Which skills a ScrumMaster should have? Besides the classic skills like moderation, assertiveness and sensitivity there is repeatedly the question whether a ScrumMaster needs technical knowledge. This is a very polarizing question.
The original task of a ScrumMaster is to ensure the Scrum process. Part of this is the organization and moderation of the meetings, to nurture and protect the team and – of course – to remove impediments. For all of this tasks there is no need of a technical background. But to make this post meaningful we want to look on a scenario that change the view on this.
Let us imagine a typical Scrum team from the real world. The development team consists of 6-7 developers. From these developers there are 2 real good one, the others are only medium. Of course we need a ScrumMaster and a Product Owner too. The ScrumMaster hasn’t any technical knowledge and the Product Owner is part of the business department.
The both developer (the real good ones) often wants to introduce new tools, utilities and frameworks. With some good arguments they convince the ScrumMaster and the Product Owner that this is needed. Both cannot evaluate the arguments due to the missing technical knowledge. So the missing focused working on the product is the logical follow.
A solution approach
This problem is recognized and evaluated by the management:
- Replace the Product Owner
- Replace the ScrumMaster
- Replace the both main developers
Variant 3 is the worst one. This action would lower the team. Variant 1 is not a valid option because the team would loose the business skills. So the management replace the ScrumMaster with one with technical skills. He has experience in development, architecture and quality management. He is in the position to discuss with the both developer on one level and deny some of the ideas from them. So he can bring back the team the lost performance.
In such a scenario the replacement of the ScrumMaster was the right adjusting screw. But is this a typical problem? Yes, because there are much of such teams. This is not a rating that such teams are bad. But this is the reality. A self-organized team is rarity in the enterprise.
But there is no need of such an extreme scenario. A ScrumMaster with a technical background can help a development team in many situations. For instance he can offer constructive solution approaches if the team has problems. And additionally he knows people he can invite to coach the team in technical questions.