Scrum Master Formation

2021 08 03 head

You work as a Scrum master.

Congratulations, working as a professional Scrum master is a fulfilling and exciting job.

You should attend professional training.

Not only attend the two-day training to receive a shiny diploma.

Being a Scrum master and coach is a profession, not a fancy title!

Please reflect on your goals and ethics.

Scrum Master Role

Here the official definition of the product owner role taken from the Scrum.

The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. They do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organization.

The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices within the Scrum framework.

Scrum Masters are true leaders who serve the Scrum Team and the larger organization.

The Scrum Master serves the Scrum Team in several ways, including:

  • Coaching the team members in self-management and cross-functionality;

  • Helping the Scrum Team focus on creating high-value Increments that meet the Definition of Done;

  • Causing the removal of impediments to the Scrum Team’s progress; and,

  • Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the time box.

The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways, including:

  • Helping find techniques for effective Product Goal definition and Product Backlog management;

  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;

  • Helping establish empirical product planning for a complex environment; and,

  • Facilitating stakeholder collaboration as requested or needed.

The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including:

  • Leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;

  • Planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization;

  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work; and,

  • Removing barriers between stakeholders and Scrum Teams.

Certifications

The two big Scrum organizations Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org provide a certification path for Scrum masters. The certification path has three levels:

Certified Scrum Master

Introduction course for those who are closest to the organization of the project.
It is usually two days of training. The Scrum.org allows taking the certification examination without attending a course [1].

Certified Advanced Scrum Master

Advanced course for Scrum Masters who already have one year of experience on a Scrum team.
It is at least two days training. You should read the recommended books to have a greater probability to pass the examination on the first try.

Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master

Pinnacle course for experts wishing to master the Scrum Master track.
The third level requires more training, experience, and reading books. You often must participate in workshops before being allowed to graduate. Each certification organization has her own rules and conditions.

Beware if you select the Scrum Alliance, you must renew your certification every two years. The conditions are similar to the renewal of a PMI certification. You must provide proof of training and pay a fee. The Scrum.org certifications never expire.

The Scrum Master learning objectives for the first level are:

  1. Lean, Agile, and Scrum

    1. list at least three rights and five responsibilities of the Product Owner, Development Team and Scrum Master.

    2. discuss at least two reasons why the Product Owner is a single person and not a group or a committee.

    3. discuss how and why the Product Owner maintains authority over the product while working collaboratively with the Development Team and stakeholders.

    4. list at least five characteristics of the Development Team.

    5. give one example of how a Scrum Team will inspect and adapt and increase transparency at each of the Scrum events.

    6. describe at least three responsibilities for the Development Team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master during Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.

    7. describe why the Sprint Goal does not change during a Sprint.

    8. define the outcome of every Sprint.

    9. discuss at least three reasons why the increment must be brought to the current definition of Done regardless of whether the Product Owner chooses to release the increment.

    10. discuss the focus of the activities for the Product Owner and Development Team during the two topics of Sprint Planning: the What and the How.

    11. practice writing a Sprint Goal.

    12. discuss at least three ways the Daily Scrum differs from a status meeting and why the various constraints exist to support the Development Team.

    13. describe at least three activities that occur during the Sprint Review other than a demonstration of the increment.

    14. identify at least three potential outcomes for a Sprint Review.

    15. describe at least two approaches to conduct a Sprint Retrospective.

    16. identify at least three essential characteristics of the Product Backlog.

    17. list at least four attributes of a Product Backlog item.

    18. identify at least three essential characteristics of the Sprint Backlog.

    19. demonstrate how the Sprint Backlog can be changed without endangering the Sprint Goal.

    20. explain the importance of a strong definition for Done and describe at least two risks associated with a weaker definition of Done.

    21. outline at least one way to create a definition of Done.

    22. identify at least two reasons why multiple teams working on the same Product Backlog have a shared and consistent definition of Done.

  2. Scrum Master Core Competencies

    1. describe at least three situations in which the Scrum Master could serve the needs of the Scrum Team or organization through facilitation.

    2. demonstrate at least three techniques for facilitating group decision-making.

  3. Coaching

    1. restate how facilitating, teaching, mentoring, and coaching are different.

    2. apply at least one technique that could help resolve a challenge faced by a Scrum Team.

  4. Scrum Master as Servant-Leader

    1. define servant-leadership.

    2. describe three scenarios where the Scrum Master acts as the servant-leader for the Development Team.

    3. identify possible violations of Scrum by a Product Owner or stakeholder who is applying excessive time pressure and illustrate how to address them.

    4. define technical debt and explain the impact of accumulating technical debt.

    5. list at least three development practices that will help Scrum Teams deliver a high-quality

  5. Product Increment and reduce technical debt each Sprint

    1. explain at least three ways the Scrum Master could support the Product Owner.

    2. list at least two benefits that arise if a Product Owner participates in the Sprint Retrospective.

  6. Service to the Organization

    1. discuss at least two ways that the Scrum Master assists the Scrum Team with impediments.

    2. describe at least three organizational impediments that can affect Scrum Teams.

    3. describe at least one example of an organizational design change caused by adopting Scrum.

    4. discuss why Scrum does not have a project manager and what happens to traditional project management activities

You can self-study the Scrum Master objectives [1], [2] with the official scrum team book [4]. The book is well-written and covers all required topics. Be a professional knowledge worker and support your organization on the agile path [8].

A reading list can be found under Suggested Reading Professional Scrum Master. Seminal cited books are [1, 2].

I published a list of seminal works for interested Scrum masters under Books.

Project Leadership Trainings

2021 08 03 pmi talent triangle

An interesting development is the addition of tailored project management training emphasizing agile approaches. The biggest organization PMI has a whole set of agile certifications based on Disciplined Agile Design DAD.

I expect the emphasis on agile approaches to markedly increase in the next years.

University Formal Trainings

Technical universities in Switzerland provide formal training in project leadership, project management and related fields. The formation provides a certificate of advanced study CAS in the field. Current available certificates of advanced study offering are, for example:

References

[1] H. Doshi, Scrum Insights for Practitioners : The Scrum Guide Companion. Practiceagile.com.

[2] G. Verheyen, Scrum - A Pocket Guide, Third. Van Haren Publishing, 2021 [Online]. Available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XWQ7DG9


1. The examination is only available in English.