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The Stages of Scrum Mastery

April 14, 2020


Good Scrum Masters are passionate.

Great Scrum Masters are dispassionate.


Noel Burch, a psychologist, created a learning model to describe how humans go through four stages of learning when introduced to a new skill. When we learn new skills, we experience different emotions at different stages of the learning process. In the beginning, we may not realize how much we need to learn. Then, when we discover what we don't know about a subject, we may get disheartened, and we might even give up.  Recognizing how we feel at each stage of the learning process can help us to "stick with it" and manage these emotional ups and downs. The Stages that he describes are


Unconscious incompetence:  The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their incompetence, and the value of the new ability, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.


Conscious incompetence:  Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the gaps, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing them. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage. Our minds are now aware of the fact that we are at the beginning of a long learning curve. 


Conscious Competence:  The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

Unconscious Competence:  The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed naturally. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned. This automatic response allows us to enter an absorbed, thoughtless state, often called being “in the zone” or “in the flow.”


A Scrum Master can use these stages to check whether she/he is playing the role in a way that the chances of success will be the highest. 


I have learned that there is a good correlation between the four stages of learning and the stages of Scrum Mastery.  In this paper, I have tried to demonstrate how some of the behaviors of the Scrum Master block their shift to Servant-Leadership. In doing so, I have described the need for recognizing at what stage we are in. It is my conviction that Scrum Masters will be benefited by gaining insight to Inspect and adapt their style. 


The White Paper

You can download the whitepaper here. I hope you enjoy reading it!


About tryScrum

TryScrum is a professional coaching and consulting company. The company aims to challenge prescience thinking, which will help in the process of transformation. The company has provided its course to over 1400 individuals and still strives to deliver their services, by offering their elite course of leadership training and many other available fields.

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