Adopting Agile Pt2- Who should be the scrum master?

A lot of organizations and teams tend to appoint a scrum master for the team, sometimes against the wishes of the individual taking up the role.

I think it beats the purpose of transformation.


Appointing someone for the role can never lead to success. A scrum master as we know plays a crucial role during the transformation, you want someone who is interested, who will put their best foot forward and who’s up for the challenge.

Here are some ways you can look for a scrum master-
  • Provide enough information on what a role of a scrum master is and is expected
  • Talk about benefits of being a scrum master from a career perspective
  • Ensure enough support and training's for the scrum master who will take up the role.
  • Ask for volunteers

 Once you have a pool of volunteers or one per team, you can provide them with training's required to take up the role.

However, this role has its own classic confusion. Should a scrum master be a full time role or should it be part time along with your functional role. Some will have full time scrum master roles and take up multiple teams and some prefer part time scrum masters who are an integral part of the team and also works in their functional role.

I persnally prefer scrum masters who are an integral part of the team and understand the work and ins and out of what’s going in the team.  I also think team members accept scrum masters easily when they are part of the team than someone who is part of multiple teams and is more of a manager with a title of the scrum master.

So, who should really take up the role of a scrum master?
·         Someone interested (there is a learning curve)
·         Has social skills (taking care of impediments requires some)
·         Strong in communications (keeping the team together)
·         Has enough negotiation and convincing skills  (need that to interact with your product owner)
·         Is generally calm and not aggressive (when handling internal team conflicts)
·         Has a sense of humor (helps when dealing with the pressure of juggling roles and rebellious team members)
·         Can think objectively and not take sides
·         Determined to fix issues and keep the team together
·         Ability to think out of the box ( absolutely required when working with a smart competent team)

Well that might seem a lot, the good news is most of us have it in us. We have been trained and retrained to give up a lot over time and that might have clouded our out of the box thinking.  A nudge and encouragement can bring in the creativity back. And it improves with time.

The managers/management need to understand that the role though of a facilitator isn’t easy and needs time to settle in. Team members always don’t make it easy on the scrum master. So, give the time and encourage as much as possible.

Here’s what Mike Cohn says about being a scrum master  and an interesting article that talks about why the projectmanager is not a scrum master


You can read Part 1 of the series here

(Pic courtesy- Google Images)

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