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I'm currently working in a project where we discuss the question whether it is a good idea or not to rotate the scrum masters through all teams.

We have different teams for ONE project. The context where they work in is the same. They only switch teams for a couple of weeks. We hope to benefit from each ScrumMaster as they have new influences on other teams and maybe can resolve problems others couldn't.

In detail we want each scrum master to assist every team for a couple of weeks. I didn't find any literature about that topic, but only about rotating the scrum master role in a team.

Is this is a good/bad idea?

  • I personally think the SM is a very overrated position. If you have an experienced team, you almost don't need one at all. – jiggy Jul 9 '15 at 23:55
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The Scrum Master Manifesto suggests to have one Scrum Master for one team only. While this subject is debatable for many and economic reasons, many people support the idea of dedicated Scrum Masters.

The main reason for a dedicated Scrum Master is the organizational overhead it takes to handle multiple projects. Context switches are expensive. The role of the Scrum Master is to remove impediments. But if the Scrum Master needs a half or full day of catching up whenever s/he switches teams, s/he pretty much becomes an impediment him/herself. I understand that this doesn't seem to be much of a problem in your case though.

I guess whether it's a good or bad idea depends on why you think of doing it. What is the benefit you hope to gain from doing that? If you can put that to a measurable experiment, why not just try for a limited time and evaluate the outcome.

An alternative I can think of is having the Scrum Masters meet frequently to talk about challenges they face and coach each other. At Spotify, they have guilds for that.

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This could be a beneficial practice if the "rotation" is done in the form of one Scrum Master "shadowing" another, rather than attempting to take over. In that fashion, the "new influences" you spoke of could be shared without the inefficiency of an actual hand-over of responsibility.

Practically speaking, this might be accomplished, for example, by a pair of SMs attending each-other's meetings, as guests, for a sprint... as long as they are at different times, of course. It will be up to you to decide if any extra time taken in accomplishing such a "rotation" justifies any benefits that accrue to the Scrum Masters and Scrum Teams involved.

  • Thank you. This is also a good idea I will take with me to our meeting. The only obstacle is the time. Parallel meetings of two scrummasters could destroy this.. – user3705887 Jul 9 '15 at 22:47
  • Yes. Most times that an alternative to standard is being considered, it will be a trade-off of some kind. The question becomes, was the time invested in this trial worth what the Scrum Masters and Scrum Teams got out of it. – David Jul 9 '15 at 22:50
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According to Tuckman's Stages of Groupdevelopment you risk that your team drops into the "Storming Phase" again and again. This is not desired to happen too often, because of the lack of performance in this group phase.

You can try the following to address your problem: The moderation of the retrospective does another Scrum Master.

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