Inevitably Agile

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Tag Archives: agile2012

The Growth Path of a Scrum Master

This post is part of a series on the Growth Path of a scrum master:

(1) The Growth Path of a Scrum Master

(2) The SHU scrum master

(3) The HA scrum master

(4) The RI scrum master

(5) Evaluate yourself : Scrum Master Shu Ha Ri Test

This post has been bouncing around in my head for months now.  There are A LOT of Certified Scrum Masters out there in the world – thousands, maybe more. I’ve met many Certified Scrum Masters, and maybe that’s why the whole certification thing bothers me now. I no longer see it as a status. Rather its simply a course I attended over 2 days. I don’t call myself a scrum master because of the course – I call myself a scrum master because of all the other learning I’ve done, the experiences I’ve had with various teams and the dedication I have to improving myself in that role.

A couple of years ago I came across someone calling themselves a Senior Scrum Master. The ego in me was annoyed that I didn’t have the title “Senior”. Then came blame, how did they get the title? What did they know or do better than me? And eventually the curious side: What does senior mean as a scrum master? What does Jnr mean? Is it applicable? Is it appropriate?

What happens if you were a Senior Project Manager and now you’re a scrum master. Do you need that title because that’s how seniority is communicated in your company? Do your salary brackets get defined using Junior, Mid and Senior?

I started thinking of the growth ladder for an aspiring scrum master. Not all scrum masters want to be agile coaches when they grow up. So how can you communicate at what level you are as a scrum master and how do you determine that level? What are the signs?

Then I thought about Shu-Ha-Ri and it fit the hole. This was a way for me to express my scrum master skills and evaluate myself. It also allowed for movement. Sometimes you are the master and other times you are the grasshopper 🙂

Shu-Ha-Ri refers to the 3 stages of learning and the concept comes from Japanese martial art.

  • Shu is the first stage, where the student is imitating and following the master’s steps
  • Ha is the second stage, where the student is showing understanding, and breaking away from the master’s steps
  • Ri is the final stage, where the student is showing mastery and fluency by creating their own steps

In my next post I will explain my thoughts about the scrum master in the Shu state.

I have proposed this topic as a talk at Agile 2012 – please leave me a comment with your thoughts: http://submit2012.agilealliance.org/node/13341

Some interesting reading: 

http://scrum.jeffsutherland.com/2011/05/shu-ha-ri-what-makes-great-scrummaster.html

http://stefanroock.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/the-shu-ha-ri-of-scrum/

http://availagility.co.uk/tag/shu-ha-ri/