When the Scrum Master Fails by Being Overly Protective

TL; DR: When Scrum Masters Fail — Making Your Scrum Work #13

The Scrum Master Job According to the Scrum Guide

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How Do Scrum Masters Fail by Being Overly Protective?

  • They deal with all impediments personally, although practically any other team member could act, too.
  • Overly protective Scrum Masters filter feedback from stakeholders, particularly any negative feedback.
  • Often, they do not merely restrict access to the team, but basically shutting it off.
  • They pamper the team by running errands or being the team secretary, sometimes bordering on becoming a concierge.
  • They also prevent the team from failure whenever possible. This even applies if failing would be easily fixable and wouldn’t be really damaging. (Remember: If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing hard enough. Empiricism is based on learning which is inevitably linked to failure.)
  • Overly protective Scrum Masters do not challenge the team. They seem content once a certain level of proficiency is achieved. (What about Kaizen?)
  • Maybe, they are setting boundaries, but they rarely enforcing them. They tend to tolerate damaging behavior from a team member in the (futile) hope the culprit will be insightful and improve over time.

When the Scrum Master Fails by Being Overly Protective — Conclusion

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Stefan Wolpers

I have worked for 17-plus years as a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and agile coach. Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) with Scrum.org.