The Manager as Scrum Master: Not Only Possible, but Potentially Powerful

Great Scrum Masters facilitate, coach, and remove impediments. Great People Managers do the same. So why is it considered 'conventional wisdom' that a Manager can't also be a Scrum Master? We will explore the organizational context and leadership skills that make this dual role not only possible, but potentially powerful, and share some stories of successes and failures.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

  1. Intro and Connection activity: small groups list some possible pitfalls of Managers as Scrum Masters, and of dividing those roles between 2 different people. Collect and summarize the pitfalls of both alternatives from the whole room. (10 min)
  2. Compare and contrast the desired skills & traits of a Scrum Master versus a People Manager (10 min)
  3. I will present my own experiences on the conditions that allow a manager to be an effective Scrum Master, and some real-world stories about combining the roles (10 min)
  4. Small group activity: for one of the pitfalls from the 1st activity, discuss how the manager and the organization would need to change to avoid the pitfalls. I will select a few groups to report their conclusion back to the larger group. (25 min)
  5. Conclusion, Q&A (5 min)

Learning Outcome

  1. Explain the potential pitfalls of managers as Scrum Masters
  2. Describe the skills & traits that a manager needs to thrive as a Scrum Master
  3. Explain the organizational contexts that allow managers to be effective as Scrum Masters

Target Audience

Managers, Executives, Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches

Prerequisites for Attendees

Participants should understand the role and responsibilities of the Scrum Master.

schedule Submitted 11 months ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Christen McLemore
    By Christen McLemore  ~  10 months ago
    reply Reply

    I like these aspects of the submission, and they should be retained:

    • debated topic that is interesting to share different perspectives

    I think the submission could be improved by:

    • please remove the advertising component of class discounts
    • Brad Swanson
      By Brad Swanson  ~  10 months ago
      reply Reply

      Christen, this version of the slides was used at a different event.  I didn't intend to use the advertising slide at MHA, and I'm happy to remove it. Thanks for the feedback!