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How important is a solid apprenticeship for scrum masters?

How important is a solid apprenticeship for scrum masters?

It would be useful to start by defining what we mean by apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships for Scrum Masters.

Back in the Middle Ages and renaissance period, apprentices were clothed, fed, taught, and generally looked after by a chosen master of their field. So, we’re not talking about that, although it isn’t a bad idea if somebody did create an apprenticeship academy that did exactly that.

An apprenticeship is really about spending time, doing work, and learning how to do the work, with people that are more practised, experienced, and skilled at that work than they are.

It’s the craftsmanship element in a journey to mastery.

Learning how to do something, practising it under the watchful eye of a skilled and respected master of that craft, and being transformed from a novice into a skilled journeyman. Someone who can take their skills out into the world and perform a professional service for others at the end of their served apprenticeship.

How important is an apprenticeship in Scrum.

It is incredibly important, in my opinion, and a pity that we have lost this awesome tradition.

In the past, an apprentice would serve their apprenticeship under a respected and skilled master, but actively work with the journeyman – the skilled craftsmen and craftswomen – in their area.

Often, they would start off learning the basics, and then practise those basics until it became second nature for them. Something they could do with considerable skill. A solid, repeatable task that they could perform thousands of times until they couldn’t get it wrong.

In the context of a scrum master, that is incredibly important.

If young people had the opportunity to work through the basics, and practise those basics until the point that they couldn’t get it wrong, they would have a rock-solid foundation from which to start bringing their own creative flair and active experimentation into the equation.

As they progress into trained professionals, they would know the purpose of the work they do, how it impacts the environment they serve, and what the best way to execute would be.

There is value in trial and error, but in the beginning of your journey, it is far more valuable to simply learn the correct and best way from an experienced practitioner. You can experiment down the line, once you have acquired mastery of the basics in your profession, but you want to be coached and mentored through to that point rather than stumble about in the dark.

Scrum Master Training, coaching, and mentoring.

You will often hear me say that through training, I teach people my mistakes so that they can make better mistakes, or new mistakes. I also teach them what works, what is proven to move the needle on the metrics that matter within scrum environments.

Mastery is a journey that takes several years.

Ten thousand hours or more if the modern literature is to be believed. Make the first 1,000 hours truly count by working with people who are more skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced than you are.

Set the right foundation and build from that.

So, make sure you go for proper training. Learn the basics, get the certification, and then set out to practise as you build your confidence and skill in the craft.

Ideally, you would want to read as much as you can in the form of books, articles, blogs and even videos (see for a wealth of how to videos). Follow up with paid agile coaching sessions with a professional agile coach.

Just as golfers and elite level athletes insist on having a great coach, despite being the best in the world at what they do, so too should you invest in coaching.

The great thing about hiring an agile coach is that you will progress from a scrum master to an agile coach in your field, and in many ways this is a form of apprenticeship for that agile coaching down the line too.

Bring a mentor on board.

If you are lucky, that will be a skilled and experienced scrum master in your organization, but if that isn’t available, actively pursue a mentorship arrangement with someone that you value and respect.

The combination of training, coaching, and mentoring will help you progress incredibly fast and ensure that you developing habits, practices and techniques that work effectively. Enabling you to master the beginner and intermediate phases of your career journey more effectively.

If you are actively looking for a coach or mentor, connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll see where I can help. Alternatively, you can sign up for the Growing Scrum Masters online community and progress from basic to advanced levels of scrum mastery at your own pace.

About John McFadyen

If you are interested in becoming an agile coach and value mentored, coach-driven skills development in your journey to mastery, visit our Growing Scrum Masters website.

For more information on John McFadyen, connect with John on LinkedIn at

If you like the idea of becoming a scrum master and want to achieve internationally recognised and certified accreditation as a scrum master, visit our Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course page.

If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill to a more advanced level of knowledge and agile coaching capability, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) course page.

If you have several years’ experience as a scrum master and want to validate and certify your professional skills, visit our Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master (CSP-SM) course page.

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