Learning from a “New to it All” Scrum Master

Over the last month or so, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a fantastic group of people on their Agile journey.  And, I’m telling you, every time I leave them to come home, I have a smile on my face and I look forward to the next time I work with them.  One of the gems to come from this engagement is watching a brand new Scrum Master start to grow.

When I first met this SM, I was impressed with her grasp of Agile.  It was clear she understood and was passionate about it.  The amazing thing was she had never actually worked in an Agile environment or with an Agile team.  In fact, she hadn’t even led an IT project before as a PM (or any other role) but there she was, working tirelessly, to help her organization transform.  It was obvious to me she had the desire and necessary passion to be an integral part of the change….there was only 1 thing missing:  Experience.

So, along comes this opportunity to be the Scrum Master for a team.  She wanted to do it.  Her management was supportive.  She jumped in with both feet, an open mind and desire to learn and grow.  All I can say is WOW!  I’ve watched her embrace and embody servant leadership.  She asks questions and seeks input from everywhere.  She’s an advocate for her team and is sincerely “there” for them.  She may not know the ins and outs of IT but, it’s not seeming to matter right now.  In fact, in her first retro, her team expressed shock she was new to this and their appreciation for her after only one sprint.

Here are some of the take-aways

1.  No Baggage  –  When you come to a new opportunity, leave your previous “baggage” at the door.  I think one of the things that’s helping her in the Scrum Master role is the LACK of IT experience.  She has a “why not” attitude that’s refreshing and, frankly, spot on.  For her, there is no “It is what it is” or “That’s how it’s always been done”.  Fresh eyes and perspective are an edge.  For me, this is something I will try to do for myself and for the people I’m fortunate enough to work with.

2.  Expect To Learn –  There’s no way you can know it all.  It’s not possible.  When you go into a situation with an expectation to learn, you will grow, challenge yourself and set the example for others to follow.  We’re all on a learning journey together is a wonderful rallying point for a team.

3.  State Your Purpose – One of the things this new Scrum Master did was tell the team what her personal goals were.  She was very clear that she was there to learn, help them in whatever way they needed her and they were her number one focus.  That’s powerful for a team to hear.  Who doesn’t want to be someone’s number one focus?

4.  Ask Questions – It’s true.  There really is no such thing as a stupid question.  Ask away!  Seek answers and knowledge and LEARNING.

5.  Walk The Walk – Show your team, through your actions, that you’re in it all with them and their growth and development is top of mind and priority.

It’s exciting, for me, to watch the personal transformation of this Scrum Master.  It’s also refreshing.  Seeing the Scrum Master role and Agile through her “new to it all” eyes has been incredibly beneficial to me.   I can’t speak to what I have done for her but, I can say with a high degree of confidence she has done more for me.  Now, off to get some work done with a fresh perspective!

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