Manager as ScrumMaster

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Recently, while i coach a product development organization on Scrum, i notice that they have made all former team leaders as ScrumMasters. Though this arrangement itself may not be a problem, the reason behind that decision certainly concerns me.

ScrumMaster has challenge on leading the team, because team does not listen to what ScrumMaster says, thus ScrumMaster is not able to influence the team forward. As a solution, it grants ScrumMaster with positional power by making team leaders as ScrumMasters. What ensues is that ScrumMasters make use of positional power to get things done. Since it works temporarily, they lose the priority to develop leadership, which is the fundamental solution for their challenge. With the continuing weak leadership, they tend to rely more on positional power. It creates an addition loop.

This is the typical "Shifting the burden" situation in systems thinking.

Shifting the burden - Manager as ScrumMaster.jpg

Where do we leverage in this situation?

  • Understand the dynamic as you are reading this:-)
  • Leave the fundamental solution open, and explore with relevant people together for alternative solutions for the challenges on leading team, other than using positional power.
  • Articulate the long-term goal on how to lead Scrum team and what kind of leadership we need.
  • Break the dependency on positional power, either removing it, or practicing not to use it with the help from your mentor or coach.

With the above said, i am a proponent to create the consistency between Manager and ScrumMasters for sustaining the change. I have ever promoted great ScrumMasters to managers and they took dual roles. However, it had different reasons and came with different evolution paths. Read more from We're All in This Together, or attend my "Manager as ScrumMaster" session in Agile 2011 conference, where we would explore this topic further.

1 Comment

I did experienced the period of wearing this two hats. It's really hard..., not recommend either.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lv Yi published on July 9, 2011 11:41 AM.

Insights for PO during Agile transformation was the previous entry in this blog.

Product Owner is a new role is the next entry in this blog.

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