Scrum 2.0 – The Scrum Manager

The new new new Scrum.

Gone are the days when a Scrum master was the facilitator of a process framework.

New new new Scrum 2.0 brings in a new perception and fallacious understanding of the Scrum master role as a manager. The Scrum Manager.

So, effectively, when servant leadership skills are absent or lacking or the Scrum Manager just doesn’t have the patience to work through Tuckman’s stages of group development the Scrum Manager can use her new new new authority and responsibility to remove human impediments from the development team. But why stop there? The Scrum Manager in Scrum 2.0 may also remove the Product Owner from the Agile Team. They may also be able to actually remove the new new new Scrum Agile Team from the organization too! But removal is not always a good option. The Scrum Manager could also “write-up” a development team member! Or the PO too! You’d best follow that process — or else! You could be fired from your job by the Scrum Manager!

A quote from a Scrum Manager:

It feels like we’re arguing semantics here. I’m not afraid to admit that, as a Scrum Master/XP coach that, in the past, I have taken actions that have resulted in people being removed from the teams I am working with. In some cases these actions have resulted in people being put on performance improvement plans. In some cases these actions have resulted in people being dismissed. I may not have pulled the trigger but the results were the same as if I did. And while I feel the normal amount of regret for the result of the events, I don’t feel even a molecule of doubt that I did the right thing as a Scrum Master, as a teammate, and as a person. This may make me a bad Scrum Master. If so, I’m not sure if I care.

This is actually a false understanding of a servant leadership role in Scrum. Scrum masters are supposed to be masters of the ceremonies in Scrum, facilitators, not managers. They could be considered to be in a role that is similar only in aperture or “level” to a manager but without any power or authority whatsoever over people (I heard Schwaber said this, but I can’t find the reference). Even using influence as described in the quote above is extremely dangerous for a servant leader and Scrum master.

Some would make a straw man argument that sometimes “the Scrum Master is obligated to do everything in his power to remove this member.” I hadn’t realized that Scrum masters had “power!” That wasn’t in any Scrum course I’ve ever taken. Scrum masters only have influence over the process. It is a false assumption to assume power exists where it does not. One cannot “force” or “manage” people into “doing” Scrum. It comes naturally, or mechanically. Mechanical Scrum is not Scrum.

The Scrum master as a coach. Well, coaches may remove team members from professional sports teams, right? Well, no, they can’t. There is a BUSINESS around every professional team. We are not discussing little league here. And businesses have MANAGERS whose job it is to deal with HR issues. If the manager and the Scrum master are the same people, they are not, in fact, a Scrum master, they are a Scrum Manager.

I believe these arguments for Scrum 2.0 are being made by relabeled project managers as Scrum Managers and/or those stuck in Theory X thinking. Which is sad. The community at large should be better than this. This Theory X type of thinking that bleeds over into implementations is what gives Agile and Scrum a bad reputation with development team members.

Don’t fear! Many coaches and Scrum masters do GET IT. Hire those folks to work in your organizations and avoid phony Scrum Managers.


My LinkedIn posts on the subject and commentary from others.

Scrum Master – A Manager

Click to access Facilitator.pdf




Published by Marshall Guillory -

Information Technology professional, transformation leader, agile evangelist & coach, change agent, scrum master, servant leader and more...

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