Imagine a project with hundreds of people, a lead time in months, few releases a year. You could compare these as large cruise boats or tankers navigating for few weeks in the immensity and emptiness of the oceans and seas and then stopping to ports very far away from each other. While at sea, or during the build phase, contact is difficult, and you are far away from customers and rescue.
As a Coach, Scrum Master for a Scrum Team it is sometimes difficult to find ways to inspire people and give them a goal to strive for. Most of Scrum Teams have been trained to use Scrum, they have people helping them to apply it but do they really understand the implications of all this?
Scrum or not, companies organizes team buildings for teams, project, groups in order to bring people closer for years now. It is not because it is fun, it has a cost obviously, but we do that because we know that successes comes from motivated group of people. So in order to get better outcomes from a Scrum Team we need to give them an idea of what it means to be a high performance team, not just another team.
High Performance Tree
Few years ago I discovered this video from Lyssa Adkins, very simple but extremely powerful.
In only few minutes by drawing this tree in front of your team and explaining them what it means to be a successful Scrum Team you can get them inspired. Then you can talk about all the attributes of a High Performance Team with them and probably discover more. I encourage you to do it, not a waste of time really.
Either you are a Scrum Team Member or a coach the Values Retrospective can be very powerful. As you probably know at the end of each Sprint we run Retrospectives to inspect ourselves as a self-organized and cross functional scrum team. After few sprints if you don’t have the proper mindset in place you will face a zombie scrum team doing mechanical or flaccid scrum. We definitively don’t want that. I won’t go into the many ways of trying to get back on track with a team like that, but a starting point can be to inspect how we are doing with the Scrum Values.
Reboot the values
Start the meeting by covering the 3 pillars and the 5 values. If you are facilitating, don’t be the only one to speak. Timebox the discussion for each value. Ask the audience what means each value for them. Ask them to not try to inspect the current state of adoption but really what this value is supposed to mean for a Scrum Team.
Evaluate Values Adoption
Ask everyone to evaluate each value from 1 to 5 for example. You can do that on paper, with fist of five, online with a shared tabular sheet… Your choice.
Then ask the audience to rank the values. Which one is the one we totally adopted which one we have the most difficulties to apply to ourselves. You can rank them from 1 to 5 or use any other way.
Discuss the Results & Take Action
Sum the results for each value and look at the one you need to work on the most. This has to be a discussion but don’t forget to come out of it with at least one concrete action to take immediately.
In the past years I had the chance to support, train, teach and mentor many teams in adopting Scrum and agile practices. I have seen many organizations, departments, group of people with various point of views regarding agile. Most of the time people around are skeptical and doubtful about bringing more agility in their environment simply because it is different than what they are used to. Thankfully after trying it, a large portion of people, even the more skeptical realize that they can’t come back to where they were before. When people realize this that mean you probably have made an impact.
I consider our job as coaches to impact organizations. When we come somewhere we should assess the current state of things around and measure what is changing weeks after weeks. They open new jobs for Product Owners, they hire an internal coach, the workplace changes, many visible signs you can track. Having teams delivering value to their stakeholders is something but that is not it. If you consider your job done when an increment is in production you probably missed the point. Our job is to bring people together, break silos, activate new channels of communication between people who weren’t talking together, give people autonomy, drive them to the path of mastery and create a supporting environment for all those changes amongst a lot of other things.
I was and still am a .NET Developer. I did many internships during my scholarship, then worked in small to large projects. I was quite happy and an innocent dev until I became team lead and had to spend my day to break down chunks of work for my team, do PowerPointS to justify changes to my client, report to the project managerS, report to other middle management. Lot of new things that made me realize my job would be boring from this time. Frustration was building up until I resigned because of a bad manager.
One day I was getting out of a job and my community lead decided I will go on an Scrum Training for a week. I came back from holidays and went to it with a vague idea of what it was. After a week I was transformed, literally. I loved my job again.
Since then and after years experiencing terrible and successful agile my first objective is to have people having an epiphany and help them realize they can also change things in better around them or at least try.
Becoming a certified Professional Scrum Master is one of the first milestones in an agilist career. Of course
you can live without obtaining it but if you want to move to an agile career path this can help. Whether you are a developer, a functional analyst, a tester or anyone in a scrum team you can consider passing this certification. For developers there is another assessment called Professional Scrum Developer (PSD) but be careful if you are new to Scrum.org assessments. The PSD is a little bit more difficult and it demands PSM knowledge anyway. So I would advice you to pass PSM then the PSD.
First of all let’s see what it is about:
Fee: $150 per attempt
Passing score: 85%
Time limit: 60 minutes
Number of Questions: 80
Format: Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/False
Passwords have no expiration date, but are valid for one attempt only
From this short list you can appreciate the type of assessment it is. A lot of questions, not so much time and multiple choices so be prepared !
If you are already working in a Scrum Team I would advise you to do the following:
Read, read and read the Scrum Guide. You need to understand it deeply instead of basically memorizing it. You need to think like Ken when you answer questions !
Practice a lot with the Scrum Open Assessments. Don’t memorize answers from this assessment but try to understand the type of questions and the way they want you to think. If you have some doubts about answers go check the Scrum.org forums. Once you get 100% correct multiple times it should be fine.
Ideally follow a PSM course. It is two days with a Professional Scrum Trainer and even if you already have some experience with Scrum you will get invaluable knowledge from a specialist.
Check the list of books from this page. Some others can be found for free like this one.
Some recommandations when you pass the test:
Be careful when reading questions and answers. There are differences between “who should be present at the daily scrum” and “who must be present at the daily scrum”
If you have doubts regarding answers, proceed by elimination
There are no Sprint 0 !
A Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous sprint. And its timebox.
The PO drive the product vision, not the team ! And he is the only one to drive it !
In Scrum we develop products not by technical (horizontal) slices but vertically by features.
The daily scrum is a feedback loop.
The Scrum Master is here to facilitate, coach, teach and remove impediments.
The Definition of Done is the Dev Team check list to consider a PBI ready to be shipped.
In a multiple teams context (for one and only product) the Dev Teams share DoD so each team work is integrated into one common increment.
A sprint can only be cancelled by the PO and when the sprint goal is obsolete.
A Development team is cross functional, everybody is a Dev and the team must have the competencies to deliver what’s in their sprint backlog.
If you’ve never worked in a Scrum Team, find one, work as a member of the team few sprints and then come back here ! If you are a Product Owner think about the PSPO first.