How to become a Scrum Master – 5 Simple Steps!
So you read the blog about What is a Scrum Master and you’re ready to start your journey! Great job!
The Scrum Master is probably one of the most famous Agile roles. And rightly so, because the Scrum Master pays a pivotal role in helping the team with the efficient and effective use of Scrum. Because the role is so involved there is a lot to do to get yourself up to speed.
Having trained, coached and mentored a number of Scrum Masters over the last 10 years I’ve noticed a few things that great Scrum Masters do when starting their journeys
A Scrum Master is an absolute professional at what they do. They work hard in guiding and supporting their teams and organisations in the effective use of Scrum. You cant do that if you don’t know anything. Your goal therefore should be to be reading at least 1-2 books per month that help you get better at being a Scrum Master.
Remember a Scrum Master should be expert at the use of Scrum as well as being able to coach, mentor the team and organisation in the effective use of Scrum. So there are at least three areas you need be reading about
If you’re wanting to be a Scrum Master, you better know a lot about Scrum. You should have a deep understanding of the Scrum Framework, its Roles, Events, Values, the Pillars and Artefacts. Here is a solid list of books to get you started in the right direction
Mastering Professional Scrum: A Practitioner’s Guide to Overcoming Challenges and Maximizing the Benefits of Agility
Zombie Scrum Survival Guide
Professional Scrum Team
Professional Product Owner, The: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage
Agile Leadership Toolkit: Learning to Thrive with Self-Managing Teams
Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition
Building Top-Performing Teams: A Practical Guide to Team Coaching to Improve Collaboration and Drive Organizational Success
Coaching the Team at Work 2: The definitive guide to team coaching
Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership
The Science of Organizational Change: How Leaders Set Strategy, Change Behavior, and Create an Agile Culture: 1
IMPACT: 21st Century Change Management, Behavioral Science, Digital Transformation, and the Future of Work
The above is a starter list, remember as a Scrum Master you should be continuing to grow your knowledge systematically and intentionally.
You’ll never get as good as you can be without learning from others. As such I am always working on attending training classes and advancing my knowledge from experienced practitioners. As a potential Scrum Master you should be intent on doing the same thing.
As a minimum you should aim to get the Scrum Master training as well as the Product Owner training. If you want to excel, you should be wanting to move onto the more advanced classes for both Scrum Master and Product Owner.
In addition, its worth learning some solid facilitation skills and training skills from Liberating Structures and Sharon Bowman’s Training from the Back of the Room
Although training is a great way to gain certifications, remember that certs are not the focus. You should be wanting to improve your knowledge and most importantly your practice – you have to apply what you have learned to get better.
I cannot tell you how much you will improve by meeting other people on the same journey as you. Meeting folks, discussing Scrum ideas and learning through each other, really supercharges your progress.
Its tough right now to get out and meet people so do what you can virtually. But as mentioned, Meet-ups are a great way to learn, laugh, share experiences and accelerate your learning. Join Meetup as a first step but there’s also Agile LinkedIn groups too. Get meeting and learning.
You need to get real experience. This can be tricky when you’re brand new. Because most companies want to hire experienced people and most can be risk averse to bringing on newbies. So you have to make it easy for them to take a shot with you.
So How do you do that? Training and certifications really help, as well as having a strong CV with relevant experience highlighting that you have transferrable skills. Going for junior roles or even working for the experience are all options. Be creative, keep applying for roles, reach out to the Scrum Master/Agile community, be energetic and keep building your skills while you wait – don’t sit around, be active.
Get Coaching and Mentorship
Among other things, Scrum Masters ARE coaches. It’s the nature of the work and is a core skill and competency. Trying to be a coach without ever having received coaching is much like someone wanting to win a marathon but who has never put on a pair of running shoes or even gone for a gentle walk. If you want to give coaching and be proficient, find great coaches and experience coaching first hand. By the way, get relevant coaching. A tennis coach may help with your back-hand but not with your Scrum.
By being on the other side, you’ll learn and experience different coaching approaches and styles. This experience helps you find your style and niche. But there is a not so hidden bonus. You will get better and improve along the way. What's not to like?
Additionally, find a great mentor. Someone who will share experience and give advice. Mentorship is hugely valuable. Just having someone there to help you along the path you’re trying to tread and having proven answers to tricky problems will accelerate your learning like you wouldn’t believe.
So that’s it – 5 simple steps. The journey is intense, but so very worthwhile.
If you really want to level up your Scrum Master skills, why not join us on one of our Scrum Training events here: https://fractalsystems.co.uk/agile-scrum-training/ or take our practice assessments here: https://fractalsystems.co.uk/scrum-practice-assessments/
And finally, to continue learning you can find our blogs here: https://fractalsystems.co.uk/scrum-blog/ and our Thought Leadership pieces here: https://fractalsystems.co.uk/agile-scrum-blog/
Good luck in your Scrum journey!