Past years the whole IT community experienced pretty avalanche of agility integration into development process based on terms as ‘agile development’, ‘extreme programming’, ‘scrum’ (this is my favorite funny term together with ‘icebreaker’ :). Many companies switched from a waterfall model to different versions of agile project organization – there was scrum introduced, Kanban, mixture of both of them …that all creates also new roles in project organization, one of them is called “Scrum Master”.
Most simple definition of “Scrum Master” says the following:
“Scrum is facilitated by a Scrum Master, who is accountable for removing impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the product goals and deliverables. The Scrum Master is not a traditional team lead or project manager, but acts as a buffer between the team and any distracting influences.”
…also “In fact, there is no role of project manager in Scrum at all, because none is needed.”
Hm, there are many job offers for the role “Project Manager / Scrum Master” with funny shortcut “PM/SM” 🙂 When there is no role of project manager in Scrum, how can be there such a mixed role, sounds like misunderstanding. And it’s not only such role description you can see on job portals, but also Scrum is rather like a game than a professional approach how to organize IT projects with really funny defined rules, such as everybody does everything.
Scrum is iterative approach where the work is planned into sprints which improves development process agility. It provides flat organizational structure with undefined roles and shared – collective responsibility.
Iterative approach is nothing new and has already been used for many years. Sprints were called iterations, user story – new feature, standup was daily meeting or call and scrum master role was just part of the role of a project manager. From my experience, Scrum as we know its definition was implemented in many projects where it is absolutely not suitable. I’ve experienced diverse integrations of Scrum in my career – if you are implementing embedded software, it is really ridiculous to use the term “User story” for low level technical extension, or to “plan” sprints where the roadmap is prepared for 12 months development time; also some Scrum Masters I met, were rather technically less competent persons with tendency to speak loud like leaders who motivate the team and deliver effective decisions.
Scrum is not the way to do IT project better, it is just a possibility to organize some projects in agile way of work, but does not give an answer to every question and definitely is not suitable for every IT project. The way is to agilize software development with proper, simply and clearly defined rules with respect to the project and company specifics.
Back to the role of Scrum Master: from another resource I found the following definition:
The scrum master asks the team members these three questions:
1. What did you do yesterday?
2. What will you do today?
3. Are there any impediments in your way?
I would love such job, where the whole activity would be to ask those three questions. I think that the role of any IT project leader position (you can call it as you want) is much more than the three questions above, or to be a “Scrum” processes watchdog, organize sessions with colored cards and move cards on board from left to right and discuss about the color of coffee machine in the office, and provide from meeting to meeting just a loud assertiveness festival. Such competences can be assigned to development assistant, secretary or workflow supervisor (sounds much better 🙂 ).
For leading persons (what Scrum Master can/should/have to be) are mandatory the technical competences, communication skills, ability to make decisions, leadership skills, ability to understand all project-related information in full technical detail as well as to be able to do development and testing tasks.
Such competences I didn’t find in any scrum master definition, don’t call me scrum master, please…