ScrumMaster: No Power

One of the key things about the ScrumMaster is that he/she has no power.  No authority.

Well, I remember a line from somewhere (which I cannot find now) that “the ScrumMaster has no authority”… and I understood that meant that the ScrumMaster did have the authority to help define what Scrum is supposed to be, but not the power to make people “do Scrum.”

It is important to remember that in most companies (in my opinion), the SM is viewed as the “new” project manager.  So, particularly at first, the SM must act contrary to how the former PMs acted, so that people no longer think that way.

One idea is that a servant leader is not really a servant leader if he/she leads using power or position.

Equally, the SM is not a quiet mouse.  The SM has a right to speak up. But not as a boss or someone with power, but rather as someone with wisdom.

Some of the descriptions I read talk about the ScrumMaster as a slightly different project manager.  NO!

The SM helps, and that help is VERY important.  But the others in the team do the real work.  In simplistic terms, the PO envisions the product and the Doers (Implementers) build it.  And the SM gets impediments (of any type) out of the way as fast as possible.

So, for example, the SM does not set the goal or goals. Although a ScrumMaster might make sure a goal is set and that it is clear to the whole Team.

For doing the work, the SM is not a key locus of communication.  That is, information about the product does not need to go through the SM.  Although the SM might observe whether communication of all sorts is working well (typically, there are key areas for improvement…this is VERY common).  It is also important that the Team is communicating impediments and related information to the SM (and vice versa).

The SM does not reward the Team, eg, with applause or recognition.  The SM might get someone else to say “wow” or “thank you”.  But the SM is not the PO or the customer.  Still, getting someone to give sufficient recognition might be a key impediment to solve today.

The Team does not win the game for the SM.  They win the game for the customers or maybe for the PO or the business side.  But not for the SM.  At least, that is not something the SM would say.  (One can imagine the Team maybe feeling that way, but the SM should not put it that way.)  The normal case, I think, is that they want to win to prove something to themselves.  And to give to the customers.  That would be a better motivation.

One of the key things: The SM is always a servant and s/he does not make herself or himself the center of attention.  He is “only” the servant.

This is notably less self-important than most project managers were seen as.  In my experience.


Your comments are welcome.


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