Can The Scrum Master Also Be The Developers?
Today, I would like to share with you the answer to one of the most common questions that I get from people that is: "Can the Scrum Master also be the Scrum developer or can one person play both the Scrum Master and the Scrum developer role?". And before we get into this I will share with you some common reasons why companies may want one person to be both the Scrum Master and also play the Scrum developer role. The first reason why a lot of companies ask one person to be the Scrum Master and also be part of the Scrum developers is that the Scrum Master role is not fully understood yet in the company. A lot of companies do not know what to expect from an awesome Scrum Master, how do you differentiate an awesome Scrum Master from the good ones? How do you know a Scrum Master is actually performing or not and bringing changes in the company? A lot of companies do not know what's the difference between the Scrum Master role with the existing role they already have, like a project manager for example. So with all of these questions companies make the decision to ask one person to play both the Scrum Master role and the Scrum developer role before they spend more budget on hiring full-time Scrum Masters.
Another reason in relation to lack of understanding of the Scrum Master role is because companies thought that the Scrum Master role is just a fancy name for a technical leader, which they already have in the company, who is responsible to make the technical solutions for the developers. So they thought it's best to have the Scrum developer be the Scrum Master too. Another reason is, let's say the company is well-informed and know what to expect from an awesome Scrum Master these companies found out that finding an awesome Scrum Master from the job market is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are many people in the job market who are Scrum Master certified, but we all know that Scrum Master certification is not proof that the individual is an awesome Scrum Master, and because of this reason these companies would prefer to develop an awesome Scrum Master from within the company and in the meanwhile during the journey, one person is playing both the Scrum Master and the Scrum developer role. So I've already made a video on interview questions you should ask Scrum Master candidates so that you can get awesome Scrum Masters from the job market. If you haven't watched the video click the link up here to watch the video. So as we can see a lot of companies ask one person to be both the Scrum Master and the Scrum developer for efficiency reason, secondly because the company is still doing exploration and lastly a lot of companies still do not know what to expect from a Scrum Master, there is not enough understanding about the Scrum Master role itself. So let's see what are the consequences of having one person to be both the Scrum Master and also the Scrum developer. Meet Joe. Joe is a software developer at heart. He loves to use his skill in coding to solve the world's most difficult problems. His manager Sarah attended an agile conference in the city and wanted to use Scrum because she thought that Scrum would help the company to be more competitive in the market again. Since the company is new to Scrum and one of the roles that need to exist when using Scrum is the Scrum Master, Sarah appointed Joe as the Scrum Master for the Scrum team. Before starting Scrum in the company, Joe read the Scrum Guide. He facilitated the first Sprint Planning. Melissa, the Product Owner presented the Product Backlog. The developers looked at the Product Backlog items and gave an estimate. Joe suddenly interrupted and disagreed with the developer's estimate and started providing solutions which he thought were easier to implement. Joe also sliced the Product Backlog items to fit in one Sprint. The developers scratched their heads and were confused.
Billy the UX professional asked Joe: "Hey Joe, I thought that as a Scrum Master your job during Sprint planning is to facilitate and not provide any solutions and estimates. So what are you doing?". Joe just answered lightly: "Well I'm playing both the Scrum Master and the Scrum developer role remember? Now I'm playing the Scrum developer role and provided the estimate and the solution for you. When the facilitation doesn't work, I just play the Scrum developer role. Isn't that efficient?".
After the Sprint planning, the developers continued the Sprint. The next day the developers had their first daily Scrum. Joe was there to facilitate the daily Scrum and to teach the developers about the purpose of the daily Scrum. After every developer had synced up all the information, Joe suddenly said: "Okay everyone. Listen up! Now it's my turn to share my information with all of you." The developers were about to leave and got confused because they thought that the Scrum Master doesn't have any say during the daily Scrum. "This is confusing", said Billy. During the Sprint, Bianca the tester in the Scrum team had a conflict with Sean the developer because of the acceptance criteria in the Product Backlog item. The conflict went on for a few days and it impeded the progress. Billy asked Joe to facilitate the conflict and remove this impediment. Joe said: "Sorry Bill. I'm currently busy with my Sprint commitment. You know that my KPI is the number of features completed right?". "But Joe, you're the Scrum Master and your role is to remove impediments and this conflict is impeding the team's progress!", said Billy. Joe just replied: "As a Scrum developer, my KPI is the number of features completed. I don't have any Scrum Master KPI! Full stop.". The Scrum team completed a Sprint that was challenging. No increment was done at this Sprint. During the Sprint Review, Melissa explained to the stakeholders that in the Sprint there was no increment that was done according to the definition of done. The stakeholders were disappointed and started blaming the Scrum team. Joe was defensive as he was part of the Scrum developer. Everyone there was confused and Melissa said: "Hey Joe! How can you the Scrum Master be defensive? Shouldn't you be neutral?". Joe explained that he was also part of the Scrum developer, so he has the right to be defensive.
After the Sprint Review, as the Scrum Master Joe facilitated the Retrospective and used a Retrospective template he got from the internet. Joe explained the agenda of the Retrospectives to his Scrum team. Billy mentioned that one of the problems that need to be solved before the next Sprint was the conflict between Bianca and Sean. Joe started to be involved in the conversation and agreed with Billy. Billy then replied: "I thought as Scrum Master your job is to facilitate this retrospective! And you didn't even care about the conflict when I asked you to facilitate the conflict!". "Well I'm playing the Scrum developer role now and I cared about the conflict since we didn't deliver an increment and it affected my KPI", Joe said. The tension between Billy and Joe rose to the roof. Bianca suddenly said: "Okay having Joe play both the Scrum Master and the Scrum developer role did not work out. We should ask Sarah to either give the Scrum Master role fully to Joe or hire a professional Scrum Master from the job market. Enough is enough!". Having one person play both the Scrum Master and the Scrum developer role should be temporary. In the long term, the company should create a transition path towards having a full-time Scrum Master and the Scrum Master should also spend more time at the management level and at the corporate level to increase the agility of the whole corporate. Because having team level agility is no longer enough to be competitive in this unpredictable market. So that is all from me today folks. Thank you for watching today's video. If you liked today's video don't forget to give it a thumbs up or share it with your connections on social media.