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.
TL;DR: Scrum Master Problem Dealing — The Survey Results
Scrum Master Problem Dealing: We all know it; changing the way we work is extremely difficult. It requires us to find novel solutions to wicked challenges, to deal with cultural baggage (‘the way we do things here’) and to bring along the people needed to make a change successful. And yet, this difficult challenge is a core responsibility of Scrum Masters: How can your organization work effectively with Scrum if it is not considering the entire system?
But how do Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches go about this? What strategies do they use to change the system? Who are their most important allies? And what else can we learn from them?
We teamed up with The Liberators to identify what works in the field. We gathered both quantitative as well as qualitative data from a survey completed by over 200 participants.
TL;DR: Liberating Structures for Scrum: The Sprint Planning
The fourth Liberating Structures Scrum meetup addressed the Sprint Planning, more precisely the reasons why Sprint Plannings fail—despite all the efforts put into them in advance, from the Product Backlog refinement to the Sprint Review.
Join us for an exciting Liberating Structures Scrum workshop on July 6th, 2019 in Berlin. We will be exploring several microstructures, weave them into strings and apply those to Scrum events like the Daily Scrum, the Sprint Review, or the Sprint Retrospective. The workshop language will be English.
The Liberating Structures 4 Scrum workshop will take place at the Alte Kantine Wedding on Saturday, July 6th, 2019, from 9 am to 5 pm.
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.
TL;DR: Liberating Structures for Scrum: The Sprint Retrospective
Liberating Structures Sprint Retrospective: A few weeks ago, I started an event series with my Berlin-based Hands-on Agile Meetup group on how to improve Scrum events utilizing Liberating Structures — a set of easy to learn, yet powerful ways to collaborate as a team. The results have been fantastic so far, and I like to share these outcomes with those who cannot participate in person.
In this first post, learn more on how you can use Liberating Structures strings to improve the level of collaboration and engagement at Sprint Retrospectives.
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.
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 —
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
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?
If technical debt is the plague of our industry, why isn’t the Scrum Guide addressing the question of who is responsibly dealing with it? To make things worse, if the Product Owner’s responsibility is to maximize the value customers derive from the Development Team’s work, and the Development Team’s responsibility is to deliver a product Increment (at least) at the end of the sprint adhering to the definition of “Done,” aren’t those two responsibilities possibly causing a conflict of interest?
This post analyzes the situation by going back to first principles, as laid out in the Scrum Guide to answer a simple question: Who is responsible for keeping technical debt at bay in a Scrum Team?
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: 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.
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.
Suitable agile metrics reflect either a team’s progress in becoming agile or your organization’s progress in becoming a learning organization.
At the team level, qualitative agile metrics typically work better than quantitative metrics. At the organizational level, this is reversed: quantitative agile metrics provide better insights than qualitative ones.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #197—shared with 22,468 peers—delves into agile decision making when there is no apparent right answer; we are inspired by a saboteur’s manual to check our projects for similar indications and we go back to a classic on agility from 1972. (Yes, there is life before the Manifesto.)
We also learn about the opportunities that a recent pre-packaged management fad bears for UX folks; we check a flowchart on product prioritization, and we get a better understanding on what companies believe product managers do all day.
Lastly, we applaud Marty Cagan on yet another encouraging video on the challenges product menschen face every.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #196—shared with 22,452 peers—discovers seven agile coach types; we learn about the difference between ‘Agile Transformation’ and ‘agile transformation’ by following Avanza’s success story. Moreover, we warm up to the idea that there might be an alternative to stable teams in the age of self-selection.
We also learn about the confluence of lean, agile, and Design Thinking; we get our hands on a checklist for the state of agility of the product roadmap, and we are tempted to follow the idea that nobody owns anything in a product made by a team. Or not?
Lastly, we applaud Mary Meeker for releasing another edition of her epic Internet Trends report. For free.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #195—shared with 22,363 peers—discovers Amazon Agility, we delve into the DevOps phenomenon as a strategic advantage, and embrace successful models for self-managing organizations.
We also learn how to hold each other accountable as teammates, we understand the necessity of safe-to-fail places to stimulate innovation, and we ask: Shall product roadmaps have dates?
Lastly, we enjoy 45 minutes with Mr. Product Management Marty Cagan on ordinary people creating extraordinary things.
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