Foreward Regarding Recipes

A friend once told me about a tradition in their family. When a couple gets engaged, the brides grandmother bakes their wedding cake. As I am a person that loves stories and metaphors, I will now tell you this story and analogise it to making great Scrum Masters.

So the grandmother follows a traditional recipe. This begins as soon as the young couple announces their engagement. The grandmother makes a three layered cake, mounted on a pedestal. She then attends to the cake every week, pouring a shot of premium whiskey on top.Two years later, shortly before the wedding ceremony, she ices the cake to be presented and later shared by the newly wed couple.

Like cakes, there are many recipes to become Scrum Masters. I am now sharing one of them with you.

At its core, as you might guess, is the notion that “Repetition is the mother of all skill”. A quote attributed to the legendary life-coach Anthony Robbins, although its root may go back as old as Roman times.

Let’s appreciate that this is just one “recipe”. Maybe you will find something that is more applicable for you. Or maybe you will try this one, dislike the emerging "cake", and then try another. The choices are infinite (just like cake recipes).

But enough of that. Let’s get down to business.

Recipe for becoming a Great Scrum Master

Ingredients

A brain

Limbs. Preferably 4, although less will do with substitutes

A face with multiple expressions. The more the better

A library. You may start with this one

A set of coloured fluorescence markers

A team

A product or a service

A budget

A telescope

Directions

Start with learning Scrum. A two day Practical Scrum workshop is a good start. As a minimum, reading and understanding the Scrum Guide is a no-budget option.

(This is like mixing the cake ingredients. If you have really good ingredients - this will be a pretty good start!)

Start practicing Scrum. e.g Facilitate the ceremonies, coach the PO on backlog grooming, encourage advancements on engineering practices.

This will hardly make you the perfect Scrum Master. But heck, eating an unbaked or half-baked cake is no great pleasure either, even with the best ingredients. 

Look for a coach or mentor. Frequently you will find someone within your organisation. If none found, seek someone outside.

(This practice part is like baking the cake).

Ageing and Perfecting

Now comes the ‘whiskey’ part. These are things you should repeat regularly:

On daily basis do the following:

  • Practice facilitation. Use brain, limbs and face. Experiment with levels of elaboration.  
  • Seek feedback from peers, clients and managers (if relevant).
  • Read a book. Use fluorescence markers to highlight important things to commit to memory. Commit to memory. Once finished, read another book. (if you haven't downloaded Audible app yet - this is a good time to set up an account and a monthly subscription. Use budget as needed according to taste). 

On weekly basis do the following:

  • Find a problem. Contemplate an experiment to alleviate the problem. Run the experiment. Analyse the results. Repeat.
  • Meet coach or mentor. You may need to use budget for that. Repeat.

In order to become an advanced Scrum Master you probably want to do the following on monthly or bi-monthly basis:

  • Write an article. This may be based on experience, or on learning from books (see above) or workshops (see below). Optionally publish article. Blogs are an easy, low cost and relatively low effort platform for that. Repeat. 
  • Look for an advanced workshop. If necessary, use budget to register. Attend workshop. Practice learning. Repeat.
  • Look for a conference. If necessary, use budget to register. Attend conference. Practice learning. Repeat.
  • Optional: Look for Call for Papers. Submit topics. If accepted, prepare a talk or experiential session. Run the session. Repeat.

Appreciating the Result

After two years, use telescope to observe where you were at the start of the process.

Final notes:

Not all engaged couples become married. This is a fact of life. Not all people will become great or even mediocre Scrum Masters.

Cake ingredients are very important. And yet, given enough premium whiskey, even mediocre ingredients will become a darn good cake to enjoy. Given premium books, workshops, experiments, workshops and so on, and given enough time, even a mediocre brain, stiff face, monotonous voice and handicap limbs will make a pretty darn good Scrum Master. 

I know, I know, some may find this post annoying, maybe even patronising. If you feel that way, I’m sorry. I truly am. As a fairly new avid runner I can relate. Before embarking on my running habit, I might have reacted in a similar way: “yeah, to become a runner you need to run and get a trainer. Tell us something new, Ilan”. And still, almost as soon as I started practising I knew, first hand, that this is true. I need to practice, I need a trainer/coach and I if I believed the person that told me that, I should have also gotten my own heart rate monitor back then, I probably would have advanced better and faster. 
Trust the Process.