Agile Anti-Pattern: The Scrum Master as a relabled project manager.

Pattern Description

Scrum Master does (has to do) the one or more of the following:

  • SM plans sprints, including management approval.
  • One-on-one talks including setting personal goals (AKA: KPIs) for the next quarter.
  • Short and mid-term task management (“who does what?”).
  • Task tracking, including task oriented timesheets.
  • Commanding the user story implementation.
  • Issue analysis and issue resolution dispatching.

Issue, Problem, Risk

If the Scrum Master behaves like this, you don’t do Scrum at all.

You then don’t get the benefits from Scrum, but you may blame Scrum for exactly this: not doing any good.

Root Cause

Root cause #1: Inadequate knowledge on both management and Scrum Master level.

Root cause #2: Lip service. If you don’t want to do Scrum, just don’t do it. Full stop.

Root cause #3: Your problem may not be fit for Scrum.

Mitigation, Remedy, How to avoid

Root cause #1: Lack of knowledge:

Root cause #2: Lip service

  • Get proper Scrum coaching. Change needs time. But if you wish to change you’ll change.

Root cause #3: Inadequacy of Scrum

  • Get acquainted to something like the PRINCE2 Agile Agilometer, a scrum/agile health radar or the like.

Don’t accept any major deviation from the concepts found in https://www.scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html. And according to this Scrum Guide a Scrum Master has to be busy with:

  • Ensure the Scrum Guide is brought to life.
  • Working as a servant leader.
  • A helping hand to the Product Owner.
  • Removing impediments.
  • Facilitating progress.
  • Coaching the Scrum team
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to improve the organization.

If you do deviate from the Scrum Guide, well: be aware you are on your own and must not call it a best practice until you have your numbers straight (“In God we trust, all others bring data” – W.E. Deming).