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5 things you didn’t know about the CSP-SM course, but really should. Part 4

Embracing Mistakes: A Path to Mastery in Scrum


In the journey to becoming a Certified Scrum Professional-Scrum Master (CSP-SM), one of the most profound lessons is the value of mistakes. As a professional Scrum trainer, I’ve learned that the experiences that don’t go as planned often provide the richest opportunities for growth. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the importance of bringing your failures to the forefront, sharing them with your peers, and using them as a powerful tool for learning and development.

The Power of Mistakes

Why Embrace Mistakes?

Mistakes are inevitable in any learning process, but in the realm of Scrum, they are particularly valuable. Here’s why:

  • Learning Opportunities: Every mistake is a chance to learn something new. When things go wrong, it forces you to re-evaluate your approach, think critically, and come up with alternative solutions.
  • Building Resilience: Facing and overcoming failures builds resilience. It teaches you to adapt and persevere despite setbacks.
  • Encouraging Innovation: When you’re not afraid to fail, you’re more likely to experiment and innovate. This is crucial in an agile environment where continuous improvement is key.

Personal Example: A Scrum Disaster

I remember a project early in my career where everything seemed to go wrong. We were introducing Scrum to a team that was used to a traditional waterfall approach. Despite extensive training and preparation, the transition was rocky. Sprints were chaotic, the team was frustrated, and stakeholders were losing confidence.

But it was through this challenging experience that I learned some of the most important lessons about Scrum implementation:

  • Adaptability: We had to continuously adapt our approach, tweaking our processes to better suit the team’s needs.
  • Communication: Clear and frequent communication with the team and stakeholders was crucial to navigate through the chaos.
  • Support: Providing support and encouragement to the team helped build their confidence and trust in the new process.

Sharing Your Failures

Why Share?

Sharing your mistakes with others can be daunting, but it is incredibly beneficial for several reasons:

  • Collective Learning: When you share your experiences, others can learn from your mistakes and avoid making the same ones.
  • Building Trust: Being open about your failures fosters an environment of trust and psychological safety.
  • Encouraging Openness: When leaders share their failures, it sets a precedent for others to do the same, promoting a culture of transparency and continuous improvement.

Practical Tips for Sharing

Here are some practical tips for effectively sharing your failures:

  • Be Honest: Don’t sugarcoat your experiences. Be honest about what went wrong and why.
  • Focus on Learning: Emphasize what you learned from the experience and how it helped you grow.
  • Encourage Dialogue: Invite others to share their own experiences and engage in a dialogue about what can be learned from them.

Personal Example: Learning from Others

In one of my CSP-SM workshops, a participant shared a story about a failed sprint that had resulted in a significant product defect. Initially, he was hesitant to talk about it, fearing judgment. But once he did, it sparked a rich discussion among the group. Other participants shared similar experiences, and together, we brainstormed strategies to prevent such issues in the future. This collective learning experience was invaluable and highlighted the importance of sharing our failures.

Supporting Others

The Role of a ScrumMaster

As a Scrum Master, one of your key responsibilities is to support and guide your team. This includes helping them navigate their own mistakes and learn from them.

  • Be a Mentor: Use your own experiences to mentor others. Share your mistakes and the lessons you learned to help guide them.
  • Foster a Safe Environment: Create a safe space where team members feel comfortable sharing their own failures without fear of judgment.
  • Encourage Experimentation: Promote a culture of experimentation and learning, where mistakes are seen as an integral part of the process.

Practical Tips for Supporting Your Team

  • Listen Actively: When a team member shares their experience, listen actively and empathetically.
  • Provide Constructive Feedback: Offer constructive feedback that focuses on learning and improvement.
  • Celebrate Efforts: Celebrate the efforts and learning that come from experimentation, even if the outcomes are not always successful.

Personal Example: Guiding Through Mistakes

In another project, one of my team members made a critical error that led to a delay in the sprint delivery. Instead of reprimanding him, I used it as a teaching moment. We conducted a retrospective to understand what went wrong and how we could prevent it in the future. This approach not only helped him learn but also reinforced the team’s trust in me as a supportive leader.


Embracing and sharing mistakes is a cornerstone of becoming an effective CSP-SM. It transforms failures into valuable learning experiences, fosters a culture of openness and trust, and ultimately leads to continuous improvement. Remember, every mistake is an opportunity to grow, both for yourself and for those you support.

Key Takeaways

  • Mistakes are valuable learning opportunities.
  • Sharing failures builds trust and fosters collective learning.
  • Supporting your team through their mistakes strengthens the Scrum process.

Final Thoughts

Be brave. Embrace your mistakes and encourage others to do the same. By doing so, you not only enhance your own learning journey but also contribute to the growth and success of your team. 🌟

author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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