Scrum Master or Hype Master? Energizing teams with unstoppable enthusiasm

Reading time: 9 minutes

A new work day begins. I get out of bed and get ready for work. As The Hague is waking up, I find comfort in the ritual of my morning brew. A cappuccino, extra strong, becomes my companion as I await the train that takes me to Rotterdam.

My wireless earbuds play the day’s anthems. Whether it’s baroque, house, or dark synthpop, the music blends with the warmth and the caffeine. Each sip of coffee, each note that fills my ears, brings me closer to being ready for the day ahead.

“Today is going to be a great day”, I think to myself.

I emerge from the station, full of energy and anticipation for what lies ahead. After entering the revolving doors of the office building, I pass through security and take the elevator into the Rotterdam skyline.

As the doors open and I walk towards the office, I take a deep breath, ready to – loudly – proclaim my well-wishes for the day to all of my colleagues.

This is me. Every day, it’s high energy. I feel good, I feel purposeful. I get to be myself and to apply my strengths to my job and its challenges. Ever since my last article on hostmanship, I have been thinking about my personal qualities and strengths, and how they play into my profession.

So, how do you call a positive, loud and uplifting Scrum Master? A hype master!

I want to talk about yet another role I take, and take a closer look at the ‘hype’ role of a Scrum Master, as I correlate it to personal qualities and Scrum values. In this article I will delve into the Scrum Master’s role as a catalyst for motivation and a promoter of continuous improvement and team dynamics, mirroring the enthusiasm and support akin to that of a ‘hype master’.

What the bleep is a hype master?

A hype master is a master of enthusiasm and motivation, especially in situations where excitement requires a significant boost. This role, which is often linked with music, sports, and entertainment, is performed by people whose primary responsibility is for boosting the energy, engagement, and anticipation of an audience or group. The hype master—also known as a ‘hype man’—is characterized by their infectious enthusiasm, boundless energy, and natural ability to connect with people on an emotional level. They are the driving force that turns anticipation into reality, keeping the crowd’s energy at its peak.

Scrum Master or Hype Master? Energizing teams with unstoppable enthusiasm
Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash

The Scrum Master, the team’s ‘Chief Energy Officer’

The term ‘hype’, with its associations of excitement and enthusiasm, may not appear immediately relevant to the role of a Scrum Master. Nevertheless, closer examination suggests more parallels, particularly when considering the Scrum Master’s role in fostering a culture of motivation, engagement and continuous improvement. They can be the team’s de facto ‘Chief Energy Officer’!

A Scrum Master can embody the spirit of a hype master by providing unwavering support and motivation to their team. The Scrum Master, like a hype master, energizes their team about the product and the process. They champion the Scrum values, lead by example and encourage their team to do the same. This role entails not only advocating for these values, but also ensuring that they are incorporated into all aspects of the team’s operations.

The Scrum Master…

  • …inspires the team to be committed to their work and strive for excellence by demonstrating their dedication to the product’s goals – and Scrum itself.
  • …inspires courage by addressing issues head on, challenging the status quo, and motivating the team to step outside of their comfort zones for personal and team development.
  • …assists the team in delivering value each Sprint by staying focused on the product’s goals and the tasks at hand.
  • …creates an environment of openness in which team members are at ease freely expressing their ideas, concerns, and feedback, leading to a culture of continuous improvement.
  • …nurtures mutual respect by acknowledging each team member’s unique contributions and ensuring that everyone is treated with integrity and respect.

Generating excitement and anticipation is a key component of hype. In Scrum, the Scrum Master creates excitement not only for the product or Scrum event, but also for the process and journey of the Scrum Team(s). They achieve this by continually underscoring the significance of the work being done, in relation to the Sprint Goals and the Product Vision. By keeping the team focused on these elements, the Scrum Master fosters a sense of purpose and enthusiasm.

Hype also involves engaging the audience, a quality that Scrum Masters apply to their teams. Scrum Masters ensure that all team members are actively involved, contributing, and invested in the Sprint’s success by facilitating Scrum events. Being involved is essential to preserving energy and keeping the team motivated and focused on its objectives.

Scrum Masters, like hype masters, keep team energy going despite potential decline in enthusiasm or fatigue. They achieve this by removing impediments, facilitating problem-solving, and keeping the team aligned and cohesive. The Scrum Master’s role in navigating obstacles and keeping the team on track is comparable to keeping the “hype” alive, which ensures that enthusiasm and commitment do not fade.

The term hype is used to describe the buildup to the next big thing. The Scrum Master promotes a culture of continuous improvement by regularly inspecting and adapting Scrum events. They encourage reflection on processes, practices, and outcomes, as well as an iterative approach to development, which helps the team strive for better – while keeping the excitement for improvement alive.

Personal hype traits

People who fulfil this role often have a distinct set of traits, including a healthy dose of charisma, an extroverted personality, strong communication skills, and an intuitive understanding of group dynamics. Their presence is critical in situations where the goal is to create a lasting impression, sustain energy, or motivate a team to achieve a common goal. They serve as the catalyst for igniting passion and excitement, often through spoken words, body language, and leading by example. A Scrum Master’s character traits have a significant impact on their capacity to embody the hype master role. These traits include:

  • Empathy and emotional intelligence
    • Understanding team dynamics and individual team members’ motivations is essential. An effective Scrum Master reads the room and tailors their approach to the team’s specific needs, ensuring that everyone feels supported and motivated.
  • Resilience and positivity
    • The ability to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity is essential. A Scrum Master’s resilience motivates the team to persevere and see challenges as opportunities for growth.
  • Effective communication
    • The ability to articulate the work’s vision, goals, and value in a clear and compelling manner is similar to a hype master’s ability to engage the audience. They should also create an environment in which open communication is valued and encouraged.
  • Facilitation skills
    • A Scrum Master, like a conductor, leads the team through the Scrum process, ensuring that each event is productive and meaningful while also keeping the team focused on their goals.

Getting into hype mode

To maintain a hype mindset, a Scrum Master can use a variety of strategies that not only energize the team but also reinforce Scrum’s core principles. Let me share a few tips that can make a significant impact on your team(s):

  1. Regularly remind the team of the Product Goal and how important their contributions are. Emphasize this vision and the big picture. This can be included in the Sprint Planning and Review meetings. Sharing success stories from within the organization can also serve to inspire and provide a sense of purpose.
  2. Encourage teammates to share their ideas, concerns, and accomplishments. Celebrate both successes and failures as learning experiences. This could entail allocating time in Sprint Retrospectives for team members to highlight what they are proud of rather than what needs to be improved.
  3. Break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks to help the team gain momentum and see tangible results faster. Facilitating and celebrating these small victories can boost morale and keep the team focused.
  4. Set up regular learning sessions or workshops to help the team learn new skills or knowledge relevant to their work. This may include new Scrum techniques, industry best practices, or technical skills. Demonstrating a willingness to grow can energize your team(s).
  5. Remove impediments that slow or demotivate the team, while maintaining a positive atmosphere. Apply the five-minute rule: if you can solve a problem in less than five minutes, do it right away. This approach quickly removes minor roadblocks, demonstrating your dedication to efficiency and empowering the team.
  6. Feedback is a gift! Use stakeholder feedback, particularly during Sprint Reviews, to drive team improvement and innovation. Positive feedback can be a powerful motivator, whereas constructive criticism can be framed as a chance for improvement.
  7. Understand the motivations of each team member and tailor your approach accordingly. Some may be motivated by recognition, others by difficult tasks, and some by the opportunity to collaborate. Personalized motivation can be far more effective than a one-size-fits-all strategy.
  8. Ensure that the Scrum process is completely transparent to the team. This encompasses the product backlog, sprint goals, and progress updates. Transparency fosters trust, which is essential for keeping the team spirit high.

What if your hype falls flat?

Even the most enthusiastic Scrum Masters can have off days or times when their efforts to energize the team do not appear to be as effective. Here are some strategies to consider for those days when the energy is simply not there:

  • What worked in the past may no longer work due to changes in the team’s dynamics! If your usual motivational strategies aren’t working, use it as an opportunity to evaluate and adapt. Gather feedback from your team on what is dampening their spirits, and brainstorm ways to inject more energy into your work.
  • Sometimes teams get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the big picture. Review the team’s accomplishments and how their work fits into the overall product goal. Visualizing success and the impact of their work can reignite their enthusiasm and motivation.
  • If possible, altering the team’s environment for a day or a meeting can instill new energy. If you work remotely, consider hosting a virtual background competition or a themed meeting. For in-person teams, meeting outside or in a different location can add variety.
  • Propose a learning session for team members to explore new technologies or methodologies that are unrelated to the current Sprint’s work. This can reignite curiosity and passion.
  • The lack of hype can be attributed to personal or professional challenges that team members are facing. Conducting one-on-one check-ins to provide support and better understand their situation can aid in the resolution of underlying issues.

Remember that your role as a Scrum Master is to help the team perform to its full potential. Navigating the complex human aspects of software development entails being aware of their needs and adapting your approach to meet them—whether they require hype, support, or space.

Scrum Master or Hype Master? Energizing teams with unstoppable enthusiasm
Photo by Verena Yunita Yapi on Unsplash


While a Scrum Master may not hype a concert or a new product launch in the traditional sense, they exemplify what it means to generate excitement, engage a team, maintain energy, and drive continuous improvement. Scrum Masters, through their actions and leadership, foster an environment in which the team is motivated and enthusiastic about their work, viewing each Sprint as an opportunity to accomplish great things. This alignment with the core elements of ‘hype’ highlights the Scrum Master’s role as critical to maintaining the energy and focus required for agile teams to thrive.

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