Project Manager vs. ScrumMaster

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Last year, I wrote an article looking at some of the ways that PMs could evolve into the ScrumMaster role. I received a lot of feedback, and many of the comments had a common theme--that people were concerned with the assumption that a project manager could adapt to being a ScrumMaster. Their position was that they were distinctly different roles and you couldn’t expect to be successful by appointing a PM to the ScrumMaster role and moving onward.

Because there was so much feedback, I wanted to touch on this subject again--and this time perhaps focus a little more on whether a PM can be a ScrumMaster. Before I start, a couple of points to ensure that any natural bias that I have is clearly documented:

  • I’m writing this article for a PM community from the background of a project manager--I was managing projects when “scrum” was something that happened in the sport of rugby.
  • I am a very strong believer in the ability of people to adapt and become successful in a number of different roles. Within limits, I hate seeing people pigeon-holed as one particular thing. Given the opportunity and environment, I believe that people can be successful in a number of different roles provided that there is some degree of connection.

So with that done, let’s explore this a little more and hopefully generate some more discussion.

Is a …

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