Must a Scrum team have a dedicated ScrumMaster? By “dedicated,” I mean that the ScrumMaster role is filled by one person, on one team, and is not expected to do any other type of work on that team or any other team.
Must? Should? May?
This is a persistent question from people exploring Scrum as their Agile framework. It is asked by those just starting to look into using Scrum and those who have been using it for a while. Let me share my thoughts on the issue of a dedicated ScrumMaster, with the hope of helping you think about how to answer this question for yourself.
Scrum Roles, In Brief
- Answers the question “What?”about the product.
- “What should it do?”
- “What value does it deliver?”
- Helps the customer answer the question “Why?”about the product.
- “Why is this feature important?”
- “Why does the market want this?”
- Focused on creating a high performing product.
- Answers the question “How?”about the product.
- “How can this be built?”
- “How do we divide and share the work?”
- Focused on creating a high quality product.
- Answers the question “How?” about the process.
- “How can we improve?”
- “How are we doing compared to yesterday?”
- Focused on creating a high performing Scrum Team.
Agile is about leveraging human capability as strengths instead of compensating for human capability as weaknesses. Scrum is about people. The work of the ScrumMaster is about improving people. Improving people is hard, subtle and complex work.
A ScrumMaster needs time, space and focus to create a high performing team. A ScrumMaster accomplishes this by using the product work as a vehicle for personal and team (people) improvement. It so happens that a better product also results from improved people and an improved team.
Dedicated ScrumMaster Answers
Can you tell what answer I would give to someone asking about the need for a dedicated ScrumMaster? Hopefully it is obvious that I believe a dedicated ScrumMaster is essential for a high performing team. I won’t go so far as to say you must have a dedicated ScrumMaster, I do recommend it strongly. Ifirmly believe that Scrum cannot work as intended without a dedicated ScrumMaster. But that’s just me. What are your thoughts? How do you answer this question on your own team? Is it the same answer for new teams? What about teams that are delivering well?