Top 10 Traits of Great ScrumMasters – Continual Learning

Let’s look at how continual learning plays into the top 10 traits of great ScrumMasters.

IT personality types – it’s not a surprise that most programmers or developers on a Scrum team are introverts per the Myers-Briggs. My personal work Continual Learning Top 10 Traits of Great ScrumMasterswith agile development teams using the StrengthsFinder shows a preponderance of Thinking strengths – particularly Learner ( or ) and Input.

The best Scrum Masters are always learning and gathering information.
First, aside from us being in an ever-changing technology field that requires continual learning, Scrum itself also requires continual learning, since it is founded on empirical process control theory and assumes frequent inspection so that unacceptable variation, bottlenecks and problems are addressed.

I have yet to meet a team whose quality, code craftsmanship, predictability, teamwork, and relationship with management was great.

So why do we settle?

There are always areas that can improve. And there are lots of ideas out there that have work for others. Because Scrum is a lightweight framework, it’s expected that you customize to fit your team, culture, product, technology stack, customers, and size. If you think you know enough (the Certified ScrumMaster class is a 101 level class), then consider on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you know about agile development practices, human and team dynamics, organizational change management, current tools for testing and collaboration, coaching, or approaches to scaling? There’s an entire world out there, and it’s the not knowing that we don’t know something that can get us into trouble and cap our abilities.

Since there is no script or recipe to optimize for you, the ideal leader (our ScrumMaster) is always learning – from books, blogs, user groups, conferences, watching other teams in the organization and more.

It’s often the case that the ScrumMaster wants to learn, has a hunger or drive for it, but just doesn’t take the time or ask for it. As a leader, take care of yourself first so that you have more to give to your team. You getting better 10% has a multiplier effect on the team.

Here are some ideas to get started. Each one takes less than ten minutes to do, and yet can have a massive downstream impact on improving your effectiveness and your team overall.

  1. Find the user groups in your area and put them on your calendar as recurring events. In Orange County, Agile SoCal, Agile Drink Up, and Agile Coffee are popular. In San Diego, check out Agile Coffee San Diego.
  2. Find the next conferences and do the same, then email the link to your boss asking if you and two others can go. That way the group gets more coverage of ideas, viewpoints and discussion of how to apply back at the workplace.
  3. If you already have a stack of books to read, pick the next one you’ve been meaning to read and tell your team or others what you’re reading (and how far along you are).
  4. Put a 30 minute meeting on your calendar first thing Monday (or everyday) scheduled just for you and use that time for reading or other learning. You may have to go away from your desk, or come in earlier before team members come in.
  5. Depending on what you’re reading, consider Audible as a passive way to listen and learn during your daily commute. Also, some Kindle readers have Text to Speech and can read any book (takes a little getting used to.)
  6. Find podcasts to listen to, such as Agile Coffee and Agile Toolkit.
  7. If you have multiple teams, schedule a periodic lunch meeting to share what you’re learning.
  8. How have you learned best in the past? Deadlines? Checklists? Goals? With groups or others? A set time or in certain locations? When it’s relevant to a project, team member or boss? If so, set that up again so that you set yourself up for success.
  9. Perhaps you don’t learn best by simply reading or listening. Do you learn best by doing? Volunteer or carve out time for that. By watching? Ask to observe or engage those in the field for conversations. With others? Always make the learning a group event (book club, user group, conference, LinkedIn group, etc).
  10. Why do all lists have to have 10? 🙂
Treat all these ideas like items in a backlog, and inspect and adapt on them to find out what works best for you.
Keep in mind your story:
  • Where do you want to be by the end of the year?
  • More than that, who do you want to be?
There will be resistance along the way, and your overcoming those obstacles is what makes you a better person, and leader, with a story to tell.
As always if you or someone you know wants to become certified in Agile Scrum methodology, we offer Agile training throughout Southern California:

Orange County

Certified Scrum Master training courses

San Diego

Additional Agile Training

All the best to you along your journey.  Please share your tips and thoughts on this and stay engaged in the conversation!
(updated 10/30/18)
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