Scrum Master Learning Path

Learning how to Encourage Teamwork, Inspire Your Team, and Create Value for the Organization

Being a Scrum Master is a demanding job. There’s a lot you need to know about the Scrum framework and even today, most organizations don’t really understand the role of the Scrum Master. As a result, many organizations implement  Scrum and Agile as a software development or project management process. But it really isn't!


Here, on this page, you’ll find everything you need to know to become a Scrum Master and then elevate your skills to become an amazing Scrum Master! 


If you look in the Scrum Guide, you’ll find that the basic definition of the Scrum Master says that "the Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. Scrum Masters do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values.” 


The Scrum Guide further explains that the Scrum Master

  1. is a servant leader for the Scrum team,
  2. helps those outside the Scrum team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum team are helpful and which aren’t, and
  3. help everyone change these interactions to maximize the value created by the Scrum team.

The Scrum Master Learning Path presented here is organized using the learning objectives for the Certified Scrum Master (CSM), and Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) and Certified Scrum Professional - Scrum Master (CSP-SM) levels as defined by the Scrum Alliance. We’ll walk you through all the steps, starting with someone who is absolutely new to Scrum and has just been given the assignment of Scrum Master.


Artisan certification training courses are taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). The information provided on this page follow the learning objectives as defined by the Scrum Alliance, but also includes additional information than typically provided in the Scrum Alliance courses. Of course, we are constantly adding more information to this page to help you grow and succeed as a Scrum Master!


Surprise! You’re a Scrum Master. Now What?

OK. Don’t panic. You don’t have to know everything. You only have to know enough about the Scrum framework to get started. Let’s start by looking at these documents (each one will open in a different window when you click on it so that you can close the window when done and come right back here). These documents will thoroughly describe the foundations of Scrum.

Learning More

Why Scrum Works - The Values Behind the Scrum Framework Once you have the basics of Scrum understood (see all that material in the previous section), you’re ready to move into some deeper stuff. When we talk about “values,” a lot of folks lose interest in the conversation. “Values?” they say, “Why should I care about values? Just show me what to do!” Well, it doesn’t work that way. You see, Scrum is a framework, not a process or methodology. If you do’t understand the values that make Scrum tick, two things are going to happen:  

  1. You won’t get the results you’re looking for from Scrum - like a lot of organizations, you’ll probably decide that your business is too complex and the Scrum framework can’t work for you. Well, as a friend of ours says frequently, “the program doesn’t work when you don’t work the program.” 
  2. When unfamiliar situations occur, you won’t know how to make a decision - in other words, when a situation occurs that you simply can’t learn specifically how to address, understanding the values behind Scrum will give you a way to make a decision and judge its appropriateness.

If you try to use the Scrum framework as a methodology, you WILL fail. The Scrum framework represents a mindset as well as practice. If you don’t get the mindset, nothing else will happen they way you want it to.  


So, the values behind the Scrum framework are:

  1. FOCUS - Probably the most important thing to consider for your development team is this: how focused on they on the work they are trying to do? Are they working on multiple product backlog items (PBIs) at the same time? Are they on multiple development teams? Ask yourself this question: what would happen if you tried to read three books at the same time. Say, every fifteen minutes, you switched from one book to another? How well would you understand the books? Would you remember the stories? The details? Probably not. A study done at the University of California at Irvine noted that people take, on average, a little more than 23 minutes to resume interrupted work. Imagine losing 25-40% of your day to recovering from interruptions! We talk more about this here.
  2. OPENNESS - What kind of a Scrum team is it if we aren’t talking about challenges and successes doing the work. If teammates don’t know when you’re stuck on a task, how are they going to help? If they don’t know you don’t feel well today, how do they know to back off expectations and even back you up a little with some additional assistance? Wouldn’t you want to be on a team where everyone is pulling for you to be successful?
  3. RESPECT - This goes right up there with OPENNESS. If team members don’t respect one another, they can’t really form a team. The beauty of teams is that, while every individual on the team has a variety of different skills and different levels of expertise, when they come together as a team, the sum of all of their combined skills is often considerably greater than each individual. To get to this point, respect is an absolutely necessity. It involves each team member having the responsibility of doing their best and always working to be better. When everyone does this, teams excel.
  4. COMMITMENT - When a Scrum team completes a successful Sprint Planning, they make a commitment to the Product Owner (sometimes this is called a “forecast”) to complete the work. Each individual team member has to decide that completing the work committed in the Sprint is the most important work goal that they have at that point in time.
  5. COURAGE - this value is about tackling the tough problems and doing the right thing, even when difficult. There are tasks people don’t like doing (these tasks usually involve repetitive or “less cool” tasks like updating documentation) — but we have to and someone should have the courage to accept the work. Being a Scrum team member sometimes means just being in the game, even if you don’t have “the ball."

How Scrum Works - Empiricism

Scrum is a very simple framework based on the principle of empiricism. Essentially, “empiricism” means that we learn through experience. When it comes to building a product, the concept of empiricism means that we will consistently do the following:  

  1. Build a little bit of the product
  2. Inspect the result of our efforts and try to get feedback
  3. Adapt our plan based on what we learned from the inspection and feedback
  4. Repeat.

Scrum looks at empiricism as having “three pillars” on which the concept of empiricism is based (see image in gallery above). The concept of empiricism, while simple, is far too often ignored by many Scrum teams. 


Empiricism is so important that every Scrum event is based on it. For example, if the Sprint Review is not done properly, the product will not be properly inspected and what the team builds next will probably be more based on what had been planned than what actually makes the most sense.  


The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) TrainingNow that you have the basics understood, it’s time to find an Artisan CSM training course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) and learn the rest of the information from a trainer who has learned Scrum inside and out and is ready to help you take the next step in becoming an amazing Scrum Master and give you the tools you need to start inspiring yourteam.   


Next Steps: More Advanced Materials

Now that you’ve completed the CSM certification and learned a lot more about the Scrum framework, it’s time to start taking things to the next level. For starters, the clock is now running. With the CSM and one year of experience, you’ll be ready to take another huge leap in your understanding of being a Scrum Master by attempting the Advanced Certified Scrum Master training. 


So, let’s start getting ready!  

Getting More Advanced: Creating a LEAN Team

By now you’ve been a ScrumMaster for at least nine or ten months. You’ve got the Scrum events working perfectly, your development team has gone through a few problems which you’ve worked your way through. They’ve even gotten a little better at what they do (in other words, their velocity has increased). Let’s take the next step and start applying some lean concepts to your team and ramp up their ability to get stuff done even more!

 

What we’re trying to do in the above points is SIMPLIFY. An Agile principle and one of our most favorite, “simplify” means to reduce waste, complexity, cost, and time. While all of the items above CAN be difficult to do, each and every one of them will create better and better performance on your team.    


The Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) Training

By now you’ve been a Scrum Master for at least a year (make sure you take this next step before your CSM expires). It’s time to take the next step in your career as a ScrumMaster. It’s time to find an Artisan A-CSM training course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST).  


Next?

We’re continuing to work on this page — there’s a lot of information here and a lot more that we want to add. Keep checking back or, even better, sign up for website update notifications and we’ll send them out whenever we make important changes to the website content.


The Certified Scrum Professional - Scrum Master (CSP-SM) Training

COMING SOON!!!! 

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