A Scrum Master’s Reading List: Top Books for Scrum Change Agents

I have had the opportunity of working with many Scrum Masters, both new and experienced, to help them improve in their role. While helping those Scrum Masters, I accumulated a list of books that I think every Scrum Master should read.

These books can be read in any order depending on a Scrum Master’s level of interest and current skill level, but they are listed in an order that is optimized for new Scrum Masters. The books near the top of the list are intended to build a basic understanding of the “whats” and “whys” of Scrum. Books near the bottom of the list build a deeper understanding of Agile, Scrum, Lean, and scaling.

  1. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time – Written by Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum, this book is a great introduction to Scrum while exploring where it came from and how it can be applied in a variety of contexts.
  2. Scrum – A Pocket Guide – This is a short book written by Gunther Verheyen who contributed much to the Professional Scrum training courses from Scrum.org. This book describes Scrum very succinctly and is a great “go-to” resource.
  3. Software in 30 Days – This is the most recent book written by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the two co-creators of Scrum. This book describes Scrum from a business perspective and will build a Scrum Master’s ability to communicate the “whys” behind Scrum.
  4. The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – This team dynamics book takes a look at five dysfunctions that hold a team back from being high performing.
  5. Agile Estimation and Planning – This book is the foundation for many generally accepted Scrum practices (GASPs). Story points and planning poker are two examples of practices that came from this book.
  6. Drive – Written by Dan Pink, author of the best seller To Sell Is Human, this book discusses what motivates humans to do what we do. It breaks down common misconceptions about motivation and discusses strategies for creating an environment where people are intrinsically motivated.
  7. Scrum Mastery: From Good to Great Servant Leadership – This book dives into nine attributes that Scrum Masters should master (pun intended): being resourceful, enabling, tactful, respected, alternative, inspiring, nurturing, empathetic, and disruptive.
  8. Agile Retrospectives – This is the best written resource for learning how to facilitate retrospectives.
  9. Essential Scrum – This book goes into a lot of detail about the application of Scrum.
  10. Coaching Agile Teams – Written by Lyssa Adkins, founder of the Agile Coaching Institute, this book describes what it means to coach Agile teams and details strategies for doing so. Lyssa is a former project manager and emphasizes the difference between coaching teams and managing projects.
  11. Scaling Lean and Agile Development – Written by Craig Larman, creator of LeSS, this book explains “thinking tools” that can be applied in organizations that are scaling Scrum (scaled Scrum is when at least two teams work on one product).
  12. Practices for Scaling Lean and Agile Development  This companion book for Scaling Lean and Agile Development details hundreds of common practices that have been applied in agile environments.
  13. The Phoenix Project – This is a business fable that details a company’s journey to deliver software more frequently. It is a 21st century version of The Goal.
  14. The Goal – This is one of the most famous business fables ever written. Author Eli Goldratt, creator of the theory of constraints, tell a story about a manufacturing plant that is struggling to deliver work on time and at a reasonable price because they are too focused on optimizing the wrong things. The concepts in this book are heavily based on Toyota’s way of working.
  15. The Toyota Way – Toyota started the lean movement and created many tools that we commonly use today (like kanban), but the real power behind Toyota’s success is its mindset. This book describes that mindset as well as how it has been applied in Toyota and other organizations.

Jordan Job

Jordan is a Managing Advisor with Responsive Advisors and a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org. He specializes in agile change management, engagement management, and Professional Scrum adoptions.
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