What is the performance difference between an average Scrum Master and a great Scrum Master?


In the dynamic world of agile development, the role of a Scrum Master can be pivotal to the success of a team and the delivery of high business value. The distinction between an average Scrum Master and a great one lies not just in their knowledge of Scrum principles but in their embodiment of Scrum values and their relentless focus on delivering business value. Let’s delve into what sets a great Scrum Master apart.

Understanding the Key Focus Areas

Emphasis on “Done” and Business Value

A great Scrum Master is deeply committed to the concept of “done.” This goes beyond merely completing tasks; it’s about ensuring that the team delivers high-quality increments that add significant business value. They understand that every sprint should contribute to the overall goals of the organization.

  • Business Value: They prioritize tasks that offer the highest value to the business, ensuring that every effort is aligned with strategic goals.
  • Quality Delivery: They emphasize the importance of delivering complete and potentially shippable product increments.

Embodying Scrum Values

The Ambassador of Scrum Values

Great Scrum Masters live and breathe Scrum values. They are ambassadors of focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment in every interaction, fostering a culture that embraces these values throughout the organization.

  • Focus: Keeping the team aligned on goals and priorities.
  • Openness: Encouraging transparency and honest communication.
  • Respect: Valuing each team member’s contributions.
  • Courage: Supporting the team in taking risks and challenging the status quo.
  • Commitment: Demonstrating unwavering dedication to the team’s success.

Empiricism in Action

They embody the principles of empirical process control, emphasizing transparency, inspection, and adaptation. This approach ensures that the team continuously learns and improves.

  • Transparency: Making work visible to all stakeholders.
  • Inspection: Regularly reviewing progress and seeking feedback.
  • Adaptation: Making necessary adjustments based on feedback and changing circumstances.

Learning and Growing

A Culture of Continuous Improvement

A great Scrum Master cultivates an environment where learning and growth are paramount. They show the organization and the team that it’s about learning and growing, not blaming and failing.

  • Feedback Loops: They are open to feedback, acknowledging mistakes, and actively working to address them.
  • Learning Mindset: They inspire others by demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement.

Agile Enthusiast, Not Evangelist

Balancing Passion with Practicality

While great Scrum Masters are passionate about Agile, they avoid becoming dogmatic. They seek to extend their understanding beyond the confines of strict processes, exploring various techniques and tools that can help the team and organization deliver maximum business value with minimal drama.

  • Flexibility: Adapting and integrating other beneficial practices.
  • Pragmatism: Balancing idealism with practical solutions that fit the team’s context.

From Mechanical to Professional

The Evolution of a Scrum Master

Transitioning from an average to a great Scrum Master involves moving from a mechanical application of Scrum principles to a more professional and nuanced approach. This evolution is less about the length of service and more about the quality of service delivered.

  • Quality Over Quantity: Focusing on the impact and effectiveness of their work.
  • Professional Growth: Continuously seeking to improve their skills and understanding.

Case Studies and Personal Examples

Rapid Growth and Impact

I’ve seen individuals step into the Scrum Master role and within nine months show incredible growth, becoming indispensable to their teams and organizations. Their journey was marked by:

  • Adopting a Growth Mindset: Embracing every opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Driving Change: Implementing changes that significantly improved team performance and delivery.

Stagnation Despite Experience

Conversely, there are those who have been in the role for years but have plateaued. Their stagnation often stems from:

  • Resistance to Change: Reluctance to adapt and grow.
  • Lack of Engagement: Failing to fully embrace the principles of empiricism and Scrum values.

Recommendations for Aspiring Great Scrum Masters

Tips for Elevating Your Performance

If you aspire to transition from an average to a great Scrum Master, consider these actionable tips:

  • Embrace Empiricism: Foster a culture of transparency, inspection, and adaptation.
  • Live the Scrum Values: Be an embodiment of focus, openness, respect, courage, and commitment.
  • Prioritize Business Value: Ensure that every action and decision aligns with delivering high business value.
  • Stay Curious and Open: Continuously seek feedback and opportunities for learning.
  • Balance Passion with Pragmatism: Be an Agile enthusiast without becoming dogmatic.

Personal Development Strategies

  • Regular Self-Reflection: Take time to reflect on your performance and identify areas for improvement.
  • Seek Mentorship: Learn from seasoned Scrum Masters who exemplify the qualities you admire.
  • Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest trends and practices in Agile and Scrum.


The journey from being an average Scrum Master to a great one is marked by a deep commitment to Scrum values, a relentless focus on business value, and a passion for continuous improvement. By embodying these principles, you can inspire your team and organization to achieve greater heights and deliver outstanding results.

Remember, it’s not about how long you’ve been a Scrum Master but about the quality and impact of your service. Strive to be the kind of Scrum Master who walks the talk, inspires others, and drives meaningful change. 🌟

Connect with Advanced Product Delivery.

APD offer private, tailored training courses as well as business agility and coaching. Our public training courses are delivered by practicing Agilists: Product Owners, Scrum Masters and coaches who are expert trainers and facilitators.

Whether you are looking to become a #scrummaster or #agilecoach, we have a range of internationally certified and recognised #agiletraining courses that are perfect for you. Visit Professional Scrum Training courses for more information.

If you are looking for professional, deeply experienced and skilled #agilecoaches and #agileconsultants to help you transition from traditional #projectmanagement to #agile #productdevelopment, we’ve got the ideal team to help you make that transition a success. Visit our Agile Coaching section to find out more about us.

If you have identified Lean Agile Procurement as a great opportunity to enhance #agility within your organization, visit the Lean Agile Procurement Training course or Lean Agile Procurement coaching page.

#agile #scrum #agilecoach #agileconsultant #agiletraining #agilescrumtraining #scrumtraining #scrumcertification #scrummaster #productowner #leanagileprocurement #apd #businessagility #organizationalagility #productdevelopment #projectmanagement #agileprojectmanagement #agileproductdevelopment

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