In 1986, an alternative to the traditional sequential approach to product development was proposed. Later to be called Scrum, this iterative and incremental framework is suitable for managing complex work and bringing about innovation. It has three fundamental roles, which are the product owner, the development team, and the scrum master.
Who is the scrum master?
The product owner represents the customer, while the development team are the members who perform the tasks to complete the product or build new features to it. The scrum master is a unique role that does not have an equivalent to traditional product or project management teams. Scrum masters are facilitators who help the product owner, the development team, and the bigger organization where the scrum team belongs.
For example, they help product owners manage the product backlog effectively. They coach the development team in their practice of the framework while removing impediments to their progress. Scrum masters also coach the organization about the adoption of scrum and the right way to interact with the team.
Challenges of the scrum
Scrum masters face many challenges in the performance of their role. owners are sometimes pressured by customers and sponsors as they arrange and prioritize the product backlog. Development teams have more distractions when they cannot be co-located and communicate as easily as before. Some organizations still find it difficult to adopt the agile approach and lose a sense of control they previously have in more traditional methods. One way to address these challenges is to have a better understanding or a revisit of scrum principles, and to learn from the experiences of other scrum masters.
Best books for scrum masters
Here are some recommended books for scrum masters.
Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process
This 2012 book by Kenneth Rubin is a consistent inclusion in the best selling agile project management and other software engineering lists of Amazon. Essential Scrum is also highly rated by hundreds of customers, 80 percent of whom have given the book 5 stars. It adequately introduces scrum and its history, and discusses thoroughly in understandable terms scrum concepts, roles, planning principles, and sprints. Readers feel that the book provides the right balance of specific directions and general advice.
Coaching Agile Teams
Coaching Agile Teams was published in 2010 and written by Lyssa Adkins. Lyssa is co-founder and President of the Agile Coaching Institute, a training provider for scrum masters and coaches. The book helps equip readers to perform their coaching and facilitating responsibilities for their team and their organization. The 13 chapters are divided in three parts that cover the personal preparations, the multiple roles, and the high expectations for the agile coach. It is highly rated by almost 200 reviewers, admired for its principles and practical examples.
Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great
Agile Retrospectives is a 2006 book written by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen, two leading experts in facilitating teams and processes. The book is among the top 20 in Amazon’s best selling books in the agile project management category. Sprint retrospectives is part of the scrum workflow where teams reflect on the past sprint and identify where to improve. Retrospectives are facilitated by scrum masters. This book of 178 pages is divided into ten practical chapters that show how to custom-fit retrospectives, how to lead them, and many other activities.
Scrum: The Definitive Step-By-Step Guide to Learn Scrum Process Framework to Manage Complex Works and Advanced Projects With Your Team and Achieve Your Goals Faster
This February 2020 book by Adam Ross is the most recently published in our list. Although it has been reviewed only about 20 times, all reviewers rated it at 4 or 5 stars. The author explains the benefits of scrum as a project development framework, and how it can be applied beyond the software development industry. The 220 pages of Scrum: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide are divided into 21 chapters that introduce scrum concepts, processes, and more. The core roles are discussed, as well as difficulties when transitioning, mistakes to avoid, how to optimize sprints, careers in scrum, and tips for scrum mastery.
Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership
The scrum master is described as the servant-leader for the scrum team. Unlike traditional command-and-control approach, the scrum master helps teams organize themselves and facilitate events as requested or needed. Scrum Mastery is a 2013 book by Geoff Watts, an experienced scrum, leadership, and performance coach. The 288 pages is divided into 10 chapters that describe the characteristics of a great scrum master. These characteristics include respected, enabling, tactful, and so on, where in each of these chapters he discusses in practical terms what great scrum masters would do.
Aside from books, scrum masters can find resources from agile communities.
Scrum.org has a resources page that includes webcasts, blog articles, videos, and podcasts that can help scrum masters. Ken Schwaber founded the community and developed programs that improve scrum knowledge, training, and implementations.
Agile Alliance is another community that hosts a content library valuable to scrum masters. They include blog articles, books, videos, reports, research papers, and others. The page is also organized by topics so it is easy to view related resources, for example, about agile essentials, business, framework, mindset, and more.
Training and Courses
Scrum masters or those interested to be one can also make use of training available on many sites. Scrum courses are available at Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and many accredited education and training providers.