A common question in our Agile in Nonprofits training is if the organization/team *has* to use the name Scrum Master for that role within the team. It is called out as such in the Scrum Guide, but individuals/team/organizations asking this question are usually concerned with using the phrase ‘master’. While there have been numerous updates to the Scrum Guide in the 30 years since Scrum was created, the name of the role has remained unchanged despite other terms being updated to reflect changes in society’s broader approach to language and DEI sensitivity, i.e. – Daily Stand-up is now Daily Scrum in the Guide to be more inclusive of all abilities on a team.
The term Scrum Master is such a legacy term that perhaps it will never be changed in the Scrum Guide, but that does not mean that all Scrum Teams are required to use the term. The name itself for the role is not what is critical to embrace from the Scrum Guide, rather, the accountabilities for that role are what are most important. Using a different name for the role within your organization is a ‘playbook” approach that is your own unique way of following the Scrum Guide while being true to the unique qualities and culture of your organization.
One example of a team using Scrum Leader is the Unconscious Bias Project. You can hear about their Agile journey in their 10-minute Agile in Nonprofit Summit clip below.
A second example of using Scrum Leader instead of Scrum Master is Passport, an organization providing summer camp programs for youth. You can hear about their Agile journey in their 10-minute Agile in Nonprofit Summit clip below.
Other alternatives I have heard teams use are Scrum Team Coach or Scrum Team Professional.
Is your organization using another name for the Scrum Master role? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.