Buy it. You won’t be disappointed.
I read the book in 3 sittings.
The First Sitting
Zuzi gave her book to me in October. She was visiting Toronto and we spent a few days together teaching Scrum — I was happy to co-train with her and get a sneak peak at her new book.
In the first sitting, I read the foreword and first chapters. I immediately liked what I saw.
The foreword is written by Linda Rising who frames the book nicely by reminding us of these simple principles: “successful change is built around small steps and learning”, and “the book offers a chance for reflection and evaluation”.
Zuzi’s preface describes her journey to become a Scrum Master. Hers is a story about humility and studious peristence. I could relate! The best aspect of the early pages are the photographs of Zuzi. The book exudes her character traits: a friendly and insightful expert, a colleague and advisor. Her photos, as well as her illustrations throughout the book, help the reader to understand her colourful character; her stance as a coach and mentor; and her voice as an author.
My time was limited so I didn’t get far in the first sitting. My first impressions of the book are memorable. It’s a big book; not thick — I mean large, wide pages. Approximately 20 centimetres square. It’s the kind of book that lays open on a coffee table. This is important! Many people buy digital books but if you can find the book in physical format, buy it! The medium is the message, as Mcluhan said. The medium, in this case, is a lightweight book that rests easy, open-faced, on a desk or coffee table. As you pass by the table or sit for a while to enjoy a conversation, you’ll find the book open and waiting for you. You’re likely to thumb through it lazily, your mind wandering while on the phone or talking with a friend, then something will catch your eye. It’ll be a page you’ve looked at a dozen times but suddenly a sentence or illustration will draw your attention.
For example, “…if you join a discussion with the core metaskill of curiosity it will be different than if you choose listening or teaching”. That sentence is on page 88 – that’s the one that jumped off the page for me today. I’ve read that page a few times already but this day, in this moment, that sentence resonates. Such a simple sentence on a spacious page and sparse text.
(Note: the newer Pearson edition is a smaller ‘textbook’ format. Sorry.)
The Second Sitting
I was riding a train with the book open on my lap. Through the window passed the Canadian landscape, and I’d glance at the book between sips of coffee to take in another paragraph, picture, page. What I’ve learned from the next chapters of the book is that I share Zuzi’s interpretation of Scrum and of the Scrum Master’s role.
Her perspective is a philosophical one, yet she effectively relates the material to practical examples. Zuzi describes a concept she calls the #ScrumMasterWay. This is an innovative model for understanding how a Scrum Master can adapt their mode of service depending on the conditions of the organization they serve. Perhaps at first, the organization they serve is ‘A Scrum Team’ – and in that mode of service a Scrum Master will facilitate Scrum and help the team to self-organize. Next, after all the easy fruit has been picked and the Scrum Team is capable of continuous and deep self-improvement, the Scrum Master’s mode of service is likely to change – the team no longer needs help with the rudiments so the Scrum Master may focus more intently upon relationships to and within the team. And finally, the 3rd level of #ScrumMasterWay is achieved when the Scrum Master is able to focus their effort toward the entire system, “bringing the Agile Mindset and Scrum values to the company level”.
The Last Sitting
In the second half of the book, she provides a glimpse into numerous related practices and concepts. A collection of references and teaching tools that most Scrum Masters will discover along their journey.
Zuzi has compiled many of the community’s greatest hits in her book. It’s evident that Zuzi understands her material as she’s able to distill complex topics to just a colourful drawing and a few bullet points. “Root cause analysis”, for example, is described concisely with 3 paragraphs, 4 bullet points, and a beautiful drawing of a tree.
The collection of materials which complete her book include highlights of Tuckman’s “Stages of Group Development”; Lencioni’s “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”; the martial artist’s progression through “Shu Ha Ri”; a shortlist of “Powerful Questions”; Dave Snowden’s CYNEFIN diagram, and a few others.
In this last sitting, as I finished reading the book, I was struck by the similarity between Zuzi’s journey and interests and my own. I too have enjoyed Lencioni’s books, Tuckman’s model, the practice of co-active coaching. While I’ve lived and practiced all these years in Canada and Zuzi has lived and practiced in Prague, how is it we have been exposed to a similar body of knowledge and wisdom? I take some comfort in that, actually.
I face a difficult decision now. Zuzi signed this book for me and it’s in pristine condition. However, in the coming years this book will become littered with notes and comments, dog-eared pages and sticky-notes everywhere. Shall I allow myself to ruin this pristine book? Yes. Yes, I shall :)