New Junior SM HELP!

Last post 08:46 am November 18, 2021
by Niall Fallon
4 replies
10:51 am November 17, 2021

Hi Guys, 

Was wondering if anyone had any advice, I've recently been assigned a Junior SM position. Although I am not yet certified I have some experience with facilitating daily stand-ups and retrospectives.


What advice can you give to a complete newbie on how to effectively work their role?


Many Thanks, 


10:10 pm November 17, 2021
  1. Keep learning and looking for opportunities to be proved wrong, about your understanding of Scrum, but also about the teams, organizations, stakeholders and products your work with.
    Read the Scrum Guide (multiple times), and look for other learning resources.
    It's a great sign that you're already here, looking for advice!
  2. Scrum relies on empiricism. Consider the "three pillars" of empiricism: transparency, inspection, and adaptation, and reflect on the way they connect to the different aspects of Scrum, such as the roles, artifacts and events.
    Consider whether the right things are transparent to the right people. If they are transparent, consider whether the right people are making good use of that transparency to inspect the right things at the right time. If they are inspecting, are those people trying to adapt in order to improve? Are the adaptations transparent, and then also being inspected and adapted?
  3. Scrum will not solve all of your problems, but it may make those problems painfully obvious. Once the problems are transparent, you and your colleagues will need to do the difficult work to solve them. Help others make those problems transparent, help the Scrum Team, leaders and stakeholders inspect and adapt to make things better. If Scrum feels like more of a hindrance than a help, try to understand the underlying causes of the problem. Rather than try to change Scrum to ease the pain, continue to expose that pain, and use that as an incentive to tackle the problem.
  4. Look beyond the Scrum Team, and work with the wider organization. At first there may be fine opportunities to improve by focusing within the team, but eventually the biggest gains will be found by working with leaders and stakeholders, perhaps to eliminate or mitigate organizational impediments.
  5. Be impatient. Don't accept an inadequate status quo. Help others see the urgency for change, and encourage leaders to communicate the urgency.
    At some point you will encounter people who do not want to provide transparency, or to inspect or adapt. Some organizations are so resistant to empiricism that they are almost certainly beyond help. Consider that at some point you may face pressure to compromise on your duties as a Scrum Master, and reflect on how much tolerance you would have for that, before you resign.

I hope this helps. They're just a few things I wish I knew earlier.

Best of luck!

11:32 pm November 17, 2021

In addition to what Simon Mayer said, I'd add two more things:

  1. Observe. How they run their events. Their interactions. The tools they use. The behaviors and personalities of people on the team and how they interact with each other. How people outside the team work with the team. Spend the time to understand what the current state is.
  2. Ask questions. Ask why the team does what they do and about past experiments. For past experiments or things they've tried, ask about problems they faced or why the experiment failed. Ask about things that they want to try. Ask individuals about what they see as the team's biggest strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

When I work with a new team, I like to spend a good Sprint just observing and asking questions. This helps orient myself and make myself useful to the team.

02:07 am November 18, 2021

I've recently been assigned a Junior SM position

There's no Junior version of any professional Scrum accountability which can be assigned at all. Organizations love their hierarchies and can sometimes be addicted to the arrogance of assigning their problems to others.

A Scrum Master manages people's understanding of the framework and has littlle tolerance for organizational impediments. People may want change but rarely want to change, so choose your battles carefully.

08:46 am November 18, 2021

Welcome aboard.

I suggest not preaching or even mentioning Agile and Scrum for a while. 

Seek guidance from the Scrum Guide but don't force anything e.g. the 15 minute standup, take it easy, get the group talking and communicating, don't focus on story points and velocity too quickly.

Learn more about Coaching and Mentoring, not the same thing (the sentence above is Mentoring). 

It's a long road, learn something new from the team every day.