A friend’s organisation recently asked how he felt about moving to the Scrum Master role for his department. As the conversation progressed, he came to realise that firstly, there was going to be no progression into the role (their Scrum Master had just left) and secondly, it would be in tandem with his current Developer role.
This started alarm bells ringing. He always had Scrum Master in his peripheral vision, from a skills extension perspective, much the same way you get those floaters in your eyes that you can’t quite focus on. However, he always figured that it would be a gradual thing. That somehow the organisation would bring on board more Scrum Masters and a Community of Practice would develop, meaning that he could then learn from a range of people and experience different takes on the role.
A Community of Practice was not to be. Their only Scrum Master had gone and there was no-one to take his place. This was the reason for the conversation and here comes my big no-no; the split role of Developer and Scrum Master. I firmly believe that the role of Scrum Master is a 100% commitment. Splitting time between the two roles is about as un-harmonious a combination as cake maker and car mechanic. Imagine how much hand washing you would have to do if you had just changed the car oil and then intended to make some scones. Multi-tasking between Scrum Master and Developer requires about as the same level of metaphorical hand washing and you don’t get to lick the bowl.
Splitting the role could also bring team conflict. While having someone that understands the development challenges of the team could be an advantage, the team capacity would be reduced and more likely unpredictable throughout the sprint. This would be hampered further while trying to come to grips with the Scrum Master role. How would you prioritise between the two?
Worse still is that his department is composed of two teams working on different backlogs. The intention would be that he work as Scrum Master for both teams and remain Developer in one. How would he split his time?
No, splitting the Scrum Master and Developer role remains a definite no-no and that was his answer.