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I did web dev for more than 6 years and during this time I understood that I need to switch to a scrum master role. Without going deep into details of the "why", let's say that I love Agile and I believe on it.

So I left my dev life to be scrum master, I got my scrum master certification, which is just a bonus, the most important is : being aware of what Agile means (servant leadership etc) + experience on the battlefield (real life).

But the more I read, watch courses, see people in meetups.. the more I am afraid.. Now what I see is that a scrum master can be easily replaced by any member of the team, that it's an optional job (bullshit job ?). The worst thing I heard : "the best scrum master is the person that we can do without". I saw a full online course with videos showing some "real life situations" where we can see a simulation of a dev team, with a product owner and a scrum master, and the idea is to show what posture the SM should have during meetings, and the SM is just watching experts speaking.. from time to time saying "ok", "aright", "and you joey, what do you think ?" and Joey even not answering him because the answer is too technical for the scrum master.. So I feel sad !

Is it what we call "facilitation" ? to just be there and move your head to say "ok" ? and just be a time keeper why "real" expert that bring real value to project are working ?

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    Scrum Master is role, not really a "full time job". Most Scrum Masters I know are also devs and/or people manager as well.
    – Hilmar
    Jan 15 at 19:17
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    I understood that I need to switch to a scrum master role How did you come to that conclusion? Is it not part of the certification to understand what a scrum master does? Why not go back to dev, when you don't like the new role? Jan 15 at 19:31
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    Those were not "real life situations". In most teams I worked there was someone who could replace the Scrum Master. Also in most teams there were several people who needed Agile coaching. This means you can easily be replaced skillwise, but it's a full time job and very few developers want that job.
    – Chris
    Jan 15 at 20:12
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    I’m voting to close this question because this is a RANT
    – Xavier J
    Jan 15 at 23:24
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    Agile is on the way out, but this question does feel like a rant. Personally I've never encountered an agile or scrum system that actually improved anything. But it does give more management stats. Which is sometimes all that actually matters.
    – Trevor
    Jan 17 at 15:32

4 Answers 4

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Let me start by saying that I haven't seen many proper Scrum implementations.

In Scrum you have three dimensions of product development: the business aspect handled by the Product Owner, the technical aspect handled by the developers, and the process aspect of how you make things happen.

The Scrum Master is accountable for the third one. In the context of Scrum, accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide, since that's the framework you use. At least in theory, because your implementation can go in any direction; from something resembling the Scrum Guide, to something that's not even close.

But everyone can say they are doing Scrum, because it's simple to use words. Not so simple to have something to show for that though.

So depending on the people, the company, the environment, etc, the Scrum Master can be someone very involved and with a full time job, to someone with a part time role (together with developer, business analyst, tester, etc), to a project manager in disguise, to a glorified secretary that just sets up events and takes meeting minutes.

It depends on the team and how experienced they are with working with Scrum. Inexperienced teams or teams just starting to self-organize might need more help and facilitation than a team that has worked together for a while. And facilitation can go from being the one driving the discussion, to nudging someone that's been silent to now participate, to knowing when to keep your mouth shut and let the team figure it out even if you know they will fail but you consider the lesson learned very valuable.

It also depends on the person filling the role. You can have someone involved and knowledgeable about the business and the technical aspects and making sure the team is doing work of quality, to someone who doesn't even beat an eyelid when developers say they will drop code reviews and abandon unit tests because they don't feel like doing them.

So the answer to you question is YMMV.

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    The joke is that Agile means managers yell at you every 2 weeks instead of every quarter.
    – Nelson
    Jan 16 at 5:28
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    Remember that the Scrum Master also has an outward facing role. In an organization where "Scrum" is just a fad word, it'll be their fulltime job to convince management Scrum is more than a word, or get fired trying.
    – Erik
    Jan 16 at 8:55
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The impression that I get is Scrum Master is a bullshit job, but the the Scrum Master role can be very useful in some situations.

I am an absolutely firm believer in empowering employees to the point where they don't need someone moderating or lubricating conversations or workflows. In a team of professionals, there should be enough understanding, trust and respect so that the usual prompts by Scrum Masters, are not needed.

Teams often can only get to that point if there is someone who is acting in a role similar to a Scrum Master, if only to install working patterns that should be continued.

So, I think you have a few options. You can be willing to:

  • Act similar to a consultant, and go around and improve the workflows of teams in a short-term basis
  • Treat your Scrum Master training as just another arrow in your quiver, which can be handy getting jobs for employers that need someone to have the role, but not the full-time job
  • Drink the Kool Aid
  • Just pivot back to being a developer
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It's not clear if you're actually working in a scrum-master role, or if you're just talking about what you perceived in training.

But since you said...

So I left my dev life to be scrum master...

I will assume that you're doing it now and you've become disillusioned with it very quickly? If, instead, you're just talking about the impression you got during training then I would suggest giving it a chance.

But if this is happening in your work now, then listen to you disillusionment. There really are "bullshit jobs" out there, A LOT OF THEM, especially in larger corporate environments. The same job somewhere else might be exactly what you're looking for, or it could be even worse.

As someone said it's a "role". The satisfaction you get out of the work depends on what you bring to it and also what the others bring. This really depends a lot on the team and how you get along with the others, and whether you're engaged with the project and the organization's culture. If those things don't line up in your favor, it could just be a bad fit.

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My perspective as a member of a Scrum-using team:

  • A Scrum Master is necessary if the team is not yet familiar with Scrum, to challenge the team to become better at Scrum, and occasionally to check that they are not backsliding. The workload is greatest when Scrum is not yet established. But it doesn't disappear completely when the team is familiar with the method.
  • A Scrum Master may take on some of the administrative roles of a project manager, depending on how the project is organized. That's especially relevant when a Scrum team (PO, devs, SM) has to interact with a larger organization which is not quite agile. That's not the Scrum role of the Scrum Master, but someone has to do it, and often it is either SM or PO. The PO has many other jobs.

By the way, I consider servant leadership to be part of bullshit bingo. The Scrum Master leads one aspect of a matrix-organized team. Possibly that leadership is polite, but it is no less leadership.

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  • Scrum Master is responsible for getting the process right, which is contrary to your second point. At that moment, you are only calling it "Scrum", but it is something else. (Yes, that happens in many companies. Probably most of them.) If there is not enough work for a Scrum Master at one team, they can also take responsibility for another team. Being a Scrum Master for multiple teams can be a full-time job. Jan 23 at 21:08
  • @ViliamBúr, the person wears two hats, 'Scrum Master' and 'Management Liaison.' Requiring purity of roles seems overly restrictive to me, as long as people remember which hat they are wearing at any one time.
    – o.m.
    Jan 24 at 5:35

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