ScrumMaster: The Anti-PM?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-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's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I’ve touched on the idea of PMs becoming ScrumMasters a couple of times, and it always generates a lot of commentary--so I thought that it was worth stirring the pot again. This time though, I want to look specifically at skills, considering what it takes to be a successful ScrumMaster and then seeing how that fits with the skills needed to be a project manager.

In writing this, it was my intention to help organizations recognize those individuals that might be able to make the transition more easily, but having written it I now think that perhaps the bigger lessons are for the PMs themselves (but I’ll deal with that in the conclusion). Regardless, I hope that I can again generate some spirited responses!

Flexibility: The Cornerstone of Agile
If a ScrumMaster is to be successful, then they have to be comfortable with uncertainty. The very nature of the process is that things will change and shift constantly--work moving in and out of sprints, focus shifting from feature to feature, and from new development to bug fixing and back again. This would be a nightmare for an individual who needs to have a highly structured focus and is uncomfortable with constant change.

ScrumMasters have to be incredibly flexible, focusing on the big picture goals and ensuring that progress is being made toward those while accepting that the details will be constantly …

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