Scrum Master Hiring: Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Agile Practitioners is No Exception
Maybe, “Agile” in general is a management fad and not trend at the moment. But what we can say for sure is that Scrum has become very popular for software development purposes. 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.
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 ten 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.
Are you—as a scrum master or agile coach—experiencing more communication kerfuffles with “your” team? Is its speed of improvement stalling? Are you under the impression that the team is slipping back into old habits and patterns? Maybe, it is time to run a reverse retrospective where your share your observations with the team.
Learn how to run a reverse retrospective to realign with your scrum team.
Supposedly, becoming agile is a journey, not a destination. Which is a convenient narrative if the viability of your consultancy depends on selling men and materiel. The fuzzier the objective of an agile transition the less likely there will be an agile audit addressing the return on investment question the customer might have.
Moreover, a fuzzy objective such as ‘we want to become an agile organization’ is probably the reason for applying the same methodologies indiscriminately to every organization—a one size fits all approach for agile transitions.
However, what if not every organization embarking on a transition to agile practices is meant to become a teal organization or a holacracy? What if being late to the agile transition party is instead a deliberate choice than a manifestation of hubris, ignorance or leadership failure?
Read more on why feedback loops in the form of an agile audit are beneficial for organizations and teams alike.
What looked like a good idea back in the 1990ies—outsourcing, for example, software development as a non-essential business area—has meanwhile massively backfired for a lot of legacy organizations. And yet, they still do not understand what it takes to build a decent product/engineering culture. Learn more about typical anti-patterns and are signs that the organization has a toxic team culture.
TL; DR: Lipstick Agile — Happiness in the Trenches?
Have you noticed how many people in the agile field are unhappy with their work situation — caught in a lipstick agile situation where an organization already struggles doing agile? (Not to mention ‘becoming agile.’)
Scrum masters, and agile coaches who are close to either burnout or indifference. Product owners who “own” the product by name only, and developers who are questioning why Scrum a) skips all the practices that make XP work, and b) often turns out to be just another form of micromanagement.
Scrum Master Anti-Patterns: The reasons why scrum masters violate the spirit of the Scrum Guide are multi-faceted. They run from ill-suited personal traits and the pursuit of individual agendas to frustration with the team itself.
Read on and learn in this final post on scrum anti-patterns how you can identify if your scrum master needs support from the team to up his or her agile game.
The following 56 scrum product owner theses describe the role of the PO from a holistic product creation perspective.
The 56 product owner theses cover the concept of the product owner role, product discovery, how to deal with external and internal stakeholders, product roadmap planning, as well as the product backlog refinement. The theses also address the product owner’s part in scrum ceremonies such as sprint planning, sprint review, and the sprint retrospective.
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 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions That Will Benefit Your Organization
This second publication in the Hands-on Agile Fieldnotes series provides 42 questions and answers for the Scrum Product Owner interview.
Co-authored with Andreea Tomoiaga, 42 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 #133—shared with 15,436 peers—explains why agile Taylorism — or introducing ‘agile’ by a command and control — is a futile approach. We also learn that competing and collaborating do not have to be mutually exclusive while becoming a learning organization.
We get a better understanding how continuous product discovery works in practice, how to avoid triggering your customers’ resistance to (product) changes, and why Geoffrey Moore might have been wrong.
Lastly, we enjoy the opportunity to learn more about becoming agile in distributed teams—with a free ebook courtesy of InfoQ.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #132—shared with 15,184 peers—covers the latest version of the Agile Fluency ™ Model. Moreover, we learn why we are particularly bad at planning projects of all kind, and how visualizing with LEGO® may add to your organization’s bottom line.
We also find out how to deal with brilliant jerks and other difficult people as well as picking your battles in general.
Lastly, we appreciate a lesson on how to deal with legacy organizations that embrace innovation mostly verbally.
Food for Agile Thought’s issue #131—shared with 15,032 peers—focuses on how to make agile happen in large organizations: who will most likely kick-off a successful adoption, how to embed ‘experimentation’ in the culture, and why distributed teams do not exclude an organization from becoming agile.
We then get back to the challenge of ‘what to build.’ John Cutler shares a list of questions for product roadmap and prioritization issues, and we learn how to reduce the risk of creating an MVP with JTBD. Also, Alpha shared the results of its recent product management trends survey.
Lastly, we are invited to get a better understanding of Sociocracy 3.0 — one of the agile concepts left of the chasm.