The Scrum Master Dilemma

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The Scrum Master Dilemma

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My friend and colleague, Anthony Mersino posted the following question on LinkedIn –

In order to answer his question, I’m wondering what decision we’d make if we replaced Scrum Master with something like…

Full-time, senior/experienced, backend-focused software developer. Call them BED. And reframe his question below—

I have a couple of clients who want to use Scrum. They have one small technology team of 8 or 9 people; they are a cross-functional team with end-to-end delivery capability. They want to use Scrum but they don’t have a person to play the BED role, nor do they feel that they can spare a full-time person for one team this small. What would you recommend? I’ve outlined some options below:

  1. Hire a full-time BED

  2. Train the team manager to be a BED

  3. Ask for a team member to volunteer to be a half time BED and work as a developer for the other half their time

  4. Rotate the BED role within the team

  5. Have no BED

  6. Something else?

In this case, if we really want a balanced full-stack, cross-functional team, then we must opt for #1. Or at least I think it’s a more obvious decision and one most organizations would make.

So, why is hiring a Scrum Master for a team different than hiring a BED for a team?

I actually don’t think it is. Both are “serious” roles. Both are necessary to establish a Scrum team. If we’re going to be doing Scrum, then why not get the right people in place to do it well?

My take is, I don’t think there are as many choices as people think. To quote Yoda, there is do or do not. There is no try. Or in other terms, do we really want to half-ass it?

If I was—

  1. In a leadership role in this company;

  2. And I wanted to focus on creating an effective Scrum team;

  3. Then I’d hire a full-time Scrum Master for my team, period!

And I’d move on. It’s simply the cost of doing Scrum well, I’d make the investment, and hire the best Scrum Master I could find. Final answer.

Stay agile my friends,



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