If you ever want some entertainment pick one of my ‘soap-box topics’, light the blue touch paper and stand well back for the show. Now, I’m usually a fairly balanced person but those who know me know how this goes. If a topic come up about which I am deeply passionate, my “enthusiasm” can be rather like a tidal wave! Especially if you’re not expecting it.
One of my trigger topics is the need for scrum masters (well, everyone frankly) to read* widely. I don’t mean volume here, but breadth. If all you are reading is the Scrum Alliance website and some LinkedIn posts then it doesn’t matter how good the articles are, its just too narrow a view. (I take this so seriously that its the basis for some of my key questions when I interview for new scrum masters: How do you learn new things? What was the last thing you learned? What was the last book you read?)
Lately I seem to do a LOT of interviewing of Scrum Masters. NewVoiceMedia is a growing company, and it seems no sooner do we recruit a great scrum master than we have another vacancy for another one.
To be a great scrum master you need to understand human beings, psychology, behaviour, motivation to name but a few. In short, if you want to be a great scrum master you need experience. If you want to get your experience in your own sweet time, go right ahead; Learn everything first hand. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but you’d better be prepared to put in the time.
On the other hand, whilst there is always some stuff that simply has to be experienced first hand, you can short cut a decade by listening and learning from other Scrum Master’s war stories. This is true of pretty much everything you could ever want to learn, not just Scrum Mastery.
A few months ago, curious about something unrelated, I thought I would write down everything I read for a single week and see what it looked like. The week wasn’t specially chosen, or cherry picked. As it turned out it also wasn’t a typical week for content, as I read slightly less, and slightly less widely than usual. It did however, show me how much stuff I consume.
I came across this little list recently and it made me wonder if I could use it to give others some ideas for where to start finding interesting or new things. And what better way to illustrate how widely a scrum master needs to read.
Here is my randomly sampled week of reading:
Other Random Stuff
If you can comfortably cope with shorter, magazine-style articles, try collecting blogs instead of books. You can get yourself a feedly account
(or flipboard if you prefer) and build up a personally tailored magazine of articles. Also, Medium.com has some great writers contributing there too.
Alternatively, I am a HUGE fan of audio books, (a preference born of the amount of travelling I do). If you think this is better for you I really can recommend Audible (amazon company), who cover most things I’m after in their selection of books. You can get the app here for free,
and they usually have a good introductory offer like this so you can try them out.
Finally, if ever there was a game-changing tool for learning it is Youtube. It is just packed with talks on all sorts of things – have a look, create an account, save some stuff that looks interesting.
Whatever your challenges with traditional ideas of reading, there is no need for this to stop you learning.