The primary job of the Scrum Master is to remove impediments for the productivity of the team. If the Scrum Master truly believes that Scrum is not helping the team, for whatever reason, it is antithetical to Scrum for the Scrum Master to continue serving in this capacity.
If the Scrum Master is in doubt of the applicability of Scrum as a whole at any given time, this concern needs to be shared with the team and an assessment of whether or not to continue with Scrum may need to be considered. It may be that the Scrum Master is struggling with understanding how to implement a specific aspect of Scrum in a particular situation and with the help of the team is able to overcome this obstacle. Another possible outcome may be that the Scrum Master is unable to overcome personal issues with Scrum at which point the team may decide to continue the Scrum implementation without that person’s involvement. Whatever the process for getting there, it is imperative that the Scrum Master holds this firm belief. Scrum is extremely difficult to do well. Being a Scrum Master is a very difficult job. If the Scrum Master does not believe that Scrum will help the team, then the Scrum Master will not be able to sustain the work of removing obstacles for the team. Instead, shortcuts will be taken, the benefits will not be realized and much effort will be wasted.
Often the simplest things can help in this situation:
- Make sure your Scrum Master has read the Scrum Guide completely.
- Ensure your Scrum Master has attended highly-regarded Scrum Master training such as the Certified Scrum Master or Professional Scrum Master courses available from the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org respectively.
- Have the leaders and managers of your organization clearly explain why they desire the team to use Scrum – both Scrum’s generic benefits as well as the specifics for the Scrum team in question.
- Share the “Scrum elevator pitch” anecdote (see below).
- Ask the Scrum Master to give Scrum a sincere try; particularly if the Scrum Master is a project manager just appointed to the position!
Scrum elevator pitch: Ken Schwaber, the founder of Scrum, tells of the time he was speaking with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of a large Information Technology organization. The CIO said to Ken “I run projects that take twelve to eighteen months and I don’t get what I need. It’s really frustrating!”. Ken thought about that for a few moments and then said, “Well, with Scrum, I can give you what you don’t need in a month!”
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