It is very common for Scrum teams to deal with a plethora of issues not to mention the transitioning to scrum itself. Where do you think these issues originate from? They arise from stakeholder management, team dependencies, conflicts among team members, pressure of meeting Sprint commitment, waterfall environment surrounding the team, command-and-control management, silos in the team, ambiguity in contracts, demands of reporting data to executives, etc. These issues pop up throughout the sprint. Well, now that we know the types of problems that can spring up for a Scrum team, guess, who is responsible to shield the team from getting diverted from these external issues? YES it is the Scrum Master. But how ?
In a scrum team, a Scrum Master’s foremost priority should be to take care of the team and it’s needs first. He/She works towards helping the team to stay focused on delivering the committed work. In many scenarios, due to existing silos, a team may need to work with other specialized units like design or infrastructure team to constantly get their work going. Many a times, several teams need to work together to create a bigger product increment. This often results in companies investing in Program managers, project managers or other similar roles to support Scrum teams. It is also likely that many companies transitioning from traditional waterfall to Agile already have program and/or project managers. In such scenarios it is but natural that the Scrum Master and Project Manager will need to work together. How best the two can help the teams? One way could be for the servant leader Scrum master to play the role of a guide, a coach for the team and work cohesively with the project manager as they work towards a common goal of helping the teams succeed – that is be happy, productive and effective! Such a Scrum Master usually stays inward (team) focused while the project/program managers stay outward focused on handling stakeholders and the like.
Who is the better superpower here?
Scrum Master and Project Manager are both super heroes in their own world. A cohesive and collaborative working of these roles can no doubt help in building effective, high performing and happy teams. We call them superheroes in their “own worlds” because Scrum prescribes only 3 roles – Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team while the Project Manager role comes from the traditional world. However in many instances, the organizational needs and culture demand and support the Project Manager role in Agile and Scrum environments and Agile should be accommodating this need, as, after all the core principle of agile is adaptability and customer satisfaction.
Although these roles appear conflicting, they need to align on the common (higher) vision of helping their team(s) succeed. This asks for them to work closely by having constant touch points as often as possible to divide and conquer the impediments blocking their team(s) and respond to any important stakeholder/leadership expectations or requests.
In the case of a Scrum team with only 3 roles, the team members self organize to step up and help the Scrum Master attend some of the meetings and touch base to synchronize. Such teams are easy to create but rare as it needs a lot of discipline and strong servant leadership to inculcate a spirit of “shared responsibility and group accountability”
Amitabh (Amit) Sinha is a servant leader entrepreneur, visionary, mentor, trainer and coach. Amit is highly passionate about Agile, its principles, values, and the human side. Amit is a people champion and strives to bring out the best in his teams. Amit leverages his expertise in Agile, Scrum, Kanban and people skills to increase team effectiveness and happiness. See more