Agile India 2013 – Certified ScrumMaster Course by Craig Larman

Craig Larman will be presenting his well-known Certified ScrumMaster course at Agile India 2013. Craig has written several books and is also one of the leading authors on how to scale Agile.

This week we interviewed Craig and asked him several questions related to the ScrumMaster role in Scrum.

Why is a typical project manager not a scrummaster?

First, a scrummaster is a master of scrum; this has almost no overlap with the skills and responsibilities of a project manager. A key job of a scrummaster is to educate leadership, the Product Owner, and Team on the organizational design implications of adopting scrum, and how to obtain benefit from “business agility” by changes of behavior in the business group. Second, in scrum, the responsibility for the release shifts away from IT managers to the business-side “owner of the product”, who becomes the Product Owner. This business-side Product Owner “steers” directly and interacts with the Team directly, with no control by an IT project manager. Third, the concept of a “project” is eliminated, and we move to a product-oriented culture with a long-term and stable product group; consider the scrum terms: *Product* Backlog and *Product* Owner. When a Team can deliver potentially shippable product increment each Sprint, the concept of a “project” is largely dissolved. So the role is project manager is no longer necessary; almost all project management responsibilities shift to the self-managing Team, or to the business-side Product Owner. And, the scrummaster has no power over the Team; indeed, in classic scrum the team could “fire” the scrummaster from serving them if the scrummaster was not acceptable.

What advice do you have for project managers who are in the process of becoming scrum masters?

We do not advise that; the “experiment” of trying to use ex-project managers as scrummasters has been tried many, many times, and has been usually not successful, since there is almost no overlap in skills/experience, since a scrummaster is working to change the organizational design to real scrum (which eliminates the role of project manager), since the scrummaster is not responsible for the product or release, and since the scrummaster has no power over teams. That’s a dramatic change of role and responsibility. In organizations that are adopting real scrum, the structure becomes very flat (with few manager roles remaining) and project managers usually leave and go to another organization that is still traditional or is adopting “scrum, but…” or “fake scrum.”

Who makes the best scrum master?

People who are not interested in power, control, or project leadership, and who have the courage to openly advocate for and explain to leadership the dysfunctions in the current organization and the dramatic structural changes that will be necessary (such as the elimination of all single-function groups such as test group, analysis group, the elimination of project management groups, and so forth). People who are less interested in their own career “progress”, but more interested in organizational design, systems optimization, challenging the status quo, and fostering real teams in self-managing organizational culture.

Past videos of Craig:

Craig’s workshop has limited seats, go ahead and book before it is sold out: 
http://booking.agilefaqs.com