Back in the early days of Scrum, the Scrum Master role was exciting. The days of the pigs & chickens, the days when being a Scrum Master was considered dangerous.
In those times there was the saying
a dead Scrum Master is a useless Scrum Master
And even today I still use that when selecting a Scrum Master to work with.
If you never got fired as a Scrum Master then you probably did not show enough courage to achieve breakthrough improvements.
Scrum Master as a Sheep Dog
As a Scrum Master you would work with the Product Owner on value; coach management on organizational design; and work with the Development Team on self-organization and technical excellence. The Scrum Master would strive for the team to put the product into the hands of the customer every Sprint. It was natural to work on test automation, code quality and deployment. If the Scrum Master would catch a project manager sneaking in from the back, breaking the rules and disturbing the teams, the Scrum Master would go for a frontal confrontation, or as Brian Marick once said:
“the Scrum Master would rip out their throats”.
The Scrum Master would ensure everyone remained moving in the right direction by challenging, facilitating, teaching, intervening and cajoling.
Scrum Master as a Lap Dog
How times have changed.
The Scrum Master role I see these days is more that of a lapdog; just like the lapdogs that Paris Hilton carries around in her fancy bags
—sit down, roll over, good boy, have a biscuit—
The Scrum Masters I too often see, are nothing like a Sheep Dog. There are the part-time Scrum Masters: for example testers or programmers who next to their full-time job, also move some stickies around in JIRA during the Daily Scrum, and run a retrospective once in a while. I see Scrum Masters that represent the teams at the Sprint Review; are the spokesperson of the team to management; Scrum Masters that drive Sprint Planning using JIRA (Agile is spelled differently these days, it is spelled J.I.R.A.) and Scrum Masters that order the Sprint Backlog.
On top of that, there are Agile Coaches, Agile Coaches are everywhere. Where do all these Agile Coaches come from? and why do you need one? After all, an Agile coach basically does all the same things a good Scrum Master should do. Maybe an Agile coach is just a Scrum Master with presumed better overall skills and therefore wants a better daily rate.
All this is removing the true spirit of the Scrum Master; the Scrum Master role is going from Sheep Dog to Lap Dog.
The feedback loop on Scrum itself
The Scrum Master is a change agent, a team builder, a servant leader, an innovator and inspires for greatness. So, please do not forget the true spirit of the Scrum Master. You as the Scrum Master, you are the feedback loop on Scrum itself.
Cesario is the founder of AgiliX and works on large scale Agile transformations worldwide. Cesario is the author of the books Emergent and A Scrum Book. He is also a Certified LeSS Trainer, a Professional Scrum Trainer™ and a certified coach.