This article is a review of “Scrum Mastery” by Geoff Watts.
Do you know that feeling, when reading professional literature, that you are overcome with a feeling of happiness? When you’re reading a book, and think “God, I love my job“? That is basically what this book did for me. It was a reaffirmation for the love of the ‘craft’ of Scrum Mastership.
Be aware: this book won’t teach you about the basics of the Scrum framework. This book is for the more experienced Scrum Masters. For Scrum Masters, the proof is often in the pudding. And their pudding in this case, is the mastery of the role of ‘Servant Leader’. Geoff zooms in on the personal properties of a great Servant Leader and uses the RETRAINED acronym as a structure for the book, which stands for Respected, Enabling, Tactful, Resourceful, Alternative, Inspiring, Nurturing, Empathic and Disruptive.
Geoff Watts brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the table and he brings it across very well. By illustrating his points with anecdotes, he paints very vivid situations that are pleasant to read. Also, by staying away from using too much jargon, the book sometimes feels as an accessible novel with anthology stories. The tone is not patronizing and fingerwagging, as it focuses on good behavior and tries to improve upon it. The ‘good to great’ adage feels very positive and empowering.
One of the greatest passages is in one of the earliest chapters of the book in which Geoff compares the aspiring redundancy of the Scrum Master to the character Nanny McPhee, from the 2005 movie of the same name.
“There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It’s rather sad, really, but there it is.”
To me, the book does not feel like a reference book, but more as a book to help you create a great Servant Leader mindset. As such, it’s a book you should read every once in a while. As you experience your day-to-day encounters as a Scrum Master, you might pick up something new every time you read it. And might be considered as ‘a gift that keeps on giving’.
The only (a bit of a personal) downside to this book, is the inclusion of the various acronyms. It’s not just RETRAINED, but also ‘ADAPTIVE’, ‘ORGANIC’, ‘SQUAD’, ‘SPEED’, ‘GROW’, ‘RAMEN’ and ‘BELIEF’. Props to the creativity of the writer, though it feels a bit gimmicky to me. Using acronyms is (or should be) mainly used as for mnemonic purposes, to summerize and memorize larger concepts. But when a book throws multiple and quite large acronyms at you, it feels a little laborious to me. A colleague told me the use of acronyms is mostly used in large organizations to get messages across. With my limited experience in smaller and ‘flatter’ organizations, I felt a bit of a mismatch there. It’s harmless, though, as it does not affect the content. A minor point of criticism for a very useful, well-written book.
For those Scrum Masters thinking about a higher level of mastering Agile principles (so, from good to great!) of the various Scrum Team roles, I can also recommend the Agile Maturity Model of the Agile Leadership School.
A must for Scrum Masters striving for a higher level. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2