Hiring: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

TL; DR: 42+5 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions That Will Benefit Your Organization

This second publication in the Hands-on Agile Fieldnotes series provides 42+5 questions and answers for the Scrum Product Owner interview.

Scrum Product Owner Interview: this free ebook provides 42+5 questions w/ answers to help you to avoid hiring Imposters.

Co-authored with Andreea Tomoiaga, 42+5 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters represents the most important learnings of our more than 20 years combined hands-on experience with Kanban, Scrum, XP, and several product discovery frameworks. We have worked as Scrum Product Owners, Scrum Masters, agile coaches, and developers in agile teams and organizations of all sizes and levels of maturity.

We have each participated in interviewing dozens of Scrum Product Owner candidates on behalf of our clients or employers. The questions and answers herein are what we have learned.

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Free Ebook: 38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters

Scrum Master Interview: Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Agile Practitioners is No Exception

Scrum has proven time and again to be the most popular framework for software development. Given that software is eating the world, a seasoned Scrum Master is nowadays in high demand. And that demand causes the market-entry of new professionals from other project management branches, probably believing that reading one or two Scrum books will be sufficient. Which makes any Scrum Master interview a challenging task.

If you are looking to fill a position for a Scrum Master (or agile coach) in your organization, you may find the following 38+9 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my thirteen years of practical experience with XP as well as Scrum, serving both as product owner and Scrum Master as well as interviewing dozens of Scrum Master candidates on behalf of my clients.

So far, this Scrum Master interview guide has been downloaded more than 15,000 times.

38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters

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Scrum Accountability

TL; DR: Scrum Accountability

‘Autonomy without accountability equals anarchy’ summarizes an essential design element of any agile organization. Without these checks and balances in place any aspiration to transform an organization is likely to fail. (Or at best level out at a mechanistic level.) Learn more about how Scrum deals with accountability.

Scrum Accountability: The Boss imposes Scrum upon the Team — Age-of-Product.com

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Liberating Structures for Scrum (4): The Daily Scrum

TL;DR: The Liberating Structures Daily Scrum Meetup

This Liberating Structures for Scrum meetup addressed the Daily Scrum, particularly the notion that it is barely possible to create a Liberating Structure Daily Scrum string that fits into the 15-minutes time-box of the Daily Scrum. Learn more on how to bust that myth.

Hands-on Agile Meetup Berlin: Liberating Structures for Scrum (4): The Daily Scrum

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Scrum First Principles — How to Elon Musk the Scrum Guide

TL; DR: Scrum First Principles

Popularized by Elon Musk, utilizing first principles thinking to solve problems in an innovative, creative, and less biased way has proven popular in the tech community. Given that its sibling empiricism is an integral part of Scrum as a framework, applying Scrum first principles thinking is also a useful exercise.

Learn more about how to Elon Musk the Scrum Guide.

Scrum First Principles — Age-of-Product.com

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Liberating Structures for Scrum (3): The Product Backlog

TL;DR: The Liberating Structures Product Backlog Meetup

The fourth Liberating Structures for Scrum meetup addressed the Product Backlog, more precisely the issues with Product Backlogs that subsequently cause Sprint Plannings to fail and Scrum Teams to deliver below their capabilities; as the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out.

Liberating Structures Product Backlog — Hands-on Agile Meetup #14 by Age-of-Product.com

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📅 Upcoming Scrum Training Classes, Liberating Structures Workshops, and Events

TL; DR: Scrum Training Classes, Liberating Structures Workshops, and Events

Age-of-Product.com’s parent company — Berlin Product People GmbH — offers Scrum training classes authorized by Scrum.org, Liberating Structures workshops, and hybrid training of Professional Scrum and Liberating Structures. The training classes are offered both in English and German.

Check out the upcoming timetable of training classes, workshops, meetups, and other events below and join your peers.

Upcoming Scrum and Liberating Stuctures training classes and workshops — Berlin Product People GmbH

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Liberating Structures 4 Scrum: Lessons from a One-Day Immersive Workshop

TL; DR: The Liberating Structures Immersive Workshop for Scrum

Why running a Liberating Structures immersive workshop? Since the beginning of 2019, the Hands-on Agile meetup in Berlin has been exploring how to apply Liberating Structures to Scrum. Beyond the basics, we have addressed the Sprint Retrospective, the Sprint Planning, the Product Backlog as well as the Daily Scrum.

While the initial meetups went smoothly, the last two meetups felt rushed given that we usually have about two hours. Also, the changing composition of the meetup attendees has become more challenging; less than 10 percent of the approximately 150 participants so far have attended meetups.

So, I thought it might be a worthwhile experiment to aggregate the previous meetups into a one-day immersive workshop on Liberating Structures for Scrum, built around climate change and MegaBrain.io, a struggling startup with little runway left and in desperate need of two successful Sprints. We ran that workshop last week, and this is what we learned.

Liberating Structures 4 Scrum: Lessons from a One-Day Immersive Workshop — Age-of-Product.com

Update: Join us for the follow-up workshop on September 7th, 2019, in Berlin.

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The Scrum Guide Reordered

TL;DR: The Scrum Guide Reordered

The Scrum Guide Reordered is based on about 90 percent of the text of the 2017 Scrum Guide, extending its original structure by adding additional categories. For example, you will find all quotes that can be attributed to the role of the Scrum Master in one place. While the Scrum Guide is mainly focused on the three roles, five events, and three artifacts, I aggregated quotes on specific topics as well, for example, on self-organization, finance or technical debt.

The Scrum Guide–Reordered allows you to get a first understanding of Scrum-related questions quickly. For example, it is good at relating a specific topis — say “stakeholder” — with Scrum first principles such as Scrum Values, or empiricism.

Scrum Guide Reordered — Age-of-Product.com

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Scrum Master Trends Report 2019 — Free Download

TL; DR: Scrum Master Trends Report 2019

Back in 2017, we started the Scrum Master Salary Report 2017—the first industry report that covered in depth the educational background, working experience, industries, and organizational details of the companies Scrum Masters or agile coaches work for. For its 2019 edition—the Scrum Master Trends Report 2019—, we partnered with Scrum.org—the leading Scrum training and certification institution founded by Scrum co-founder Ken Schwaber—to improve the underlying data set.

Learn more about the state of the industry and download for free the Scrum Master Trends Report 2019.

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Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations 2.0

TL;DR: Agile Failure Patterns — Why Agile is Simple and Complex at the Same Time

Agile failure seems to be increasingly more prominent nowadays despite all the efforts undertaken by numerous organization embarking on their journeys to become agile.

The funny thing is: Who would disagree that the four core principles of the Agile Manifesto

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

— are derived from applying common sense to a challenging problem? Moreover, the application of those principles might be suited to fix numerous organizational dysfunctions and reduce an error-prone and complex social setting to maybe just a complicated one?

Age of Product: Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations

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28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns

TL;DR: 28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns

Scrum is a practical framework to build products, provided you identify in advance what to build. But even after a successful product discovery phase, you may struggle to make the right thing in the right way if your product backlog is not up to the job. Garbage in, garbage out – as the saying goes. The following article points at 28 of the most common product backlog anti-patterns – including the product backlog refinement process – that limit your Scrum team’s success.

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Food for Agile Thought #209: Design Thinking Habits, From Dark to Light Agile, Idea Validation, Lean UX Canvas v2

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #209—shared with 23,558 peers—delves into Design Thinking habits; we consider how to turn dark ‘agile’ into a value-driven approach again, and we go back once again to antipatterns of organizational agility.

We also address validating hypotheses beyond an ordinary A/B-test; we learn how to orchestrate continuous experimentation for fun and profit, and we applaud Jeff Gothelf for sharing the second version of the Lean UX canvas with the community.

Lastly, we put ‘bugs’ into an agile context, starting with a moth in 1946.

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #208?

Food for Agile Thought #209: Design Thinking Habits, From Dark to Light Agile, Idea Validation, Lean UX Canvas v2 — Age-of-Product.com

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Food for Agile Thought #208: Six Sigma, Zombie Scrum Symptom Checker, Constant Failure, Timeline Roadmaps Suck

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #208—shared with 23,551 peers—sheds light on the fate of Six Sigma; we introduce the free Zombie Scrum Checker for your Scrum Team, and we address once again the cycle-time/velocity prediction issue.

We also delve into Booking.com’s experimentation culture; we learn which traps to avoid when handling payment in a B2C application, and we enjoy a Twitter rant on the uselessness of timeline roadmaps.

Lastly, we thank Ron Jeffries for pointing at the obvious: you get paid for shipping valuable software every single Sprint. Period.

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #207?

Food for Agile Thought #208: Six Sigma, Zombie Scrum Symptom Checker, Constant Failure, Timeline Roadmaps Suck

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Food for Agile Thought #207: DevOps 2019, Sprint Review Revisited, Nature of Product Teams, Influencing the Business

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #207—shared with 23,508 peers—continues its support of Liberating Structures; this time, Barry addresses the Sprint Review. We enjoy the State of DevOps 2019 report, and then we follow up on the Sprint Review with an unconventional suggestion.

We also learn to distinguish between delivery and product teams; we acquire new skills to influence the business side, and we delve into OKR and hypotheses as a means of team alignment.

Lastly, we learn about three obsolete, yet popular mental models of the industrial paradigm impeding transformations.

Did you miss last week’s Food for Agile Thought’s issue #206?

Food for Agile Thought #207: DevOps 2019, Sprint Review Revisited, Nature of Product Teams, Influencing the Business

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