Giving back: Considerations for a new Scrum Master

I remember it well…as if it were yesterday. A certain day many years ago when I was told that I was to be a Scrum Master for a team within the organisation that I was working for at the time. Yikes!!!

I didn’t know just what to expect and I certainly didn’t really know what being a Scrum Master entailed and how might be a good way to proceed in those early days and weeks.

Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation….maybe you have more of a say than I did about embarking on the path to being a Scrum Master. Either way the intent of this article is to give back some of my personal thoughts and suggestions of things that might help you if you are starting on a similar journey. Things that I know now that I believe would have helped me back then. Do note that the following items are in no particular order but rather just my personal thoughts and ideas. 

  1. Read the Scrum Guide:
    Okay – I know I said these were in no particular order but I did feel that I had to begin with this one. I would openly hold my hand up at this point and state that it took me some time to realise that there was such a document that existed. Do take the time to read it….and then also keep coming back to read it again. Scrum is a lightweight framework and is purposefully incomplete. It doesn’t tell you exactly how to use Scrum in your context (remember that everyone’s context is different) but the Scrum Guide aims to inform you of the mandatory elements that make up  the core Scrum framework. 
     
  2. Introduce yourself to the Scrum Values:
    Needless to say that due to me being unaware of such a thing as the Scrum Guide then I clearly had no idea that there were 5 core Scrum Values which underpin the framework. These core values of FocusOpennessCommitmentCourage and Respect really help build trust, take us towards Professional Scrum and are the foundations needed for empiricism to thrive.
     
  3. Get to grips with empiricism:
    On the subject of empiricism then aim to understand early what it really means, why it’s so important and how the elements of Scrum support it.
     
  4. Know what is being inspected and adapted:
    There are 5 events in Scrum. Other than the Sprint itself which acts as a container for everything else then all the 4 other events are opportunities to inspect and adapt something. Make sure you are comfortable in what is being inspected and adapted for each event. If you are clear about this then there is a much better chance you can help coach and guide your team to achieving significantly better outcomes.
     
  5. Listen and observe your new team:
    Watch, listen, observe and understand where they are at right now. Respect their current approaches and working arrangements.
      
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help:
    Seek out other Scrum Masters within your company, reach out to your colleagues, check out the Scrum.org forums, attend meetups.
     
  7. Help establish a team charter:
    Does your new team have some kind of team charter or team working agreements? If not then maybe this is something you can work with them to start thinking about bringing transparency to how the team would like to work with each other.
     
  8. Look to build an empowered self-managing team:
    Think about what you can do as a Scrum Master to help foster the environment where the Scrum Team becomes more empowered and is able to self-manage around their work.
     
  9. Make use of the available resources on Scrum.org:
    Check out the Scrum Master Learning Path and see what is available. There is a rich array of amazing blogs, videos, webcasts, whitepapers and a whole lot more.
     
  10. Begin to explore Liberating Structures:
    As a Scrum Master then over time there will be an expectation on that you are an awesome facilitator. Note that this is not just limited to the core Scrum events which you can facilitate (if needed) but also to other meetings outside Scrum which might require effective facilitation – so for example helping your Product Owner with some challenging conversations with key stakeholders. Liberating Structures are a set of microstructures that are designed to help collaboration and conversation whilst ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard.
     
  11. Check out the fantastic YouTube series of Your Daily Scrum videos:
    Created by fellow Professional Scrum Trainers Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller as part of Agile For Humans. There are a lot of great questions being answered so take your pick.
     
  12. Think about formal training:
    Enrol for a Professional Scrum Master course with Scrum.org. The concept of Professional Scrum is extremely important (see above) and as a Scrum Master you should have an excellent appreciation and understanding of just what that means and your role in supporting it.
     
  13. Move towards Flow Metrics:
    Anyone that knows me well would be hugely disappointed if I hadn’t included some kind of reference to Flow Metrics. I would definitely be planting this seed in the minds of all Scrum Masters both new and experienced. Utilising Flow Metrics as part of your Scrum implementation can be hugely powerful and beneficial. 

Should you find yourself in a similar situation to where I found myself all those years ago then I hope the above gives you something to consider and helps you establish some kind of path forwards.

I am clearly hugely biased but being a Scrum Master is a fantastic opportunity where quite often no two days can feel the same and you frequently will need to take different stances (or combinations of stances) depending on the situation in in in which you find yourself. You should expect to be continually learning and helping others continually improve.

If you do decide that you would like to come along to a Professional Scrum Master class then feel free to reach out to me at paulralton@bagile.co.uk or take a look at our course schedule. We offer both public and private courses to fit your needs.

Let me know your thoughts on the above…..what’s missing…..what else would you add for new Scrum Masters?

Over time I plan to expand on some of the above items so watch this space!

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