Can Scrum Masters Have Other Roles?
Theoretically, a Scrum Master can also be a developer on the team, a project manager, or even your local barista. Yet, this presents quite a few challenges.
1. Multiple Identity Disorder
Having multiple roles comes with a risk. Let’s say the Scrum Master is also the product owner. What happens when they get swamped with product owner tasks and an impending deadline? Obviously, they will focus on being the product owner, possibly neglecting their Scrum Master duties. Even if they somehow manage to multitask, too much context-switching requires lots of energy and could eventually lead to exhaustion. Not a good idea.
2. Conflict of Interest
Everyone has interests. The special thing about Scrum Masters is their focus on others, and making sure that everyone is prospering. However, what about Scrum Masters that have to do other roles? They will probably have personal interests that may leak into their role as a Scrum Master. The result is a conflict of interest, which could hurt their trust in the rest of the team and impede the development process.
3. Lack of Neutrality
Part of the power of being a Scrum Master is being the objective third party that’s uninvolved in company politics and personal conflicts, though aware of them, a kind of Switzerland if you may. Nonetheless, if your Scrum Master also has another role, then you can kiss The Swiss Alps goodbye. They will most certainly be involved in politics and interpersonal conflicts, thus resulting in biases and a lack of neutrality.