We asked our Agile Coaches:
"Can the Scrum Master be made obsolete?"
And they answered:
Yes, they can. However, this requires the whole Scrum team to really internalize the three pillars of empiricism: Transparency, adaption, and inspection. This is where the Scrum Master comes into play. By helping to solidify these values within a team and supporting it to establish a mindset of self-organization and team responsibility, Scrum Masters can eventually make themselves more or less obsolete - which in my opinion should be their ultimate goal. This does not mean that the Scrum Master becomes useless to the team, though. They may still support it by resolving impediments or helping stakeholders and the development organization to understand and embrace the values of Scrum.
I find that the long-term goal of every Scrum Master is to become completely replaceable by the rest of the Scrum Team. Most teams might not reach this goal since they probably do not have the time to take over all of the Scrum Master's responsibilities, yet this is the desired direction of continuous improvement. If we think about the eight stances of a Scrum Master, some of them, like impediment remover, change agent, or servant leader, often come naturally to other team members too, especially in mature teams. Also, it is practical if they can facilitate or manage (horizontally) - for instance, when the Scrum Master has "downtime". Finally, being a mentor, teacher and coach mean aiming for "the pupil surpassing his master". A Scrum Master will pass the stances to his team, by example and by enabling them to try for themselves.
Absolutely, Scrum Master should aim to make themselves completely obsolete. Think about it, when the team is doing everything efficiently as they can, when they are handling their impediments themselves, when the retros are smooth without the Scrum Master needing to even ask what can be improved (something bad fixed or something good further improved), when the PO knows exactly what the Developers need, etc etc, the Scrum Master can leave it up to them to continue on their own. This is the best-case scenario for any Scrum Master, they have done their job! Of course, there is a chance things will go South at some point, which is when the Scrum Master can jump in, but a good test of the team readiness is always - go on vacation. When you're back, it'll be a clear indication how "far along" you are. And always make sure the Organisation doesn't need more coaching either.
Yes - at least on a team level without anything obvious going wrong. However, I still see long-term effects that might come into play because there is always something to improve, and there is also a reason why Scrum introduced a dedicated role here. It just helps to be a little less caught up in the day-to-day work compared to everybody else. DoesoneScrum Master have to stay “forever”? Clearly, the goal should be no. Will the team needanyScrum Master at all? I would say it definitely helps, even for mature teams. Note that this could also be a Developer stepping up or even picking up that role “on the side”.
The Scrum Master cannot be made obsolete. The Scrum Master as 1 single person could not be needed in a well-developed, stable team in a well agile company in a well-understood environment. The Scrum Guide changed the understanding of team members to accountabilities. If you do not have a dedicated Scrum Master as a person you will have the described accountabilities within your team. Or you will not have it, but you will understand later that you need it. If you do not have a Scrum Master as a person mostly the typically Scrum Master tasks go over to the Product Owner. Outside of the “Agile world”, they call this person “Project Manager”. Back to the roots?
The ultimate goal of any great Scrum Master should be to coach the team to a degree where it has internalized all agile principles & values. The individual team members are working & cooperating and matured into a self-organized team.
This makes the Scrum Master somewhat obsolete so that he can gradually step back and leave the team successfully up to themselves. The first signs of this are that the team coordinates and cooperates with each other and takes responsibility and ownership of Scrum events. A longer vacation serves well in order to observe which maturity level the team currently is.
The Scrum Master is a role. The Scrum Master is accountable for the team's effectiveness. Does this get obsolete? She is helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value Increments that meet the Definition of Done. He is causing the removal of impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress. None of these gets obsolete.
We will always need somebody to take over the responsibilities and to support the team.
There are a lot of teams where there is no need for a guy with the job title "Scrum Master". The classic profile is not needed anymore. There are developers taking care of their effectiveness. And this will work out fine.
And as the team is getting better and better the role is shifting towards coaching. And this will never become obsolete.
About #AgileSeven: We ask every month our Agile Coaches and will publish on the 7th of each month their answers. Why 7? It is a magic number.