What I Wish I'd Known As a New ScrumMaster

Two new Scrum Masters put their heads together to think of what they wish they'd known as new ScrumMasters.

Here at Scrum Alliance we work in seven Scrum teams.  All of our internal ScrumMasters meet each week in what they call ScrumMaster Clubhouse. It’s a community of practice where they can share their struggles, their wins, and their strategies for improving across the organization. 

We showed up one day recently and asked them to help us understand what it’s like when you are seeking Scrum Mastery, especially after you leave the safety of a Certified ScrumMaster class and come back to the team to put what you learned into practice. Here’s what they told us.

Not everything you do will work out the way you thought it would. 

The new tool you are excited about might be a total flop with your team. The fun retrospective idea you have might not seem so fun to others. That is OK. Even if it does not work, there will be something you can learn from that situation that will help you next time. Cody, 3 years as a ScrumMaster

There is a Greek proverb that says, "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." As a young ScrumMaster, I felt an incredible responsibility to this mission of transforming the world of work. It was heavy and daunting. I was disappointed when things didn’t immediately change. While I still feel incredibly invested in our mission, I recognize now that our actions today may not bear fruit today. I have had the privilege of speaking with former colleagues from years ago who tell me that my work impacted them much later. Sometimes circumstances have to change for the seeds to sprout, but they still do. Melissa, 11 years 

You are not your advice, tool, or technique. You are courageous for trying something new and you are committed to the team for seeking out things that can help them. If it does not work, don’t take it personally. Learn from it and grow. Cody

I wish I had a better understanding and appreciation for the fact that not everyone on my teams are/were as enthusiastic about agile as me. Teddy, 18 yrs as an agilist, 6 yrs as a ScrumMaster/Agile Coach


Observe whether the team is comfortable with saying no to things. Be OK with silence after asking a question. TJay, 2 years 

Sometimes the best thing that you can do is simply ask questions and listen. Tasha, 4 years

The hardest thing for anyone to do is to truly listen, both personally and professionally. We get so caught up in being able to respond, we forget what people are trying to communicate to us. One of the most common frustrations is being “feeling unheard.” This skill is so closely related to staying curious. Just because you asked a question out of curiosity, doesn’t mean you’re listening. The voice you could be listening to most is the voice in your head! Being able to hear your team and really listen to their needs is one of the most important things you can do to build trust and respect. Steven, 3 years

You can’t solve every problem at once

Focus on the most important thing to solve right now, and work on that. Also, remember that often a solution to one problem can lead to another. Don’t let yourself over analyze and get to a point where you have analysis paralysis. Tasha

I’ve heard many times that “Scrum doesn’t solve your problems, it shows you your problems.”  It’s OK that problems pop up one right after another, that’s expected. If there weren’t problems, then your team wouldn’t be experimenting with finding a better way to work. The best thing you can do is help your team understand and decide which problem to solve first that will make an impact. Sarah, 2 years   

Scrum Mastery is a big job. You might need some help.

There is far more to ScrumMastery than facilitating Scrum ceremonies. Tasha

I wish I had known more about professional coaching. As I’ve learned more about it, it has informed nearly everything I do as a ScrumMaster. Teddy

Own your newness

Use your newbie status to your advantage. Have fun with it. TJay 

I’m brand new to the role and learn something every single day from my teammates and my fellow ScrumMasters. Through yoga and meditation, I’ve come to see the beauty of practice over perfection. I believe the same is true about Scrum Mastery. Don’t worry about being perfect. Just breathe. Molly, less than 1 year

Grow Your Scrum Master Skills 

At Scrum Alliance, we know how important it is to have access to tools and resources that will help you continue to learn about scrum and thrive as a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM). 

If you're a Scrum Alliance member, you have access to the Learning Journey course Advice for New Scrum Masters. You’ll take a deep dive into courage, growth mindset, giving yourself time for real-world agility, and more. And you’ll earn an SEU to be applied toward the renewal of your certification!

If you're not a member, please continue to learn more:

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