100% Scrum Master? 100% Scrum Master!

This afternoon I read two tweets by Jem Djelal that since then occupied my mind. Whenever that happens there’s only one solution: put my thoughts on paper. The tweets I’m referring to are:

 

My initial response when reading these tweets was:

D*mn, how hypocrite can I be?

A Short History

You’ll need some background information to understand why I called myself a hypocrite. In August 2016 I started my freelance adventure. During that period I also wrote the article “From 50% Agile Coach to 100% Scrum Master“. It was a popular blog post and lots of people recognised and supported my message. In short:

  • I changed my public profile descriptions by removing Agile Coach and replacing it with Scrum Master. 100% Scrum Master;
  • I wanted to deal with my personal frustrations of the misunderstandings of the Scrum Master role and lead by example;
  • I wanted to focus on fulfilling the role of Scrum Master and help people understand the spirit of Scrum;
  • I wanted to be “courageous” and say no to the Agile Coach role, accepting the probability of getting paid less;
  • I wanted to offer my customers a good Scrum Master instead of an average Agile Coach;

From 100% Scrum Master to 50% Agile Coach

So what happened? Six months after my freelance journey started my public profile says I’m an Agile Coach.

Say what??? You bloody hypocrite!!!

What happened is…

  • My first assignment was at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. An awesome client that really tried to use the Scrum framework as it was meant. However, I ended up in a part of the organisation that wasn’t a 100% match with Scrum, therefore the Scrum Master role (and even an Agile Coach role) wasn’t a good fit. I ended up being “only” a facilitator. Scrum triggered the same reaction as Voldemort in the Harry Potter series.
  • I got the confirmation that most customers don’t understand the Scrum Master role. They were all looking for a team facilitator. A lightweight coach. I’m not talking about Schiphol but about most customers I’ve been in touch with.
  • I got paid less. As a Scrum Master I got offered on average an hourly rate of EUR 85,- as an Agile Coach it’s easily EUR 125,-. Of course, as an Agile Coach they expect me to coach Product Owners and explain Scrum in the wider organisation. But isn’t a Scrum Master supposed to do that as well?

What Troubles Me Is…

What troubles me is that instead of solving the problematic view of the Scrum Master role I’m only making it worse…

  • One day I’m complaining that hardly anyone understands the intention of the Scrum Master role;
  • The other day I’m changing my profile into Agile Coach because… uhm… hardly anyone understands the Scrum Master role…
  • In the meantime I’m providing Professional Scrum Master courses, Scrum Master Advanced trainings and workshops to explain the richness of this awesome role…

What disturbs me is that I’m not practicing what I’m preaching. Well, actually I am practicing it mostly (coaching teams, Product Owners and organisations) but I’m calling it “Agile Coach” while “Scrum Master” would also be applicable.

And to be clear: the way I fulfil the Agile Coach role, a more suitable title would be “Scrum Master”. This doesn’t mean every Agile Coach should change their title to Scrum Master. This is a personal reflection and I can only speak for myself.

Closing

The last 6 months really were a rollercoaster. Luckily mostly positive. Looking back I’m quite proud on what I’ve achieve so far. The public Scrum.org Professional Scrum Master courses I’ve provided with Christiaan Verwijs have resulted in satisfied participants. The 8 Stances of a Scrum Master workshops are also taking off and the amount of Zombie-Scrum fighters grow every day.

My most important take-away is to stick with your core values and principles. Of course, that’s common sense. But common sense isn’t common practice. In the article “From 50% Agile Coach to 100% Scrum Master” I connected my ambition with my values and principles. Although I meant what I wrote, fact is that I didn’t really lived up to it. Choosing a different path is always possible, but it should be done for the right reasons. If I honest, I was using the wrong reasons…

Therefore I’ll update my public profile to:

Growing Agile Teams | 100% Scrum Master

Growing Agile teams is what I do, 100% Scrum Master is what I am.

PS: I completely understand if you’re thinking: “I don’t give a sh*t about your public profile Barry”… 😉