Selecting ScrumMasters (Facilitators)

Many teams often ask who is the best person to fill the ScrumMaster role. The assumption is that this role is best filled by someone who was previously a project manager [or is the current project manager of a team]. Clients ask: “What’s the difference between leading a RUP (or Waterfall) team, and leading a Scrum Team?”

From my experience traditional project managers (PM) have a great deal of difficultly releasing control of the team and this is exactly what needs to happen if the team is to self organize and collaborate effectively. PM’s can certainly learn to be effective ScrumMasters but the search for a SM should not be restricted to the organizations pool of Project Managers.

Is there another group within in the organization who are better suited to being ScrumMasters? I feel that the answer is “yes”. I’ve found that individuals who are charged with ensuring the quality of the product make ideal ScrumMasters. This includes individuals with jobs titles such as: Testers, Test Managers, QA and/or QS managers. They are focused on the quality and integrity of the product without feeling the need to control the activities of individual team members.

For organizations which have reached a high level of maturity, there is also the option of the team nominating their own ScrumMaster. If the team is being asked or self organize and there is clearly a need for a facilitator then it is likely that someone on the team will emerge as the ScrumMaster. This final approach [i.e. the team nominating their own ScrumMaster] is probably the most intimidating for an organization because it takes so much control out of the hands of management.

But allowing the team to select their own ScrumMaster also produces the most benefit by place control where it’s most needed … in the hands of those who do the work.


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