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How Does the Scrum Master Serve the Product Owner?

When we talk about a Scrum team, the Product Owner and Scrum Master are the most prominent roles that come to mind. These are both indispensable roles in a Scrum project and both serve each other and the development team. The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways which are critical to team success. In this blog, we attempt to understand the role of the Scrum Master and the services they provide to the organization, the product owner and the development team.  The Product Owner’s Role “The business is represented by the product owner who tells the development what is important to deliver”—AtlassianThe Product Owner is not a team or a group of people but just one person. He or she helps the team maximize the product value by prioritizing items on the product backlog. The product owner is also the link between the stakeholders and the development team, maintaining a transparent and collaborative mode of communication between the two.The Scrum Master’s role“Scrum Masters are servant leaders and coaches for an Agile Team. They help educate the team in Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, and SAFe, ensuring that the agreed Agile process is being followed--Scaled Agile, Inc. The Scrum Master helps to remove impediments that the development team may face and sets up an environment that will motivate the team and help them perform to the best of their abilities. The Scrum Master is the force behind the relentless improvement of the development team. Scrum Master’s Key Services to the Product OwnerIn their capacity as servant leaders, there are several services that the Scrum Master provides to not just the development team but also to the Product Owner. The Scrum Guide states the following services that a Scrum Master provides to the Product Owner: Ensuring that goals, scope, and product domain are understood by everyone on the Scrum Team as well as possible; Finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management; Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items; Understanding product planning in an empirical environment; Ensuring the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value; Understanding and practicing agility; and, Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed Let’s look at these in detail: Helping the team understand the project goals:Often there may be a disconnect between the product owner’s vision and the development team’s understanding of the vision. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by carefully explaining the vision and mission of the project to the development team.Effective Backlog management : This is among the most essential services that the Scrum Master gives to the Product Owner. While the onus of creating and managing the product backlog lies with the product owner, the Scrum Master provides all possible help in order to ensure that it is always groomed and up to date.The product backlog is a prioritized list of items that needs to be followed by the development team. Following this sequence will ensure that the most important features of the product are developed and delivered to the customer.The Scrum Master will help the product owner in identifying the priority features and making sure that the development team is following the product backlog and working on delivering the right goals. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner in facilitating Scrum events, product planning and by helping the team in identifying backlog items.Helping the team understand the need for a clear Product Backlog:Just like there may be misunderstandings or gaps in understanding the overall scope of the project, the development team may also be confused about the product backlog items. The Scrum Master can help the product owner by clearly explaining the product backlog items to the development team and also by encouraging the development team to approach the product owner in case more clarifications are needed. The Scrum team should keep the product backlog up to date by updating the dependencies and estimates as and when they are available.Product Planning in an empirical environment:The Scrum Master helps in product planning in an empirical environment. An empirical environment is defined as one where work and improvement is guided by experiments and experience. The Scrum Master looks back into past experiences and projects and guides the product owner and the team in planning and developing. While the Product Owner prepares the plan and the backlog, the Scrum Master can help the product owner carry it out more effectively by providing learnings and knowledge from past experiences.Making sure that the Product Owner is maximizing value:The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by ensuring that the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog in order to maximize value. Although maximizing value is the responsibility of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master can aid them in this exercise by guiding them and applying learnings from past experiences.The Scrum Master can help the Product Owner by applying techniques like MoSCoW (Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, Will Not Have) where items that are ‘Must haves’ are placed right at the top of the backlog item list in order to maximize value.Facilitating Scrum Events:Scrum events are a part of daily scrum and ensure a more motivated team and aware team. The Scrum Master facilitates Scrum events such as daily stand ups, retrospectives etc. The daily stand-up meetings are an essential part of Scrum where issues are addressed and the team is able to work towards reaching its sprint goal.Helping the team understand and practice Scrum and Agility:A Scrum project has to be developed by following Scrum processes and implementing Scrum tools and techniques. While a Product Owner is also well versed with Scrum processes, it is the Scrum Master who primarily directs the team on Scrum processes and ensures that the team is adhering to scrum principles. This is an important help given by the Scrum master to the product owner as following scrum principles will help the team respond to changing requirements and ensure flexibility. The Scrum Master should understand that Agile is not like waterfall and should follow just in time development. Scrum Master Key Services to Development Team & OrganizationAccording to Scrum.org, the Scrum Master helps the development team in the following ways:Coaching the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality; Helping the Development Team to create high-value products; Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress; Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed; and, Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood. Let’s look at these in detail: Coaching the team:A Scrum team’s ultimate goal is to be self-organized and collaborative with a high degree of cross-functionality, and it is a major responsibility of the Scrum Master to help them achieve this. Self-organized means to reduce dependency on outside forces and accomplish tasks without being directed by others who are not on the team. The Scrum Master has to encourage and empower the team to become self-organized. This will help them become more accountable for the work they do and ultimately help them become more productive.  According to the Scrum Guide, “Cross-functional teams have all competencies needed to accomplish the work without depending on others not part of the team. The team model in Scrum is designed to optimize flexibility, creativity, and productivity.” The Scrum Master helps the team become cross-functional, which helps them deliver incrementally and iteratively, implement feedback from customer and deliver a potentially shippable product at the end of each sprint.Helping the team create high-value products:High value products are created when customer feedback is implemented regularly and the product is improved through continuous iterations. The Scrum Master helps the team follow Scrum processes and incorporate feedback to produce high value products that appeal to customers.Removing impediments:As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. This includes removing impediments that may obstruct the team from performing well. These could be internal or external distractions and the Scrum Master works towards creating an environment that is free from distractions.Facilitating events:The Scrum Master facilitates Scrum events such as daily stand ups, retrospectives and other team meetings etc. These events help the development team members air any grievances or issues they might have and also celebrate successes they may have achieved by releasing project goals.Promoting and aiding adoption of Scrum:Being an expert on Scrum processes and tools, it is the Scrum Master’s primary responsibility to ensure that the team adheres to Scrum processes during the development of the product. If the team or the organization itself is new to Scrum then the development team may face challenges in the project. By helping the development team understand Scrum processes and techniques, the Scrum Master ensures that Scrum is followed and the project goals are reached.According to the Scrum Guide, this is how the Scrum Master helps the organization: Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption; Planning Scrum implementations within the organization; Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development; Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team; and, Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization Now let’s look at these in detail:Coaching: The Scrum Master has a greater responsibility than that of leading the team, and that is the promotion of Scrum in the organization. They are responsible for ensuring that the Agile mind-set is adopted by the entire organization.Planning Scrum implementations:Just like the Scrum Master coaches the enterprise in Scrum, they are also responsible for implementing Scrum throughout the organization and ensuring that the implementations happen as per Scrum values.Helping everyone involved in the project understand Scrum:The Scrum master has to ensure that everyone involved in the project including the stakeholders have knowledge of Scrum. They guide the development team in implementing Scrum and the empirical product development processes.Increasing the productivity of teams:The Scrum Master looks for ways to enhance the productivity of the development team. This could be by introducing changes they feel is appropriate, introducing new tools or by leveraging working in the empirical environment.Working with other Scrum Masters:The Scrum Masters in the organization implement best practices that help them increase the effectiveness of the Scrum enterprise wide.Challenges faced by the Scrum MasterAgile and Scrum adoption problems:A Scrum Master, as the name suggests, is primarily responsible for ensuring that Scrum is adopted by the development team and the organization as a whole. But this is possible only when there is leadership buy in and the Scrum Master has encouragement and support in promoting Agile. When the Scrum Master becomes dispensable: Organizations often undermine the value and role of a Scrum Master and feel that it’s not needed. But not having a Scrum Master on the rolls may have a negative impact on the adoption and implementation of Scrum.   Scrum events not conducted properly    :     While some may consider meetings such as daily stand-ups a waste of time, they are an important part of Scrum projects and organizations. Meetings add a lot of value to the Scrum project and the process and help identify impediments and remove them.     Scope Creep      :       While Agile manages to curb scope creep it is possible and may happen. This can have huge ramifications on the project and the reputation of the organization. While this is not the responsibility of the Scrum Master but of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master still helps the Product Owner in managing the product backlog and hence also must tackle with scope creep.       Conflict with Product Owner:       Now this is indeed an undesirable situation. The Product Owner and the Scrum Master are like the captain and first mate of the ship. Any differences between them will result in mismanagement of the entire ship, in other words the Scrum project. It will also negatively impact the morale of the development team and the reputation of the organization. The Product Owner and Scrum Master should set their differences aside and learn to work together.       Infighting in the team:       People are different and there may be problems between team members. This will affect the balance and the productivity of the entire team but the Scrum Master must be able to use their people management skills and ensure that conflicts are resolved and the team works as one.       Distributed teams:       While the pandemic has forced us all to work in distributed teams the Scrum Master may still find it challenging to co-ordinate and work across geographies and time zones, which in turn may reduce productivity of teams if they are unable to collaborate.       Non-Agile stakeholders:       It’s often tough for a Scrum Master to convince the stakeholders about the advantages of Scrum, especially those stakeholders who are already used to working in waterfall. Such clients may make it difficult for the Scrum Master, Product Owner and the team to work in Agile and achieve milestones.       In conclusion… While every project comes with its own set of problems, Agile and Scrum projects to a great extent are able to mitigate risks and problems, deliver value and keep the team motivated. The Scrum Master is one of the roles in a Scrum team who ensures that the problems and issues plaguing the team are solved and the team is able to achieve maximum productivity. 

How Does the Scrum Master Serve the Product Owner?

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How Does the Scrum Master Serve the Product Owner?

When we talk about a Scrum team, the Product Owner and Scrum Master are the most prominent roles that come to mind. These are both indispensable roles in a Scrum project and both serve each other and the development team. The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways which are critical to team success. In this blog, we attempt to understand the role of the Scrum Master and the services they provide to the organization, the product owner and the development team. 

 The Product Owner’s Role 

Product Owner’s Role

“The business is represented by the product owner who tells the development what is important to deliver”—Atlassian

The Product Owner is not a team or a group of people but just one person. He or she helps the team maximize the product value by prioritizing items on the product backlog. The product owner is also the link between the stakeholders and the development team, maintaining a transparent and collaborative mode of communication between the two.

The Scrum Master’s role

Scrum Masters are servant leaders and coaches for an Agile Team. They help educate the team in Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Kanban, and SAFe, ensuring that the agreed Agile process is being followed--Scaled Agile, Inc. 

The Scrum Master helps to remove impediments that the development team may face and sets up an environment that will motivate the team and help them perform to the best of their abilities. The Scrum Master is the force behind the relentless improvement of the development team. 

Scrum Master’s Key Services to the Product OwnerScrum Master’s Key Services to the Product Owner

In their capacity as servant leaders, there are several services that the Scrum Master provides to not just the development team but also to the Product OwnerThe Scrum Guide states the following services that a Scrum Master provides to the Product Owner: 

  • Ensuring that goals, scope, and product domain are understood by everyone on the Scrum Team as well as possible; 
  • Finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management; 
  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items; 
  • Understanding product planning in an empirical environment; 
  • Ensuring the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value; 
  • Understanding and practicing agility; and, 
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed 

Let’s look at these in detail: 

  • Helping the team understand the project goals:

Often there may be a disconnect between the product owner’s vision and the development team’s understanding of the vision. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by carefully explaining the vision and mission of the project to the development team.

  • Effective Backlog management : 

This is among the most essential services that the Scrum Master gives to the Product Owner. While the onus of creating and managing the product backlog lies with the product owner, the Scrum Master provides all possible help in order to ensure that it is always groomed and up to date.

The product backlog is a prioritized list of items that needs to be followed by the development team. Following this sequence will ensure that the most important features of the product are developed and delivered to the customer.

The Scrum Master will help the product owner in identifying the priority features and making sure that the development team is following the product backlog and working on delivering the right goals. The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner in facilitating Scrum events, product planning and by helping the team in identifying backlog items.

  • Helping the team understand the need for a clear Product Backlog:

Just like there may be misunderstandings or gaps in understanding the overall scope of the project, the development team may also be confused about the product backlog items. The Scrum Master can help the product owner by clearly explaining the product backlog items to the development team and also by encouraging the development team to approach the product owner in case more clarifications are needed. The Scrum team should keep the product backlog up to date by updating the dependencies and estimates as and when they are available.

  • Product Planning in an empirical environment:

The Scrum Master helps in product planning in an empirical environment. An empirical environment is defined as one where work and improvement is guided by experiments and experience. The Scrum Master looks back into past experiences and projects and guides the product owner and the team in planning and developing. While the Product Owner prepares the plan and the backlog, the Scrum Master can help the product owner carry it out more effectively by providing learnings and knowledge from past experiences.

  • Making sure that the Product Owner is maximizing value:

The Scrum Master helps the Product Owner by ensuring that the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog in order to maximize value. Although maximizing value is the responsibility of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master can aid them in this exercise by guiding them and applying learnings from past experiences.

The Scrum Master can help the Product Owner by applying techniques like MoSCoW (Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, Will Not Have) where items that are ‘Must haves’ are placed right at the top of the backlog item list in order to maximize value.

  • Facilitating Scrum Events:

Scrum events are a part of daily scrum and ensure a more motivated team and aware team. The Scrum Master facilitates Scrum events such as daily stand ups, retrospectives etc. The daily stand-up meetings are an essential part of Scrum where issues are addressed and the team is able to work towards reaching its sprint goal.

  • Helping the team understand and practice Scrum and Agility:

A Scrum project has to be developed by following Scrum processes and implementing Scrum tools and techniques. While a Product Owner is also well versed with Scrum processes, it is the Scrum Master who primarily directs the team on Scrum processes and ensures that the team is adhering to scrum principles. 

This is an important help given by the Scrum master to the product owner as following scrum principles will help the team respond to changing requirements and ensure flexibility. The Scrum Master should understand that Agile is not like waterfall and should follow just in time development. 

Scrum Master Key Services to Development Team & Organization

According to Scrum.org, the Scrum Master helps the development team in the following ways:Scrum Master Key Services to Development Team & Organization

  • Coaching the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality; 
  • Helping the Development Team to create high-value products; 
  • Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress; 
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed; and, 
  • Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood. 

Let’s look at these in detail: 

Coaching the team:

A Scrum team’s ultimate goal is to be self-organized and collaborative with a high degree of cross-functionality, and it is a major responsibility of the Scrum Master to help them achieve thisSelf-organized means to reduce dependency on outside forces and accomplish tasks without being directed by others who are not on the team. The Scrum Master has to encourage and empower the team to become self-organized. This will help them become more accountable for the work they do and ultimately help them become more productive.  

According to the Scrum Guide, “Cross-functional teams have all competencies needed to accomplish the work without depending on others not part of the team. The team model in Scrum is designed to optimize flexibility, creativity, and productivity.” 

The Scrum Master helps the team become cross-functional, which helps them deliver incrementally and iteratively, implement feedback from customer and deliver a potentially shippable product at the end of each sprint.

  • Helping the team create high-value products:

High value products are created when customer feedback is implemented regularly and the product is improved through continuous iterations. The Scrum Master helps the team follow Scrum processes and incorporate feedback to produce high value products that appeal to customers.

  • Removing impediments:

As a servant leader, the primary responsibility of the Scrum Master is to help the development team perform. This includes removing impediments that may obstruct the team from performing well. These could be internal or external distractions and the Scrum Master works towards creating an environment that is free from distractions.

  • Facilitating events:

The Scrum Master facilitates Scrum events such as daily stand ups, retrospectives and other team meetings etc. These events help the development team members air any grievances or issues they might have and also celebrate successes they may have achieved by releasing project goals.

  • Promoting and aiding adoption of Scrum:

Being an expert on Scrum processes and tools, it is the Scrum Master’s primary responsibility to ensure that the team adheres to Scrum processes during the development of the product. If the team or the organization itself is new to Scrum then the development team may face challenges in the project. By helping the development team understand Scrum processes and techniques, the Scrum Master ensures that Scrum is followed and the project goals are reached.

According to the Scrum Guide, this is how the Scrum Master helps the organization: 

  • Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption; 
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organization; 
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development; 
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team; and, 
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization 

Now let’s look at these in detail:

  • Coaching:
     

The Scrum Master has a greater responsibility than that of leading the team, and that is the promotion of Scrum in the organization. They are responsible for ensuring that the Agile mind-set is adopted by the entire organization.

  • Planning Scrum implementations:

Just like the Scrum Master coaches the enterprise in Scrum, they are also responsible for implementing Scrum throughout the organization and ensuring that the implementations happen as per Scrum values.

  • Helping everyone involved in the project understand Scrum:

The Scrum master has to ensure that everyone involved in the project including the stakeholders have knowledge of Scrum. They guide the development team in implementing Scrum and the empirical product development processes.

  • Increasing the productivity of teams:

The Scrum Master looks for ways to enhance the productivity of the development team. This could be by introducing changes they feel is appropriate, introducing new tools or by leveraging working in the empirical environment.

  • Working with other Scrum Masters:

The Scrum Masters in the organization implement best practices that help them increase the effectiveness of the Scrum enterprise wide.

Challenges faced by the Scrum MasterScrum Master Challenges

Agile and Scrum adoption problems:

Scrum Master, as the name suggests, is primarily responsible for ensuring that Scrum is adopted by the development team and the organization as a whole. But this is possible only when there is leadership buy in and the Scrum Master has encouragement and support in promoting Agile. 

When the Scrum Master becomes dispensable: 

Organizations often undermine the value and role of a Scrum Master and feel that it’s not needed. But not having a Scrum Master on the rolls may have a negative impact on the adoption and implementation of Scrum.   

Scrum events not conducted properly    :     

While some may consider meetings such as daily stand-ups a waste of time, they are an important part of Scrum projects and organizations. Meetings add a lot of value to the Scrum project and the process and help identify impediments and remove them.     

Scope Creep      :       

While Agile manages to curb scope creep it is possible and may happen. This can have huge ramifications on the project and the reputation of the organization. While this is not the responsibility of the Scrum Master but of the Product Owner, the Scrum Master still helps the Product Owner in managing the product backlog and hence also must tackle with scope creep.       

Conflict with Product Owner:       

Now this is indeed an undesirable situation. The Product Owner and the Scrum Master are like the captain and first mate of the ship. Any differences between them will result in mismanagement of the entire ship, in other words the Scrum project. It will also negatively impact the morale of the development team and the reputation of the organization. The Product Owner and Scrum Master should set their differences aside and learn to work together.       

Infighting in the team:       

People are different and there may be problems between team members. This will affect the balance and the productivity of the entire team but the Scrum Master must be able to use their people management skills and ensure that conflicts are resolved and the team works as one.       

Distributed teams:       

While the pandemic has forced us all to work in distributed teams the Scrum Master may still find it challenging to co-ordinate and work across geographies and time zones, which in turn may reduce productivity of teams if they are unable to collaborate.       

Non-Agile stakeholders:       

It’s often tough for a Scrum Master to convince the stakeholders about the advantages of Scrum, especially those stakeholders who are already used to working in waterfall. Such clients may make it difficult for the Scrum Master, Product Owner and the team to work in Agile and achieve milestones.       

In conclusion… 

While every project comes with its own set of problems, Agile and Scrum projects to a great extent are able to mitigate risks and problems, deliver value and keep the team motivated. The Scrum Master is one of the roles in a Scrum team who ensures that the problems and issues plaguing the team are solved and the team is able to achieve maximum productivity. 

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

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KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
Website : https://www.knowledgehut.com

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They could lack clarity on why they are doing it, or have the fear of losing their job because the team is now self-empowered.  The fear factor needs to be addressed, and leaders should be sure of the benefit that they will bring to the teams. As a leader, instead of fearing that they will lose control, they should help to build trust within the team.Is Disciplined Agile better than traditional Agile? SCOTT: So where traditional methods and Agile frameworks focus on a specific thing, and often address it very well, there are gaping holes in all of these methods and frameworks. We chose a different path with DA.   We decided to address what you actually face, like the questions that sometimes are not all that attractive to some of the frameworks. Like how do you govern Agile teams? Where does architecture fit in? Where does testing fit in? The finance team might not want to work on time, materials, the approach to funding that you want. How do you still interact and be successful in those situations? We take on the harder problems that you actually face and we give you options to address them. MARK: It's not better, it's more robust, and it makes traditional Agile better. We teach you some of the things that you don't typically learn about in basic Agile certification. There is nothing inconsistent between DA and the Agile manifesto. There are gaps in the principles of the Agile manifesto. And in DA, we address these gaps and frame it in the form of the DA mindset - principles, promises, guidelines. For instance, we talked about the value of diversity and improving the system rather than trying to change individuals, that was never talked about 20 years ago when the Agile manifesto was written. So, we think we like to think that we have a more disciplined, robust, agnostic, pragmatic approach to Agile and lean.How is PMI ACP different from PMI DASSM? MARK: The ACP is one of the best certifications out there. It's a very, very good certification, and does require pretty comprehensive understanding of Agile before you can get certified. The certification is extremely rigorous. Now, having said that, the ACP basically requires a test and 8 months of experience. What you don’t learn in ACP is the toolkit, the 1600 practices. DA plugs into the journey and takes your knowledge to the next level. Stay tuned in the months to come on new ways that KnowledgeHut and PMI will empower project professionals and changemakers to turn all their biggest and boldest ideas into reality. Are you ready to apply the Disciplined Agile Toolkit to augment Your Way of Working? Get started with the DASM certification, or take a deep dive into DA with the DASSM certification. 
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How to Lead Teams to the Next Agile Awakening

Building and leading an Agile transformation calls... Read More

How Systems Thinking Can Be Applied To Agile Transformations

Systems thinking is a popular buzzword today. We hear about it a lot and in different contexts: Healthcare, business, coaching, transformation initiatives etc.In this article, we will try to understand the conceptual basics of system thinking and how it can be applied to the Agile transformation initiatives to get extraordinary results and the influence of system thinking on the agile practices. We will see the common problems that plague Agile transformation initiatives, and what could be an effective solution from systems thinking lens.Systems thinking has already been established as a key management competency of the 21st century. Therefore, it is very rewarding to become ‘System-aware’ and ‘System-wise’.Barry Richmond coined the term ’Systems Thinking’ in 1987. However, this became hugely popular through Peter Senge’s book: ‘The Fifth Discipline’.This discipline helps us to see how to change systems more effectively. Systems Thinking is the art and science of making reliable inferences about behavior by developing an increasingly deep understanding of underlying structure.System thinking examples includes ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants and animals work together to survive, whereas in organizations systems consists of people, structures and processes that work together to make an organization “healthy” or “unhealthy”.Whether we want it or not, we are a part of many systems and interact with them on a continuous basis. A family, a team, an organization, an automobile, a tax system etc are examples of some system we are part of and interact with.What is a system?But what exactly is a system and how do we know when we see it? How can we use this to manage our organizations and initiatives better by using this knowledge?A system can be defined as:A group of interacting, interrelated or interdependent parts that forms a unified whole and has a specific purpose.Let’s examine this definition closely and identify the characteristics of a system. These characteristics help in identifying the system:All systems have purposeAll parts of a system must be present for a system to carry out its purpose optimallyThe order in which the parts are arranged, affects the performance of a systemSystems attempt to maintain stability through feedbackWhole is more than the sum of its parts“Whole” and “Part” are relative abstractionsA system is always subject to redefinition by changing the perspectiveCollection or systemSometimes, we may tend to get confused between a system and a collection. When in doubt, always look for the interrelatedness, interdependence and purpose. If any of this is missing, you are more likely dealing with a collection, rather than a system. This may also change based on the assumptions we are making and the perspective of observation. The assumptions define the boundary of the system under consideration.Let’s take an example: multiple types of fruits kept together in a basket is obviously a collection, as there is no interrelation or interdependence between the fruits, neither is there a goal of the fruit basket. However, let us change the perspective  and look at the fruit basket at a microscopic level. In this case, it becomes a system, as certain fruits interact with each other at a molecular level. This intermolecular interaction either aggravates or slow down the decay of certain fruits kept together. This is an example of how a system is always subject to redefinition by changing the perspective.System diversity:To simplify our understanding of the system, the system can be classified based on two factors: Structure (capability to understand) and Behavior (Capability to predict). In terms of structure, a system can be either simple or complicated, and in terms of behavior, a system can be either ordered, complex or chaotic.We generally refer to the system as a combination of two factors, like Simple-Ordered, Simple-Complex, Complicated-ordered etc.An organization can typically be classified as a ‘Simple-Complex’ system. This means that while the structure of the organization can be easily understood (simple), yet its behavior is moderately difficult to predict, primarily because of the presence of human interaction (complex).System ThinkingThis picture summarizes what could go wrong if we are not system aware. When we focus on local optimization and ignore the global impact, we create more problems for the future.It is said that ‘today’s problems are yesterday’s solutions’. This is mainly the result of quick fixes, we create without considering the overall system.Reality can be seen through the following levels of perspectives: Events, patterns and systemic structures. This can be represented as an Iceberg to put the system in context.Events are occurrences we encounter on a day-to-day basis.Patterns are the accumulated memories of the event. When viewed together as a series over time, they reveal recurring trends.Systemic structures are the ways in which the part of the system are organized. The events and patterns are usually generated by these structures.We live in an event-oriented world and our language and actions are heavily rooted at the event level. Our decisions are majorly guided by events. In reality events are the results of deeper patterns and systemic structures. But these are not easily visible. Understanding where to act leads to a higher leverage action. A leverage point is a point where small change can yield large improvements in the system. As we go from events to patterns to systemic structures, the leverage increases.Why is systems thinking importantBetter decisions on the addition or modification of services, or the applications based on how they affect the overall system and business.Understand what is important to the business based on the system.Tools to constitute the interactionsSystem thinking uses some tools like feedback loops and behavior over time graphs to represent the interactions in the system. These can be thought of as the rules of grammar for the language.Application of systems thinking in Agile transformation can help us map the organization as a system using the reinforcing and balancing loops and identify the right leverage points to act. The following points should be considered:Take a systemic view→ draw the system diagramIdentify the central subject that needs attention. As a group, ideate on the different variables affecting the central theme or getting affected by it. Draw the causal loop diagram to identify whether it is a reinforcing loop or a balancing loop.Look out for leverage points→ an area where a small change can yield large improvement in the systemTypically a leverage point at a pattern level will be high in impact than at event level and the one at the systemic structure level will have greater impact, than at the pattern levelLook at the organization as a system and identify the system archetypeDrawing the systemic structure helps in identifying the system archetype. Since structure influences behavior therefore, this knowledge is key to understanding the system behavior and thus the right leverage points.Look for (and address) causes not the symptoms.Although we live in a event driven world, yet as system thinkers, our focus should be on identifying the patterns and systemic structures and act thereon. Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solutions hence localized solutions merely shift the problem from one part of the system to the otherThe following table gives a mapping between the level of perspective, and the action modes. The leverage decreases as we move from top to bottom in the table.Levels of perspectiveAction modeSystemic structuresCreativePatternsAdaptiveEventsReactivePrinciples of system thinking:A system is:Created by the nature or human beingsPhysical, abstract, or humanA whole separated from its environment by a borderAlways remember:The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back.Be sensitive towards the compensating feedback: When well-intentioned interventions result in responses from the system that offsets the benefits of the interventions.
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How Systems Thinking Can Be Applied To Agile Trans...

Systems thinking is a popular buzzword today. We h... Read More

Is SAFe® 4.5 Certification Worth The Price?

In this decade where traditional methods for Project Development are on the verge of being obsolete, organisations are in dire need of Agile. Call for Agile experts has expanded in the IT business and is spreading to multiple areas of businesses also. This request triggers the requirement for certifications which enlisting organisations can manage an account with.These certifications range from the entry level to the advanced levels and are benefiting the software professionals in more ways than one. In the recent times, there has also been a need to upgrade Agile practices in organisations, and this, exactly, has given rise to the demand for scaled Agile. This has spurred the software professionals to take up Leading SAFe® certifications to enhance their career.This article will discuss the top Leading SAFe® 4.5 certifications and their career benefits.Benefits of the certificationGenerally speaking, certification will help you to get the following benefits-Better foresightBetter salaryBetter integrityKeeping pace with the current market approachTop 6 SAFe® 4.5 certifications1. Leading SAFe® 4.5 training (SAFe® Agilist)SAFe® Agilist(SA) certification will help you to empower your organisation’s success. SA certification will allow you not only to execute and deliver value through Agile Release Trains but also to lead a Lean-Agile transformation in scaled organisations. This certification will also let you build a continuous delivery pipeline even in a DevOps culture. Also, the course exhibits the power of coordinating with the larger solutions and promoting a Lean portfolio culture within the enterprise.Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® Agilist (SA), you should be able to-Exhibit how the combination of Lean, Agile, and Product Development shapes the SAFe® foundation.Apply SAFe® principles to scale Lean and Agile development in the organizationFind out and apply a Lean-Agile Mindset and principles accordinglyConsistently discover, incorporate, deploy, and deliver valueEngage with a Lean portfolioHarmonising for the development of the larger solutionsImprove Lean-Agile leadership skillsBolster a Lean-Agile transfiguration in the enterpriseFinish the SA training and lead to the certification exam What will attendees get? 2-Day Instructor-Led Classroom Training16 PDUs and 16 SEUsCourseware authored by Scaled Agile, Inc One year membership with Scaled AgileFree downloadable reference materials from Scaled Agile FrameworkThe course is for:Executives and Leaders, Managers, Directors, CIOs, and VPsDevelopment, QA, and Infrastructure ManagementProgram and Project ManagersProduct and Product Line ManagementPortfolio Managers, PMO, and Process LeadsEnterprise, System, and Solution ArchitectsPrerequisites:The course is free for the desired attendees. But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® Agilist (SA) exam-5+ years’ experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project managementExperience in ScrumExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), commencement of the examNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 34 out of 45 (76% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Agilist certificate1-year membership with the SAFe® Community Platform, which includes access to the SA Community of PracticeA variety of learning resources to support you during your SAFe® journey2. SAFe 4.5 for teams (SP)Today, SAFe® 4.5 certified practitioners are in huge demand for their ability to scale the Agile methodology within the enterprise. This course makes the team aware of the Scrum principles, Lean thinking tools, roles, and processes. New teams or Scrum teams seeking for the Agile adoption and scaling within the organization, will find this course much helpful. Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® Practitioner (SP), you should be able to-Demonstrate SAFe® Agile principles to the teamManage Agile teams on Agile Release TrainPlan sprint iterationsImplement iterations and deliver valueDevelop your teamCoordinate with other teams on the trainWhat will attendees get?16 PDUs and 16 SEUsFreely downloadable e-book100 Days’ Free Access to Agile and Scrum e-training The course is for:Team members who want to apply Lean and Agile principlesAll team members of an Agile Release Train (ART) preparing for the launchPrerequisites:The course is free for all attendees. But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® Practitioner (SP) exam-Familiar with Agile principlesAware of Scrum, Kanban, and XPExperience in software and hardware development processesExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 35 out of 45 (78% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Practitioner (SP) certificate3. SAFe 4.5 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM)The SAFe® 4.5 POPM certification is intended to make Product Owners/Product Managers aware of the SAFe® principles, Lean-Agile tools, Agile development practices and SAFe® framework. Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® 4.5 (POPM), you should be able to-Implement SAFe® practices in the Lean enterpriseAttach SAFe® Lean-Agile principles and values to the PO/PM rolesCombine with Lean Portfolio ManagementImplement the Program Increment and deliver continuous valueCreate a PM/PM’s role action planWhat will attendees get? Training from a certified industry expertDownloadable courseware16 PDUs from PMI ® (PMI-ACP® / PMP® recertification)15 SEUs for CSPAttendee workbookMake you ready to attend the SAFe® 4 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) examOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformCourse completion certificateThe course is for:Product Managers, Product Line Managers, Product Owners, Business Owners, and Business AnalystsSolution Managers, Portfolio Managers, Program Managers, PMO personnel, and Process LeadsEnterprise, Solution, and System ArchitectsPrerequisites:The course is free to the desired attendees. But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® 4.5 POPM exam.Leading SAFe® course attendeesWorking experience in the SAFe® environmentExperience with Lean, Agile, or other relevant methodsExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 35 out of 45 (78% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) certificate4. SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) courseThe SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) certification equips the candidates with the skills that can be applied to lead high-performance Agile teams. Also, candidates will learn to apply DevOps practices and Kanban techniques and managing the interactions between the teams, stakeholders, and the Product Managers.Learning Objectives: As an SASM certified professional, you should be able to-Apply SAFe® principles in a multi-team environmentBuild a high-performing team and enable continuous improvementUnderstand Agile and Scrum anti-patternsFacilitate program planning, implementation, and value deliverySupport learning through participation in Communities of Practice and innovation cyclesWhat will attendees get? 16 PDUs and 16 SEUsFreely downloadable e-bookCourse completion certificateAttendee workbookOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformThe course is for:Existing Scrum MastersTeam leaders, project managers, and an Agile Team facilitator in a SAFe®Agile coachesEngineering and development managers executing AgileAgile Program ManagersProspective SAFe® Release Train EngineersPrerequisites:The course is free for the attendees. But, having at least one or more of the following certifications is recommended to attend the SAFe® 4.5 ASM exam-SAFe® 4 Scrum Master (SSM) certificationCertified Scrum Master (CSM) certificationProfessional Scrum Master (PSM) certificationExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 120 minutes, once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 60Passing Score: 42 out of 60 (70% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) certificate5. SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification trainingSAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master(SSM) certification will make you well-versed with the main components of the Scaled Agile Framework and allow you to lead high-performing Agile teams. This course will help you to improve quality of the products reducing time-to-market.Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification training, you should be able to-Discuss Scrum practices in a SAFe® implementing enterpriseFacilitate Scrum eventsFacilitate effective Iteration executionAssist DevOps implementationSupport effective Program Increment executionSupport continuous improvementTrain Agile teams to maximize business resultsAssist DevOps implementationWhat will attendees get?Prepare and support to clear the exam16 PDUs and 16 SEUs (under the category C)Course completion certificateThe course is for:New Scrum MastersPresent Scrum Masters, who wish to assume new roles in the SAFe® enterpriseTeam Leads who want to understand the Scrum Master roleSAFe® Release Train Engineers (RTEs) who want to coach for the role of the Scrum MastersPrerequisites:The course is free for the attendees. But, following prerequisites are a must to take the SAFe® 4.5 SSM exam-Familiarity with Agile principlesShould be aware of Scrum, Kanban, and eXtreme Programming (XP)Work experience in software and hardware development processesExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 33 out of 45 (73% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master (SSM) certificate6. SAFe® 4.5 Release Train Engineer (RTE) certification courseSAFe® 4.5 RTE course will educate you on building the high-performing ART and understanding the role of  the RTE in a Lean-Agile transformation. Also, the attendees will learn to mentor the Agile leaders, teams and the Scrum Masters and how to prepare, plan and execute a Program Increment (PI).Learning Objectives: As a SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification training, you should be able to-Apply Lean-Agile principles and tools to execute and deliver valueFostering continuous improvementConstruct a high-performing ART as a servant leader and coachPreparing an action plan to continue the learning journeyWhat will attendees get? Preparation and support for the SAFe® 4.5 Release Train Engineer (RTE) examCourse completion certificateOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformThe course is for:RTEs and Solution Train Engineers (STEs)Program and project managersScrum MastersLeaders and managersAgile coachesSAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs)Prerequisites:Following are the prerequisites required to attend the exam-Should have at least one current SAFe® certificationHave launched or participated in at least one ART and one PIExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 120 minutes to complete the examNumber of Questions: 60Passing Score: 40 out of 45 (67% passing score)Each retake attempt costs $250Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 RTE certificateNote:For all the courses, the registration fee includes the first exam attempt if the exam is taken within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs $50.After any of these SAFe® 4.5 certifications, you will get a Digital badge to promote your accomplishment online.Summing It UpToday, the SAFe® 4.5 certification is considered as a standard for Lean-Agile endeavours. Over 70% of the US Fortune 100 companies are utilising SAFe and the call for the SAFe® certified experts is rising at an exponential rate. The competitors that are searching for the more prominent vocation ahead, can go for the Leading SAFe® 4.5 certifications, as many employers seek candidates with credentials that convey their capability to work inside a SAFe® environment (verified through a SAFe® certification).
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Is SAFe® 4.5 Certification Worth The Price?

In this decade where traditional methods for Proje... Read More