As I think about some things Mary Poppendieck has been saying, it's
starting to seem to me that the need for a ScrumMaster in Scrum is a
I'll comment a bit below and see if I can say anything sensible.
Unfortunately for the readers, I'm not likely to delete this if I
On Wednesday, August 27, 2008, at 2:57:43 AM, you wrote:
> Does anyone else battle to convince the management in organisations about
> the need for a dedicated ScrumMaster? Time and time again I have seen
> organisations pay lip-service to this critical role, allocating a team
> member the responsibilities of the ScrumMaster "whatever those are". People
> seem to have a block when it comes to comprehending Coaching. To me this is
> the same as saying that a world-class rugby team doesn't need a full time
> coach. Management finds it difficult to measure the output of this role due
> to the very nature of it (although I might reflect that often it's difficult
> to measure the output of managers too, but I guess management is exempt from
> measurement) ; spot the cynicism.
Well, coaching is not at all a common role in business. In business
the theory is that people are responsible.
Interestingly enough, in Scrum, the theory is that people are
responsible as well: the team is supposed to be self-organizing.
Some people even say self-managing (but they are mistaken).
It's not hard to see some ways that the ScrumMaster role (and the
Product Owner role for that matter) work /against/ self
organization. It is to think about.
The PO role can be, and often is, interpreted as being the sole
source of ideas for the product. A really good self-organizing
team would have ideas coming from all over, choreographed by the
PO rather than created. We have very little guidance for the PO
and often they get pretty isolated and/or use command-focused
The ScrumMaster often comes from the management side, and even if
not, often thinks the role is to be the "master". In fact, the
role should have been called ScrumSlave, because a good SM is
subservient to the team, not in charge of it.
Again, those are just starting ideas. And, before you jump all over
me for bias, yes, XP has the same issues, with the official role of
Customer and the not so official role of Coach.
And yet ...
> I feel that the role is of vital importance.
In starting up, it can be. It can also be screwed up royally. All
too often SMs behave as if they are in charge. Sometimes there are
> It is often difficult for a new
> ScrumMaster (who is not yet a Master of Scrum) to know how to do their job.
> Guidance for the ScrumMaster (and team, PO and organisation) is important at
> the beginning. Certification training helps, but time, desire, perseverance
> and continuous review are the true tools for success.
... and you seem to be saying that many SMs aren't even CSMs. While
it is a good course, the CSM course hardly fits one out for a new
way of life, but at least it's a start. Trying to do the SM role
with no training is a lot like trying to coach the Celtics after
reading a book on basketball. If the would-be SM has even read a
book on Scrum ..
> When the manager of a
> ScrumMaster doesn't understand how the ScrumMaster could possibly be busy
> full-time, this becomes an impediment to the ScrumMaster.
Maybe management is right. Maybe management is always right, since
they have the money.
> Management needs
> to trust that the ScrumMaster truly has the desire and ability to help the
> organisation become better at goal setting, and the team become better at
> achieving the goals set for them. I believe that in almost all scenarios
> this is a full-time concern. Lists of impediments range from poor physical
> environment to disruptive management style, to poor teamwork. All of these
> kinds of impediments require tactful, disciplined, productive discussion and
> resolution. Without the ScrumMaster, who is looking out for the people (not
> resources) on the team? Who is ensuring that time is taken to identify and
> resolve impediments?
Ah, and here's the rub. So long as Mommy cleans up after you, you'll
be a slob at heart.
The team needs to do those things. The ScrumMaster, like Mommy,
doing the very best they know how ... can often be right in the way
of the real objective.
It's a dilemma.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is to not stop questioning. --Albert Einstein