In short, no, you don’t need project management experience to become a Scrum Master.

Project Managers have great skill sets and work well in environments where the vast majority of variables are known and quantified. Like building bridges for example, or working out the logistics of transporting goodies from point A to point B.

When you step into the world of complexity, where many of the variables are unknown and you must discover and/or create the answer, traditional waterfall-style Project Management falls apart.

It is not to say that traditional project managers aren’t able to deal with the complexity of modern environments, it’s simply that Agile and Scrum environments are designed completely differently to how traditional project management works.

In a traditional project management environment, project managers carry a lot of authority and are known to tell people what needs doing and how to do it. They also require teams to report back to them and adhere to strict deadlines they have created for project delivery milestones.

In Agile and Scrum environments, the team who develop the answers and solutions decide what needs doing, in conjunction with a Product Owner and product stakeholders, whilst the Scrum Master acts as the coach or champion for that team to achieve their goals.

The emphasis isn’t on the Scrum Master to do the work, nor do they carry the authority to tell anyone what to do and how to do it. Their role is a great deal more supportive and they are servant leaders to the team rather than managers of the team.

Some project managers make great Scrum Masters, especially if they buy into Agile values and principles, and can integrate their project management knowledge and skillset into a Scrum Team to help the team achieve their goals and objectives.

But in my experience, project managers who claim an identity around procedures, authority and telling others what to do don’t make great Scrum Masters and can be a liability to a Scrum Team.

So, in certain cases, having deep project management experience can hurt rather than help you in your journey as a Scrum Master, Agile coach and Agile leader.

If you don’t have any project management experience, you’re perfectly positioned to learn Scrum and build on the solid foundation of Agile values and principles to help teams create products and services that truly delight customers.

If you are interested in becoming a Scrum Master, visit our Certified Scrum Master course page. If you would like to build on existing Scrum skills and become a power Scrum Master, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master course page.

Frequently Asked Scrum Master Questions

 Frequently asked Training and Certification questions

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