Scrum Rules: Your Scrum Master Can Communicate Directly With Any Stakeholder of the Team

August 24, 2020
4 minute read

Part of the Scrum Master job is to remove obstacles that affect the Scrum Team from all levels of the organization. To do this properly the Scrum Master must be able to connect directly with all stakeholders of the team. Stakeholders include managers, leaders, sponsors, observers, clients, vendors, users, customers, and anyone else who interacts with the team, the team members individually, or the product that the team is creating.

Direct communication with any stakeholder aids in addressing identified obstacles with the appropriate individual or group. Without the Scrum Master being allowed this direct communication, he or she will have to deal with a third party which may distort the information or reduce the ability of the Scrum Master to convey the importance of removing an obstacle or addressing a need. The Scrum Master is like a catalyst that should be able to transform those individuals that are directly interacting or connecting with the team.

In traditional organizations with lots of hierarchy and many functional silos, it can be challenging for the Scrum Master to have access and permission to speak with any stakeholder of the team. This may be the first step in implementing this rule of Scrum. The Scrum Master may need management support to accomplish this, but often it is easy to just take ownership and do it. This sometimes requires creative thinking, but one of the best places to start is to establish a good working relationship with an executive assistant or office manager who is already well-connected in the organization.

Another challenge to implementing this rule of Scrum can be simple comfort or willingness on the part of the Scrum Master. In this case, it is often suitable for the Product Owner or other members of the Scrum Team to encourage the Scrum Master. For example, many people are intimidated by the prospect of speaking to senior executives in an organization, yet a Scrum Master must be able to do this with comfort, confidence and clarity. A lack of comfort can come from a fear about speaking or presentation ability. Scrum Masters may need communication training or assertiveness training. Ultimately, practice will be the best remedy for a lack of comfort or willingness, and practice can best be achieved by working with a coach who will accompany the Scrum Master as he or she starts to take these steps in service of the organization.

The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including:

Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;

Planning Scrum implementations within the organization;

Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development;

Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team; and,

Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.

— The Scrum Guide

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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