Facilitating Events – The Essentials of a ScrumMaster’s role

A ScrumMaster wears multiple hats for a Scrum team – Facilitator, Mentor, Coach, Teacher ( and many more)..

While all these responsibilities sound similar ( and most organizations think so too), there is subtle and clear difference between each of these responsibilities, the ScrumMaster has to handle.

For today’s discussion though, I am not going to go into details of the other roles but focus on facilitation and the role that SM plays as a Facilitator.

Just to remind the readers about what facilitation means, here is a little definition excerpt of the word ‘facilitate’ from the Cambridge dictionary

“To help people deal with a process or reach an agreement or solution without getting directly involved in the process, discussion, etc. yourself: “

Now, that definition itself is important to understand.

The key part here is SM is not involved in the decision making or discussions rather they are ensuring that the team is able to discuss freely and (possibly) reach a solution. That means, as a facilitator for different team events (Including the Sprint, Sprint planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review and Retrospective), they are not participating but rather enabling the team to reach their stated goals for the event.

As a facilitator for an event, you need to be clear about your role :


OR a Scribe?

OR a Listener (The Fly on the wall) ?

OR an actual participant ?

Make sure that your role is clear to all the participants of the event beforehand so that they are clear about their expectations from you

Once you have established your role as a facilitator, the next step is to prepare for your event (And yes you will need time to think and plan about it). For any event that you need to facilitate , think about the following

Who is the audience/ participants?

How are they going to participate in the event ?

When is the event going to start and end

What is the agenda and what is the expected outcome of the event?

Make sure that your attendees have all this information beforehand so they can come prepared to the meeting

(and not just sleepwalk to the meeting a la Dunston 😉)

Next as the time keeper, as you get to the day and time of the event, make sure it starts on time and you have sufficient quorum to start the event.

Once the event starts, it is important that as a facilitator you make the environment easy for people to discuss the issue at hand, the team is on the right track towards achieving their event goals ( they might need course correction frequently) and they are ultimately able to reach a conclusion at the end of the event.

But as the event is over, you have one last thing to do before you take your facilitator hat off: Make sure you gather, record and publish the outcomes, collect feedback and feedforward on how you can make the next event better for the attendees and how you can help them better as a facilitator

This short description of your role as a facilitator aside, Facilitation is an art and science by itself. Fortunately, These days there are plenty of books, videos and sources which can help you practice and better your art as a facilitator. So, practice the art to help your team effectively.

The International Association of Facilitators (IAF) provides you a lot of resources and opportunities for you to collaborate and learn the art of professional faciltation

ScrumAlliance Advanced Scrum Master course also contains multiple learning objectives which help you learn the details of this very interesting field of knowledge

Here is wishing you some interesting reads and experience in your journey as facilitator till we catch up again to discuss more about the essentials of the Scrum Master’s role.

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