Advice on becoming a Scrum Master

Last post 05:37 pm September 14, 2019
by Ian Mitchell
7 replies
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11:54 pm September 11, 2019

Good evening, I'm seeking advice on becoming a PSM.  I'm presently preparing to retire from the Air Force, and I've been doing a lot of reading on scrum.  I have The Scrum Guide (November 2017 version), and I also have The Agile Handbook. I've been on this website as well as scrumalliance.org and I'm trying to determine the best path in becoming a PSM.  Up until very recently I didn't know anything about scrum, or agile for that matter.  Long story short, I'm attempting to teach myself, so I can take the PSM I exam online here.  What advice can you give to someone whose been in the training field for just short of 5 years (military technical training), in getting into the career field?  Thank you for your time in advance.

Respectfully,

Shane Lobzun

09:43 am September 12, 2019

My advice: can you please answer (for yourself) the question: WHY do I want to become a Scrum Master, and what is it that I can/will bring to any team to help them improve?

12:58 pm September 12, 2019

What Xander recommended is a great and necessary first step.  

Once you have that I'd encourage you to seek out any local meet ups for Scrum / Agile practitioners and begin networking and learning more about the role from others who have been doing it. 

This can open up opportunities over time and help you continue to hone your craft. 

05:08 pm September 12, 2019

Totally agree with Xander's recommendation.

There is a short youtube video called "Product Ownership in a nutshell". Obviously it's about the PO, but I've shown it to PO's, SM's, and Dev teams. It shows the entire basic ecosystem the PO and Dev Team participate in, and thereby gives you a big picture perspective. With it, you can confirm if the SM role is perfect for you, or if you prefer the decision makings of a PO. It also lets you see what ways a SM is needed for both side, the PO and the Dev Team.

07:18 pm September 12, 2019

Echoing what has been said and adding: Seek out local recruiters PRIOR to taking the PSM or CSM. Depending on your location, you may have a very hard time getting into the field with no experience. Ask a recruiter what success they have had placing someone with your experience and the certificate of choice (PSM or CSM). Look up some local meetups for Scrum/Agile and seek out those that are senior level Scrum Masters or maybe even a manager of Scrum Masters and ask for some time to ask them if you'd have the ability/chance to become a scrum master with your experience. You're going to be investing your time and money into becoming a Scrum Master by going after a certificate, you should have an idea of an expected ROI. I know some recruiters across the country that work with the firm I'm in, look me up on Linked In and message me your info; I'll be happy to help get you connected if I'm able to help.

10:16 pm September 12, 2019

Gentlemen,

        Thank you for replying to my questions, I appreciate your insight and thoughts.  I'm very interested in becoming a Scrum Master and I've been reading a lot about it, but I know I have more to read before taking any exams.  Mr. Slough I sent you a connect invite on LinkedIn as requested and I appreciate any and all information you or your peers could assist me with.  A little background about myself.  I've been teaching for the past 4 1/2 years in the US Air Force, I presently am the Instructor Supervisor for a course, and I oversee 10 other Instructors, and over 200 students. I've been in charge of writing two courses (traditional waterfall approach), which works in the case of writing coursework.  I love working with people and seeing what they produce come to reality.  I'm currently in the process of making the transition from active duty to retiree. 

05:11 pm September 14, 2019

Late to this party but I want to point out one thing that wasn't really touched upon. I think it is somewhat relevant given your military background and some of the things you included in your last response.

Good Scrum Masters are not supervisors, managers or instructors.  Scrum Masters are servant-leaders that coach individuals and teams in how to be better as a team. They don't create instructional material on how to do work.

A Good Scrum Master is one that is never seen and is rarely needed.  With a new team you will be very visible and involved in helping them to come together as a self-managed, self-organizing team while respecting the Scrum Values and Artifacts.  Over time your goal is to become invisible as the team becomes more of a team.  There is no glory in being a good Scrum Master but a large of amount of pride in knowing what you did to help others become better. Recognition is not something you want to achieve. 

As part of the study that you do, focus a lot on the servant-leadership model and what it means to be good at that. Study Empiricism as it is the core of everything you will believe in as a Scrum Master. 

I know the military uses self-organized and self-managed teams but there is still a strict command-control framework over it all. I have friends and family that are current and ex military. Some of them have had difficulties understanding what I do as a Scrum Master/Agile Coach.  Others see it right away and can appreciate it.  But that same thing holds true to friends and family with no military background. It isn't always easy and it isn't for everyone. 

I applaud your goals and I wish you the best of luck.  Feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn if you wish. I don't feel I'm as knowledgeable as others but I will promise to be straight with you.  I may even resort to a few "you are completely wrong" statements in private that I would not do here.  :-)

05:37 pm September 14, 2019

It’s a well-known book and I suppose you’ve already read it, but “Turn The Ship Around!: A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules” is the go-to text for exploring the shift in mindset when building self-directing teams.