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Why and How to Pass the PSPO Exam?

The role of the Product Owner is in high demand in the current market. It has consistently appeared among LinkedIn's most promising jobs. Agile and Scrum methodologies have overtaken the traditional methods of building software and managing projects, as they have been consistently proven to give better results than traditional project management methods.In this article, you will learn about PSPO, among the most sought-after Product Owner certifications around the world. PSPO stands for Professional Scrum Product Owner and this certification is offered by Scrum.org.  Before jumping into the details, let’s get to know about the accreditation body, that is Scrum.org, that offers the PSPO certification. Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum, who founded Scrum.org in 2009 as a global organization, has been dedicating himself to improving best practices in the world of Scrum. Unlike other training and certification organizations, Scrum.org is focused on improving professionalism in complex product delivery and that drives everything they do. For getting the Professional Scrum Product Owner certification, you would be required to demonstrate your familiarity, understanding and capability to apply Scrum fundamentals in the real world. All training materials are collaboratively maintained and improved by the community of Scrum experts and the founder Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum.Prove your Product Owner KnowledgePSPO is offered in 3 levels—I, II, and III. Before signing up for the training and certification for any of the three levels, Scrum.org gives you a chance to assess your readiness, and prove your knowledge, understanding and ability to apply Scrum in the real-world. This can be done with the free assessment offered by Scrum.org.  The assessments are available to anyone who wishes to validate their knowledge of the Scrum framework and ability to support value creation and delivery. Scrum.org has decoupled the certification assessments from the training. Although each Scrum.org training class includes a free attempt at a Scrum.org assessment, you would still need to prove your knowledge by passing the assessment test with a score of 85% or better to receive the associated Professional certification. Those who pass the assessment receive the industry recognized PSPO I, II and III Certification to demonstrate their mastery of the content. However, Scrum.org highly recommends that you should take a Professional Scrum Product Owner course. This is not mandatory, and participants can attempt any of the three certifications after self-study also.Prepare for the assessmentTo prepare for the certification assessment, you should be thorough with the multiple focus areas as defined by the Professional Scrum Competencies.Here are the Professional Scrum competencies and the key terms that you should learn:Understanding and Applying the Scrum FrameworkDeveloping People and TeamsManaging Products with AgilityDeveloping & Delivering Products ProfessionallyEvolving the Agile OrganizationEmpiricismScrum ValuesScrum TeamEventsArtifacts\DoneScalingSelf-Managing TeamsFacilitationLeadership StylesCoaching & MentoringTeachingForecasting & Release PlanningProduct VisionProduct ValueProduct Backlog ManagementBusiness StrategyStakeholders & CustomersEmergent Software DevelopmentManaging Technical RiskContinuous QualityContinuous IntegrationContinuous DeliveryOptimizing FlowOrganizational Design & CulturePortfolio PlanningEvidence Based ManagementDetails To navigate through the preparation, you should: Be very familiar with the Scrum Guide. Read it at least 4-5 times Understand the Product owner Learning path As the Product Owners work closely with Scrum masters, hence it is required for Product owners to understand the Scrum Master Learning Path Go through various blogs available here Read and understand at least 4-5 times:  Scrum Glossary Evidence Based Management Guide Evidence Based Management Nexus Guide is also a valuable resource You can take Open assessments as many times you wish. Find out why you got an answer wrong and read up on the answers in the Scrum Guide. My advice would be that you should not attempt the real assessment unless you have scored 100% at least three times in a row in the open assessments.CertificationLet’s understand the various levels of the PSPO certification. There are 3 levels:Details are available at.For this certification, there are steps and preparation that you should follow and this article will take you through all you need to be a PSPO.Exam Fee, Passing Score, Time limit, Number of Questions, Exam Format, Difficulty and LanguageExam FeePassing ScoreTime limit# of QuestionsExam formatDifficultyLanguagePSPO I Assessment$20085%1 hour80Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/FalseIntermediateEnglishPSPO II Assessment$25085%1 hour40Multiple Choice, Multiple AnswerAdvancedEnglishPSPO III Assessment$50085%2 hours35Multiple Choice and essayExpertEnglishOnce you pay the exam fee for the respective assessment, you would receive the password for attempting the assessment in 1 business day. Assessment passwords do not expire and remain valid until used.  PSPO Subject Areas To clear PSPO certification, you should have thorough understanding of the Subject areas. The Subject areas for PSPO are: Agile Product Management: The role of a Product Owner in Agile Product Management is to maximize the value of the product developed by the implementation team. From the certification point of view, you should understand the importance of the role of Product owner, which is an internal facing role and requires gathering technical requirements, grooming the product backlog, and detailing user stories. Additionally, while reading you should keep focussing on how a product owner envisions a product’s life in an agile environment. You should also learn the techniques of building a Business Model Canvas, writing a business case and creating the value proposition. Eventually, that will help you in defining the customer segments, value proposition, and major activities that you should perform during the agile product lifecycle. You should also understand the core responsibilities carried out by the Product Owner in the Agile product management as part of Product Strategy-understanding the customer needs, creating the product roadmap, prioritizing the features, understanding customer experiences and measuring the product success.Value Driven Development The primary motto of Agile is to satisfy the customer needs through early and continuous delivery of software. The Product Owner should focus on delivering the maximum value at the earliest in Value driven development. You should have sound understanding about user stories and should follow the INVEST rule, that is user stories should be: I - Independent N - Negotiable V - Valuable E -Estimable S - Small T - Testable Each of the user stories should have a clear story point. You should also have an understanding of the business value so that Return of Investment can be calculated. The KPI i.e., Return of Investment helps the Product Owner to perform prioritization in the Value Driven Development.Scrum Theory and Empiricism The Scrum Values are the foundation for behaviour and practices in Scrum. They are closely related to the theory and first principles of Scrum and support teams in their work.  The Scrum Team can always fall back on these essentials.  The Product Owner should demonstrate following 5 attributes: Courage: Product Owner should help in encouraging the scrum team members to do the right thing and work on tough problems. Focus: Product Owner should ensure that scrum members focus on the work of the Sprint and goals of the Scrum team. Commitment: Product Owner should create the environment where Scrum team members should personally commit to achieve the goals of the Scrum team. Respect: Team members in the Scrum team should respect each other. Openness: Team members in the Scrum team and the stakeholders should be open about the work and associated challenges.Scrum Framework As a Product Owner, you should have a great understanding of the Scrum framework and the constituting team members--Developers and Scrum Master.  You should also understand about the artifacts used in the Scrum framework such as Product Backlog, Sprint backlog and Increments. Various events take place in Scrum like Sprint, Sprint planning, Daily scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings. An understanding of the entire framework is highly recommended for the prospective Product Owners and for this certification.Product Backlog Management You should have a decent understanding about product backlog management. While you prepare the backlog, you should keep the following in mind: Your backlog should be the single source for delivery of valuable items It should possess transparency to the scrum team and stakeholders It should follow the prioritization and should be ordered based on the value, dependencies, and risk You should always keep an eye on the estimates for the product backlog items Your product backlog should be a point for starting conversations with the team members Ensure that the items in your product backlog contain specifications, mock-ups, architecture models, user acceptance criteria etc Release Management Product Owners can follow different release strategies. The releases can be Major, Minor or functional releases.  A major release can contain many large changes. They should be infrequent as they are often aligned with the organization timelines. While a major release is in progress, other works should be frozen, as a major release incurs high customer absorption costs and high business risks. A minor release can contain broad changes. They should be pre-scheduled as they often align with the sprint boundaries. Minor release should contain bug fixes and patches. A functional release can contain individual functionalities. Functional releases offer immediate value to the stakeholders. They incur low customer absorption costs and have minimal or no business risks.Required Course There are various courses available online for undertaking product owner certifications. You should pick the course based on your needs and the level of expertise you expect to achieve.  Recommended Course: PSPO PSPO (Professional Scrum Product Owner) from Scrum.org is one of the recommended certification courses for Product Owners because it gives following benefits: PSPO assessment from Scrum.org requires you to have a good knowledge of Scrum and the passing score is high i.e., 85%, ensuring that your level of understanding is sound  It is not required to renew the certification once you have passed it, as it has a lifetime validity Once you have cleared the certification, your name would be added to the Scrum.org website and anyone can verify your credentialsWays to learn more to help you prepare Here are the tips that you can follow to clear the PSPO certification: 1. Ensure that you give equal importance to all the subject areas as questions would arise from all of them. However, the weightage varies roughly as below. Please note these are based on the inputs taken from various PSPO takers: Agile Product Management: 20% Value Driven Development: 20% Scrum Theory and Empiricism: 15% Scrum Framework: 15% Product Backlog Management: 15% Release Management: 10% Miscellaneous from Open Assessment in Scrum.org: 5% 2. Make sure you are alert and focused when you are taking the exam. Take the exam according to your convenience, at a time that suits you.  When you are taking the exam, move to a silent place so that you are uninterrupted. 3. Read the questions carefully and then answer. They may trick you by asking questions which contain ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘not’ or ‘which of the following cannot be available’ option. So, pay extra attention to the keywords in the questions. 4. There are multiple choice questions as well in the exam, make sure you have read all of the options and then answer. 5. Be very attentive about the questions related to specific subject areas. Conclusion   PSPO is among the more difficult certification exams for Product Owners. Ensure that you have given yourself sufficient time to prepare, around 4-6 weeks.  Remember, that PSPO is a very valuable certification in the Product Owner profession and as of January 2021, there are only 97,208 PSPO 1, 1906 PSPO II and 347 PSPO III certified holders around the globe. This certification can be a great way for you to be noticed by potential recruiters. Also, this is a great way to validate your skills and knowledge of Product Owner responsibilities and demonstrate your expertise to your employer.

Why and How to Pass the PSPO Exam?

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Why and How to Pass the PSPO Exam?

The role of the Product Owner is in high demand in the current market. It has consistently appeared among LinkedIn's most promising jobs. Agile and Scrum methodologies have overtaken the traditional methods of building software and managing projects, as they have been consistently proven to give better results than traditional project management methods.Product owner structure

In this article, you will learn about PSPO, among the most sought-after Product Owner certifications around the world. PSPO stands for Professional Scrum Product Owner and this certification is offered by Scrum.org.  

Before jumping into the details, letget to know about the accreditation body, that is Scrum.org, that offers the PSPO certification. 

  • Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum, who founded Scrum.org in 2009 as a global organization, has been dedicating himself to improving best practices in the world of Scrum. 
  • Unlike other training and certification organizations, Scrum.org is focused on improving professionalism in complex product delivery and that drives everything they do. 
  • For getting the Professional Scrum Product Owner certification, you would be required to demonstrate your familiarity, understanding and capability to apply Scrum fundamentals in the real world. 
  • All training materials are collaboratively maintained and improved by the community of Scrum experts and the founder Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum.

Prove your Product Owner Knowledge

PSPO is offered in 3 levels—I, II, and III. Before signing up for the training and certification for any of the three levelsScrum.org gives you a chance to assess your readiness, and prove your knowledge, understanding and ability to apply Scrum in the real-world. This can be done with the free assessment offered by Scrum.org.  The assessments are available to anyone who wishes to validate their knowledge of the Scrum framework and ability to support value creation and delivery. 

Scrum.org has decoupled the certification assessments from the training. Although each Scrum.org training class includes a free attempt at a Scrum.org assessment, you would still need to prove your knowledge by passing the assessment test with a score of 85% or better to receive the associated Professional certification. Those who pass the assessment receive the industry recognized PSPO I, II and III Certification to demonstrate their mastery of the content. 

However, Scrum.org highly recommends that you should take a Professional Scrum Product Owner course. This is not mandatory, and participants can attempt any of the three certifications after self-study also.

Prepare for the assessment

To prepare for the certification assessment, you should be thorough with the multiple focus areas as defined by the Professional Scrum Competencies.

Here are the Professional Scrum competencies and the key terms that you should learn:

Understanding and Applying the Scrum FrameworkDeveloping People and TeamsManaging Products with AgilityDeveloping & Delivering Products ProfessionallyEvolving the Agile Organization
  • Empiricism
  • Scrum Values
  • Scrum Team
  • Events
  • Artifacts\Done
  • Scaling
  • Self-Managing Teams
  • Facilitation
  • Leadership Styles
  • Coaching & Mentoring
  • Teaching
  • Forecasting & Release Planning
  • Product Vision
  • Product Value
  • Product Backlog Management
  • Business Strategy
  • Stakeholders & Customers
  • Emergent Software Development
  • Managing Technical Risk
  • Continuous Quality
  • Continuous Integration
  • Continuous Delivery
  • Optimizing Flow
  • Organizational Design & Culture
  • Portfolio Planning
  • Evidence Based Management

Details 

To navigate through the preparation, you should: 

Certification

Let’s understand the various levels of the PSPO certification. There are 3 levels:

Certification

Details are available at.

For this certification, there are steps and preparation that you should follow and this article will take you through all you need to be a PSPO.

Exam Fee, Passing Score, Time limit, Number of Questions, Exam Format, Difficulty and Language


Exam FeePassing ScoreTime limit# of QuestionsExam formatDifficultyLanguage
PSPO I Assessment$20085%1 hour80Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/FalseIntermediateEnglish
PSPO II Assessment$25085%1 hour40Multiple Choice, Multiple AnswerAdvancedEnglish
PSPO III Assessment$50085%2 hours35Multiple Choice and essayExpertEnglish

Once you pay the exam fee for the respective assessment, you would receive the password for attempting the assessment in 1 business day. Assessment passwords do not expire and remain valid until used.  

PSPO Subject Areas 

To clear PSPO certification, you should have thorough understanding of the Subject areas. The Subject areas for PSPO are: 

  • Agile Product Management: 

The role of a Product Owner in Agile Product Management is to maximize the value of the product developed by the implementation team. From the certification point of view, you should understand the importance of the role of Product owner, which is an internal facing role and requires gathering technical requirements, grooming the product backlog, and detailing user stories. Additionally, while reading you should keep focussing on how a product owner envisions a product’s life in an agile environment. You should also learn the techniques of building a Business Model Canvas, writing a business case and creating the value proposition. Eventually, that will help you in defining the customer segments, value proposition, and major activities that you should perform during the agile product lifecycle. 

You should also understand the core responsibilities carried out by the Product Owner in the Agile product management as part of Product Strategy-understanding the customer needs, creating the product roadmap, prioritizing the features, understanding customer experiences and measuring the product success.

  • Value Driven Development 

The primary motto of Agile is to satisfy the customer needs through early and continuous delivery of software. The Product Owner should focus on delivering the maximum value at the earliest in Value driven development. You should have sound understanding about user stories and should follow the INVEST rule, that is user stories should be: 

  • I - Independent 
  • N - Negotiable 
  • V - Valuable 
  • E -Estimable 
  • S - Small 
  • T - Testable 

Each of the user stories should have a clear story point. You should also have an understanding of the business value so that Return of Investment can be calculated. The KPI i.e., Return of Investment helps the Product Owner to perform prioritization in the Value Driven Development.

  • Scrum Theory and Empiricism 

The Scrum Values are the foundation for behaviour and practices in Scrum. They are closely related to the theory and first principles of Scrum and support teams in their work.  The Scrum Team can always fall back on these essentials.  

The Product Owner should demonstrate following attributes: 

  1. Courage: Product Owner should help in encouraging the scrum team members to do the right thing and work on tough problems. 
  2. Focus: Product Owner should ensure that scrum members focus on the work of the Sprint and goals of the Scrum team. 
  3. Commitment: Product Owner should create the environment where Scrum team members should personally commit to achieve the goals of the Scrum team. 
  4. Respect: Team members in the Scrum team should respect each other. 
  5. Openness: Team members in the Scrum team and the stakeholders should be open about the work and associated challenges.
  • Scrum Framework 

As a Product Owner, you should have a great understanding of the Scrum framework and the constituting team members--Developers and Scrum Master.  

You should also understand about the artifacts used in the Scrum framework such as Product Backlog, Sprint backlog and Increments. 

Various events take place in Scrum like Sprint, Sprint planning, Daily scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective meetings. An understanding of the entire framework is highly recommended for the prospective Product Owners and for this certification.

  • Product Backlog Management 

You should have decent understanding about product backlog management. While you prepare the backlog, you should keep the following in mind: 

  1. Your backlog should be the single source for delivery of valuable items 
  2. It should possess transparency to the scrum team and stakeholders 
  3. It should follow the prioritization and should be ordered based on the value, dependencies, and risk 
  4. You should always keep an eye on the estimates for the product backlog items 
  5. Your product backlog should be a point for starting conversations with the team members 
  6. Ensure that the items in your product backlog contain specifications, mock-ups, architecture models, user acceptance criteria etc 
  • Release Management 

Product Owners can follow different release strategies. 

The releases can be Major, Minor or functional releases.  

A major release can contain many large changes. They should be infrequent as they are often aligned with the organization timelines. While a major release is in progress, other works should be frozen, as a major release incurs high customer absorption costs and high business risks. 

A minor release can contain broad changes. They should be pre-scheduled as they often align with the sprint boundaries. Minor release should contain bug fixes and patches. 

A functional release can contain individual functionalities. Functional releases offer immediate value to the stakeholders. They incur low customer absorption costs and have minimal or no business risks.

Required Course 

There are various courses available online for undertaking product owner certifications. You should pick the course based on your needs and the level of expertise you expect to achieve.  

Recommended Course: PSPO 

PSPO (Professional Scrum Product Owner) from Scrum.org is one of the recommended certification courses for Product Owners because it gives following benefits: 

  • PSPO assessment from Scrum.org requires you to have a good knowledge of Scrum and the passing score is high i.e., 85%, ensuring that your level of understanding is sound  
  • It is not required to renew the certification once you have passed it, as it has a lifetime validity 
  • Once you have cleared the certification, your name would be added to the Scrum.org website and anyone can verify your credentials

Ways to learn more to help you prepare 

Here are the tips that you can follow to clear the PSPO certification: 

1. Ensure that you give equal importance to all the subject areas as questions would arise from all of them. However, the weightage varies roughly as below. Please note these are based on the inputs taken from various PSPO takers: 

  • Agile Product Management: 20% 
  • Value Driven Development: 20% 
  • Scrum Theory and Empiricism: 15% 
  • Scrum Framework: 15% 
  • Product Backlog Management: 15% 
  • Release Management: 10% 
  • Miscellaneous from Open Assessment in Scrum.org: 5% 

2. Make sure you are alert and focused when you are taking the exam. Take the exam according to your convenience, at a time that suits you.  When you are taking the exam, move to a silent place so that you are uninterrupted. 

3. Read the questions carefully and then answer. They may trick you by asking questions which contain ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘not’ or ‘which of the following cannot be available optionSo, pay extra attention to the keywords in the questions. 

4. There are multiple choice questions as well in the exam, make sure you have read all of the options and then answer. 

5. Be very attentive about the questions related to specific subject areas. 

Conclusion   

PSPO is among the more difficult certification exams for Product Owners. Ensure that you have given yourself sufficient time to prepare, around 4-6 weeks.  Remember, that PSPO is very valuable certification in the Product Owner profession and as of January 2021, there are only 97,208 PSPO 1, 1906 PSPO II and 347 PSPO III certified holders around the globe. This certification can be a great way for you to be noticed by potential recruiters. Also, this is a great way to validate your skills and knowledge of Product Owner responsibilities and demonstrate your expertise to your employer.

Shashank

Shashank Jain

Author

Shashank Jain is a Senior Consultant with 13+ years of experience in IT industry and 9+ years’ experience in Business Analysis, Product Owner, Scrum Master, Consulting & Project Management roles. Shashank is Certified Product Owner, Scrum Master and holds Certified Business Analysis Professional credentials. He specializes in transforming the conversation between the business and IT, resulting in maximizing business value realization. He has practised Agile-Scrum for more than 8 years which consist of more than 20 initiatives with consistent achievement of 85%+ team goals.

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While giving advise on how things should be done is necessary, appreciating the team on its achievements is equally important.   Respect for Others: Your team members all have different personalities and each brings their own uniqueness and expertise to the team. No one team member is less or more important than the other. An effective and efficient Scrum Master will recognise this early on and treat every team member with the same amount of respect.  Understanding of Situations in the Right Context:  Not all things are as what they appear. The sooner a scrum master understands this, the better. Situations in context to teams, individuals and even the organization are not always black and white and the Scrum Master must consider the baggage of organizational culture, current systems, internal politics, etc before coming to a conclusion about a team or a team members. Instead, one must attempt to form close relationships with the team and understand the workings of the team and the organizations before passing judgement. Ability to Have Tough Conversations :  You as a Scrum Master are often seen as a problem solver, friend and mentor. But don’t let this image of yours come in the way of making tough decisions or having tough conversations. As a Scrum Master you must have the courage to do the right thing and if this means having difficult but necessary conversations with either the team members, the product owner or the stakeholders, then you must do it.    Courage to Protect the Team:  More often than not, there are unreasonable demands made on the development team. The Scrum Master should have the courage to protect the team and say an emphatic ‘no’ to the Product Owner or the stakeholders.  Accountability: You are accountable for your team’s success as you are for its failures. If as a Scrum Master you want your team to be accountable then the best way to get them to do that is to be accountable yourself. You can do this by being more invested in the day-to-day activities of the team and considering yourself to be a part of the team as well.  Support for Team Members: As a Scrum Master you are not just invested in the project but also in the growth of individual team members. You should motivate, encourage and support your team members to grow and reach heights in their careers.   Deep Commitment: If the team feels that the Scrum Master is committed to the project, committed to the team and committed to the team members, then they are more likely to be open and transparent with the Scrum Master. This trust with the team has to be built so that team members can be open about the challenges they face. The Scrum Master is the voice of the team and must support them at all stages.   Focus on Improvement:  Scrum is all about continuous improvement and the success of the Scrum Master is also tied to the continuous improvement of the Scrum team. If your team is getting better with time then you are doing well as a Scrum Master. From daily sprints to retrospectives, the Scrum Master provides avenues for the team to improve itself, identify problems and suggest solutions to work better.  Conclusion Scrum is the most used Agile framework, yet there are several lessons that organizations need to learn about Scrum before they embark on a transformation journey. This lightweight and easy to use framework can turn around the fortunes of companies if implemented in the right way. It’s important for an organization’s culture to be ready to accept and implement Scrum for project and organizational success.  
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Why Scrum Is Lightweight; Simple To Understand; Di...

85 percent of respondents say Scrum continues to... Read More

Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servant-Leader!

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum Master. But what does it mean? The Scrum Master is a servant leader in Agile projects, but servant leadership goes far beyond Agile, and Scrum Masters serve more than just the team.In this blog we attempt to look at the Scrum Master’s role as a servant leader, what the role entails and the responsibilities of the Scrum Master beyond the team, in context to the organization. What is servant-leadership?The term servant leadership was first coined by Robert Greenleaf in his article “The Servant as Leader”, in which he defined a servant leader as: The Servant-Leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That leader significantly differs from one who is leader first, may be due to the need to acquire power, material belonging, control and authority within the organization. Servant leadership is something very different from traditional leadership, which places the leader at the top of the hierarchy and the employees in the lower rung. Servant leadership, in a sense, is the opposite of traditional leadership, as it places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy while employees are on the higher rungs. The leaders, in this case, are serving the people above them. Servant leadership refers to leaders who believe in serving people and the community that they are a part of, rather than accumulating power for themselves. This style of leadership emphasizes on helping subordinates better themselves, empowering employees and helping others perform to the best of their abilities.Servant leadership does not prescribe telling employees what to do, instead it helps the workforce find their sense of ownership and unlock their potential to reach their goals. Servant leadership is all about empowering others, which when consistently done can raise morale, enhance productivity and reduce employee attrition.Servant Leadership and ScrumScrum, in a way, is the very essence of servant leadership. Unlike traditional project management methodologies, it does not follow a top-down, hierarchical approach. Instead, decisions are lateral and happen with the involvement of the whole team. Scrum is the perfect approach in which to practice the concept of servant leadership. The 5 Scrum values of Openness, Respect, Commitment, Courage, and Focus, adhere to the philosophy of Servant Leadership. The Scrum Master plays a key role in the development of the product, the team and the organization. The Scrum Guide defines the servant leadership a Scrum Master’s role has to perform in context to the roles mentioned above. The Scrum Values that a Scrum Master practices have a ripple effect throughout the organization. The Scrum Master is seen as an evangelist for practicing and promoting Scrum in the enterprise.The Agile Manifesto and servant-leadershipThe Agile Manifesto states that one must value: Individuals and interactions over Process and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan These again align with the values of servant leadership, which is all about putting people or employees first. The Agile Manifesto describes focusing on building projects around motivated individuals and giving them an environment of support, trust and collaboration—all characteristics of servant leadership.Who Are These Servant Leaders?The Scrum Guide defines the service provided by the Scrum Master as servant leadership. The Scrum Master selflessly provides servant leadership to the development team, product owner and the whole organization. By serving these entities, the Scrum Master can create a high performing team, a valuable product and an efficient organization that is able to meet business objectives and keep customers happy.  Though the term Scrum Master may be deceptive, the Scrum Master is not a master of the team but in fact serves the team in order to ensure smooth functioning and productivity.Servant Leadership and Scrum Master Roles of Servant LeadershipServant leadership:The day-to-day activity of a Scrum Master involves servant leadership. Servant leadership in a scrum team involves performance planning, coaching, helping the team self- organize, resolving conflicts through conflict management, removing obstacles that hinder progress and serving the team. The Scrum Master, while practicing servant leadership, helps the team grow and mature and become independent enough to make their own decisions. Servant leadership in Scrum is all about making the team self-reliant, so they can cope with the pressures of the role. As a servant leader the Scrum Master creates a high performing team, helps them become collaborative and high performing in order to achieve goals and meet the requirements of the customer.  Service to the Scrum Team: As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. They help the team perform to the best of their abilities by giving them an environment that is conducive to work in, encouraging them, guiding them and removing obstacles that may hinder progress. As a coach, the Scrum Master will guide the team on scrum processes and help them adhere to Agile values during the development of the product. The Scrum Master is responsible for the scrum team’s effectiveness, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the team is motivated, encouraged, creative and innovative. The Scrum Master through servant leadership helps the team improve Scrum practices which helps them become more productive and generate value. The Scrum Team’s role in motivating and helping the team comes through in the daily stand-up meetings that are arranged as part of the sprint. The Scrum Master encourages team members to share their grievances and progress made through the sprint. Team members can talk about obstacles that may be hindering their work and due cognizance will be taken up by the Scrum master to ensure that these obstacles are removed.  According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Development Team by: Coaching the team in becoming self-organized and cross-functional Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value increments by removing impediments Helping the team deliver within the timeframe of the sprint Service to the Product Owner: The Scrum Master is a servant leader not just for the development team but also the Product Owner. While the Product Owner is primarily responsible for the product backlog, they cannot do this alone. The Scrum Master aids the development team and the Product Owner with effective product backlog management.The Scrum Master is involved at every stage of the product backlog grooming, helping the product owner with Scrum events, product planning and to identify backlog items along with the development team. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner define the product vision to the team.   According to the Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by: Helping in Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management Helping the Scrum Team understand manage the Product Backlog items Setting up empirical product planning in complex environments and, Managing and facilitating stakeholder collaboration.Service to the Organization: The Scrum Master is a coach and motivator not just for the development team but goes beyond the team to spread the awareness of Scrum in the entire organization. Scrum Masters coach and help teams and departments understand Scrum and develop an Agile mind-set. Besides servant leadership to the team a Scrum Master is also involved in promoting the ideas and values of Scrum. An organization can get an agile mind-set only if the entire organization adopts Scrum and not just a few teams. This is where the Scrum Master comes in, helping other teams not involved with Scum to gain the Agile mind-set, through training and coaching. The Scrum Master is an Agile evangelist and promotes Scrum enterprise-wide.According to Scrum.org the Scrum Master serves the organization by: Leading, training, and coaching the organization in adopting Scrum Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization Coaching employees and stakeholders in the way Scrum works Helping stakeholders work with Scrum TeamsSome Servant-Leader Behaviours for every Scrum MasterBeing empathetic: This is the foremost personality trait required for anyone wanting to become a Scrum Master. Your empathy will shine through in your interactions with the team members and your dealings with the stakeholders. You should be able to see problems from the point of view of each party and work towards solving these problems. Caring: As a caring and empathetic Scrum Master, your team will feel free to approach you and share their concerns. Providing a listening ear will make you more approachable. You will be able to more clearly understand the impediments that are stopping project progress and work towards providing a solution.  Managing Conflicts: Not all team members will get along with each other and this can cause disruptions and problems within the team, lowering their productivity. As a Scrum Master you need to be great at conflict management, help others solve their problems, work with each other and create a high performing and harmonious team. Building relationships: You need to build a rapport with your team, the product owner and the stakeholders. This will help you communicate freely and help others approach you with their problems and issues. You need to build that relationship of trust and take everyone along on the journey of success.  Being ethical: Ethics play an important role in software development, especially since software now controls every aspect of our lives. The product created should be free of malice and fraud. The Scrum Master should guide the team in delivering the product at a value and standard that is expected and agreed upon with the stakeholder. There should not be any shortcuts or concessions made on the quality of the product delivered as this will affect not just the Scrum Master and the team’s reputation but will cause a dent in the reputation of the organization.   Conclusion  Servant leadership and the Scrum Master’s role is the backbone of Scrum. The Scrum Master as a servant leader re-emphasizes the values of Scrum and helps to enhance teamwork, collaboration, motivation and value. Under the able servant leadership of the Scrum Master, individual members and the team will grow, become more confident and help in delivering value.  
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Scrum Master – The Scrum Team’s Servan...

The term servant leader is synonymous with a Scrum... Read More

A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small teams. But the true benefits of Agile can only be reaped if Agile and Scrum are scaled at the enterprise level. However, this is easier said than done. According to statistics, 47% of Agile transformations are not successful. While this is a worrying trend, there are still hundreds of organizations who have got it right and are able to survive the competition by innovating faster, delivering value and adapting to changing markets. How are they doing it? By using scaled Scrum.There are several tools and frameworks available for scaling Scrum at the enterprise level. In this blog, we attempt to look at a few of these.  Scaling Scrum with NexusNexus is among the most popular frameworks for scaling Scrum. According to the Nexus Guide, “Nexus is a framework for developing and sustaining scaled product delivery initiatives. It builds upon Scrum, extending it only where absolutely necessary to minimize and manage dependencies between multiple Scrum Teams while promoting empiricism and the Scrum Values.” How is Nexus different from Scrum? Scrum defines three primary roles: The Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the development team. These three roles work together in one team.The Nexus framework consists of several Scrum teams that work together toward a common product goal and defines the Nexus Integration Team as an additional accountability.  Nexus helps to build on the values of Scrum and also solves the collaboration and dependency challenges that tend to occur between teams in Scrum.Benefits of using Nexus Nexus extends Scrum in the following ways:  Accountabilities: Nexus introduces the Nexus Integration Team, which consists of the Scrum Master, Product Owner, and members. This team is accountable for delivering a workable product at the end of each sprint.  Events: Nexus events aim to add to or supplement Scrum events and serve not just individual teams but also the Nexus Integration Team. The objective of a sprint is to achieve the Nexus sprint goal. Artifacts: Although the teams are different, within the Nexus framework they all work towards a single goal and follow a single product backlog. There’s a high amount of transparency and work is allocated to each team. The Nexus Integration TeamAccording to the Nexus Guide, “the Nexus Integration Team exists to coordinate, coach, and supervise the application of Nexus and the operation of Scrum so the best outcomes are derived.” The Nexus Integration Team or NIT comprises of the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and Nexus integration team members. There are generally three to nine Scrum teams working together in Nexus. All of them follow a single product backlog and work towards delivering a single product. The Nexus Integration Team forms an essential role within Nexus and is tasked with providing transparent accountability among the teams in Nexus.Product OwnerThe Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the product value and the work carried out in Nexus. Their primary task is to order and refine the product backlog. Being a member of the Nexus Integration Team, the product owner will work with all the Scrum teams in the Nexus Integration team. The product owner and the teams work towards better defining and refining the product backlog.Scrum MasterJust like in regular Scrum, the Scrum Master in the Nexus Integration Team is also responsible for ensuring that the Nexus framework is understood by everyone on the team as prescribed by the Nexus Guide.   MembersThe members of the Nexus Integration Team are the Scrum team members who aid the Scrum teams in adoption of tools and practices that will help the team and members deliver value at the end of each sprint that meets the definition of done. Nexus Integration Team membership should be considered more important than the individual Scrum Team membership and members should work towards first fulfilling their Nexus team responsibilities.What are the Events in Nexus?Nexus adds or augments the events as defined by Scrum. The Nexus event durations are like Scrum event durations and are guided by the Scrum Guide.  Nexus events consist of: Sprint- A Nexus sprint is the same as in Scrum, at the end of which a single increment is delivered.  Cross team refinement- The aim of Nexus is to enhance collaboration and reduce cross team dependencies. Cross team refinement helps to make dependencies and responsibilities more transparent. This makes it easier for Scrum teams within the Nexus to clearly identify and deliver their allocated tasks.  Nexus Sprint Planning- Nexus sprint planning will involve the participation of the Product Owner and concerned teams' members from each team. The purpose of the Nexus Sprint Planning is to assign and co-ordinate activities for a single sprint.  Nexus Daily Scrum- This is like the daily stand up in Scrum. Nexus daily scrum is used to identify any issues and track progress. Any issues are immediately prioritized and solved so that they do not hinder the work of the developers.  Nexus Sprint Review- This event is held at the end of sprints to provide feedback on the increment that has been built and on any future updates that have to be made. Nexus Sprint Retrospective- Like in Scrum, Nexus retrospectives are an important part of the project and are used to reflect on how quality and consistency can be improved.  Some Nexus ArtifactsNexus artifacts are the same as Scrum artifacts and when implemented correctly ensure transparency and value maximization. Every artifact is designed to give a commitment. For example, the product backlog is the artifact and its commitment is the product goal. Other artifacts and their commitments include: Nexus Sprint Backlog-Nexus Sprint Goal Integrated Increment-Definition of Done Along with Nexus, LeSS is another popular framework for scaling agile.  Scaling Scrum with LeSS The Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) framework is an offering from Atlassian and is a framework for scaling Scrum to multiple teams that are working on the same product. The idea behind LeSS is to start with a single Scrum team as defined in the Scrum Guide and then replicate it to multiple teams who are working on a single product. LeSS has earned the label of being “barely sufficient” as it is a simple framework to apply and uses the basic concepts of Scrum to scale.  How do Sprint Planning meetings in LeSS work?  LeSS generally carries out sprint planning in two stages. Sprint Planning One focuses on selecting items that are of topmost priority, solving unanswered issues and defining the sprint goal. The Sprint Planning Two is like the sprint plan of regular Scrum and focuses on creating a plan of action for getting things done.  Daily meeting  The daily Scrum meeting in LeSS is similar to how it is done in normal single Scrum teams and involves team members discussing the work accomplished and the work to be done during the day. It is a time-boxed meeting and helps teams address any issues that may be hindering work.   Sprint Delivery Meeting (Review) The sprint review meeting is an essential part of LeSS and helps teams and stakeholders review the product built during the sprint and suggest changes and new ideas.   Retrospective The retrospective for LeSS is similar to one team Scrum. These retrospectives held at the end of the sprint will help teams to reflect on the progress of tasks, and identify the obstacles that may hinder or impede the overall project.  Let’s take a look at some of the other frameworks that are used for scaling agile. Scaling Scrum with SAFe®The Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe in short, follows the principles of lean and agile and helps in scaling Scrum to the enterprise. It helps to manage alignment, collaboration, and delivery from multiple agile teams to ensure enterprise success. It systematically focuses on applying Scrum at each level of the enterprise, to maximize value and ensure a successful agile transformation.A successful SAFe adoption ensures end-to-end business agility with significant improvements in strategy, delivery, execution and business competencies. It helps organizations overcome competition and ensure innovative business solutions to gain customer trust and partnership. The SAFe framework is continuously improvised in order to help organizations cope with the digital age and ensure that business outcomes are delivered.Scaling Scrum with the Scrum@Scale frameworkAnother framework that allows organizations to implement Scrum at scale is the Scrum@Scale framework. This framework expands on the core principles of Scrum and helps to scale Scrum over a wide range of industries and sectors, ensuring customer satisfaction and creation of successful products. It promotes communication across all teams and departments, and optimizes resources, removes roadblocks and ensures creation of innovative products.A Final Word By driving Agile at the organizational level, companies can gain all the benefits of team-level Scrum at scale. More often than not the principles of team level Scrum are not sustainable at the enterprise level and the transformation fails. Tested and proven Agile scaling frameworks are now able to turn this around, and help organizations scale up the principles and practices of Scrum to become more adaptable, flexible and responsive. Professionals can master these frameworks and help their organization adopt the culture, mind-set and principles of Scrum and agile.  
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A Guide to Scaling Scrum

Scrum has been proven to work well for small tea... Read More