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You are not doing SCRUM if you don’t have a ScrumMaster

I heard that comment a few days ago coming from a bright colleague of mine who was questioning why a product development team I am involved with didn’t have an official Scrum Master.

I fully support the role of the Scrum Master in a development team but this question led me to wonder if people don’t get a false sense of success in their implementation of SCRUM?

I believe that the objective of SCRUM is to ensure the team delivers quality software within the agreed upon time lines and budget. Whatever method that truly supports that objective should be considered, even if it is not SCRUM.

Going back to the comment, would the opposite be true – you are doing SCRUM if you have a Scrum Master. Although partly accurate, I believe this statement highlights what is wrong with the current popularity of SCRUM. “You are facing so many issues with your development team because you don’t have a Scrum Master. Simply hire a Scrum Master and all your problems will be resolved”.

The silver bullet doesn’t exist but at the same time, not having a Scrum Master doesn’t mean your project will fail.

In the context I was referring to earlier, the development team is small and composed of 3 fairly senior developers. The team works very well together and is totally self-organized. In addition, the team has successfully delivered on its commitments to date. Do they really need a Scrum Master?

The same way you can do project management without a certified project manager or do accounting without a certified accountant, you can embrace SCRUM without having a dedicated Scrum Master. As long as your team is successful in the eye of your customers and follows the principles of SCRUM, I am confident you can survive without a Scrum Master even if some people don’t like the idea.

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