11 October 2019

Why a Scrum Master is NOT a manager?

If you are a developer, a business analyst or a project manager you most likely already know what agility and Scrum Master are when compared to traditional V-Cycle projects.

If you are not familiar with Scrum projects, you can refer to this article.

From 2 to 4 weeks cycles, define the new target for the new sprint using the backlog, 15 minutes daily morning meeting. 1 team, 1 Scrum Master, 1 Product Owner etc…

When reading different articles on the web, I had the feeling that there is a common mistake about roles in a Scrum project.

Indeed online articles often miss an essential point regarding the Scrum roles. That would explain in my opinion why some actual Scrum projects somehow also miss one point. Let’s see what is it.

The Scrum Master is not a manager

The Scrum Master is not a manager. He is a facilitator. The overall idea behind the Scrum methodology is that any decision should be taken as a team. The Scrum Master is even not supposed to distribute tasks. Team members should be allowed to contribute with any skill of their skills set as long as it serves the project.

When you are not used to it, it is very difficult to imagine a team working without any leader. However it is the ambition of a Scrum project. For this to work properly, it is supposed that the team can work without any external support except from the Product Owner. It is also supposed that all the team members are experienced enough.

Why not ?

Why there should be no manager ? Because the team is supposed to be agile (with a non-capital “a”), because any team member is supposed to be able suggest ideas in a frank and straightforward way. Last but not least, the team members should feel equally engaged in the project and they should all feel equally responsible in the success of the project.

As far as I am concerned, I have never seen a team working exactly this way. There is always a manager distributing tasks and making final decisions. There are always some team members doing only “their share of the job”. As a result, projects are loosing part of the agility that was sought through the Scrum methodology.

Rest assured because loosing some agility does not mean that a project would fail. Furthermore, it is my opinion that a manager is necessary when the full team is not experienced enough.

You can share your experience on Scrum projects in the comments below.

Expertise Be & Do Agile !


Agilité, Scrum Master, Product Manager

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Écrit par Sébastien Canal


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