Shift from PM to SM

Can Great Project Managers Become Great Scrum Masters?

Most people assume that success as a project manager will translate directly to success as a Scrum Master. But it doesn’t. Becoming a great Scrum Master requires a big shift in mindset and skillset. That shift requires project managers to leave many of their previous go-to tactics, strategies and behaviors behind.

Essentially, PMs need to “untrain” their brain and change the way they respond to daily challenges. It’s not easy. I started my career as a project manager and made the transition to Scrum Master. The concepts of agile were easy to understand and they made sense, but applying them in my work with cross-functional, self-organizing teams was difficult.

The tools and techniques I used as a PM were not easily transferable to the Scrum Master role. I had to untrain my brain and learn new behaviors. I had to change the way I supported my teams and redefine how I delivered value to my organization.

I needed to embrace the fact that I did not “own” the project. Instead, ownership and accountability shifted to the team. My new role was to facilitate and support the team as a servant leader, no longer as a manager. This took immense pressure off my shoulders, which had been unconsciously weighing me down as a project manager.

After several years of learning, failing, working, training, being coached and coaching others, I realize it was all part of the journey. It was a journey that helped me evolve both personally and professionally.

Please join me live at IIL’s Agile and Scrum 2018 Online Conference on June 7 and on demand from June 8 through September 10, to explore how PMs and Scrum Masters respond differently to daily challenges. I will run through a series of common scenarios and discuss the skills and behaviors you will need to successfully transition into a Scrum Master Role.

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