BONUS: Justin Chapman on becoming one of today’s top Agile leaders, lessons for Scrum Masters just getting started

Justin published a book named “Become on of today’s top agile leaders”, where he shares his lessons learned on becoming a top Agile practitioner and leader. 

In this episode, we explore his lessons learned and learn about the key topics in the book. 

You can get Justin’s book here.

Even when Agile is bought into, it’s hard to make significant progress

As Justin puts it, “there’s this perspective out there where organizations are bought into Agile, they believe it will work and make them better. However, even in that case, it’s not easy to get where you want to go!”

As Scrum Masters, it is our responsibility to help the organizations we work with to get to a successful Agile adoption. And for that to happen we need to get our skills, knowledge, and experience to the required level. In this segment, Justin suggests that a Scrum Master getting started with such an organization needs to:

  1. Establish a support network within the organization. Meeting people, and creating relationships based on providing support to those people
  2. Practice the conversations that are necessary to help the organization evolve, and that can be done within the organization, but also in the wider Agile community
  3. Practice asking the right questions, questions that drive reflection and improvement in the people around us

The key message in the book: be a craftsman in your Scrum Master role

When I asked Justin what is the key message for the readers of his book, he replied that Craftsmanship should be our focus as Scrum Masters. We discussed how the work of the Scrum Master has many layers, and it requires time and deliberate practice (just like for a craftsman) to get to a point where you start to understand the different “storylines” going on in the organization. 

We discuss how we can use that approach, and build up our knowledge and experience in supporting product teams. 

Once we get our craftsman practice going, we then need to focus on hiring the right people for the teams, and the organization, support those that want to learn and improve, and continue our own self-reflection. 

Holding our teams, and organizations accountable

One of the hardest, yet most important tasks for us as Scrum Masters is that of holding our teams and organizations accountable. It’s not easy to be the one calling out where we fall short of our goals. It’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it, and the Scrum Master is the ideal role for that as it does not bring with it the punitive aspects that line managers, higher-up stakeholders, or even senior executives can bring. 

In this segment, we talk about how Scrum Masters can be the standard-bearers and accountability partners for their teams.

In this segment, we discuss one practice that is invaluable for Scrum Masters: Gemba Walks. A practice that helps us understand how the work happens, but requires a special perspective because the work is not “visible” to the naked eye. 

The most important lesson learned as a Scrum Master

When I asked Justin about the most important lesson he learned as a Scrum Master, he refers to “humor”, as a critical tool for us to learn how to use. In his words: “have fun with the situation, and see where humor can fit and use it to the teams’ and your advantage.” 

A great lesson to keep in mind, after all, a bit of humor will lighten up even the toughest moments. 

Do you wish you had decades of experience? Learn from the Best Scrum Masters In The World, Today! The Tips from the Trenches – Scrum Master edition audiobook includes hours of audio interviews with SM’s that have decades of experiences: from Mike Cohn to Linda Rising, Christopher Avery, and many more. Super-experienced Scrum Masters share their hard-earned lessons with you. Learn those today, make your teams awesome! 

About Justin Chapman

A Product and Agile Coach with product management experience ranging from payments to enterprise custom build. Justin has hosted a small series on Product Management and another series on Being a Scrum Master. 

Justin has also pioneered a new form of Canvas to help bring teams together. All of this information can be found on Justin Chapman’s blog:

You can link with Justin Chapman on LinkedIn.

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