2 min read

They broke the cookie cutter!

Hrishikesh Karekar wrote Is the party over for Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches?" on Medium, and I've been nodding "yes" for about 5 minutes now. As an experienced PM and consultant in the tech space, I've been cringing at "Agile transformation" and the adoption of expensive, cookie-cutter solutions for years because they never work full-bore. They add even more overhead to a delivery organization.

What's interesting about this article is the data I'd never heard or seen. Essentially, large organizations like Capital One have gone through their Agile transformation, and have recognized that they no longer need educators or integrators on staff. Their job is done. The developers are now Agile. ✅

The agile transformation runs in phases, and while they don’t mention it explicitly here, Scrum Masters and Agile coaches are the educators, not the implementors. So, it is “OK’ to let go of them once the “education” or “process design” phase finishes. The actual integration of the agile processes into engineering practices is up to the engineering teams themselves.

The article essentially crushes any Scrum Master's dream of ever being respected unless you have actual development expertise.

We have a lot of people — empty suits — who can parrot a lot of agile talk, but have no real transformation experience

Let's be honest. This is true of most project managers. Many, many people come in to the profession with no experience strategizing, designing, writing, or building a product, let alone managing a team of wildly talented people who do all of those things. So, to think that someone, anyone, could go and shell out the cash to earn those three letters to append to a signature or resume, and then land a job where you enforce rules...? Yes, it makes sense that, over time, that role is less needed.

Essentially, Scrum Masters are corporate dog trainers. Command, control, and structure strengthen the pack and the bottom line. Once they're trained, it's time to move on (Capital One cut 1,100 "agile" positions last year. Woof!) I'm sure the minute those roles were eliminated, there was a question about who'd man the kennels. But I bet those dogs felt free! (Ok I'll stop with the dog metaphor.)

My guess is the team felt the agency to get work done in better ways. I bet they even broke a rule or two and no one noticed. So what's the point?

To me, this means that you can't just be a project manager, a scrum master, a UI designer, a UX designer, a front-end developer, an engineer, a marketer, etc. in this job market. You have to be a strategist and then a combination of other things. You need to explore your industry, organization, team, and work to find more ways to provide value.

To someone my age, that either sounds exciting or exhausting. To those just entering their careers, it's the norm. That is exciting.

Happy Friday--one week til summer!