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Apprentice Program Suggestions


You may want to look at ApprenticeJobdescription first.


Let's brainstorm about how to improve the selection and preparation of Apprentices at a client:


Before becoming an apprentice

  • Either the Scrum Master chooses his apprentice or the apprentice chooses his Scrum Master (mentor). Or perhaps both. This certainly would keep some problems away.
    • As one criterion, Senior SM will evaluate whether/when the apprentice is ready to take the next step.
  • Before becoming a participant in a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) training course (see below), one must have already completed one whole Agile project, in some other role. I would emphasize the whole project.
  • Strong Suggestion: It is made clear to all that the Senior SM (new term, see below) gets to select his apprentice, and that the senior SM will evaluate whether the apprentice will continue. (And the apprentice gets to select his Senior SM; either side can initiate.)


Note: "Senior SM" term is needed to include both (current) experienced external SMs and senior, experienced internal SMs. Senior SM aka Master Coach or Mentor Coach.



    • There can be differences between company policy/announcements and actual practice.
    • Some practice is that a random manager can nominate someone to be an apprentice. (Random in the sense that the manager has minimal or no knowledge of agile, much less knowledge about being a scrum master.)
    • We can also have problems with managers who has some knowledge (of Agile or Scrum Master role), but don't "get it".



On just becoming nominated as an apprentice

Before acting as an apprentice in a project, the prospective apprentice should...

  • go through the 2-day Certified Scrum Master (CSM) training course. Internal or external.



After becoming an apprentice

  • Each apprentice should become part of a small circle of apprentices and SMs, who are sharing knowledge and experience about scrum mastering.
  • Mix and match apprentices and teams - take people out of their own context for their first project.
    • Absolutely. Thus, the apprentice can learn more about what scrum mastering really is, rather than just how to continue on the glide path she is already on.
    • And the (new) Team and (new) PO will see the Apprentice in a totally new light. Without the fuzziness of how they having known her before.
  • Each apprentice must demonstrate an interest in and willingness to learn about her new subject (one or more aspects of scrum mastering). (This does not imply endless studying.)
    • This could be done in several ways: courses, reading articles, reading books, preparing training, etc.
  • An apprentice only has one role on the project. Cannot also serve "on the team" or as customer proxy. Can serve, up to 25% of time, as PM (a stakeholder role, not a pig) -- if that fits for the project.


This is for several reasons.

1. The apprentices needs to experience "normal" scrum mastering, where the SM is not compromised by other roles.

2. The apprentices needs to devote significant attention to the SM role (and listening to the team) and to learning. Having other roles diverts that attention.

3. The SM role balances the Product Owner (and other customer side players) with the Team (mostly IT players). The apprentice needs to be unbiased between those two (and be perceived as unbiased).


  • Strong Suggestion: An apprentice gives up their old job completely (as, say, a PM or whatever). And joins a new "organization" (the group of SMs).

**Where does that group of SMs report??

    • this sounds good. it would address the "pulled in all directions" problem by making accountability clear.


General Suggestions


  • More discussion, at all levels of the organization, about the difficulties of being a SM.


  • Better description of what the SM does (and does not do).


    • Else how can one understand what it means to be an apprentice?
    • We are working on this at the WhatisaScrummaster page.


  • Clearer definition of when and/or how one graduates from apprentice to regular SM to senior SM (a mentor of apprentices).
    • The purpose here is not to create a defined process when an empirical process might be better. The goal, at least partly, is to reduce the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) factor.
    • This definition should be on one page (hardcopy).


  • A clear expectation (with some process around it) that some/most apprentices will "wash out" and that that is ok (no black mark on their record).




  • Two qualifications (whole project before CSM course, then CSM course before acting as apprentice) -- what if they are not always required in practice?


    • Could be politics (people being unfair), or it could be right (not needed by everyone on that time schedule).


  • Is it more important to be fair to individual apprentices? Or to be be (more) sure that only good apprentices graduate to the next level?





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