Scrum Master..An Agile Oxymoron

One of my favourite transitions is helping people become a successful Scrum Master.  It’s very heartening to see an individual become a whole human being, not simply concerned with timelines and figures but happy, empowered and delivering to boot.

Too often though this can be the most challenging task and far too often the individual is blamed when the impediment exists in the very title Scrum Master. Let’s consider the top 5 definitions from dictionary.com.

 

master
    1. a person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something: a master of six languages; to be master of one’s fate.

 

  1. an owner of a slave, animal, etc.
  2. an employer of workers or servants.
  3. the male head of a household.
  4. a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation,art, or science.
The top four definitions imply ownership or control – the opposite of the Scrum Master Role, and very far removed from Agile.  Not until number 5 do we come even close to what we mean.  A Scrum Master is expected to be skilled in Scrum, to coach and help the team keep a heartbeat, to always strive for better and to feel he can effectively remove anything that blocks the teams progress.  With these descriptions of Master in mind, is it really so unbelievable when the new Scrum Master resorts to command and control.  Or indeed when the organisation diverts his attention to reporting and is shocked when he tries to effect change.

 

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