Scrum Master/Team Coach: A Tale of a Temporary Job (?!)


Eduardo Alvim

6/25/20244 min read

Yes, my dear friends, I know my memory isn't what it used to be as I grow more "vintage." But I think this might be the first time I have an article with a question in the title. Then again, I could be wrong.

In Brazil, my home country, we have a very interesting saying: "Senta que lá vem história," or, in a very free Google Translator translation, "Sit down, history is coming."

The year was somewhere between 2000 and 2010, just to make it a bit more challenging to identify my role and company—not a Herculean task, though. By then, little Eduardo still had (most of) his hair. Not even known as UncleEduardo, just “Alvim” (one of my family names).

First, let me share something with you. I always loved studying, reading, and experimenting. My father would say that since I was a greenhorn, I was always trying to break things apart to rebuild them later, maybe the same way but preferably differently. I like to think I still hold these traits dear and, I must say, I cherish them. Especially the break-and-rebuild habit. There's an inherent beauty in watching things take new forms. A lot of learning happens in between. No, I’m not a psychopath. Or am I? Hi doctor! I just enjoy seeing how things can transform when you look at them from a different perspective. Just explaining how my mind works, not justifying, okay? LOL

So, back to the story.

Young (padawan) Alvim read a lot back then, experimented a lot, created a huge dashboard of metrics (please, refrain from doing this), and sent out invitations for Scrum events for the entire year (please, do this). Some would say I was living a good life, but I beg to differ. I just can't sit and observe. Not for too long, at least—I’m restless by nature.

One of those days of reading, testing, measuring, breaking, and rebuilding, I saw the light. The Scrum Master’s objective is to be needed no more! EUREKA!

But, as with any discovery, I couldn't keep it to myself. So I went to see a former manager of mine, eager to share. This guy was a very experienced project manager with a stellar track record. Accomplished, some would say. But he lacked the human touch and was a terrible leader. I don’t blame him; I hold accountable whoever put him in a position far beyond his capabilities.

Then I shared.

Picture this: Silence filled the room. Have you ever seen a ghost movie where the temperature drops and you can "see" the smoke leaving the character's mouth as they speak? That was exactly it, but without any ghosts—at least none that I saw.

This guy, from the heights of his experience, looked down at me and said a masterful phrase, which I remember to this day and cite as an example (a bad example is still an example, right?):

- If the team doesn’t need you, I don’t need you, therefore the company doesn’t need you either. Which means, I’ll fire you.

Although that wasn’t the first threat he uttered at me, I immersed myself in the sentence I shared, not his conclusion, which was just the "offest" of the "offest" sentences, denoting a lack of understanding, vision, and, naturally, human touch. Whatever.

The Scrum Master’s objective is to be needed no more!

What did I mean by this? The sole job of the Scrum Master/Team Coach is to help the team become a high-performing team. What is a high-performing team? Well, a high-performing team has many characteristics. I like the definition by Scaled Agile, which says:

Great teams require more than talented individuals. Team composition and dynamics play a significant role. In fact, who is on a team has less impact on performance than how the team works together. High-performing teams share many ‘teaming’ characteristics:

  • Alignment on a shared vision with clear goals and purpose

  • A safe environment for taking risks without fear of embarrassment or criticism

  • Diversity of knowledge and skills to independently make quick, effective decisions

  • Mutual trust that allows for both healthy conflict and reliance on others

  • Accountability to each other and the organization for reliably completing quality work

  • Meeting commitments

  • Understanding their work’s broader impact on the organisation

  • Having fun with their work and with each other

© Scaled Agile, Inc. (

I also have a shorter version of my own, crafted after years of observing teams in the field:

“A high-performing team is a team that has a continuous flow (of work, of value) and meanwhile is having fun.”

How often do I encounter teams that are truly high-performing? Not very often, I’m afraid. There are many reasons for this, one being the lack of understanding about the role and importance of the Scrum Master/Team Coach.

I have a good friend, Raul Barth, a.k.a CroissantMan, a.k.a Raulinho, who has a huge passion for the Scrum Master/Team Coach role. I might ask for his help in writing a series of articles on this important subject. We’ll see.

As for my enlightenment, my point was that if the Scrum Master has helped the team become high-performing, they don't need a Scrum Master/Team Coach anymore. Not on a daily basis, at least. They might seek out the Scrum Master occasionally for team dynamics hygiene and out-of-the-box ideas, but they can handle things on their own.

So, what does the former Scrum Master/Team Coach do after leaving this high-performing team? Simply put, be a Scrum Master/Team Coach for another team. EUREKA! Or maybe, explore different levels of business agility. Perhaps become the Scrum Master/Team Coach of Scrum Masters/Team Coaches? RTE? Change agent for Business and Enterprise Agility? The possibilities are endless when you see your first high-performing team in action. It gives you a sense of accomplishment when you say: I’m leaving (to another team)!

What did I learn from this experience?

  1. I reckon my communication skills were not sharp at that time. I've worked a lot on this in the last few years.

  2. A thick skin is essential; not everyone will understand or appreciate your vision.

  3. Adapting to different leadership styles is crucial. Some leaders won't get it, and that's okay.

  4. Continuous learning and self-improvement are key. Always look for ways to grow.

  5. Having a sense of humor and a bit of sarcasm can lighten the load and keep you sane.

And there you have it, folks. Remember, the journey of a Scrum Master/Team Coach is one of growth, adaptation, and, most importantly, creating high-performing teams. Now, go forth and be needed no more!