The rise of the non-coding Scrum Master

Or rather, not so much “non-coding” as “never-coded”.

I came across this phenomenon during a recent brush with “Enterprise Agile”.

In particular, the notion of “Agile”, or more specifically “Scrum” as a skill distinct from software development, was an entirely new one to me.

This notion has given rise to individuals, and indeed teams of individuals, who are entirely conversant - and expensively trained, by “boutique” consultancies - in the terminology and rituals of Scrum and its “Enterprise” cousins - stand-ups, grooming, planning poker, retrospectives, release trains, the all-important “velocity”, the list goes on and on.

However, these same individuals are not at all familiar with the daily grind of merge conflicts, broken dependencies, technical debt, and off-by-one errors that make up the life of a modern software developer, as their training and experience is purely in “Agile” and “Scrum”, to the exclusion of any considerations relating to the actual writing of code.

In many ways, the “Agile Capability” has come to resemble a tight-trousered, plaid-shirted version of the venerable Project Management Office, or “PMO”, with its colourful “information radiators”, issue-tracking spreadsheets, and remarkably granular organisational structure - “Junior Product Owners”, “Product Owners”, and “Senior Product Owners”, anyone?

In the interests of disclosure, I should perhaps state that I myself am a Certified ScrumMaster® , a by-product of having attended Jeff Sutherland‘s course on Scrum a few years ago.

One of the many interesting things he pointed out on that course was that when they were codifying what we now call “Scrum” back in the 1990s, they never envisaged that “Scrum Master” would become a job title. Now, in 2018, it seems to have transcended the job title and become an entire career path.

Is it just me who is a little sceptical about all this, or is this the way of the future?