Learning How to Be a Scrum Master is Hard

by Valerie Santillo on June 6, 2013

Valerie Santillo, Woman in AgileValerie’s full voice can be heard at AgileYammering.  Here she is:

I was fortunate enough to co-facilitate a CSM class this week.  What can I say?  It’s been a true learning week for me. It was such a great experience.  It’s good to re-visit the basics again.  Other than this and my own CSM, I have observed one other class.  In all of them I came away with a different insight and refreshed thinking.  Since I had a different role in this class, I also had a different perspective.

This time, I walked away with an appreciation for how difficult it is to wrap your head around everything.  It’s overwhelming.  I can’t decide who it’s more overwhelming for though.  The person who is brand new to it OR the one who believes they have been doing it only to realize….not so much.

Then, on Wednesday, you’re supposed to go back and start applying it all.  GAH!  Honestly, I think the class could benefit from another day which at least touched on how to go about beginning to apply it all.  The transition to Scrum Master, for me, was not an easy one.  There are many facets of the role which didn’t come naturally to me.  Specifically the one about being in control.  Also, the one about letting teams learn through “failure”.

While it may not have come naturally, the role and the principles resonated with me.   They made sense.  Even as a PM I believed it was more about the people on the team than the plan.  The transition is something I really had to work at, think about and learn through my own, um, failures.  Also, those failures are hard because you’re talking about impacting people in a possibly negative way.  Ouch.  I’m thankful for the team members I worked with.  They were patient, understanding and willing to give me another chance.  In fact, I believe they were way more patient with me than I was with myself and, for a while, than I was with them even.

I guess my point is, for new Scrum Masters, don’t feel you should get it right away.  It’s a continual learning process.  It’s about trying things, reading a lot, finding a mentor and asking a lot of questions and making yourself vulnerable enough to try something and build on your experiences.  If at first something doesn’t succeed, try something else and continue to do so.   The other thing that goes a long way is to let people know you want to try something and ask if they’re willing to try it with you.  If you mess up, call it out and apologize.  If you go about it the right way with your teams, it will help build trust.  They’re not perfect and neither are you and that’s OK.

I am sincerely appreciative of the CST who let me co-facilitate.  It takes time from other work.  It takes mental energy.  It takes guts.  Had I tanked, it would have reflected poorly on him.  I’m hoping to find others to work with and continue on this journey.

This blog post originally appeared at AgileYammering in Februray 2013.

Thanks, Valerie, for kicking off #WomeninAgile.  Love, Lyssa.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Savita Pahuja December 15, 2013 at 8:54 am

That’s a true message to all scrum masters as well as new adopter organizations. Take time. Inspect and adapt. Only getting CSM wont do magic. Its just a beginning of new role.

Thanks for sharing thoughts.

Natalie Warnert June 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I completely agree, it was a very hard transition and different way of thinking in becoming a ScrumMaster. Thank you for sharing your experience. I think it is important to try and see things from other perspectives as it can be a great learning opportunity.

Valerie June 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Thank you, Lyssa, for all your guidance and mentoring. Also, thanks for the nudge. 😉

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