What is the future of Scrum Master role?

Last post 02:52 pm June 29, 2020
by Aditya Vaze
10 replies
05:56 am June 27, 2020

What is the future of Scrum Master role?

I am posting this question as I can see so many videos on internet saying that Scrum Master is a useless role and these days organizations are thinking whether to offer this role or not.

Can you please help me with this? Thank you. 


08:30 am June 27, 2020

Which of the services provided by a Scrum Master are alleged to be useless, and what supporting arguments are made?

10:31 am June 27, 2020

@Ian, Team feels that SM facilitates the scrum ceremonies, Reporting etc which can be done by the Team Lead or other senior member of the team as well.

01:39 pm June 27, 2020

Team feels that SM facilitates the scrum ceremonies, Reporting etc which can be done by the Team Lead or other senior member of the team as well.

Facilitating the Scrum events as requested or needed is one service that the Scrum Master provides. The Scrum Guide lists 6 other services provided to the Product Owner, 4 other services to the Development Team, and 5 services to the organization. Reporting is not mentioned as a service of the Scrum Master, but it could fall under things such as "helping the Development Team create high-value products", "understanding product planning in an empirical environment", and "planning Scrum implementations within the organization" depending on exactly what "reporting" means.

I'd also point out that "Team Lead" or "senior member" are concepts that don't exist in Scrum. Specifically, the Development Team is self-organizing and cross-functional. There are no titles or sub-teams and accountability is shared among the whole team. If you were to take "senior member" to mean "more experienced in the domain, product, and/or tools and technologies", I would argue that someone in this position should be working to "level up" or help develop the less senior members of the team to support self-organization and cross-functionality.

I'm not sure what specific posts or videos you are referring to, but I don't think that the concept of a Scrum Master is useless. The concerns that I have are more around organizations not able to select a person with the right skills to fill the role of Scrum Master or the person in the Scrum Master role not having a broad enough set of knowledge and skills.

From an individual's side, there are people who attempt to fill a Scrum Master role after taking a 2-day or 3-day training course and passing an exam. A training course may teach you the basics of Scrum and introduce you to the concepts of coaching, teaching, and facilitation that you will need, but it doesn't replace technical or domain experience that can help you speak directly to people in product management or development team roles. Organizational coaching is also a different set of skills than coaching individuals or teams. Finally, knowledge of Scrum alone is often insufficient and in-depth knowledge of other practices, process frameworks, and techniques is necessary to help a team grow and find a good way of working.

From an organization's perspective, I've seen a lot of misunderstandings about what they want a "Scrum Master" to do. The job descriptions are often incredibly broad and go well beyond coaching, facilitation, and teaching. They often include highly technical skills, project management skills, and more. This poor alignment makes it difficult to attract and then hire the people who can actually add value to the organization. Even if someone is found, they are doing disjoint sets of work that make it difficult to see or even realize value.

So no, I don't think that the Scrum Master role is useless. There's value in having a coaching role in an organization, but to see the value, it requires a good definition of what the coach is expected to do and how that role aligns with the organizational structure.

06:51 pm June 27, 2020

Sumit what type of answer are you seeking? A career advice? You're looking for a way how to become a better SM?

I'm asking cause as I can see nobody is interested in your primary question. 

I would like to write something but first I would like to understand your question

07:28 pm June 27, 2020

I'm asking cause as I can see nobody is interested in your primary question. 

Dawid Pacholczyk, I believe that no one is answering the primary question because it's based on a false premise.

The question states that many see the Scrum Master as useless. Therefore the role must change in some way to become useful. The purpose of Scrum Master is not useless, and therefore doesn't have to adapt to account for people who do not take the time to understand the role or who corrupt the role into something it's not.

The only thing that will change the Scrum Master role is changes to the Scrum Guide since a crucial part of the role is "promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide". I don't know how that aspect of the role will change over time. I have my opinions on what conversations I'd want to start regarding changes to the Scrum Guide, but I don't know how Ken, Jeff, and anyone else involved in maintaining it will change it. Unless someone here can tell the future, we'll have to wait and see on that.

09:24 pm June 27, 2020

In my experience, many companies are using Scrum Masters as project managers without that title. Unfortunately, most of the Scrum Masters I've worked with don't hold any team-building activities or Agile trainings. They don't even see themselves as mentors. "Coaching" is a term that most people don't understand. So Scrum Masters I've worked with see themselves as meeting facilitators and project managers.

Don't even get me started on "Agile Coaches." When I'm asked for my advice, I tell leadership to invest in Trainers (who can hold certification classes and can provide other trainings) and not "Agile Coaches."

12:37 am June 28, 2020

I would suggest that you read and share this white paper the 8-Stances of the Scrum Master because it seems that someone in your organization may not understand the role very well and likely thinks they just run some meetings or something.  The Scrum Master may be able to add more teams as the teams mature, but there is a lot for the Scrum Master no matter how mature the teams are.



09:18 am June 28, 2020

@Ian, Team feels that SM facilitates the scrum ceremonies, Reporting etc which can be done by the Team Lead or other senior member of the team as well.

In such a situation, the Scrum Master might coach the entire organization (particularly management) to understand the potential harm that a Team Lead (especially one with reporting responsibilities) has on a team's ability to self-organize.

In general terms, a Scrum Master might provide transparency over how their role is being misinterpreted by the organization, and help the organization realize that they're not following Scrum; and the problems that is causing.
The result might be that Scrum is implemented properly, or the organization might stop pretending to 'do Scrum', and work in a different way. This could threaten the Scrum Master's job security, but courage is one of the Scrum Values.

10:01 am June 29, 2020

@Dawid - 

I am not exactly looking for a career advice. I asked this question when I noticed the negative material for this role.

I have other questions too, which I will post as a new question. 

02:52 pm June 29, 2020

I often tend to correlate Scrum Masters' role to that of artillery and other support roles that support Special Ops forces in the armed forces. In many aspects, it is so. SMs tend to lend a hand to Special Ops teams to achieve the objective by either reducing the resistance, providing intelligence, logistic support, insertion, and SAR (search and rescue). 

While Dev Teams can be compared to tactical forces on the front. They decide what to do and how to do it. They are also cross-functional. Everyone on the team is a fine marksman in addition to additional skills such as demolition, communication, medical aid etc. They also decide if and when to call for additional support based on the situation on the ground and make tactical decisions (think Daily Scrum).  

PO is like a General who has been assigned a strategic objective to achieve and he decides with the Special Ops team how it can be achieved with available resources and minimum collateral damage (think of product vision and sprint goal). While the Special Ops (Dev Team) decides on the tactics, PO (General) provides overarching strategic guidance to the teams. PO, the general can also request the support (e.g Air Support (stakeholders/organization)) which is not within the reach of the tactical team and requires additional coordination.   

It is a well-documented fact that situations of crisis such as combat require all three aspects. Is it wise to send combat forces to achieve a potentially fatal objective without additional support? What would be the cost of such action? What would be the result of this to the organization?