Great scrum masters and great agile coaches are a rare and special breed. They often do their best work behind the scenes, and they seldom want credit for a job well done. Instead, they’re most satisfied when they see their teams grow and succeed. In many ways, it’s like watching our kids grow up. They started as a collection of individuals and mature to a self-organized, effective, and efficient team. So what qualities set apart the good agile coaches and scrum masters from the great ones? I thought I’d try to answer that question today by way of several biases.
I think I learned agility differently than most. I learned it through osmosis. Through my leaders, I learned what agile looked like, what behaviors were ideal, and which were counterproductive. The first time someone accused me of being “agile,” I was confused since I had no idea that’s what it was called. Where most can paint a beautiful picture in words of what agile looks like, I was fortunate enough to see it in action and exemplified by some of the world’s most influential leaders. The only difference? We called it leading Marines.
I came to this realization after reading Corps Business by David Freedman where he wrote about the 30 management principles of the U.S. Marine Corps. He created his list after interviewing a number of inspiring Marine Corps leaders, and I was fortunate enough to serve under many of them during my 10 years as an intelligence operative and martial arts instructor. Freedman brilliantly describes the principles in simple and straight forward language, and I thought I’d share a few of his principles with you today. Let’s get started.