Skip to main content

How to Become a Scrum Master – 5 Simple Steps!

So you read the blog about What is a Scrum Master, you perused the Scrum Master job description 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 plays 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 Professional Scrum Masters over the last 10 years I’ve noticed a few things that great Scrum Masters do when starting their journeys

Dilbert Agile

1. Get Reading

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 can’t 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 an expert at the use of Scrum as well as be able to coach, and mentor the team and organisation in the effective use of Scrum. So there are at least three areas you need be reading about

  • Scrum
  • Coaching
  • Organisational Change

Agile Scrum Books

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, Pillars and Artefacts.

Here is a solid list of books to get you started in the right direction

  1. Mastering Professional Scrum: A Practitioner’s Guide to Overcoming Challenges and Maximizing the Benefits of Agility – This book provides practical guidance for practitioners looking to enhance their Scrum knowledge and overcome challenges in Agile projects. It covers topics such as servant leadership, self-organization, effective Scrum events, and scaling Scrum for larger projects.
  2. Zombie Scrum Survival Guide – The “Zombie Scrum Survival Guide” focuses on addressing the common pitfalls and dysfunctions that can arise in Scrum teams. It provides insights into identifying and combating “Zombie Scrum” and offers practical advice for revitalizing Scrum practices.
  3. Professional Scrum Team – This book is a guide for Scrum Teams, helping them understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as how to collaborate effectively and deliver value. It covers team dynamics, product backlog refinement, sprint planning, and continuous improvement.
  4. Professional Product Owner, The: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage – “The Professional Product Owner” explores the critical role of the Product Owner in Scrum. It provides guidance on product vision, stakeholder management, backlog management, and maximizing the value delivered by the Scrum Team.
  5. Agile Leadership Toolkit: Learning to Thrive with Self-Managing Teams – This book focuses on the role of Agile leaders in supporting self-managing teams. It offers practical tools, techniques, and insights for Agile leaders to foster an environment of empowerment, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
  6. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time – This book by Jeff Sutherland, one of the creators of Scrum, explores the principles and practices of Scrum. It provides real-life examples and strategies to improve productivity, deliver projects faster, and achieve better outcomes.
  7. The Scrum Field Guide: Agile Advice for Your First Year and Beyond – This book is a practical guide for Scrum Masters, providing advice and best practices for successfully implementing Scrum. It covers topics such as team collaboration, sprint planning, retrospectives, and addressing common challenges.
  8. Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process – “Essential Scrum” offers a comprehensive overview of Scrum, covering its core principles, roles, ceremonies, and artefacts. It provides practical guidance on applying Scrum in different contexts and includes case studies and examples.
  9. Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum – This book focuses on the practical aspects of implementing Agile methodologies, specifically on Scrum. It offers insights into Agile planning, estimating, tracking progress, and delivering high-quality software.
  10. Agile Estimating and Planning – “Agile Estimating and Planning” provides guidance on practical estimation and planning in Agile projects. It covers techniques such as story points, planning poker, and release planning, helping teams deliver value predictably.
  11. User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product – This book introduces the concept of user story mapping as a technique for understanding and visualizing the user’s journey. It provides guidance on creating compelling user story maps and using them to build the right product.
  12. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses – “The Lean Startup” explores the principles of Lean methodology in the context of startups. It provides insights into iterative experimentation, validated learning, and the build-measure-learn feedback loop, helping entrepreneurs create successful businesses.
  13. Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great – This book focuses on the retrospective practice in Agile projects. It offers techniques and facilitation methods to conduct effective retrospectives, enabling teams to reflect, learn, and continuously improve their processes.

These books cover a range of topics related to Scrum, Agile practices, leadership, and team dynamics. They provide valuable insights and guidance for Scrum Masters.

Agile Coaching Books

  1. Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition
  2. Building Top-Performing Teams: A Practical Guide to Team Coaching to Improve Collaboration and Drive Organizational Success
  3. Coaching the Team at Work 2: The definitive guide to team coaching
  4. Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership

Organisational Change Books

Organisational change is probably the toughest part of a Professional Scrum Masters’s job. Here are five books on organizational change that can be supremely useful for a Scrum Master:

  1. Leading Change by John P. Kotter – This book by renowned change management expert John P. Kotter provides practical insights and a step-by-step approach to successfully leading organizational change. As a Scrum Master, you often play a critical role in driving Agile transformations within organizations. Understanding the principles and strategies of change management can help you effectively guide teams and stakeholders through the challenges and resistance that can arise during Agile implementation.
  2. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – “Switch” offers a fresh perspective on understanding and implementing change. The authors present a framework that combines rational and emotional approaches to drive successful change initiatives. As a Scrum Master, you can leverage this book to learn practical techniques for overcoming resistance, motivating teams, and creating a culture that embraces change, thereby enabling the successful adoption of Agile practices.
  3. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization” by Peter M. Senge – This influential book explores the concept of a learning organization and provides insights into systems thinking, shared vision, and team learning. By understanding the principles of a learning organization, Scrum Masters can help foster a culture of continuous improvement, collaboration, and adaptability within their teams and the broader organization. This book offers valuable guidance on how to create an environment conducive to learning and change.
  4. Leading Change in Your School: How to Conquer Myths, Build Commitment, and Get Results by Douglas B. Reeves –  Although this book focuses on educational institutions, the insights provided are highly relevant to any organization undergoing change. It delves into the common myths and misconceptions surrounding change and provides practical strategies for building commitment, addressing resistance, and achieving results. Scrum Masters can adapt these strategies to navigate organizational challenges and effectively lead Agile transformations.
  5. The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations” by John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen – This book emphasizes the importance of addressing the emotional and human aspects of change. It presents real-life stories and case studies that highlight the role of emotions in successful change initiatives. Scrum Masters can benefit from the book’s insights by understanding the emotional dynamics of change, fostering buy-in, and leveraging storytelling techniques to engage stakeholders and inspire them to embrace Agile practices.

These books provide valuable perspectives, strategies, and practical techniques for navigating organizational change. By reading and applying the principles from these books, you can enhance your change management skills and effectively drive Agile transformations within your organization.

2. Get Training

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 Professional Scrum Master you should be intent on doing the same thing.

Agile Training

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 want to move on to the more advanced classes for both Scrum Master and Product Owner.

In addition, it’s worth learning some solid facilitation skills and training skills from Liberating Structures and Sharon Bowman’s Training from the Back of the Room

Why Scrum Training?

There can be mixed opinions on certifications, so if you’re still on the fence, here are several benefits the certification and training offers!

1. Enhanced Knowledge and Skills: Agile training provide a structured learning path that can help you deepen your understanding of Agile principles and the Scrum framework. It equips you with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively apply Agile practices in your work.

2. Credibility and Recognition: Training and certifications are widely recognized in the industry and prove your competence and expertise in Agile methodologies. Holding a certification demonstrates your commitment to professional development and can enhance your credibility among employers, clients, and peers.

3. Career Advancement: Agile Scrum certifications can significantly boost your career prospects. Many organizations actively seek professionals who are certified in Agile methodologies as they understand the value of having individuals who can contribute effectively to Agile projects. Holding certifications can open up new job opportunities and increase your chances of career advancement.

4. Improved Employability: Agile Scrum certifications are often considered as a valuable addition to your CV. They can make you stand out among other candidates in a competitive job market, increasing your chances of being shortlisted for interviews and landing desired roles.

5. Application of Best Practices: Agile training and certifications provide a comprehensive understanding of Agile practices and how to implement them effectively. This knowledge enables you to apply industry best practices, improve project delivery, and foster team collaboration and communication.

6. Increased Project Success: Agile methodologies are known for their ability to deliver projects in a more iterative and flexible manner. By going through continued training and certification, you can contribute to more successful project outcomes, including increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, and better project visibility.

7. Networking Opportunities: Agile Scrum certifications often involve joining a community of certified professionals. This community provides networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with like-minded individuals, share experiences, and learn from each other’s insights and challenges.

It is worth noting that while Agile certifications offer the above benefits, they are not a guarantee of success or effectiveness. You need real-world experience and continuous learning to excel truly.

3. Get Community

I cannot tell you how much you will improve by meeting others on the same journey. Meeting folks, discussing Scrum ideas and learning through each other, really supercharges your progress. Following are some of the benefits of joining an Agile community!

Knowledge Sharing:

Agile communities of practice provide a platform to share experiences, challenges, and best practices. As a Scrum Master, you can tap into the collective wisdom of experienced practitioners, gain insights, and learn from their successes and failures. This knowledge-sharing helps you avoid common pitfalls and accelerate your learning and growth.

Continuous Learning:

Agile methodologies are constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends, tools, and techniques is crucial for a Scrum Master. Agile communities of practice offer learning opportunities through webinars, workshops, conferences, and discussions. Engaging in these activities allows you to deepen your understanding of Agile principles, expand your skill set, and stay current with industry developments.

Mentorship and Guidance:

Agile communities often have experienced practitioners who are willing to mentor and guide newcomers. Having a mentor can provide valuable support and guidance as you navigate the challenges of being a Scrum Master. They can share their expertise, answer your questions, provide feedback on your approach, and help you grow professionally.

Networking:

Joining an agile community of practice enables you to expand your professional network. You can connect with Scrum Masters from different organizations, industries, and backgrounds. Building relationships with other practitioners allows you to exchange ideas, collaborate on projects, and seek advice when needed. It can also lead to potential career opportunities and referrals in the future.

Peer Support:

Being a Scrum Master can sometimes be lonely, especially if you are the only one in your organization or team. Agile communities of practice provide a sense of belonging and a support system where you can connect with peers who understand the challenges and complexities of the role. Sharing experiences, seeking advice, and receiving support from fellow Scrum Masters can be invaluable in boosting your confidence and resilience.

Collaboration and Problem-solving:

Agile communities often organize collaborative activities such as workshops, hackathons, or group problem-solving sessions. Participating in these activities allows you to work with others, tackle real-world challenges, and collectively come up with innovative solutions. Such collaborative experiences can enhance your problem-solving skills and broaden your perspective on Agile practices.

Recognition and Visibility:

Active participation in an Agile community of practice can help raise your visibility in the Agile community. Contributing to discussions, presenting at conferences, or sharing your knowledge through blogs or articles can establish your reputation as a thought leader and subject matter expert. This recognition can lead to speaking engagements, consulting opportunities, or invitations to join influential Agile initiatives.

If you’re a Scrum Master looking to enhance your professional development and build a supportive network, joining an agile community of practice can be highly beneficial. While it can be challenging to attend in-person events, various virtual options are available, such as Meetup and Agile LinkedIn groups. These platforms provide great opportunities to gain insights, share experiences, and accelerate your learning. So, take the first step and attend virtual meetings to connect with like-minded professionals and expand your knowledge.

4. Get Experience

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 experience are all options. Be creative, keep applying for roles, reach out to the Scrum Master/Agile community, be energetic and build your skills while you wait – don’t sit around, be active.

5. 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 backhand 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.

Learn with Fractal Systems

Looking to upskill and boost your career prospects in the world of agile methodology? Look no further than Fractal Systems’ Agile Training!

Our team of real-world practitioners are active in the industry, so you can trust that the techniques you learn are tried and tested in real-life situations. Our training isn’t just a lecture-based session filled with boring PowerPoint slides – we know that interactive, discussion-based learning is the best way to ensure you retain what you’ve learned and are ready to apply it in your work.

Our Agile Training is not only informative but also enjoyable and fun! We believe that training shouldn’t be a chore, but an opportunity to develop new skills and meet like-minded professionals. Our sessions are designed to be fully interactive, with plenty of opportunities for discussion, group activities, and hands-on exercises.

By completing our Agile Training, you’ll gain valuable insights into the latest agile trends and techniques, and be equipped with the skills and knowledge to apply them in your own workplace. Our team is dedicated to ensuring you get the most out of your training experience, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to develop your career and enhance your skills. Sign up for Fractal Systems’ Agile Training today!

Further Agile Scrum Training

 Online Professional Scrum Master Training I (PSMI)

 Online Professional Scrum Master Training II (PSMII)

 Online Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO)

 Professional Scrum Product Owner Advanced (PSPO-A)

 Applying Professional Scrum (APS)