Myth about Scrum Master being a renamed Project Manager role

A commom question often asked – Can we treat the Scrum Master as “The Project Manager in Scrum World?” – Let us understand how the world differs

Common Misconceptions and negative implications

  • Organizations implement Scrum Master role by renaming all their Project Managers as Scrum Masters just because they want to do Scrum or try Scrum. Scrum Master is the most mis-understood role in the industry.
  • Scrum Master remains the same “Command and Control” role
  • Scrum Master is made accountable for Product Scope, Product Delivery, Product Quality, Product Budgets and Project Timelines. Management holds one neck and that is Scrum Master’s neck
  • Scrum Master becomes a coordinator as the Project Manager used to be


  • Scrum Roles are designed in such a way that the right role takes the right accountability. The Project Management was a centralized accountability model where Project Manger was made accountable for everything. Scrum is a distributed accountability model. The Product is owned by the Product Owner. So, the accountability of Scope, Cost and Time is given to the PO. The Developers is made accountable for the delivery. So, Quality is the accountability of the Developers. Scrum Master is the guardian of Scrum. He/she is a coach and facilitator who makes things happen by making the right role take up the right accountability.
  • As a Coach, Scrum Master is a leadership role who guides the PO and Developers into following the Scrum Framework. Scrum Master makes the PO, Development Team and the Organization aware of the self-organized model, cross-functional teams, product accountability, complexity handling, importance of timeboxing, tools, techniques – in general Scrum framework as a whole.
  • As a Facilitator, Scrum Master makes sure that focus on getting decisions done and progressing towards goal. Scrum facilitates meetings, communications and helps the PO and Developers to come to conclusions. Many a times, the delay in decision making is the major cause of productivity issues. People don’t come to conclusions. Scrum Master’s job is to get the people to conclusions.
  • As an Impediment Solver, Scrum Master reaches to the right entities of the organization and gets right help at the right time so that team can proceed.
  • Scrum Master is a Servant Leader whose job is “to serve”. The accountability of doing the product work is given to  the Product Owner and Developers. Since Project Manager is responsible for Scope, Cost, Time, naturally it becomes a “Command and Control” role. The leadership styles are completely different.
  • Scrum is based on the “Fail-Fast ” model vs the Project Management which is based on “Don’t Fail” model. Scrum encourages the team to fail and let the team learn from mistakes. Project Manager makes sure that as much risk mitigation is done so that mistakes don’t happen. Scrum Master’s job is to allow mistakes and let the team learn from mistakes. Project Manager’s job is to prevent mistakes. They are diametrically opposite in the thought processes.

With so many drastic differences, if the Project Managers are renamed as Scrum Masters, the way people think is no different than what used to happen in waterfalls. Naturally done, we are setting up things for failure if Project Managers are renamed as Scrum Master. Lot of training and mentoring of Project Managers is to be done so that the Project Managers think differently to what they used to do while they were project managers.

This article is re-published on WORLD OF AGILE website –