How do you choose the ScrumMaster?

Suppose you need to choose the ScrumMaster for your team and there is no “natural” candidate available. Suppose you have two alternatives who could do the job, but you are not sure who fits best?

I got a similar question proposed some time ago by one of my customers. Instead of giving my answer, I started asking questions instead – well, I’m a coach, aren’t I?

First I asked what characteristics are important for a ScrumMaster in that particular organisation:

  • Communication Skills
  • Motivation
  • System Knowledge
  • Knowledge of the Organisation and the way it works
  • Connectedness in the Organisation
  • Accepted by the team
  • Strong Personality
  • Team Oriented
  • (add here what could fit your organisation: are technical skills important? is there anything particular to consider?)

Once he had prepared this list, I asked the manager I was talking to to rate the two candidates on each of these skills using a scale from 1 to 10: one of the two was clearly the winner!

Bonus
What if both candidates were very similar or, though different, a simple averaging of the ranking on each skill gave a similar result?

Well, in that case I would have ranked each skill in order of importance and understood who of the candidates was stronger on the most needed skills, though I would have also considered the potential of each candidate to improve on the top priority skills.

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2 thoughts on “How do you choose the ScrumMaster?

  1. Great! I did something similar with a customer recently, though not this explicit. It sure helped both the organisation (mgmt) as the candidates to realize what the SM role is all about… 😉
    Did you consider including the team in the decision? Or starting a conversation with/between the 2 candidate SM’s based on the rankings?
    Cheers, Jef

  2. Jef,
    Thanks for your comment.
    I would have included the team, but it was not possible as this happened in the project inception phase, when the team members were not yet identified in the organisation.
    I’m not sure about discussing this between the two candidates. While the instrument leads itself very well to be used as a tool to check what a ScrumMaster needs in his/her evolution (read: self evaluation + find out possible courses/coaching/… that might help), I have doubts in confronting two people based on ratings as it would be kinda like being back in school with all the childish effects that might result.
    Also remember these are “ratings” based on an individual’s perception. So the mechanism work if the same people rate the same subjects, but letting A rate himself and B rate himself would lead to incomparable results.
    Cheers
    Pierluigi

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