Review: The Survival Guide for Brand New Scrum Masters


Author: Dave Rooney
Published: 2014
Publisher: Leanpub

Leanpub describes itself as the Lean Publishing company that empowers authors to self-publish in-progress and completed books. Authors can develop a community of readers during the writing process, gauging interest in their project and incorporating feedback from their readers.

I’ve already gathered quite a few interesting quality books for an attractive prize. The Survival Guide for Brand New Scrum Masters strengthens my positive opinion about Leanpub. Dave Rooney managed to describe some practical cases using the metaphor of our progression through the stages of life and our journey towards Agility. The life stages, starting with infant and ending with mature adult, can be compared with the team’s progression during an Agile transition.

After reading the book I’m quite positive about it. The target audience (new Scrum Masters) and expectations about the content (no in-depth Scrum analysis) are clearly defined. The chapters are well structured with examples, coaching points and a summary, and the appendix contains a summary of all the stories grouped by topic. This makes it easy to find the relevant stories about e.g. Continuous Improvement or Team Communication. The metaphor about the life stages is also well chosen because it’s very recognisable compared to team development.

It’s quite difficult to suggest some improvements because the expectations are well described in the introduction. The book doesn’t contain any thorough analysis about Agile principles etc. Therefore it isn’t really suitable for the more advanced Scrum practitioners. But again, this isn’t the target audience. A topic that could be added however is how children should learn to play (or work) together. How should they communicate and collaborate with each other to be successful (or just have the most fun)?

As a more experienced Scrum Master the book didn’t contain any new advice, I did however gathered some nice quotes/reminders:

  • It will take many small steps before a team can ‘run’ quickly
  • Create a safe to fail environment, rather than a fail-safe one
  • Innovation often comes from the inspiration of a mistake
  • Any change to a team’s process will temporarily slow them down

Overall this book was a good investment considering the time (a few hours of reading) money (± 5 – 10 euro’s) and quality!