The Wise Man and The Inquisitor Priest

A wise man

This article is part of the « No dogma » series. Do not forget to read the other articles on this topic.

Ok…I know what you are thinking, but no! I don’t hate Scrum! The software development world is crowded by people who have had success with Scrum. Scrum solves many problems and reduces many risks that every software project is confronted with. And this is the same for XP or Kanban. I won’t deny it.

In fact there is a concept that I don’t like with methods like Scrum or XP : the ScrumMaster / Coach role.

First of all, I’d like to mention this article : Delete [ScrumMasters], by Tobias Mayer. Not the same discussion as in this post, but still an interesting view on the ScrumMaster role.

Actually I don’t hate ScrumMasters or XP coaches neither. The concept of coach is a good concept. What I dislike is their theoretical limitations due to the definition of their role:

The ScrumMaster is responsible for making sure a Scrum team lives by the values and practices of Scrum.

Learning Scrum – The ScrumMaster

The Scrum Master is by definition the Inquisitor Priest of Scrum. If he does his job well, he will make a team implement Scrum entirely, protect the team against non-Scrum interactions with external people, ban non-Scrum practices and burn sorcerers and witches.

This is not what I think a real coach should do, so let’s define another kind of coach. Maybe a LeanMaster, no an ImprovementSage or just a WiseCoach – you name it.

The WiseCoach – actually I like this one – is not related to any methodology or guru. His goal is not to make sure that the team implements the selected method well but to make sure that they improve themselves and focus on delivering more business value. He will never say “We are doing Scrum : we must blahblah” but “This part of Scrum does not work with the team : why? what could we change to improve it? what is its exact purpose? how could we get to better results with something else?“. He will never say “No Scrumbut here!” but “Let’s implement a kind of Scrum+” He focuses in putting the team on the auto-improvement path, with no dogmatic boundaries

The WiseCoach is change-oolic. Thus he prevents the team from being lazy and makes sure that they always try to improve in a permanent try-learn-improve loop. He helps the team analyze the current process and policies, mitigate risks and change for the better.

Finally the WiseCoach is a wise man, a philosopher. Thus he knows that software projects and teams are complex systems and that there is no such thing as “best practices”, good/bad dualism, true/false statements, magical answers, etc. Instead he believes in balance and small-step continuous improvement. He refuses ready-to-wear solutions. For him there is no absolute truth, there is a moment, a state that we need to improve.

This kind of people already exists of course. Some of them are proud of themselves, but others are hiding themselves in the dark. They are ashamed of their blasphemous behavior, but they should not. You WiseCoaches who read this : show yourselves!

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