As a Scrum Master, you should always be yearning to learn and improve. Luckily, learning and improving has never been easier with the sheer volume and immediate access of the internet. We have curated the 15 best resources that you should have at your disposal to grow as a Scrum Master. These resources offer excellent tools and insights that are designed to support you and get you thinking and ideating of ways to become the greatest Scrum Master you can be.
Original Scrum Guide
When looking for guidance in the world of Scrum, it’s often beneficial to go back to the original manuscript. The original definitions, requirements of Sprints, Scrum Roles and Scrum Rules can all be found in the Scrum Guide. Remember, the Guide was written by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the originators of Scrum, so you can be sure that the writing is the true intended meaning. There are very few Scrum users who don’t hold the original Scrum Guide in high regard and even fewer who disagree with it (after all, to disagree with the original Scrum Guide is to disagree with Scrum). The Scrum Guide might also be the most accessible resource for a Scrum Master, available in the form of a free downloadable PDF in over 30 languages.
The beauty of revising the Scrum Guide is that both experienced and inexperienced Scrum Masters can benefit from it. An inexperienced SM can benefit from the teachings and structure that the Guide proposes, and an experienced SM can benefit from making sure that they’ve been following the Guide correctly and adhering to it.
Original Agile Manifesto
In similar fashion to reading the Scrum Guide, the Agile Manifesto is a must read for any great Scrum Master. Comparisons are often made between Scrum and Agile, which is a clear misunderstanding of the two terms. Scrum is a methodology within Agile Development, so the two are incomparable. A Scrum Master who has read both the Agile Manifesto and the Scrum Guide would understand the differences. The Agile Manifesto principles is an easy and short read, but one that is vital for understanding Agile - if you don’t understand Agile, there is no way you will understand Scrum. It too is very accessible to readers, available online in a variety of different languages.
Given the length of the Manifesto, we recommend that you do to the following:
Read → Re-read → Internalize → Ask Questions → Put into Practice
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
Perhaps one of the most famous Scrum books, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time is a must-read. Written by one of the founders of Scrum, Jeff Sutherland, the book provides a deeper understanding of the principles and learnings outlined in the Scrum Guide. Sutherland gives some examples to describe the implementation of Scrum, thereby making the book accessible to those not particularly (or at all) fluent in Scrum. The book is an easy read for executives, managers, developers and engineers – no concern about information being lost or misunderstood. Paired with the Scrum Guide, by reading Sutherland’s book you will gain a great basic understanding of what Scrum is and how to use it.
Coaching Agile teams
Adkins aims her book, Coaching Agile Teams, at coaches who use Agile and explains the pitfalls that coaches often fall to, but more importantly, she provides them with the tools they need to avoid these traps. The book is aimed at Coaches already using Agile, but the theory and understanding can be useful for any stakeholder or team member who uses the Agile process.
Anyone looking to improve as Coach – their communication, debriefing or leadership skills – will find the tools in this book useful and usable.
Succeeding with Agile
Succeeding with Agile is a guide written for more experienced users of Agile and Scrum, so if you are new to these processes this might not be the best read for you. However, if you are already familiar with Agile and Scrum (as manager or participant), this book offers great insights into improving your processes. The book requires deep knowledge of Agile and Scrum because it draws from typical experiences and provides appropriate guidance- – for example, terms are often given without definitions, as the reader is expected to understand them already. All in all, the book is a great resource to help you make sure your Scrum team is indeed practicing Agile Development, focussing both on intangibles like communication techniques and perspectives, and tangible, technical aspects like TDD, self-organized teams and pair programming.
Having been a SM since 2005, Geoff Watts has seen it all when it comes to teams who use Scrum. In Scrum Mastery, Watts created models to establish what makes a great Scrum Master and what makes a great Agile team.
Book highlights include the famous RE-TRAINED acronym:
- Respected: Have a reputation of personal integrity within and outside the Team
- Enabling: Passionate in helping others be effective
- Tactful: The personification of diplomacy
- Resourceful: Creative in removing impediments to productivity
- Alternative: Promote ideas and practices that might be considered counter-cultural
- Inspiring: Generate enthusiasm and energy in those around them
- Nurturing: Enjoy helping teams and individuals grow
- Empathetic: Sensitive to the human needs of those around them
- Disruptive: Break the old status quo to help create new ways of working
It also promotes the eight points of an effective Agile team:
- Clear Goals: Having a view of the goal of the product, not necessarily the specific detailed requirements
- Stability: Teams that stay together longer are generally more productive
- Support: The level of servant-leadership provided to the team
- Continuous Improvement: The team’s ability and appetite for finding ways to improve their process
- Self-Management: The team’s ability to manage itself and self-organize
- Attention to Results: The team’s quality and integrity levels
- Predictability: How confident can the organization be in the team’s commitments and capacity to deliver?
- Fun: The degree to which the team enjoys itself while working
The book is great for Scrum Masters on any level, as well as team-members, and should be a staple read for anyone using Scrum.
Essential Scrum is an introductory book that explains how to maximize the value you can derive from Scrum. Rubin’s references to business and other real-world terms make the book understandable to a wide range of readers, because it does not require any large pre-existing esoteric knowledge; This means that managers, team members and executives can all gain value from it. This is in wide contrast to so many Scrum books that focus themselves on the technical members of a team and leave the other stakeholders unaware. That is the main selling point of the book: anyone can read and understand why the Scrum process is key to innovating and creating value. We recommend anyone who’s a stakeholder within an Agile team to read it and understand its teachings so that they can become more educated and aware of how the Scrum process functions.
Comic Agile Catalogue
If you’re looking for an injection of light-hearted humor alongside relatable depictions of Scrum life, the Comic Agile Book is right up your alley. Although the comics often use satirical and crude jokes to outline the principles of Scrum, the messages that they convey are still strong: let the Agile team be an Agile team, i.e., management does not overly interfere with the team, and the processes of Agile teams are followed and adhered to properly. If you’re looking to entertain as well as inform your team in a non-meeting setting, these comic strips can be great to send on the team's slack channel, email chain or whatsapp group. The team will certainly get a laugh from them, but also find some important meaning behind it.
P.S: We recommend you follow them on LinkedIn here. They are very active and post often.
Badass: Making Users Awesome
Kathy Sierra’s book, Badass: Making Users Awesome, is written for any person interested in shipping great products. The book’s main idea is that by empowering your user to be a ‘badass’ with your product is the way that your product ultimately grows. Sierra gives you a framework to make your users ‘badasses’ and navigates you through each step with helpful examples and tools. If you’re involved in delivering products to users, you should give this book a read and internalize its ideas; more often than not, your users don’t access the full capabilities of your product. Let them see your products' full potential and make them a badass!
Scrum Master Toolbox podcast
The Scrum Master Toolbox is a podcast as well as an informational blog about all things Scrum. The podcast boasts a 4.7 star average on iTunes, whilst the blogs are well received and liked by the Agile community. New podcast episodes are added daily, resulting in a huge bank of high quality information being available at just the click of a button. Podcast topics include almost every aspect of Scrum from a managerial standpoint and as a team member perspective. The episodes are entertaining as well as informative and can be a great way to increase your knowledge of the Scrum world. We recommend adding this listen to your daily commute (if you still have one!) or tuning in whenever you have some free time during the day, to boost your Scrum knowledge.
Agile Uprising is a ‘purpose driven network that focuses on the advancement of the agile mindset.’ They post weekly installments of their podcast, covering a wide range of Agile topics, book reviews and guest interviews. The large variety of topics means there is always a learning opportunity. The episodes are under 1-hour and often closer to 30 minutes, so finding time to fit them into your schedule shouldn’t be difficult. As a bonus, the Agile Uprising website is also home to an original blog that offers more insight and interesting observations about the world of Agile.
Meta-Cast is an Agile podcast, delivered by Agile practitioners and focused on helping Agile teams. Bob Galen and Josh Anderson use their decades of Agile coaching experience to power your organization’s need for agility and scale. Episodes are formatted as conversations between the hosts where they discuss a range of topics. Because of their nature, each topic gets a full analysis, covering the good as well as the bad. This makes the learning process even more worthwhile, because you can understand both sides of each story. The podcast is easy to listen to and doesn’t require an immense amount of pre-existing knowledge; the principles can be useful for experienced and inexperienced Agile users alike.
Agile Amped is an Accenture owned podcast that brings many aspects of Agile together with a focus on business agility. The podcast offers lessons on applying business to Agile and why using Agile can work for business operations. The podcast also has a great series of conference summaries that make it easy to take in all the knowledge from guest speakers without having to physically attend.
Agile for Humans
Agile for Humans is a weekly podcast dedicated to the individuals and interactions that make Agile work. The goal is to help create safe and collaborative working environments where people are empowered to do their best work. They have a huge carousel of guests on the show who bring different thinking models, practices, ideas, books and resources to the table. Listeners can always expect to leave each episode having learned something new. Podcasts are uploaded frequently, so if you have nothing else to listen to, you can bet there’s a new Agile for Humans episode waiting to be heard!
Are you a Scrum Master? Have your last few meetings been subpar? Maybe it’s time to step up your meeting game. Agile Stationary is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to run a high quality meeting. The tools that they offer are designed for paper based meetings and are team friendly, interactive, and well designed. They aim to “change the way you interact with paper,” and their huge variety of products guarantees that they do, indeed. Agile Stationary has developed tools for every step of the Agile process, including Daily Stand-ups, Retrospectives, Planning, Scrum, Kanban and more. The tools work best with an inexperienced team because they provide a framework to the meeting in a way that allows team members to focus on what’s important instead of the framework itself. Still, an experienced team can still benefit from using these tools because they are fun and might be a change from the normal structure of your meetings.