Advice for a New Scrum Master

I'm NewThere’s a lot to learn when you first become a Scrum Master.  Whether you were previously a project manager or part of the development team, you will find that Scrum Master comes with a completely new perspective.  There’s a lot to learn and, if you’re doing it right, that learning process will never end.  So what is the best way to start learning what you need to become a good Scrum Master?  Here’s some of my suggestions.

INSPECT

Questions

If you’re ever unsure about what to do, a good place to start is by asking questions.  As a scrum master I’ve found the questions you ask can have a much bigger impact than the answers you give.  Often you can leave the answers for others to provide, but you get to be the catalyst by asking the questions that make people think about things critically.

Practice Active Listening by repeating what others say as a question to confirm their meaning.  It can help you to develop your understanding in yourself and in others.

Active Observation

Observe everything around you.  Try not to be a passive observer, but an active one.  That doesn’t mean interrupting or becoming a disruption.  It does mean thinking about the underlying reasons for what’s going on around you.  Use the 5 Whys to understand not only what is happening, but why.

Learning

There are a lot of ways to learn about scrum in a way that isn’t specific to your organization but should give you the information you need to apply scrum well.

  • Read lots.  There are lots of books and websites about scrum so you’ll never be short of new things to read.
  • Talk to other scrum masters.  There are scrum communities out there, on scrum sites or on twitter and linkedin.  You can also look for meet ups where you can meet other scrum masters in real life.  Real life discussions can be the most valuable.

It’s important to also learn about things other than scrum including a variety of development techniques and project management processes.  Remember that everything you learn can be added to your tool belt.  Then again, there’s so much to learn you will need to prioritize.  Focus on learning things that you can practice and apply practically in the near to medium term.

Ask for Feedback

Ask for feedback from others about how you’re doing.  Find people who you can trust to be honest.  The scrum retrospective can be a good time to solicit this feedback from the team, but don’t forget to get feedback from other members of the organization too.  Ask them “Is there anything I can do to help you more?” or “What is one thing you think I could do better?”

ADAPT

Action Points

A good Scrum Master is one that gets things done.  A good way to deal with this is to create action points at every meeting or as issues arise.  The action points then become your personal backlog which you can prioritize and put all your efforts into completing them.  Tracking what you’ve done can also help to motivate you as the done pile adds up.  You can also review the done action points to reflect on which actions were the most valuable, which can help you identify and focus your efforts on more valuable actions in the future.

Experiment

Don’t be afraid to try new things.  Approaching changes as experiments can also help to get others on board.  Put  change in place for a sprint or two and then reflect on whether the change was successful and should be kept in place. If it doesn’t work, do something else.


Related Books:

Scrum Mastery

Geoff Watts
2013
Coaching Agile Teams

Lyssa Adkins
2010
The Scrum Field Guide

Mitch Lacey
2012


Categories: Roles

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