We know the Scrum Master role is different from a project manager. Scrum Masters are servant leaders, coaches and facilitators. Project managers are more aligned with command and control.
Does this mean that Scrum Masters should never crack the whip on the team?
Well, yes and no.
Just because Agile teams are self-organized, they sometimes still need to be pushed. Ideally the team will push themselves, but if that’s not happening then yes, the Scrum Master should put some pressure on the team. In Scrum, it’s usually the Product Owner who has some authority. Although the Scrum Master doesn’t have authority, they can vocalize the importance of getting work done (aka, crack the whip).
There are some misconceptions about Agile and Scrum when it comes to pressure. Some people think Scrum is a low pressure environment. Not true. In Scrum, they call iterations Sprints because teams are moving fast! There is pressure. There is also more visibility. Everyone can see what everyone else is working on in the Sprint. There is no hiding.
So, while cracking the whip usually aligns with project management, I do think it’s sometimes appropriate for Scrum Masters.
What are you thoughts?
About the Author: Mike MacIsaac is the owner and principal consultant for MacIsaac Consulting. Mike provides leadership as an IT Project and Program Manager as well as an Agile Scrum Master. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMacIsaac or subscribe to Mike’s blog.