TL; DR: Agile Micromanagement
There are plenty of failure possibilities with Scrum. Indeed, given that Scrum is a framework with a reasonable yet short “manual,” this effect should not surprise anyone. For example, the Scrum Guide clearly states the importance of self-management at the Scrum team level. Nevertheless, the prevailing cause of many messed-up attempts to use Scrum result from what I call agile micromanagement, a pseudo-commitment to agile principles only to be overridden whenever it seems beneficial from a stakeholder’s or manager’s perspective.
Join me and delve into the importance of self-managing Scrum teams in less than two minutes.
TL;DR: Product Owner and Product Manager Salary Report 2022 — An Anonymous Poll by the Community for the Community
The purpose of this anonymous Product Owner and Product Manager 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 Product Owners as well as Product Managers, both employed and freelancing. Obviously, a successful Product Owner is an agile Product Manager at heart.)
The goal is to have a sufficient number of replies – that would be at least 500 – by the end of September 2022 to create the report in time for November 2022. Of course, the report will be available for free.
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.
Suppose you are looking to fill a Scrum Master position in your organization. In that case, you may find the following Scrum Master interview questions helpful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my sixteen years of practical experience with XP and Scrum, serving both as Product Owner and Scrum Master, and my training experience as a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org. Also, I have interviewed dozens of Scrum Master candidates on behalf of my clients.
So far, this Scrum Master interview guide has been downloaded more than 23,000 times.
TL; DR: 27 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns
Scrum is a tactical framework to build products, provided you identify what is worth making in advance. But even after a successful product discovery phase, you may struggle to create the right thing in the right way if your Product Backlog is not up to the job—garbage in, garbage out. The following article points to 27 common Product Backlog anti-patterns – including the Product Backlog refinement process – limiting your Scrum team’s success.
TL; DR: The Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 — How Do You Compare?
The Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 is the third edition of the industry survey after 2017 and 2019. This free report is based on the answers of 1,113 participants globally. If you are considering a career decision this year, maybe, whether you should join the industry as a junior Scrum Master or move to a new organization or go independent, you will find the report’s information beneficial.
By the way, the average salary of the participants in the survey is $83,687, with a standard deviation of about $48,700. In the complete report, you will find more detailed information; download your copy below.
Moreover, we are considering creating a statistical model to suggest further career steps: The “Scrum Master Salary Toolkit.”
TL; DR: 82 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 82 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my sixteen 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 10,000 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: Agile Metrics
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 often work better than quantitative metrics. At the organizational level, this is reversed: quantitative agile metrics provide better insights than qualitative ones.
TL;DR: Scrum Master Duties, Serving a Single Team
Scrum Master Duties: supposedly, a great scrum master serves only one scrum team — that’s at least a popular narrative in the scrum community. Nevertheless, there is also a loud voice that doubts that approach: what would you do the whole day – with a single team? Aren’t they supposed to become self-organizing over time? And if so, does the scrum then need a scrum master 24/7?
As I worked for years as a product owner on scrum teams without a dedicated scrum master-which was working well-I was curious to learn more about that question, too. Hence I ran a survey in late June and early July 2018, the results of which are presented here.
In total, 261 scrum masters participated in this non-representative survey in the two weeks before July 5th, 2018. 19 participants chose not to provide their consent to Google processing and to store their answers. Hence their contributions were deleted, resulting in a sample size of 242 responses.
TL; DR: Novelty Uncertainty — Food for Agile Thought #355
Welcome to the 355th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,721 peers. This week, we delve into dealing with novelty uncertainty by acquiring knowledge as we move forward in a process at the heart of all agile practices. Moreover, we analyze the mechanics of how innovation moves from the fringes to the core of an organization, and we explain Richard Feynman’s seven “tricks for evaluating information.” Also, we lay out the challenges and opportunities of distributed teams, from ‘management by talk around’ to tools and practices.
Then, we explore ways of “how to go from charts and numbers to a story that will move your stakeholders” and share the principles of how engineering and product collaborate at Intercom for the benefit of customers, for example, by involving the engineers from the start. Additionally, we explore the general relationship between engineering and product management and share lessons learned, for instance, earn respect first as a product manager before you become technical.
Finally, we thank IT Revolution Press for attempting to explain the practice of creating Wardley Maps. Noorisingh Saini leads us through calculating, interpreting, and improving the lifetime value of your SaaS customers, while Natalie Rothfels, Ely Lerner, and Behzod Sirjani bust customer churn myths, from its supposed unavoidability to wrong assumptions. Lastly, Greg Satell points to a typical disadvantage of large organizations regarding innovation: “it’s often just easier to fall in line than to engage in vigorous debate.”
TL; DR: Agile Forecasting, Winning Product Strategies — Food for Agile Thought #354
Welcome to the 354th edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,689 peers. This week, we analyze agile forecasting challenges in epic breadth, from avoiding story points to rolling wave forecasts. Also, we illustrate and quantify the impact of unfinished work to help you convince your team to ‘stop starting and start finishing,’ and we delve into decision-making practices as a group, from reversible to expensive or irreversible decisions.
Then, we listen to Lenny Rachitsky interviewing Melissa Perri on what to do when your strategy is not working: what are the signs, and how can you change direction? Moreover, we point out that ‘most strategies are a collection of assumptions,’ from certainty levels to competitor behavior. Also, we enjoy ten video clips expressing precisely that product/market-fit feeling Marc Andreessen described years ago.
Finally, we share strategies to identify and work through design and engineering conflicts and a more innovative framework to apply the ‘rocks, pebbles, and sand’ lesson. Lastly, McKinsey claims to have identified ‘four types of behavior that account for 89 percent of leadership effectiveness.’ This brings us to Deloitte Insights, exploring whether you can measure a ‘hidden—yet increasingly critical—key performance indicator:’ trust.
TL; DR: No Sprint Goal
There are plenty of failure possibilities with Scrum. Given that Scrum is a framework with a reasonable yet short “manual,” this effect should not surprise anyone. For example, what if there is no Sprint Goal — Sprint after Sprint? What if the Scrum team is always only working on a random assortment of work items that seem to be the most pressing at the moment of the Sprint Planning?
Join me and delve into the importance of the Sprint Goal for meaningful work as a Scrum team in less than two minutes.
TL; DR: Sales vs. Product, Minimum Viable Transformation — Food for Agile Thought #353
Welcome to the 353rd edition of the Food for Agile Thought newsletter, shared with 35,651 peers. This week, we delve into Sales vs. Product, analyzing their conflicting worldviews. Additionally, we learn about the pre-requisites of cultural change, for example, ensuring that at least a quarter of your community supports the endeavor. Also, we detail why long-term software development plans do not work and critique an acclaimed book on DevOps, metrics, and effectiveness in software development.
Then, we reflect on Lean Startup’s “pivot or persevere” decision: scale, kill, pivot, or persevere, and we show practical ways to reduce our product’s risk of failure, from testing assumptions to data-informed decision-making. Moreover, we share eleven lessons on enabling product management with distributed teams, from the need to write more to embrace tools beyond Zoom and Google Docs.
Finally, we enjoy Avion’s bookmark-worthy guide on user story mapping and detail how product analytics can reduce churn if you learn to identify customers that share ‘specific characteristics and usage patterns.’ Lastly, Russ Roberts interviews the economist — and former chief economist of Uber and Lyft — John List on what determines scalability and ‘good ideas.’
TL; DR: Unengaged Stakeholders
There are plenty of failure possibilities with Scrum. Given that Scrum is a framework with a reasonable yet short “manual,” this effect should not surprise anyone. For example, what if your Scrum team repeatedly faces unengaged stakeholders at the Sprint Review? How can the Scrum team stay on track in accomplishing the Product Goal when a vital feedback loop is missing?
Join me and delve into how to support your stakeholders in living up to their part of the collaboration with the Scrum team in less than two minutes.