December 20, 2018

Where is the Manager Role in Scrum?

Where is the manager role in scrum?The Scrum Framework defines three distinct roles: the Product Owner, the Development Team and the Scrum Master. The Scrum Guide does elude to Stakeholders, but does not mention anything about managers, executives and leaders. This causes a lot of friction between teams and managers as the role is not clear. Scrum dogmatists then profess that there should be no managers, or scrum has no managers.  These managers however see that Scrum Teams do not actually take the business interests at heart and only focus on product and delivery and ignore other important business activities.

Where are managers in Scrum and do we need them?

YES we need managers!! We need management but in the form of strong leaders that have a core responsibility. Remember Scrum is a framework with a strong focus on building complex products. It is not a business modeling framework and hence does not include the management role in the framework. The framework deliberately leaves this role out, thus allowing business to structure and organize how it sees fit. The executives are there to define how the business operates and the structures need to sustain the organization. This is a territory that Scrum should not engage.

However, Scrum is highly dependent on the organization’s management to create an environment that is fosters

Leaders have critical responsibly in agile and in Scrum. leaders do the following:

  • set a strong vision and mission of why agility is important for the organization.
  • remove business related impediments that prevent agile teams from working optimally
  • define the culture and psychological safety of the organization
  • establish valuable feedback cycles that allow organizations to navigate complex product development
  • help the organization see the control and discipline that is needed to be agile
  • manage operational and logistical needs of teams
  • actively drive the journey of continuous improvement, self-improvement, adaptability, feedback
  • lead teams to success
  • and more …

It's important that we as an agile community start working with business leaders and help them succeed. Without them we land up with zombie agile / fake agile / agile in name only. Its important to stop bashing management and start working with them. Its more about the organization's success and these leaders play an important role, even though Scrum deliberately does not have them in a minimal framework.

I can help you in two ways

  • Training to help agile leaders understand their importance and what to do
  • Coaching and consulting to help your organization navigate this complex agile journey

Please reach out to me with any questions here

Thanks for reading and Scrum On!