Identifying the Scrum Master Landscape/Journey
When I began my agile journey, I started with two resources. The Scrum Guide and the Agile Manifesto. I read them, printed them off, and reread them many times over. I began applying the content of both in day to day interactions. It was clear early on I may not have understood the full context and scope of both documents, yet knew there was something more.
I needed a deeper understanding and the tool-set to support it all. This led to quite the personal challenge to identify what a Scrum Master’s journey could look like. With this, I created and revised some quick guidelines that I wanted to follow as I went down this investigative path.
Captain Long-Beard’s (Me) Learning Journey Guidelines:
- Create the appropriate space to apply what you have learned in your journey and experiment
- Drive with intent, lead with purpose and elevate people as you venture through your learning journey
- Invest in yourself and others (don’t wait for others to invest in you)
- Define your learning journey, revisit it often and change it as much as needed
- Be transparent in your journey and take others along with you
- Gain and share your experiences
- Create relationships and growth opportunities
- Establish Strategic, Tactical and Operational goals
In a simple google search, I stumbled upon two great pieces from Barry Overeem called “The 8 Stances of a Scrum Master” and “A day in the life of a Scrum Master”. Mind blown! While these both provided me with the much-needed role context I found myself feeling like I had a huge knowledge deficit. By this I mean, how do I facilitate, coach, mentor, and teach — and what else did I need to know that I had not stumbled on yet? At that point, Google and I entered into a relationship.
I planned to spend time (a ton of time) seeking out the “one” resource, a step by step guide to help me navigate my Scrum Master journey. Using a plethora of keywords, the results were always the same. Nothing! No step by step guide, no training plan, no learning journey, and no conclusive growth template to follow.
The more I perused the wide world of Google, the more I confirmed I knew less then what I had thought. This certainly came with pinch confusion and a feeling of informational defeat after running into words like Anti-Patterns, FLOW, Liberating Structures, and Core Protocols.
Of course, it did not just stop there. Somewhere in this moment is where I sat back in my chair and just stared at my monitor. A blank thoughtless stare of the unorganized. The next morning, I remember drinking coffee saying to myself “I need a plan and what college can I sign up for all of this”. Ok, there was no college degree to cover all of what I was looking for in “all things Scrum Mastery”. So I moved on to the next best thing. Identifying as many opportunities across the world wide web as I could. Yes, my relationship with Google was back on and deeper than ever. As I progressed in the search, the opportunities identified typically fit into one of 8 categories noted below. I am sure there are many, many, many more. A slight version of information overload if you were to allow it.
With this multitude of educational resources staring at me, it was time for action. The next step was to set some goals for one month then weigh the outcomes to determine what the following month could look like. My initial goals looked something like this:
Very attainable goals, however, the outcome of month one was just a tad different resulting in what may be that of a crazed obsessed bearded man. In short, I read too many books, joined every social media community I saw, participated in multiple webinars/workshops weekly, read blogs/articles every morning and before bed, and went to multiple meetups. Yes, podcasts and obtaining credentials were squeezed in there too. Not very sustainable yet occurred month after month for a short while. Not sure my approach was healthy for a spell but I was certainly growing. Feeling more confident each day and sharing along the way.
My journey lines were expanding further and further into “all things agile”. Yes, practicing and experimenting occurred along the way. So did successes and a fair amount of failures. I started to hone in on my knowledge gaps. In this, I discovered I was not only exploring specific topics but also a deeper understanding of myself. This hit me the most when I attended a 5-day ICAgile Bootcamp. Can I just share — #lifelongvalue! It is not a myth for I hath seen (experienced) it!
In my learning journey, I realized a few things. First, everyone’s journey is different. This is not only “ok” but preferred. There is no “one size fits all”. I customized my journey to fit the scenarios I was in, for my personal needs/goals and those around me. I assessed and updated it frequently while being honest with my growth.
The second realization is I had created a small view of a Scrum Master’s landscape. From my perspective, this included foundational learning, educational opportunities, and what I poorly call competencies. While it does not include all the great resources under the bright Agile sun it can be a good start. I was literally creating what I had been looking for. Whalla!
My final realization was many Scrum Masters either were/are asking the same question(s) I was back in the day or should be. And I/we could help, I think. Too often you hear of an individual getting the “cert” and they are all good. I am sorry to say it but becoming a Scrum Master is a learning journey and not a stopping point after achieving a “cert”. To help other Scrum Masters, I created a personal accountability document to track and assess their knowledge. For me, it serves as an anchor point to maintain alignment with my long term goals. No, I would not want to call this a checklist rather a listing of learning opportunities. Outlined within is much of the below content just organized in a manner that could be of better value to others. I still have some work to better organize and present the data but have already found some value in our Agile community.
Outside of my relationship with Google, my engagement with the Scrum Master and Agile community assisted me to further my understanding of the landscape. This helped me define the work ahead. It may assist you too. Our role is a broad and deep one. The more tools, knowledge, relationships, and experience we have the more successful those around us will be. To this I will say, invest in you to elevate those around you!
The images provided are a collection of competencies and learning opportunities from many broad engagements across the Agile community. This view and content may engage your curiosity or perhaps be just that dart in the board you were looking for. What stands out to you? Agile/Scrum is very deep and can be a confusing landscape to navigate. Perhaps this could be the beacon to provide focus on your own personal journey. I will share it all has been of great benefit to me in my own learning journey.
My hope in sharing a small glimpse of my journey will provide others with a simple listing of content to support defining your learning journey, serve as an inspiration, and broadening your Scrum Master horizon. Still to this day, I seek out information building upon the foundation and increase the tools in my belt whether that be webinars, books, blogs, training, or any other form of learning. In doing so, my (Captain Long-Beard) guidelines continue to be a focal point.
Be Better today than you were yesterday and evolve your tool-belt.
“Make it meaningful. Make it fun. Make it yours!”