What books are recommended to a beginner in Scrum?

In these uncertain times, I have plenty of friends, colleagues, and even mentors forced into job changes because of the companies that are responding to the economy all throughout 2023.

Many are looking to enter a new field and I am surprised to find how many people are looking to get into some form of agile practice, in particular Scrum. I have a few articles on how to get into Scrum Mastering without experience, but I also thought I would share the answer to another common question I get:

"What books do you recommend to start with on Scrum?"

This is a really tough question for me, because there are so many great books out there, but I did try to limit my list to under 10 and tried to focus on books that are really about Scrum and not agile in general (there are plenty of great books for that as well).

Here we go!

  • "Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time" by Jeff Sutherland Authored by one of the co-creators of Scrum, Jeff Sutherland, it offers a detailed look into the Scrum framework and its underlying principles. Sutherland's insights are invaluable as he delves into the reasons why Scrum was created and how it can be used to tackle complex projects. The book is filled with real-world examples and case studies, making it an excellent starting point for beginners. Great data points as well in regard to teams and their performance.
  • "Agile Estimating and Planning" by Mike Cohn Mike Cohn is a mentor of mine, a top figure in the agile community, and his book is essential for anyone looking to understand how to estimate and plan effectively in a Scrum context. It covers a broad range of topics from user stories to iteration planning, offering a practical approach that is both accessible to beginners and valuable to experienced practitioners. Answering the 2 questions in the Scrum World "When is this work going to be done and how much does it cost?" is critical to understanding estimation in a VUCA world.
  • "Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process" by Kenneth S. Rubin This book lives up to its name, providing an essential guide to the mechanics of Scrum. Kenneth Rubin explains the roles, artifacts, and events of Scrum in a clear and detailed manner, making it an excellent reference for anyone starting out. Rubin's explanations are enhanced with visual illustrations that aid in understanding the Scrum framework.
  • "User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development" by Mike Cohn A successful implementation of Scrum heavily relies on the quality of its user stories. In this book, Cohn offers a comprehensive guide to creating user stories that are effective and valuable. It is particularly useful for beginners who are looking to grasp the art of capturing requirements in a user-centric way that promotes communication and collaboration.
  • "The Scrum Field Guide: Practical Advice for Your First Year" by Mitch Lacey This field guide is designed for practitioners who are in the early stages of adopting Scrum. Mitch Lacey draws from his extensive experience to provide actionable advice and strategies for dealing with the real-world challenges that new Scrum teams often face. The book is structured to provide guidance that is relevant throughout different stages of a Scrum team’s maturity.
  • "Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership" by Geoff Watts Going beyond the mere mechanics of Scrum, this book is focused on the soft skills and leadership qualities that are necessary to truly excel in a Scrum role. Geoff Watts addresses the attributes that make a great Scrum Master, offering insights and stories that illustrate how to lead and support high-performing teams.
  • "Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit" by Mary and Tom Poppendieck While not exclusively about Scrum, this book provides a foundation in Lean principles, which are closely related to Agile and Scrum methods. The Poppendiecks offer a toolkit of techniques that complement the Scrum framework and can help beginners understand the broader context in which Scrum operates.

These books offer a strong foundation in both the theoretical and practical aspects of Scrum. Each book has its own strengths, and together they can offer a comprehensive understanding that will prepare a newcomer for the challenges and rewards of implementing Scrum in their teams or organizations.

It's also beneficial to supplement reading with active participation in Scrum communities and hands-on practice, as Scrum is best learned by doing. The first thing I did after going to a Certified ScrumMaster class back in July 2008 was form a user group; DFW Scrum.