Tanner Wortham is a ScrumMaster and coach who I’ve quoted on this blog before. He recently wrote a blog post entitled: When Can a ScrumMaster Say No which I read with interest.
I’ve been sharing of late around the notion of more prescriptive coaching stances and, at least in my mind, this seeps into the role of ScrumMaster. So I wanted to hear what Tanner had to say.
Here’s a snippet from the article:
[…] Doing away with the sprint review simply ignores the problem. Help the team experiment with new ways to conduct the review but that align with the intent. Over time, they will find their solution. At no point did we have to say no. In fact, we should avoid it. I believe our responsibility is to understand and to guide. Rarely is it to deny.
Even so, I occasionally encountered two situations where I’ll say no as a Scrum Master:
I subscribe to Mike Cohn’s newsletter. As you would expect the value is always high and his posts usually make me think a bit about my own coaching experience and ongoing advice.
In a recent newsletter Mike adopted a position on a manager serving as a ScrumMaster that goes contrary to my experience. Here’s what he had to say:
When I first started doing Scrum, I was what we'd call today the team's ScrumMaster and product owner. But we didn't have those terms back then. And without terms or any clarity on the roles, it was easy for me to make the mistake of being both.
I also did some programming. Oh, and I was also the vice president of the software department, so my team reported to me.
I want to address that last role because common advice in the Scrum community is that a team should never, ever report to their ScrumMaster. That is, I could have been the ScrumMaster or the VP -- but I should not have been both at the same time to the same team.