If a programmer in a small company wants to be his own Scrum Master, and Scrum teams are supposed to be self-organizing, does that mean no one can manage him? If that's true, then:

  1. How can he manage himself?
  2. How can he plan his time for managing and plan for his works?
  3. How can Project Managers get reports from him?
  4. Is it possible to grant responsibilities to him?
  5. Which work items should he define for himself every day?
  • sounds like productivity issue. maybe you should try productivity.stackexchange.com ? Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 10:22
  • Hello saber! I'm not sure my concept of ScrumMaster is wrong or what you're describing is more a TeamLead. Checking Wikipedia, the SM should make the dev job more 'objective'. In this sense, I believe there's no other exit than having the developer itself removing any blockers (since there's no one else to do it for him)...
    – Tiago Cardoso
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 10:33
  • actually the reason of the problem "no one can manage him !!!" may be very important to response your question. in addition why no one can manage him?! what does his/her Job description or Description of duties? (he/she is a developer; researcher or ...) who will pay his/her salary of Performance? who will deliver the products? (who is the product owner?) who is responsible for customers & product owners in law?
    – Amir
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 10:58
  • I refactored the question to try and clarify what I thought the OP was really asking. If I've missed the intent, please feel free to edit or roll back.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


In the same way that a UX designer is responsible for creating an excellent user experience, a Scrum Master is responsible for creating an excellent project experience for those people who use the team to turn their ideas into reality.

By looking at the "team" from the external perspective, we can easily narrow down those bits of Scrum that are relevant even when the team is made up of one person.

A Scrum team provides:

  • transparent insight into the team's progress
  • an idea of what stakeholders can expect to see every Sprint
  • an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback
  • the chance for stakeholders to change their mind and / or direction every Sprint
  • working software.

If a team member is working as his own Scrum Master, he can still provide these things by keeping a visible Scrum board, meeting with the stakeholders to prioritise work, working towards the Sprint showcase, responding to feedback, and releasing valuable software. How he chooses to do that within the limits of the Sprint will be his own business, just as it would be the team's.

If a single programmer is also working as his own Product Owner - for instance, he owns a one-man company - then he won't be constrained by the need to communicate with external stakeholders. He can create his own priorities, release code as-and-when, and get feedback directly from his users. In this case, I'd look at Kanban, simply because of the focus the WIP limits provide and the more flexible cadence.

  • +1 for a great answer about what parts of Scrum apply on a 1-person team. I also agree with you that Kanban or XP would be a better fit for a one-man show.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 17:22

Scrum is for Teams

While you could use Scrum in a one-person shop, Scrum is really a framework that's designed for teams rather than individuals. The underlying inspect-and-adapt philosophy is also available to a one-man shop using Kanban or Extreme Programming (XP); XP in particular is often a great fit when you want agile practices rather than a project management framework.

Conflicting Roles

The Scrum Master role is a process referee role. This is inherently a conflict of interest with the Team Member role. For the same reason that you have (theoretically) impartial referees in professional sports, the Scrum Master role should be separate from developer roles.

Self-Organizing Doesn't Mean Unmanaged

Project teams are always constrained by resources, scheduling, and (most of all) by organizational culture. "Self-organizing" is intended to be shorthand for a process where teams figure out how to do the work without micro-management; the organization still manages what work is to be done and what resources are made available to the project.

All the Rest

The remainder of your question delves into specifics of individual time management, prioritization, and reporting that are going to be localized to your particular work environment. There isn't a "one size fits all" solution; finding one that fits your company culture and individual situation is part of the self-organizing part of being agile.

  • 1
    I don't think many people (including myself) agree with what you described SM as "The Scrum Master role is a process referee role". SM can best be described as a Servant Leader, not a process police, he/she is a coach/mentor/facilitator etc. for the team/people/organization/customers.
    – sheidaei
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 14:05
  • @sheidaei You're welcome to disagree. Any field of endeavor has a learning curve, which generally includes Rote Learning → Functional Competence → Mastery Through Application of Principles. If you genuinely don't see process refereeing as an essential aspect of framework facilitation, then you have not fully mastered the underlying principles. I encourage you to open your concerns as a new question as comments are not intended for extended discussion.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 17:50
  • Can you help me connect the dots from "process refereeing" to the underlying principles? Where is this learning curve you are referring to? I am eager to learn more about it.
    – sheidaei
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 18:07

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