A better name for Scrum Master?

Does it matter what we call the Scrum Master role? Not really. The role titles are just words. What matters is the work a person does. However, I have come to realise that in some cases, classifying myself as a Scrum Master may actually limit my chances of fully meeting the potential of the role.

Let me explain!

1. The word “Master” is really unfortunate

First, the most common objection about the title Scrum Master: the word “Master” suggests someone who is in charge or who possess great skill. That is not a brilliant title for a person who is essentially a servant to the team and who should always strive to learn more. Some would also argue that the word suggests being a man – that should never be a prerequisite for any role!

2. The word “Scrum” implies that we should be using Scrum

I love Scrum and I know that it can help generate great results. However, it would be rather ignorant of me to think it is the best choice in every situation. We should never limit ourselves to certain practices or tools when something else would be more beneficial in our particular situation.

Having the word “Scrum” in my title feels way too restrictive to me.

3. The Scrum Master role is too often misunderstood

Finally, when I tell someone I am a Scrum Master, I have no idea what picture they get in their head. Maybe they think I’m an agile project manager? Maybe they think I’m the guy who updates Jira and books rooms for meetings? Or maybe a proxy product owner or someone who coordinates dependencies with other teams? Or, chances are they have no clue whatsoever.

Not convinced? Search a job site for Scrum Master roles and you will find some rather bizarre examples of job descriptions!

With that in mind, is it that useful to describe myself as a Scrum Master?

So what is a better name for Scrum Master?

At the end of the day, the Scrum role Scrum Master is called what it is and I’m under no illusion that I can change that. I’m not even convinced it matters! Where I do have a choice, however, is how I describe myself, which I have been thinking about a bit lately.

“Hello, I’m Magnus and I’m a [x]. Currently, I’m the Scrum Master for a team at Hive.”

What’s a good name for [x]?

I kind of like the suggestion Team Enabler I saw on Linkedin. But it’s a bit vague.

Instead, I think I have settled for Agile Team Coach for now. I work with teams. Much of what I do is using coaching to help them to find better ways of working. And I’m not limited to one particular agile framework.

But it sounds a little bit pretentious and there’s more to what I do. A lot of it is facilitation. And a bit of teaching and gentle prodding. And buying cake!


What do you think? Have you got any good ideas what would be a framework agnostic and more appropriate name for Scrum Master? How do you refer to the job you do?

I’d appreciate your thoughts!

♻️ I republished this blog post here 22 November 2019 with minimal changes. The date below is when it was originally published on my old blog.

by Magnus Dahlgren

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This work by Magnus Dahlgren is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.