From my experience, I see an overlap in the roles of an Agile Coach and a Scrum Master in an organization. Both complement each other and appreciate the Agile values, principles, and practices. However, the scope and influence of each role are different.
The Scrum Master is usually assigned to one or a couple of teams and has more personal relationships with a team. The effectiveness will drop if there are more teams to work with. A Scrum Master focuses on behaviors, communication, and collaboration within a Scrum Team and with other stakeholders. A Scrum Master teaches to fill in skill gaps, facilitates Scrum ceremonies and mentors the team about Agile principles and practices on a need basis.
As the purpose of a Scrum Master is to make a team self-organizing. When a team matures the Scrum Master will begin training other teams to build skills and knowledge, working with other Scrum Masters, focusing on external factors and understanding the wider department level. That’s where the role of an Agile Coach comes into play.
The scope of an Agile Coach is set across a number of teams with a wider area. An Agile Coche faces organizational impediments, coaches and mentors other Scrum Masters and Managers, helps management at different levels of organizations to share the benefits of Agile. An Agile Coach uses the same skills as a Scrum Master to improve a team, however, has deeper knowledge and understanding of Agile & Lean practices, with more range of skills in teaching, facilitation, mentoring and professional coaching. The Pentagons of Agile Coaching and Agile Coaching Competency Framework has explained all these skills necessary.
In short, both roles have different influences and scope and bring a range of skills needed for an organization and collaborate to further the organization’s Agile vision.
This blog post is part of an interview with ICAgile “New Frontiers: Agility in Pakistan – A Q+A with Khurram Bhatti“