5 Qualities of a Bad ScrumMaster

WRITTEN BY Derek Huether

A ScrumMaster is one of the three key roles of the Scrum Framework. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland conceived the Scrum process in the early 90’s. With so many years having passed, you’d think organizations would better understand qualities of a good ScrumMaster. More noteworthy, they should know qualities of a bad ScrumMaster.

Because of this, I created a simple infographic to focus on both good and bad qualities of ScrumMasters.  I’ve noticed, as organizations begin to scale, roles and responsibilities begin to blur. People may be asked to take on ScrumMaster responsibilities.  Do you have the right qualities?

View and download the free infographic:  10 ScrumMaster Qualities

5 Qualities of a Good ScrumMaster

First, a Servant Leader is an empathetic listener and healer. This self-aware steward is committed to the growth of people. Second, a Coach can coach the other team members on how to use Scrum in the most effective manner.  Third, the Framework Champion is an expert on how Scrum works and how to apply it. Next, the Problem Solver protects the team from organizational disruptions or internal distractions or helps remove them.  Last, the Facilitator is a neutral participant who helps a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to achieve these objectives.

5 Qualities of a Bad ScrumMaster

First, the Boss has the ability to hire and fire others.  Second, the Taskmaster myopically focuses on assigning and tracking progress against tasks. Third, a Product Manager is responsible for managing schedule, budget, and scope of the product. Next, if you are Apathetic you lack interest in or concern about emotional, social, or spiritual well being of others.  Last, the Performance Reviewer is responsible for documenting and evaluating job performance.

Summary

While you may call yourself a ScrumMaster, understand that people who understand Scrum are going to have expectations.  If you have any of the bad qualities that I listed above and in the infographic, maybe you should find someone else to do the job.

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10 comments on “5 Qualities of a Bad ScrumMaster”

  1. Barry Hodge

    As someone who is new to scrum having come from the waterfall side of delivering projects I found this very useful. I have just done a scum course and I found the infographic really helpful in understanding the role of a scrum master. Thank you

    Reply
    • Derek Huether

      Barry, you just made my day! If there is any other topics I can cover (or infographics I can create) just let me know. ~Derek

      Reply
  2. Neethu Anand

    I attended my ScrumMaster course yesterday and I found this infografic really handy. I am looking forward to reading more tips /infographics from you on how to become an ‘Excellent Scrum Master’.

    Reply
    • Derek Huether

      Neethu, congratulations on becoming a ScrumMaster! I’m glad you found the infographic helpful.

      Reply
  3. Miguel

    Hi Derek,

    Thank you for the infographic. Just wanted to let you know that there’s a typo in it; you misspelled “servant.”
    Thanks,
    -Miguel

    Reply
    • Derek Huether

      Oh, the humility! Miguel, thank you for pointing that out. Getting it updated and deployed now.
      Thank you,
      Derek

      Reply
  4. Safi Khan

    Good article but want to point out that “Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland DID NOT create the Scrum Framework back in 1986, primarily for product development” BUT “Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber conceived the Scrum process in the early 90’s. They codified Scrum in 1995 in order to present it at the Oopsla conference in Austin, Texas (US) and published the paper “SCRUM Software Development Process”.

    Ken and Jeff inherited the name ‘Scrum’ from the 1986 groundbreaking paper ‘The New New Product Development Game’ by Takeuchi and Nonaka, two acknowledged management thinkers.”

    Source: http://www.scrumguides.org/history.html

    Reply
    • Derek Huether

      Safi, I really appreciate your clarification and feedback. I made an edit at the beginning of the post to make it more historically factual. If anyone has historical questions about Scrum, please click on the link provided by Safi.

      Reply
  5. Roberto

    If you have a certification, for example by ScrumAlliance, you should know what role must have a ScrumMaster.
    There are many texts that explain what ScrumMaster should do.
    I wonder, why a company would say to adopt Scrum in a similar condition? Maybe just to follow a trend? I talk about it in an article I wrote on the Scrum Alliance website

    Reply
    • Derek Huether

      Roberto, I agree with you. A certified ScrumMaster will understand their role. To your point, I do believe some companies believe they can just certify a few people, not change their organization at all (particularly in Human Resources, and be Agile. I know of companies that have ScrumMasters aligning to different job titles. That is, the official title for someone may be Project Manager at a company but they fulfill the duties of a ScrumMaster. If they don’t fulfill their obligations as Project Manager, they could lose their jobs. Awkward position to be in, don’t you think?

      Reply