Can a Scrum Master Drive Change in an Organization?


Can a Scrum Master Drive Change in an Organization?

The Scrum master’s role in the enterprise is quite diverse and has a wide variety of stances. A good Scrum master knows them, and is aware of how and when they can be applied, depending on the individual context and situation. Now, the basic responsibilities of the scrum master may be primarily, ensuring adherence to Agile principles; an important position in itself – the potential of the role is much greater.

More than simply implementing the Agile framework, the scrum master can also drive major change in the organization, courtesy of both the intrinsic skill set of the position, and the innate responsibility associated with it. In fact, driving change is what they are responsible for (getting the workforce aligned with Agile principles, which itself requires intervention if said principles are not being followed).

However; aside from the initial involvement, and the subsequent follow-ups In this article, a scrum master’s role in terms of change implementation and management is still widely unrecognized. In this article, we will discuss whether a scrum master can be an agent for change, and if yes, then how.

Responsibilities of a Scrum Master in the Change Agent Role


“A Scrum Master who takes teams beyond getting agile practices up and running into their deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance is an agile coach.”

Any member of the workforce who brings about the implementation of something different (a new process or different software, or even an alternate brand of computers) can be described as a change agent. The very same person becomes a change leader if they are at the head of the transition, and are facilitating it from a managerial standpoint.

For the scrum master, ‘different’ means anything that does not adhere to Agile principles, which needs to be weeded out gradually, in order to improve the organizational infrastructure. To that end, following are the individual responsibilities of the scrum master.

  • Creating the Scrum adoption strategy within an organization, keeping in mind the needs of each department and its workers
  • Planning singular Scrum implementation, across the various departments
  • Assisting the stakeholders and employees in understand and enacting Scrum, elaborating on each aspect of Scrum and why it is vital towards the company’s bottom line
  • Implementing change which increases the end result and internal productivity of the teams
  • Collaborating with either other scrum masters or change managers to enhance scrum application effectiveness.

As you can see, change, and implementing it, is an integral part of being a scrum manager. Now, let’s see exactly how a scrum master can be an agent of change.

Identify Organizational Need for Change

Every instance of change has a need for change that drives it and helps change managers develop a context for it. In order to bring about real change in their organizational setting, a scrum master will first need to single out the needs for the change. Additionally, they will also have to identify why the specific change is important, as this will get the rest of the workforce better aligned with the strategy; serving as a positive impetus.

The Golden Circle Method, as demonstrated by Simon Sinek, explains how this can be done, using the three paramount questions, namely WHY, HOW and WHAT. The WHY is the reason for and importance of, the change; the HOW details how the cause for change can be fulfilled, and the WHAT describes the areas that will come under the influence of the change (also, which areas can actually be changed).

Create a Support Team

Next, it is important to single out all those who can influence the change process. These can be:

  • Early adopters
  • Internal and external stake holders
  • Secondary leaders and influencers
  • Colleagues
  • Other scrum masters

From these individuals, pick out those who can have the best impact, and form a team consisting of supporters, who can also become the vessels of change. Doing the above will have two distinct advantages. It will highlight the members of the organization who are enthusiastic about change, which will separate the progressive from the static. And, it will make the scrum master’s life easier!

Highlight Challenges and Problem-Areas

Of course, no change comes without its fair share of adversity. There could be any number of challenges in the way of change, including resistance from employees, lack of a clear consensus for change, insufficient resources, as well as little support from those closely involved in organizational affairs.

All these problems, and various others, will need to be identified in the earliest stages, so that the scrum master and their team can develop response strategies and contingency plans. Throughout this stage; however, it is important to have an open mind and schedule for timeline-related concerns, complexity of change, as well as the overall effort required.

Put the Change Process into Effect

Some changes may be too basic to require much ponderance, however, the more major changes will require an entire change process. The latter type of change is usually implemented in steps, which need to be tackled one by one. This will allow the scrum master and their team to get a solid footing on each rung of the change ladder, enabling them to have a fail-safe for each step, and start from there in case of sudden, negative occurrences.

The change team or committee can come in handy here, as several minds can better brainstorm all possible trajectories of the change process.

BONUS: Start Small, Be Patient, Think Big, Teamwork For The Win!

Now that you have the change process on track, it is important not to lose sight of the end result, as planned in the initial stages. Oftentimes, as the team succeeds at first, members who are more involved tend to stray from the trajectory in their enthusiasm. This lets the process become the driver, which, in turn, takes the matter out of the team’s hands. Remember, the scrum master alone cannot drive the entirety of the change, and it is always a team effort.

To make sure everybody is on track, start with the smallest problem, which can be easily overcome. Afterwards, tackle the problems which naturally occur, without moving too fast through the change cycle. Be patient and keep reminding the team to be patient.  Do not forget to think big in terms of organizational change. Yes, you must start small, but staying small is basically equivalent to losing before even reaching a stable playing field. And finally, stay together as a unit.

Agile scrum training can assist potential scrum masters and those looking to implement change within their respective organizations, get a leg up towards their goal. Not only is training advantageous towards a change agent, but it can take you one step closer to being a successful scrum master.

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