TL; DR: Estimates Are Useful, Just Ditch the Numbers
Many people dislike estimating work items as estimates supposedly open the path to the misuse of velocity by the managers, reintroducing Taylorism, micro-management, and excessive reporting through the backdoor. To them, for example, the proponents of #noestimates, estimates conflict with basic ideas of agile product development such as self-management, becoming outcome-focused, or leaving the feature factory for good.
I like to suggest a different, less ideological approach: estimates are useful at the team level, just ditch the numbers. How so? Estimation of work items is a fast way for a Scrum team to figure out whether all team members are on the same page regarding the why, the what, and the how of the upcoming work. The numbers are a mere side-effect, probably still valid to inform the team, though. (Indeed, the numbers are not intended to be used beyond the team level.)
By the way, similar to the fact that you cannot “not communicate,” I am convinced that people will always “estimate,” whether they talk about it or not.
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 54 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my fifteen 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 22,000 times.
TL;DR: Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 — An Anonymous Poll by the Community for the Community
The purpose of this anonymous Scrum Master salary report is to create a clear, data-backed benchmark that allows everyone in the agile community to understand whether their compensation is adequate. (And yes, the report will cover Scrum Masters as well as Agile Coaches, both employed and freelancing.)
The goal is to have a sufficient number of replies – that would be at least 1,000 – by the end of November 2021 to create the report in time for January 2022. Of course, the report will be available for free.
TL; DR: 71 Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Imposters
If you are looking to fill a position for a Product Owner in your organization, you may find the following 71 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my fourteen years of practical experience with XP and Scrum, serving both as Product Owner and Scrum Master and interviewing dozens of Product Owner candidates on behalf of my clients.
So far, this Product Owner interview guide has been downloaded more than 8,000 times.
TL; DR: The Cargo Cult Agile Checklist for Download
Do you want to know the state of agility in your organization? Here we go: Download the checklist, distribute it generously among your colleagues, and run a quick poll. It will only take 5 minutes of their time–and then analyze their feedback. If the average number of checkboxes marked is higher than nine, then you are probably practicing cargo cult agile in one form or another.
If running the cargo cult agile survey is the ‘inspection,’ then consider adapting your approach to being agile by kicking-off a discussion among the stakeholders of your organization’s endeavor.
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.
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.
TL; DR: No More Deadlines, Goodbye Managers — Food for Agile Thought #311
Welcome to the 311th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 33,103 peers. This week, we reflect on the abandonment of deadlines for team health and the effectiveness of engineering projects. Also, we delve into the obsolescence of the modern manager; we define cross-functional vs. t-shaped to avoid confusion within teams and larger agile ecosystems, and we have a look at how large companies manage engineering projects.
We then explore how teams can make better product decisions, for example, by employing the Jobs-to-be-done framework; we share war stories from Microsoft regarding the perils of reflecting internal communication structures in a product’s design, and we list eight concerns about NPS, from displacing other efforts to a bad word of mouth.
Lastly, we share the results of a large study on remote work based on data from 61,182 US Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020, and we point at a critical issue in applying OKRs: They don’t work as intended when merely handed down from top to bottom.
TL; DR: The Necessity of Leadership Engagement, OKRs in PM — Food for Agile Thought #310
Welcome to the 310th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 33,061 peers. This week, we delve into the necessity of leadership engagement to make change happen. We also show a way out of the ‘answering three questions’ mode for your Daily Scrum, and we ask: Can you take self-management to new heights even within a small organization of 7-8 people?
We then characterize traits of high-performing product teams, from healthy skepticism to experimentation to dealing with uncertainty. Moreover, we delve into improving the relationship between the product folks and business stakeholders within your organization in a mutually beneficial way, and we point at three first principles of valuable roadmaps, an excellent primer for stakeholders outside a product team.
Lastly, we share a free Excel-based tool for organizations that aspire to excel at software delivery practices to improve value creation, as well as a valuable guide to help you apply OKRs when you’re working in product management.
TL; DR: Adapt How You Lead for Agile Success w/ Johanna Rothman — ACB21
Too many people say, “With agile, we don’t need no stinkin’ managers.” However, because managers create and refine the culture, modern managers create and refine the agile culture. Without modern management, any agile initiative will die. It’s time to invite managers to change their behaviors and create a real agile culture. Learn from Johann Rothman how to adapt your leadership style for agile success as a manager in an agile organization in this 54-minute long video from the Agile Camp Berlin 2021.
Welcome to the Download Page for the “54 Scrum Master Interview Questions” PDF
Our ebook “54 Scrum Master Interview Questions” is available in its fifth edition. Learn about eight topical areas essential for an assessment of candidates for Scrum Master positions.
TL; DR: Say Agile One More Time, Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 — Food for Agile Thought #309
Welcome to the 309th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 33,012 peers. This week, we enjoy agile in memes — ‘Say Agile One More Time;’ we learn about a remarkable transformation of an industrial behemoth, and we share a beginner list of decision-making patterns, from consensus to rock, paper, and scissors.
We then reflect on the unfortunate ‘practice’ of putting carts before horses when product managers talk to the C-level, and we share six tips on how product folks can annoy their engineering teammates with outstanding efficacy. Also, we point at a critical part of the product creation process that bears many risks: Adding product features is fun and addictive. Now, what if no one uses them?
Lastly, we suggest a practice to test the health of your product creation process, and we shed some light on how long it took startups at Altar.io to build minimum viable products across several industries.