In scrum, the scrum master is an essential role. A scrum team that does not have a scrum master should better call itself a team working together on one project, rather than a scrum team. The role of the scrum master is clear, but how would you decide about who is going to be the scrum master in a team? What would be the best way according to scrum?
Recently in one of our teams we were looking for a new scrum master. There were basically two options.
Let the manager decide
When we started with scrum in our company more than two years ago, the team’s manager made the final decision about who is going to be the scrum master in the team. This is a clear decision, and the manager would have the possibility to install a scrum master whom he knows and whom he trusts.
No, let the team decide
But, wait, what does the scrum master have to do with the manager? The scrum master is a team member and is fully dedicated to the team, the scrum master serves the team.
That’s why we were thinking of letting the team members decide who will become the team’s new scrum master, rather than keeping them outside of the loop. This has several advantages:
- The team acts as a team
- Team members concentrate on team decisions
- Team members learn to self-manage themselves
- Team members understand that their voices are important
Since the team members are actively involved in the decision, it is more likely that they accept the result than if somebody from outside of the team appoints the scrum master.
Having a vote
After listening to the two different options, the team eventually decided to go with the second option. We scheduled a meeting for the election and we even prepared ballot papers with the names of the team members listed. Before the vote, we discussed again about the tasks and duties of “the perfect” scrum master and we also agreed that the new scrum master should prove themselves during a probation time of five sprints (almost four months in our case).
During the vote, each team member had one main vote and one second vote. The second vote would have helped us in case two or more team members received the same number of main votes. The election was held anonymously (which is very easy to achieve with a room big enough). We counted the votes for each team member and finally had a new scrum master for one of our teams.
I am satisfied with the process of our election and how the team discussed this matter. Luckily, the team was already very experienced and also had several good candidates for the new scrum master.
Concluding, I have to say that although it is not a big deal to have an election for the scrum master, I also did not find any sources that described this as a common practice. I was curious to try that out and fortunately the team was open for this opportunity and very curious, too.