Operating Agile without having Scrum Masters

By Martin Jarčík

At Socialbakers, we do have full-time Scrum Masters — but it’s always good to check in on why we do things that way. Too many companies have implemented the Scrum process without first recognizing basic Agile principles. That makes Scrum just another forced process that stops working as soon as someone stops watching. We asked a few friends from other companies — Martin (STRV), Dalibor (Etnetera), Karel (independent) and Pavel (our very own Socialbakers) to share their experiences with us.

Your team’s agility needs to come from the company’s culture first.

There was a common message repeated throughout the day: team agility needs to come from the company’s culture, first. Only when your company has an agile culture can you extend its influence by using agile coaches. Scrum Masters are clearly a great “tool” to get even better results; but no team can truly thrive until they are coached to understand Agile values. When your company as a whole does not strive towards agility, your team won’t be able to work that way either.


While the Agile approach is undoubtedly important, we also believe that the process needs to adjust to each team or project, not the other way round. Every team is dedicated to a certain client, and that should have a direct impact on how they work. While one team does Scrum, another can do Waterfall.We want people to be infected with Agile thinking and to completely understand how it works. To get everyone in on that mindset, everyone takes turns as a rotating Scrum Master within the team.

Dalibor Pulkert (Head of Mobile Development, Etnetera) started showing how Scrum works in Etnetera.

The main reason we’ve adopted several techniques from Scrum is to be able react to change and deliver projects faster. But the whole idea of maintaining a cross-functional team with one dedicated Scrum Master doesn’t fit our way of work. We build small temporary project teams with people of different skill sets, each to build on different platforms. Each team has a team lead who maintains the crucial agile spirit, but that team lead also participates in coding and other duties. We embrace the agile mindset more so than the process itself. It’s all about getting immediate feedback, thinking big while starting small, and adjusting to change fast.

Martin Stava (CTO at STRV) explained why they do Scrum without Scrum Masters.

Karel expressed that, by going throughout all of a Scrum Master’s activities, you could find clear indications that the software development environment keeps changing, as do teams’ conditions. Scrum Masters will therefore keep facing new, challenging problems, and will never be able to fully achieve that ultimate goal.

Karel Smutny (Independent Agile Coach) challenged common opinion that Scrum Master’s long-term goal is to not be needed.

Our Scrum Masters aren’t just secretaries maintaining the Scrum process. They’re team leads who look after team recruiting, help coordinate cross-team work, and coach the company’s culture. Our Scrum Masters operate with freedom and trust in their abilities, so they constantly are empowered to effect changes that may arise.

Pavel Sladek (Director of Engineering at Socialbakers) describes why our company values Scrum Masters.

The “Scrummit” was a great event, in the end, and hopefully added to every attendee’s thoughts on Scrum, Agile, and how we can coach company culture for greater innovation. There is no doubt we’ll be having everyone over again soon. Let’s close this article with a fun quote coming from one attendee. ;)

Scrum terrorizes people and squeezes all their strength out like a lemon.

Marek Beniak, Development Director at Heureka.cz

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