Scrum Master. Evolution of Stances

This picture is a combination of originals from here, here, and here.


Types of Stances

The major difference between these two stances was in their longer-term focus and more background position compared to other stances, which were shorter-term and actually acting. This is why the Focusing and Acting types of stances were offered in Scrum Master. This Is The Way.

Stances of a Scrum Master

“Team Agilist”

“Observer” and “Mirror Holder”

“Professional Coach” versus “Coach”

In some parts of the description of “Coach,” it looks more like “Mentor,” “Teacher,” or “Facilitator.” We do not include these parts of the description to prevent overlapping of this stance with others.

Sometimes, it looks more like something about a leader in general (e.g., “leading by example”). Of course, a Scrum Master should always stay a leader, which implies (among other things) leading by example. However, it is important to notice that it should be a permanent state of a Scrum Master, while stances may change. Stances of a Scrum Master should help Scrum Masters be good leaders yet fulfilling their ultimate goal in Scrum. This is why we do not include respective parts from the “Coach” stance.

In the remaining parts, the description of “Coach” looks very similar to “Professional Coach.” And it is exactly what I include in the Advanced Model.


  • Facilitate relationships, collaboration, and communication both within the team and the team’s environment
  • Facilitate the Scrum process and the continuous improvement of the process
  • Facilitate the integration of the Scrum Team into the entire organization
  • Facilitate the Scrum events to be purposeful and effective
  • Facilitate the team in achieving their (personal) objectives

These are great examples clarifying those services that Scrum Master provides to Developers, the Product Owner, and Organization. In other words, these bullet points describe WHAT is expected from a Scrum Master. However, to fulfill these responsibilities, a Scrum Master should act in a particular way, and (as explained at the beginning of this article) we describe HOW this could be achieved through a thorough understanding of Scrum Master’s stances.

It means that fulfilling the responsibilities described in each of these bullet points may require a Scrum Master to shift between many stances, and “Facilitator” (as we will describe it later here) is just one of many, which might not always be necessary to use.

As one of many possible scenarios, most of the responsibilities described as bullet points above may require a Scrum Master to start as “Observer” till the moment when it makes sense to become “Mirror Holder” or “Facilitator.” If necessary, the stances may change to “Teacher,” “Mentor,” or “Coach.” Sometimes this may even lead to a Scrum Master taking such stances as “Impediment Remover” or “Change Agent.”

“Teacher,” “Mentor,” and “Impediment Remover”

Other stances in “The 8 Stances of a Scrum Master.”

3. Misunderstood Stances of a Scrum Master

Approximately half of the most common behavioral anti-patterns can not be associated with stances in the latter model. Some comments are provided after the table.

Author: Denis Sunny

For the behavioral patterns, which are attributable to such misunderstood stances as “Tool Manager,” “Coordinator,” and “Team Extension” in the Complete Model, it is very difficult (or even impossible) to find relevant misunderstood stances in the model “The 8 Misunderstood Stances”.

The same applies to “Intermediary” with one exception — only the anti-pattern “information re-translation from the Development Team / PO to management or stakeholders” represented in the Complete Model can be attributed to the misunderstood stance “The Chairman” introduced in “The 8 Misunderstood Stances” model.

Similarly, for “Policeman,” there’s the only match — the anti-pattern regarding Scrum rules can be attributed to the misunderstood stance “The Scrum Police.” Though “Policeman” covers a much wider range of cases, and this is why it is called differently.

For “Tool Manager,” only the case of technical administration of tools is represented by “The Admin.” Though “Tool Manager” also covers another case of the decision-making about tools, which is not covered by the model “The 8 Misunderstood Stances”.

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