In my work as an agile coach and Scrum Master I have found there is a big gap between these both roles. Seldom they collaborate and often they serve their own customers without alignment. I will here introduce a new way of working with Agile/Lean in a medium/big organization decoupling the standard approach with a Lean/Agile Center of Excellence (LACE) or as i call it – the Ivory tower. In the matrix below I have sliced the playground on two levels. The skills/services agile coaches and Scrum Masters provide and what levels we operate within.
As you see here above there are well defined domains for each role and they never meet. There are also gaps (white spaces) that seldom are taken care of.
The agile coaches are never there for the teams (and very seldom have been working or playing within a team) and the Scrum Masters are great on Scrum, Backlog and the technical stuff in behind – that’s about it. And worse, they seldom care. My suggestion is a more humble approach, supporting rather than being a besserwisser:
Here I want the agile coach and the Scrum Master to work as Maverick and Rooster (Top Gun, 2022) and live as they learn with a T-shaped approach. Being able to solve any problem and find their own way of working for the value-stream and team, but with all four ears against the rails to the business and the agile community out there.
The agile coach are the expert on level 3 and the Scrum Master on level 1. But on level 2 they collaborate and coordinate. The sliders/greyzones above is how i want to have it but of course this is a discussion between these two roles if they ever meet. An agile coach should support 2-5 teams while an Scrum Master should support max 2.
The last step of this is getting rid of both these roles and only talk about team and portfolio or descale the whole schabang to autonomous teams. But this will never happen as we have a project manager legacy and management without an agile mindset.