Is the Scrum Masters a Ring Master or a Cowboy?

As a Scrum enthusiast I always try to use analogies for all my explanations about Scrum. Lately I started thinking, can I try and fit two of my favorite heroic jobs profiles to role of a Scrum Master. They are Lion Tamer of a circus and Cowboy of great west and I have also found few practical examples where Scrum Master fits to these analogies.

From my childhood I was always thrilled watching Cowboy movies and also never missed a circus in town eagerly waiting to watch the Lion Tamer a.k.a Ring Master of circus, in complete control of the aggressive, dangerous and furious king of the jungle, Lion.


By role, Ring Master of a circus is a person who controls a group of Lions and make them entertain the crowd by merely using a thin and long hunter in his hand and a Cowboy of great west, is a tough person who guides the cattle while riding a horse with guns in his hand and in his belt.

Let’s see what they are actually doing as part of their work and is it actually productive by putting them in the roles of Scrum.

Ring Master (Scrum Master) in this case is training and controlling the lions (Developers) using hunter and making them to do all the acts what a Ring Master wants to entertain the crowd and earning profits for circus owner (Stakeholder) and the output of this whole act is happy stakeholder earning him profits, but the consequence of this is that one of the lion can possibly lose control and attack the Ring Master (link below is an article which explains the cause of lion attacks) or if the Ring Master is very strong and lucky then possibly lions will die entertaining the crowd.


On other hand Cowboy (Scrum Master) looks deadly armed with guns and many other deadly tools, but he never uses these on the cattle (Developers) rather use that on the external factors like wild animals, robbers (Impediments) also making sure cattle don’t wander around and get lost. This makes cattle feel safe around him, which would help cattle to be highly productive making profits to cattle’s owner (Stakeholder). This will result in long lasting relations between Cowboy (Scrum Master), Cattle (Developers) and Owners (Stakeholders).

In both the cases the stakeholder is happy. What we have to understand is developers are not lions and they don’t require a Ring Master to train them, tell them how to do their job and also developer’s job is not to entertain the crowd but to produce high quality products which would benefit the users.

So it’s left to us to decide what type of Scrum Master we want to be. Do we want to entertain the crowd considering the organization as a circus and developers as dangerous animals who need to be controlled or consider the organization as a farm where developer is only source of producing high quality product and needs protection from other external factors which can harm them or their productivity?




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