Should A Scrum Master Have A Goal To Make Themselves Unneeded?

It has become quite common to come across articles or posts that state that the goal of a Scrum Master should be to make themselves unneeded or as a colleague recently put it, “put him or herself out of a job”.  I disagree.

The role of the Scrum Master is clearly defined in the Scrum Guide.  To summarize, the Scrum Masters provides service and help to the:

  • Product Owner
  • Development Team
  • The Organization at large

Suggesting that the goal of the Scrum Master is to make themselves unneeded is to suggest that the Scrum Master should be focused on either ensuring that (a) the services they provide are no longer needed and/or (b) someone else besides them provides these services.  In other words, ensuring that they are temporary!  In my opinion, this completely misses the point, is an unnecessary distraction and a potential source of much frustration.

The goal of every team member should be to make a contribution to the team in support of its quest to be successful and this includes the Scrum Master.  The goal of the Scrum Master should be to provide the help needed so that the team can effectively and efficiently deliver software that is valuable.  It is not to make themselves unnecessary.

How about coaching? Is that a permanent thing?  The Scrum Master coaches three distinct groups and even if the Product Owner and Development Team arrive at a point where they no longer need coaching, I’m not convinced the “Organization at large” in a complex environment (ever) arrives at such a point.  Never mind that the Scrum (Agile) body of knowledge continues to evolves, rarely ever does the system remain the same.  If you know of any organizations that have arrived at such point where they could no longer benefit from continued coaching, please feel free to share.

But for grins and giggles, let’s agree that it is actually quite possible for an organization to get to the point where (a) the help provided by the Scrum Master is no longer needed or (b) other roles in the organization can effectively and efficiently provide this help as it changes (because it will change).  In my opinion, this then is simply a by-product of the Scrum Master’s continued service to the organization and is not a goal that is defined upfront.

And yet, if you insist that the goal of the Scrum Master is to make themselves unneeded, then I have a book recommendation for you.  Check out  Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly.  It might be beneficial to you on your journey to make yourself unnecessary or unneeded.

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About Ebenezer

culture hack. contrarian. change artiste. speaker. writer. silo-connector. entrepreneur. totally human. ff at your own risk. :-)
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3 Responses to Should A Scrum Master Have A Goal To Make Themselves Unneeded?

  1. me@spikesandstories.com says:

    Great read, and I’m guilty of being that colleague who believes a Scrum Master should put him or herself out of a job. When I say this, I do so exclusively in the context of a Scrum Master’s service to the team. And after reading your blog post, I believe we agree more than we disagree. Like you, I can’t imagine an organization and its complex system not finding value in someone with a knack for observing, experimenting, and ultimately tweaking the system, especially when such a system is ever evolving.

    I still prefer my strong language of putting myself out of a job with respect to service to the team for one simple reason. It’s so easy for us–myself included–to forget that we’re not the only ones capable of facilitating, capable of observing and address behaviors, and capable of solving people problems. We should teach our teams to solve problems and avoid handing them solutions.

    Like

    • Ebenezer says:

      Yes, others have said their reason for using this strong language is so that they don’t forget to actually coach. While I can understand this sentiment, I still believe there are more appropriate paths and approaches to ensuring that coaching remains an activity that a Scrum Master focuses on. And it’s a shame that we would have to resort to this sort of thinking considering that coaching is a core activity of the Scrum Master.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Should A Scrum Master Have A Goal To Make Themselves Unneeded? | Mindfire Technology

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