Home » Agile » Why an Agile Project Manager is Not a Scrum Master

About Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman
Johanna consults, speaks, and writes about managing product development. She helps managers and leaders do reasonable things that work. You can read more of her writings at jrothman.com.

Why an Agile Project Manager is Not a Scrum Master

A reader asked why the lifecycle in Agile Lifecycles for Geographically Distributed Teams, Part 1 is not Scrum. It’s not Scrum for these reasons:
  1. The project manager and product owner start the release planning and ask the team if the release planning is ok. The team does not generate the initial draft of release planning itself. In Scrum, the team is supposed to generate all of the planning itself.
  2. The checkin is different from the Scrum standup and the objectives of the checkin are different. I did suggest to the teams that if you want to create a cross-functional team where the functions are separated, if you ask people how they are working together, you might help them work together. Sometimes those questions work, and sometimes they don’t. It depends on the team and whether the people want to work together.
I didn’t mention retrospectives or backlogs in my examples so far, because I took them for granted. Yes, both examples of these teams do perform retrospectives and have product backlogs. They also have agile feature roadmaps, which are on my list to blog about.
The real difference is the difference between a Scrum Master and an Agile Project Manager. A Scrum Master is not a project manager. A scrum master does not manage risk by him or herself. A project manager will take on the risk management responsibility without asking the team.
A Scrum Master has only allegiance to the team. A project manager has responsibility to the team and to the organization. That means that the project manager might feel torn when the organization pressures the project manager to do something stupid. (Although, I just downloaded the Scrum Guide, and the Scrum Master’s responsibilities have grown considerably since I took my CSM with Jeff way back in 2006.)
But agile provides transparency when the organization asks the agile project manager to do something stupid, so it’s easier to retain your integrity as a project manager.
Want to move a feature higher in the backlog? Change the feature roadmap with the product owner and then change the backlog with the product owner. I expect the agile project manager to collaborate on the feature roadmap and the backlog with the product owner.
Want to change the velocity of the team to please some crazed manager? Both the Scrum Master or the agile project manager protects the team in these ways: 
  • Explain that velocity is not a productivity metric
  • Say No and explain why
  • Play the Double Your Velocity schedule game
  • Or choose some other way to remove this management obstacle.
Agile makes it easy to protect the team. The question is this: does the Scrum Master have other responsibilities in addition to protecting the team or is the Scrum Master full time? An agile project manager tends to be full time on a geographically distributed team. Even on a geographically distributed team, a Scrum Master is not seen as a full time position. Bless their tiny little hearts, managers don’t seem to understand that transitioning to agile, especially for silo’d distributed teams with different cultural norms is non-trivial. They will make room for a project manager, but a Scrum Master? Oh no. Makes me nuts.
Cut corners on quality? I don’t see how. The team doesn’t meet the acceptance criteria on the stories and doesn’t meet their criteria of done for an iteration, and can’t show a demo. How does that serve anyone?
Help a team go faster? This is the one place where a project manager may have an edge over a Scrum Master, and that’s only because of education. An agile project manager is a project manager. That means he or she is actively studying project management, which means he or she is studying lean also, looking into work in progress. (I realize many project managers do not actively study project management.) I have high expectations of an agile project manager, and that is to limit WIP, work in progress, to measure cumulative flow. But, Johanna, that’s a lean project manager. Yes, that’s correct. Why not use all of the tools available to us at all times? This is not to help a team actually go faster, but to provide feedback to the team about their WIP. If everyone takes a story at the start of the iteration and everyone always works on their own story, it’s likely the team is at the slowest possible velocity. It’s worth knowing that, or at least retrospecting about the data. A project manager will gather the data. A Scrum Master, especially one who was not a trained project manager, may not know to gather the data.
I have nothing against Scrum Masters. Some of my good friends are CSTs (Certified Scrum Trainers). However, they are not all project managers, and have not been project managers, and have not studied the field of project management. Some have been. And, the real issue is this: In a two or three day workshop, they cannot convey to a person who may or may not have been a practicing project manager all of their project knowledge.
Organizations do not always pick project managers to be Scrum Masters. And, with good reason. Some project managers are command-and-control project managers. I suspect back in my long-ago past, I was. I gave it up long ago because it didn’t work. Some people never gave up command-and-control project management. Those people are not good project managers for agile projects. They are terrible project managers for geographically distributed projects, where you must work through influence.
You can have self-managing teams that are geographically distributed. You can have self-directed teams that are geographically distributed. But, they don’t start that way. They evolve into self-directed and self-managing teams. They start as management-led teams.
And, especially when they are silo’d teams, they need the coordination of a project manager, someone who will manage the risk between the silos, and someone who has the organizational backing, and yes, someone who has the allegiance to the organization to say, “We need to do this project” to write the project charter.
In a geographically distributed team, the agile project manager writes the project charter either with the team, or as a strawman for the people to edit and approve. Shane and I recommend that the people get together to write it together. We like it if people get together in person. We know how rarely that happens. (Penny wise, pound foolish.) So we teach people how to write a project charter when they are divided in space.
Because until there is a project charter, there is no organizing principle for the silo’d teams. Those developers in France, testers in Belarus, product managers and project manager in San Francisco, they all need something to coalesce around. The charter, which includes the project vision provides that. The iterations provide the project heartbeat.
So, that’s why I don’t think Agile Lifecycles for Geographically Distributed Teams, Part 1 is Scrum. It’s close, but no cigar. I respect Ken and Jeff’s work too much to call it Scrum when it’s not.
Now that I’m mostly recovered from my cold, I can continue the series about lifecycles.
Do you want to know how to develop your skillset to become a Java Rockstar?
Subscribe to our newsletter to start Rocking right now!
To get you started we give you our best selling eBooks for FREE!
1. JPA Mini Book
2. JVM Troubleshooting Guide
3. JUnit Tutorial for Unit Testing
4. Java Annotations Tutorial
5. Java Interview Questions
6. Spring Interview Questions
7. Android UI Design
and many more ....
Email address:

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Want to take your Java skills to the next level?
Grab our programming books for FREE!
Here are some of the eBooks you will get:
  • Spring Interview QnA
  • Multithreading & Concurrency QnA
  • JPA Minibook
  • JVM Troubleshooting Guide
  • Advanced Java
  • Java Interview QnA
  • Java Design Patterns
The Spring Framework Cookbook
  • Learn the best practices of the Spring Framework
  • Build simple, portable, fast and flexible JVM-based systems and applications
  • Explore specific projects like Boot and Batch
The Spring Data Programming Cookbook
  • Learn how to use data access technologies and cloud-based data services
  • Set up the environment and create a basic project
  • Learn how to handle the various modules (e.g. JPA, MongoDB, Redis etc.)
The Selenium Programming Cookbook
  • Kick-start your own projects using this testing framework for web applications
  • Learn JUnit integration and Standalone Server functionality
  • Find out the most popular Interview Questions about the Selenium Framework
The Mockito Programming Cookbook
  • Kick-start your own web projects using this open source testing framework
  • Write simple test cases using the Mockito Framework
  • Learn how to integrate with JUnit, Maven and other frameworks
The JUnit Programming Cookbook
  • Learn basic usage and configuration of JUnit
  • Create multithreaded tests
  • Learn how to integrate with other testing frameworks
The JSF 2.0 Programming Cookbook
  • Build component-based user interfaces for web applications
  • Set up the environment and create a basic project
  • Learn Internationalization and Facelets Templates
The Amazon S3 Tutorial
  • Develop your own Amazon S3 based applications
  • Learn API usage and pricing
  • Get your own projects up and running in minimum time
Java Design Patterns
  • Learn how Design Patterns are implemented and utilized in Java
  • Understand the reasons why patterns are so important
  • Learn when and how to apply each one of them
Java Concurrency Essentials
  • Dive into the magic of concurrency
  • Learn about concepts like atomicity, synchronization and thread safety
  • Learn about testing concurrent applications
The IntelliJ IDEA Handbook
  • Kick-start your own programming projects using IntelliJ IDEA
  • Learn how to setup and install plugins
  • Create UIs with this Java integrated development environment
The Git Tutorial
  • Learn why Git differs from other version control systems
  • Explore Git's usage and best practises
  • Learn branching strategies
The Eclipse IDE Handbook
  • Explore the most widely used Java IDE
  • Learn how to setup and install plugins
  • Built your own projects up and running in minimum time
The Docker Containerization Cookbook
  • Explore the world’s leading software containerization platform
  • Learn how to wrap a piece of software in a complete filesystem
  • Learn how to use DNS and various commands
Developing Modern Applications With Scala
  • Develop modern Scala applications
  • Build SBT and reactive applications
  • Learn about testing and database access
The Apache Tomcat Cookbook
  • Explore Apache Tomcat open-source web server
  • Learn about installation, configuration, logging and clustering
  • Kick-start your own web projects using Apache Tomcat
The Apache Maven Cookbook
  • Explore the Apache Maven build automation tool
  • Learn about Maven's project structure and configuration
  • Learn about Maven's dependency management and plug-ins
The Apache Hadoop Cookbook
  • Explore the Apache Hadoop open-source software framework
  • Learn distributed caching and streaming
  • Kick-start your own web projects using Apache Hadoop
The Android Programming Cookbook
  • Explore the Android mobile operating system
  • Learn about services and page views
  • Learn about Google Maps and Bluetooth functionality
The Elasticsearch Tutorial
  • Explore the Elasticsearch search engine
  • Develop your own Elasticsearch based applications
  • Learn operations, Java API Integration and reporting
Amazon DynamoDB Tutorial
  • Develop your own Amazon DynamoDB based applications
  • Learn DynamoDB Concepts and Best Practices
  • Get your own projects up and running in minimum time
Java NIO Programming Cookbook
  • Learn features for intensive I/O operations
  • Follow a series of tutorials on Java NIO examples
  • Get knowledge on Java Nio Socket and Asynchronous Channels
JBoss Drools Cookbook
  • Explore Drools business rule management system
  • Follow a series of tutorials on Drools examples
  • Get knowledge on business rules for a shopping domain model
Vaadin Programming Cookbook
  • Explore Vaadin web framework for rich Internet applications
  • Learn the Architecture and Best Practices
  • Get knowledge on Data Binding and Custom Components
Groovy Programming Cookbook
  • Explore Apache Groovy object-oriented programming language
  • Create sample applications and explore interview questions
  • Get knowledge on Callback functionality and various widgets
GWT Programming Cookbook
  • Explore the open source Google Web Toolkit
  • Create sample applications and explore interview questions
  • Create and maintain complex JavaScript front-end applications in Java
Do you want to know how to develop your skillset to become a Java Rockstar?
Subscribe to our newsletter to start Rocking right now!
To get you started we give you our best selling eBooks for FREE!
1. JPA Mini Book
2. JVM Troubleshooting Guide
3. JUnit Tutorial for Unit Testing
4. Java Annotations Tutorial
5. Java Interview Questions
and many more ....
Email address:
Do you want to know how to develop your skillset to become a Java Rockstar?
Subscribe to our newsletter to start Rocking right now!
To get you started we give you our best selling eBooks for FREE!
1. JPA Mini Book
2. JVM Troubleshooting Guide
3. JUnit Tutorial for Unit Testing
4. Java Annotations Tutorial
5. Java Interview Questions
and many more ....
Email address:
Do you want to know how to develop your skillset to become a Java Rockstar?
Subscribe to our newsletter to start Rocking right now!
To get you started we give you our best selling eBooks for FREE!
1. JPA Mini Book
2. JVM Troubleshooting Guide
3. JUnit Tutorial for Unit Testing
4. Java Annotations Tutorial
5. Java Interview Questions
6. Spring Interview Questions
7. Android UI Design
and many more ....
Email address:
Want to be a DynamoDB Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Amazon DynamoDB Tutorial right now!
In order to help you master this Amazon NoSQL database service, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major DynamoDB features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Programming Interview Coming Up?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Ultimate Multithreading and Concurrency interview questions and answers collection right now!
In order to get you prepared for your next Programming Interview, we have compiled a huge list of relevant Questions and their respective Answers. Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Java Interview Coming Up?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Ultimate Spring interview questions and answers collection right now!
In order to get you prepared for your next Java Interview, we have compiled a huge list of relevant Questions and their respective Answers. Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Java Interview Coming Up?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Ultimate Java interview questions and answers collection right now!
In order to get you prepared for your next Java Interview, we have compiled a huge list of relevant Questions and their respective Answers. Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Java NIO Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Java NIO Programming Cookbook right now!
In order to help you master Java NIO Library, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major Java NIO features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Drools Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the JBoss Drools Cookbook right now!
In order to help you master Drools Business Rule Management System, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major Drools features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be an iText Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the iText Tutorial right now!
In order to help you master iText Library, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major iText features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be an Elasticsearch Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Elasticsearch Tutorial right now!
In order to help you master Elasticsearch search engine, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major Elasticsearch features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Scala Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Scala Cookbook right now!
In order to help you master Scala, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the basic concepts! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a JUnit Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the JUnit Programming Cookbook right now!
In order to help you master unit testing with JUnit, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major JUnit features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master Amazon Web Services ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Amazon S3 Tutorial right now!
In order to help you master the leading Web Services platform, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all its major features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master Spring Framework ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Spring Framework Cookbook right now!
In order to help you master the leading and innovative Java framework, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all its major features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master Eclipse IDE ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Eclipse IDE Handbook right now!
In order to help you master Eclipse, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the basic features of the popular IDE! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master IntelliJ IDEA ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the IntelliJ IDEA Handbook right now!
In order to help you master IntelliJ IDEA, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the basic features of the popular IDE! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master Docker ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Docker Containerization Cookbook right now!
In order to help you master Docker, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the basic concepts of the Docker container system! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to create a kick-ass Android App ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Android Programming Cookbook right now!
With this book, you will delve into the fundamentals of Android programming. You will understand user input, views and layouts. Furthermore, you will learn how to communicate over Bluetooth and also leverage Google Maps into your application!
Email address:
Want to be a GIT Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the GIT Tutorial eBook right now!
In order to help you master GIT, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the basic concepts of the GIT version control system! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Hadoop Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Apache Hadoop Cookbook right now!
In order to help you master Apache Hadoop, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the basic concepts of a Hadoop cluster! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master Spring Data ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Spring Data Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master Spring Data, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to create a kick-ass Android App ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Android UI Design mini-book right now!
With this book, you will delve into the fundamentals of Android UI design. You will understand user input, views and layouts, as well as adapters and fragments. Furthermore, you will learn how to add multimedia to an app and also leverage themes and styles!
Email address:
Want to be a Java 8 Ninja ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Java 8 Features Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to get you up to speed with the major Java 8 release, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the new features and goodies! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master Java Annotations ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Java Annotations Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master the topic of Annotations, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a JUnit Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the JUnit Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master unit testing with JUnit, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major JUnit features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master Java Abstraction ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Abstraction in Java Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master the topic of Abstraction, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to master Java Reflection ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Java Reflection Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master the topic of Reflection, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a JMeter Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the JMeter Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master load testing with JMeter, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major JMeter features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Servlets Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Java Servlet Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master programming with Java Servlets, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major servlet API uses and showcases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a JAXB Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the JAXB Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master XML Binding with JAXB, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major JAXB features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a JDBC Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the JDBC Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master database programming with JDBC, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major JDBC features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a JPA Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the JPA Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master programming with JPA, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major JPA features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Hibernate Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Hibernate Ultimate Guide right now!
In order to help you master JPA and database programming with Hibernate, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major Hibernate features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a JSF Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the JSF 2.0 Programming Cookbook right now!
In order to get you prepared for your JSF development needs, we have compiled numerous recipes to help you kick-start your projects. Besides reading them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Java Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Advanced Java Guide right now!
In order to help you master the Java programming language, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the must-know advanced Java features! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Java Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Java Design Patterns right now!
In order to help you master the Java programming language, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the must-know Design Patterns for Java! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be a Hadoop Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Hadoop Tutorial right now!
In order to help you master Apache Hadoop, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the basic concepts of a Hadoop cluster! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Want to be an Elastic Beanstalk Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Amazon Elastic Beanstalk Tutorial right now!
In order to help you master AWS Elastic Beanstalk, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major Elastic Beanstalk features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Amazon Elastic Beanstalk Tutorial
  • Develop your own Amazon Elastic Beanstalk based applications
  • Learn Java Integration and Command Line Interfacing
  • Get your own projects up and running in minimum time
Want to take your Java skills to the next level?
Grab our programming books for FREE!
Here are some of the eBooks you will get:
  • Spring Interview QnA
  • Multithreading & Concurrency QnA
  • JPA Minibook
  • JVM Troubleshooting Guide
  • Advanced Java
  • Java Interview QnA
  • Java Design Patterns
Insiders are already enjoying weekly updates and complimentary whitepapers!
Join them now to gain exclusive access to the latest news in the Java world, as well as insights about Android, Scala, Groovy and other related technologies.
Email address:
Want to be an ActiveMQ Master ?
Subscribe to our newsletter and download the Apache ActiveMQ Cookbook right now!
In order to help you master Apache ActiveMQ JMS, we have compiled a kick-ass guide with all the major ActiveMQ features and use cases! Besides studying them online you may download the eBook in PDF format!
Email address:
Apache ActiveMQ Cookbook
  • Explore Apache ActiveMQ Best Practices
  • Learn ActiveMQ Load Balancing and File Transfer
  • Develop your own Apache ActiveMQ projects