Scrum Master Maturity & Growth

Similar to how we track agile team maturity, scrum masters too go through a gradual state of growth. As it stands currently, not a whole lot has been documented around scrum master maturity or assessment.

For a Scrum Master, the expectations from the role are various. They range from scrum masters as glorified assistants to the team whose job is to schedule meetings and act as a scribe, to being a know it all coach who can train, coach and mentor the team to achieve agile greatness.

Which one is right you ask? Well, the answer lies in the range itself. There is no right answer. The spectrum of what scrum masters can be varies greatly from person to person and team to team.

While these challenges persist, there is another one around scrum master assessment. A lot of managers are unaware how to assess the growth and progress of scrum masters and agile coaches because these roles produce no tangible outputs unlike the others the managers are used to.

I have been there and have gone through the frustration where my team had a certain set of expectations around my role while my manager expected something else from me.

So how does one help the team and the people managers realize what exactly the role of the scrum master is and how to assess growth and progress at the end of the year?

The below picture in my opinion is a great guide for this kind of conversation. Developed by IC Agile as a guide to their coaching roadmap, the picture accurately represents the 4 most common areas scrum masters and agile coaches should be focusing on during their agile maturity journey.

Let’s look at the picture and the 4 quadrants more closely.

You got 4 maturity quadrants.

1. Teaching and Mentoring

One of the most important roles for a scrum master or agile coach is around teaching and mentoring teams and individuals. Scrum Masters should constantly be working on flexing these skills with their teams and leadership. An important aspect of the growth here is for scrum masters and agile coaches to be aware on when to wear which hat with their team.

2. Lean Practitioner

Learn and apply, practice your agile learnings, come up with new ideas to get results. Join community of practices, retrospect on yourself, see what worked for you and what are some opportunities.

3. Coaching and Facilitating

Both these skills are extremely important for the role of the scrum master or agile coach and you should constantly be working on refining these skills through reading, participating in coaching camps, taking courses etc. Constantly look for opportunities where you can practice your facilitation and coaching skills and create goals with your manager to show progress towards building these skills.

4. Agile Mastery

Now this is where it gets tricky for people, don't try to be a master of all, figure out for yourself, where does your passion lie? Would you rather grow in the technical skills or business skills? Do you like working with development teams and teaching them how to write clean code, learn what AWS is , how chatbot actually works and how do you run queries on a database? or do you love working with people and help organizations and teams with their agile transformations? Answers to these questions will help you decide which path of mastery you would want to pick. Once you have decided on a particular path, constantly work on improvising your skills and showing progress towards maturing that art.

What can you do next?

Now that we have addressed the 4 quadrants in this model, find ways on how you can use this in your context to grow your skills. Have a conversation with your managers and create attainable and tangible goals which both of you agree upon are fit for your team and organization needs and can help you show progress towards your year-end appraisal.

Some great ways of building these skills would be by attending meetups, attending podcasts, taking courses and trainings, volunteering to facilitate other scrum master's ceremonies or even shadowing a more senior scrum master or agile coach to see how they facilitate and navigate tough situations and conversations.

What courses can i take?

As I said earlier, It depends on how and in what area you want to grow in?

Below are the few courses you can look at

  • Agile Gurus Do offer a mentorship program where, a coach will partner with you for a period of time to help you and guide you through your agile Journey

  • Then there are SAFe certifications that can help you improve your skills and knowledge

  1. Scrum Master course

  2. Advanced Scrum Master

  3. Leading SAFe

  4. Product Owner/ Manager

  5. Release Train Engineer

  6. Lean Portfolio Management

  7. SPC

and more..

The key is not to just take the course, but take actions and implement the learnings to your work.

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