8 similarities between Scrum masters & OKR champions

By on February 27, 2017

One of the major hurdles in adoption of Objectives & Key Results (OKR) is the lack of comprehensive body of knowledge. We have already discussed whether OKRs are compatible with scrum. Here we take that discussion a step further, by revealing 8 similar responsibilities that Scrum masters & OKR champions shoulder.

As opposed to OKRs, Scrum has been written & talked about extensively. Industry is already aware of the terminology & processes involved in Scrum. Thus this comparison should help OKR enthusiasts clearly understand role of an OKR champion.


1. Streamlining & Refining Processes

Scrum master is the champion for scrum processes within the team. He ensures the team follows best practices prescribed by Scrum.

The OKR champion does the same thing about this agile goal setting framework adoption. Vital difference being, the OKR processes may vary in entirety from team to team. Thus, while the Scrum master has a fairly established set of guidelines; an OKR champion at times has to improvise based on initial agreement with stakeholders.

2. Adherence to Values

Scrum & OKRs – both are value driven frameworks for delivery & goal setting, respectively. Scrum master must inculcate values of self-organisation, communication & openness within the team.

The OKR champion – must imbibe commitment, adherence to timelines & openness.

3. Facilitating Adoption

Scrum has a set of ceremonies that help increase adoption & participation from within the team. These ceremonies include daily standup, sprint review, sprint planning as well as retrospective. Scrum master moderates all these.

OKRs do not have any formal ceremonies. Still OKR champions are supposed to help increase adoption through goal setting workshops, OKR grading sessions & town hall meetings. These interactions help OKR champions understand pain points in the adoption process & address them via various means.

4. Learning & Improvement

Scrum master is the custodian of all empirical data related to scrum processes. This includes team velocity, sprint burn down & burn up charts, work estimation etc. Apart from maintaining the data itself, scrum master is supposed to make sense out of that data & recommend improvements.

OKR champion also has the empirical data available for handy reference. He helps team in setting & achieving stretch as well as operational goals.

5. Team Collaboration

Scrum master mediates at times of conflicts within the team. Also, the responsibility to protect team from unwarranted outside influence lies with him. All in all, the onus of increasing efficiency in team collaboration lies with the scrum master.

In case of OKRs, collaboration comes into play at the time of goal alignment. This alignment can be within the same team or can be cross functional. Establishing benchmarks & ensuring that participants adhere to them is part of an OKR champion’s responsibility.

6. Celebrating Small Wins

Keeping the motivation levels high is a pivotal measure of a Scrum master’s success. Same holds true for an OKR champion. Though context of this motivation is different for both of them.

While the scrum master celebrates every small win in terms of delivery, the OKR champion celebrates goal achievements.

7. Maintaining the Tools

Both, scrum & OKR need various tools to ensure a streamlined process across the team. At the end of the day, each team is going to have some variation in its adoption of these frameworks. Thus, it becomes important for the Scrum masters & OKR champions to identify which tools are apt suited.

Scrum masters will own the project management tool that will help the team to manage its scrum projects. OKR champions will be responsible for managing OKR tool that the team has agreed upon.

8. Communicating Insights

Executive stakeholders need bird’s eye insights into how teams are progressing & what can they expect in terms of delivery. Scrum masters & OKR champions are their eyes & ears. Using the various metrics available & agreed upon, they communicate to the business state of processes they own.

While there could be a number of other responsibilities that are glaringly similar while comparing roles of the scrum master & the okr champion, we have tried to cover the most important ones above. Write to us in the comments if you think we have missed any!

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