Monday, June 20, 2016

A scrum master should do more than punch a clock

A good scrum master is like a good camp counselor
As we head into summer, it is a good time to reflect on the first half of the year.  I am going through numerous personal and professional changes.  My role is going to be changing at my firm and there are plenty of comings and going.  This week I wanted to discuss some insight I gained at the office.

Many of you know, I am a big fan of Angela Dugan and her blog The TFS Whisperer.  For three days, she came to my firm and conducting training for Visual Studio Team Services and spent quality time with Product Owners at my firm.  What happened next was a revelation.  The following Monday half of the scrum masters in the organization we rolled off.

I think it would be unprofessional and small to discuss the details of why those scrum masters are gone.  Instead, I will say their departure reflects a divide in the agile profession of scrum master.  There are two camps; one camp see being a scrum master as being a glorified project manager, the other camp sees the scrum master as a servant leader, coach and therapist for development teams.  I belong in the later camp.

There is plenty of blogs on the web which say that being a scrum master is not being a project manager.  Yet, I see some scrum professionals who see their job as nothing more than scheduling meetings and updating the scrum board too.  This is not being a scrum master.  It is a person accustomed to doing things the old way attempting to survive in the corporate rat race.  They do not really add value and often create scrum-butt situations.

In my opinion, a scrum master is more than someone who punches a clock and generates reports.  They are more like a camp counselor or youth pastor minus the bad facial hair.  They have to hold other people accountable.  They have to train product owners to a basic level of competence.  They have to make sure that people are shipping working product into production.  Finally, they have to keep people motivated because software development can devolve into a soul crushing activity.

In short, being a scrum master is hard emotional and intellectual work.  If you are not willing to do that work then you are likely to get rolled off a client.

Until next time.