Catch 22: How do you get Started as a Scrum Master when you are not one…?


You want to become a Scrum Master, but others  who are hiring are looking for experienced Scrum Masters. If you  are not a Scrum Master, this leads you into a vicious cycle where it becomes difficult for you to get hired as a Scrum Master. How do you break this cycle? Here are some ideas

  1. Look for opportunities. “Leadership is taken… not given” may look cliche here, but is true.  If you are in a leadership position, are you spoon-feeding others with solutions when the come up with problems? Or are you enabling them to solve problem (you need a bit more self-awareness here on your role as well and the context also matters)?
  2. Propose experiments – “Propose” (don’t impose) an experiment, a time frame to evaluate the outcome of the experiment,  and share that that team/group can go back if the outcomes are not better. The key here is that you should make the group feel that they also contribute to it (see #4) and not just you. Some experiments you can try
    • Propose retrospectives even if you are not doing Scrum
    • Propose Daily Scrums
    • Try writing your requirements in form of a user story
  3. Look for opportunity to influence others – The science of influence has been deeply studied.  See how you can influence others towards implementing Scrum. Influence by Robert Cialdini is a very good book to get started with.
  4. Do not look for taking credit – It is fundamental nature of our brain to take credit to feel a sense of accomplishment when things work.  The brain’s reward circuit gets activated when others credit us and acknowledge us. The reward circuit also makes us look for credit, and to sometimes take undue credit when it might be not appropriate. Sometimes, this status boost can be at the expense of status lost by others. The science of balancing this is beyond the scope of this article.  But a simple way out is to actually give credit to others, when appropriate and share credits with others.
  5. Change roles – many times what you can do is restricted by the responsibilities outlined in your roles and if you step outside them, sometimes, it might be viewed as inappropriate.  Probably it makes sense to change roles, either within your current organization or sometimes take on a role that matches your aspirations with a different organization.  Highlight things that you have done which aligns with that of what a Scrum Master does.  Share that you did many of the responsibilities that aligns with your future role. Maybe pick up a role that pays you a bit less, but aligns more with your long term ambition. This not only gives you more job satisfaction, but also enables you to grow.

And most importantly, keep improving. There is a Scrum Master inside all of us (just like there is a superman inside Clark Kent). And keep sharpening our saw (our skills) as you are listening for the knocks on the door. And when the right opportunity knocks, we are ready to dawn the SuperMan/SuperWoman suite !!

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