Listen, I’ve got something to say, and I feel like I need to be pretty direct about it, so let me get straight to the point. As many of you already know, in January of 2023, Capital One laid off everyone with “Agile” in their title and that may just be the beginning. Many organizations are re-evaluating the value of having dedicated Agile roles on the payroll. But here’s the thing; if you believe that being a Scrum Master is about merely scheduling meetings and taking notes for your team, then listen up: you deserved to be laid off. There, I said it. That was never what Scrum Masters were meant to be, and AI is already knocking at the door ready to take that administrative job from you. Earning upwards of $120k for such simplistic tasks? It’s no wonder layoffs are rampant. This mischaracterization is the danger of producing “microwave Scrum Masters” – certified in a weekend, but misunderstanding the depth of the role’s true essence.
However, the evolution of Scrum has kept pace with this realization. The latest version of the Scrum Guide from www.scrumguides.org describes the Scrum Master as a “Leader who serves”. This subtle yet impactful change from the previous “Servant Leader” is deliberate. It is not to undermine the essence of serving but to accentuate the pivotal role of leadership. Both Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, the authors, felt it was crucial to adjust the narrative because many were overemphasizing the ‘service’ at the expense of ‘leadership’.
But here’s the heart of my message: Being a Scrum Master isn’t about logistical tasks or playing secretary. It’s about leadership in its purest form. The true role of a Scrum Master is embodied in our capacity to inspire, to uplift, to teach, and to set a gold standard for your team, pushing them to realms they might never have ventured into without your guidance.
Scrum Master is a distinct role carved out from traditional managerial or project managerial tasks, solely for Scrum Teams. Why? Because we are on a mission to foster self-managing teams. To empower them with the best of the best practices, enabling them to evolve into high-performing, or even hyper-performing, entities. Now, those Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches out there who are doing it well? They aren’t just facilitating; they embody a skillset that takes a lifetime to master. They’re the human embodiment of soft skills – motivating, inspiring, befriending, cajoling, and creating a burning desire within the team to excel. That, my friends, is what justifies a top-tier salary, and no machine can replicate it.
Consider Ted Lasso, the epitome of what I believe a Scrum Master should be. I often find myself drawing parallels while watching that show with my family. It’s not about his soccer (or football) expertise; rather, it’s his innate ability to craft an environment of trust, camaraderie, and unity. This is the kind of leadership that not only commands a high price but is also irreplaceable and undeniably human.
So, how have we allowed certain quarters, including some within our own industry, to reduce Scrum Mastery to mere logistical mechanics? We have to stop this farce before it’s too late! Seek the path of true Scrum. Sharpen your leadership, raise your standards, foster growth in your teams, and transcend the mundane.
Because if you don’t, with the way the industry is shifting, you might just find yourself on the wrong side of those layoffs. Embrace your leadership, evolve, and prove that the true essence of a Scrum Master is irreplaceable.