daily scrum meeting is the most important team meeting. Time for the daily scrum meeting is always the same, the meeting is at the same place but, at least it is scheduled at the same time and the same place. Still, things don’t always go as planned, so people come late (never early), and there I always part of the team, never the whole team present, which is a great challenge for the Scrum Master, since, as I said, this is the most important meeting for the team, to feel what is being done, to catch up, share problems, but I am sure that most of the team thinks like this: “we have real work to do, this is such a waste of my time”. Having to deal with such an attitude makes me act like a sheepdog: making sure everyone attends the meeting and see the relevance of it.


2. Scrum Master as a doctor: Daily!

The Scrum Master is often times a chief nurse or a doctor: providing a lot of help and removing the aches of all kinds. So what kind of help are we talking about? Help them stay on track, help them with distractions, help them prevent multi-tasking and the consequent context switching, help them iterate and adopt, help them get the information they need, help them see the better times when it is hard, help them stay positive and evolve….as you can see… it’s a lot of help – this is when I am the doctor/chief nurse.


3. Scrum Master as a coach: Every time in between all meetings and discussions!

This is where I feel I belong most of the time, and this is all the time between all the meetings and discussions and online reviews, where the scrum master leaves and spends most of the sprint time. I am coaching a pretty big team, and it is not a one way process, since they are also coaching me. And if you have ever observed a professional football team playing a game, you wouldn’t attribute much credit to their coach, but would think: these people just have the strength, talents, good special orientation, the right diet, and they keep the good shape with regular trainings, but behind every team, and every collective effort there is a person, a coach, doing so much invisible and untenable work, helping all the individuals who constitute the team reach their maximum potential. I admit, sometimes I am loud and probably not understandable, sometimes I am to strict, and some would say too demanding, but a coach gotta do what a coach gotta do to make his/her team shine.


4. Scrum Master as a mother in law: Hard to tell when, but I know I am.

The exact times when I am a mother in law is hard to pin, but I am sure the scrum team knows what are those situations…but, this is something I could write about in my next blog post. At least I am trying to be a kind mother in law that would understand her own child, but praise the son/daughter in low with the same engagement, as more as it is possible.


Of all these roles, I must say that being a coach and becoming a friend along the way is my favorite role, because becoming closer and learning about people you work with every day is inevitable, and something I really enjoy. And as I like setting new challenges before myself and my team, a challenge of becoming a coach-friend is definitely my next task in my personal Jira.

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