I don't claim to know it all. But that doesn't stop me from giving advice.
I absolutely love receiving questions from like minded agilists who are encountering their own specific challenges. I've also come to realize that my advice can be re-used! This page is dedicated to questions received and my answers given. As stated above, I don't claim to know it all - but I am always happy to help guide, if possible. Enjoy - and keep sending me questions!!
"'I'm a new CSM and making a career pivot into Agile. While I'm applying to positions, I'm attending ALN meetups and grooming my Agile Learning Backlog. For someone pivoting into Agile from an non IT background, what items should I prioritize? For example, I'm reading through a recommended list of books from my Scrum trainer on Agile, Lean, Kanban, XP, etc. I've put items such as take the open assessments for Product Owner and Scrum Developer on scrum.org just to get a baseline of knowledge and add items to the backlog. Would like your opinion on this."
Congratulations on your Scrum Master transition - it's an excellent career choice, in my opinion -- so much room to learn and grow.
There is loads of amazing content out on the web and on the bookshelves. As a rising Scrum Master, it is incredibly overwhelming to know where to begin. I would suggest starting with the basics:
#1. The Scrum Guide is the absolute first thing I would point you towards. This is my agile bible, the "why" behind the "what". Learn it, memorize it, quiz yourself on it, coach from it, feel it in your bones. Tattoo it on your arm, if you must. (kidding. maybe.)
#2 Deep dive into the Agile Principles. When coaching teams, you'll need to provide justification, the why. People are resistant to change and they sometimes don't see the forest through the trees. Leverage these principles as your "why". Understand the patterns and anti-patterns so you can pinpoint behaviors that are hurting or helping the team.
#3 Same thing with the 5 Scrum Values. These are at the foundation of agile and it is essential the team embraces this mindset. Much like the agile principles, try to understand the patterns and anti-patterns. For example, if you notice something the team has been struggling with but they don't raise in the retro, there may be a lack of courage (psychological safety may be at play). The role of a Scrum Master is to expose those elephants and give the team space to have difficult discussions.
Once you feel good about those -- hop over to:
#4 Scrum Mastery - From Good to Great Servant Leadership by Geoff Watts. This book is all about taking the Scrum Master to the next level. It's an easy read, chock full of incredible guidance, valuable insights and realistic situations & advice. This will elevate you to new heights and encourage you to not just be good, but be great. Love this one.
#5 Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins. This book was an eye-opener for me. It was full of "real world" scenarios, insightful advice and powerful questions (to ask myself and my team). She hits home the value of a good Scrum Master and the responsibilities that should lie within. This is a fantastic book for self-reflection and introspection - one of my faves.
#6 Switch by Chip & Dan Heath. This is THE book for understanding where resistance lies and for providing actionable takeaways towards managing change. The psychology behind why change is often met with resistance was fascinating. The application and techniques for overcoming this are practical and strangely enough, inspirational. Highly recommended!
I would suggest subscribing to the following blogs, if you haven't already:
Bob Galen - Trusted colleague, teacher, mentor and friend. He's a wise and avid blogger who's been around the block a few times.
Mountain Goat Software - Mike Cohn is brilliant! His writing style is simplistic and to the point. He has a wide variety of knowledge across all things Agile and Scrum.
Illustrated Agile - If you're anything like me, material is best digested small snippets. Illustrated Agile is an awesome resource for just about anything agile related; but fair warning: this site will suck you in.
I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the "DeliverIt" podcast by one of my original mentors and close friend, Cory Bryan. Although this podcast specializes in Product Ownership, it's a fantastic resource for Scrum Master's too. Don't forget, it's your role to guide, coach, and support your POs! The more you know, the better.
Lastly, do you have a mentor or coach? Try to find an experienced professional who you can learn from... someone you respect and admire.. someone who will have the courage to guide you, challenge you, and tell you things you sometimes don't want to hear. These are the people that drive us forward when we are afraid, provide hard feedback when needed and cheer us when we excel.
I hope this is helpful to you! Good luck in your endeavors and feel free to contact me at any point.