Software in 30days - is SM a manager?

Last post 06:14 am September 12, 2019
by Eric Hoogers
4 replies
05:01 am September 11, 2019

I'm reading "software in 30 days" right now (by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland) and I have bumped into the following sentense which disturbs me: "the team of people that will be developing the software is called the Scrum Team. It consists of the person who wants the software developed (the Product Owner), a manager (the Scrum Master), and the developers.".

I was confused by the following part: "a manager (the Scrum Master)". SM is not a people manager and not a team manager. Maybe the reference here for the process manager, the framework manager, the iteration as a project manager ("the Scrum Master manages the project the Scrum way".

Any insights you have on this? 

06:23 am September 11, 2019

You could also critique the Product Owner as "the person who wants the software developed". There could be multiple people who want it developed, and the PO is not necessarily one of them. A PO should be able to effectively represent the interests of whoever does want it, so product value is maximized.

11:57 am September 11, 2019

Something else to consider - Software in 30 Days was published in 2012. It was probably written in 2011. Scrum has evolved in that time - there have been 3 revisions to the Scrum Guide since the book was published, maybe 4 or 5 since some parts were written. I'm not sure what the intention in using the phrase "manager" in the book was (I quickly scanned some old versions of the Scrum Guide and couldn't find the word "manager" in the context of the Scrum Master), but I would consider this to be a point where thinking as evolved - has been inspected and adapted to use the Scrum terms - since it was written.

Please don't construe this as saying that it's not worth it to read Software in 30 Days because it's old. The core of Scrum hasn't changed that much. But some of the wording, phrasing, and ideas have changed over time to better communicate intentions and incorporate lessons that have been learned. My intention is to say that you can't necessarily take everything at face-value for publications that are several years old.

09:15 pm September 11, 2019

My thought is that the Scrum Manager manages Scrum.   You can think of this as a process manager.

  • They are responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum not only with their team(s), but also throughout the organization
  • They educate and help others understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values
  • They inform others on what practices and interactions are harmful to Scrum

The Scrum Guide is full of examples on how the Scrum Master serves others in understanding and practicing Scrum.

06:14 am September 12, 2019

In my opinion he is a manager in a sense of removing impediments and facilitating / coaching the team(members).

The problem with the term manager itself is that it doesn't encourage change in the sense of letting go of the "old way" (industrial) way of working.