Posted in My Scrum Notes, Scrum Roles

New Scrum Master Role Considerations

Learnings from Previous Scrum Master 

To the team

  • What responsibilities did the Scrum Master assume for the team?
  • What was the SM role in Scrum events?
  • How did the SM mentor/ coach/ teach?
  • Are there any recent improvements/ teachings that the SM has been implementing?

To the organisation 

  • What was the SM relationship like with the wider organisation?
  • What were the improvements the SM was heading up across the business? What were the recent successes/ failures?

In a scaled Scrum environment

  • What is the SM relationship with other SMs and teams?
  • Are there any further assumed responsibilities towards other teams?

Relationship with Your Manager

Five Conversations (1, page 93-4)

  1. The situational diagnosis conversation
    1. How did the organisation reach this point?
    2. What factors make this situation a challenge?
    3. What resources within the organisation can you draw on?
  2. The expectations conversation
    1. What does your new boss need you to do in the short term and in the medium term?
    2. What will contitute success?
    3. How will your performance be measured?
  3. The resource conversation 
    1. What do you need to be successful?
    2. What do you need your boss to do?
    3. Not just people/ equipment, but support for change in the organisation
  4. The style conversation 
    1. How you and your new boss can best interact on an ongoing basiss
    2. Medium and how often 
  5. The personal development conversation (a few months into your new role)
    1. How you are doing and what your development priorities should be

What to focus on

Early wins evaluation tool (1, page 129)

Use the resulting score from the below table to compare candidates for early wins.

 Not at allTo a small extentSomewhatTo a significant extentTo a great extent
Does the focal point offer an opportunity to make a substantial improvement in the performance of your unit?01234
Is this improvement achievable in a reasonably short time with available resources?01234
Would success also help lay the foundation for achieving agreed-to-business goals?01234
Will the process used to achieve the win help you make needed changes in behaviour in the organisation?01234


FOGLAMP Project Checklist (1, page 131)

Tool to help you cut through the haze and plan your critical projects

  • FOCUS: What is the focus for this project?
  • OVERSIGHT: How will you oversee this project? Who else should participate to help you get buy-in for implementing results?
  • GOALS: What are the goals and intermediate milestones and time frames for achieving them?
  • LEADERSHIP: What will lead the project? What training, if any, do they need to be successful?
  • ABILITIES: What mix of skills and representation needs to be included? Who needs to be included because of their skills? 
  • MEANS: What additional resources, such a facilitation, does the team need to be successful?
  • PROCESS: Are there change models or structured processes you want the team to use? How will they become familiar with this approach?

Decision Making

Team decision making (1, page 193)

  • If the decision is likely to be highly devisive (creating winners and losers) you need to take the heat
  • If your team are inexperienced as build consensus is unlikely to work and you risk imposing a decision anyway 
  • If you need to establish your authority (do not use once you are established)
Build consensus
  • If the decision requires energetic support for implementation from people whose performance you cannot adequately observe and control

Framing arguments (1, page 214 – 5)

Framing means carefully crafting your persuasive arguments on a person-by-person basis

Logos – data and reasoned argumentsWhat data or analysis might they find persuasive?What logic(s) might appeal to them?Are there biases to which they are falling prey and, if so, how might you demonstrate this?
Ethos – principles, policies, and other ‘rules’Are tehre principles or policies that they could be convinced should operate here?If you are asking them to act counter to a princple or policy, can you help them justify making an exception?
Pathos – emotions and meaningAre there emotional ‘triggers’ for example loyalty or contribution to the common good, to which you could appeal?Can you help them create a sense of meaning by supporting or opposing a cause?If they are reacting too emotionally, can you help them step back and get perspective?


Guidelines for Structures Self-reflection (1, page 223)

On a scale of high to low, do you feel:
  • Excited? If not, why not? What can you do about it?
  • Confident? If not, why not? What can you do about it?
  • In control of your success? If not, why now? What can you do about it?
What has bothered you so far?
  • With whom have you failed to connect? Why?
  • Of the meetings you’ve attended, which has been the most troubling? Why?
  • Of all that you’ve seen or heard, what has disturbed you most? Why?
What has gone well or poorly?
  • Which interactions would you handle differently if you could? Which exceeded your expectations? Why?
  • Which of your decisions have turned out particularly well? Not so well? Why?
  • What missed opportunities do you regret the most? Was a better result blocked primarily by you, or by something beyond your control?

Potentially Dysfunctional Behaviours

Action imperative (1, page 48)
  • when you feel too anxious or too busy to devote time to learning, and feel pressure to ‘do’ 
  • Leads to a death spiral 
  • Don’t learn – make a poor decision and undermine your credibility – alienate people – they don’t share info with you – start the loop again  
Undefended boundaries (1, page 224)
  • Fail to establish what you are willing and not willing to do. People will take whatever you have to give
  • The more you give, the less they will respect you and the more they will ask of you – another vicious cycle
  • If you cannot establish boundaries for yourself, you cannot expect others to do it for you
Brittleness (1, page 224)
  • Rigidity and defensiveness, resulting in overcommiting to failing courses of action
  • Finding it hard to admit you were wrong
Isolation (1, page 224)
  • Not taking time to make the right connections, perhaps overrelying on a few people or on official information
Work avoidance (1, page 224)
  • Choosing to delay work/ decisions by burying yourself in other work or fool yourself into believing that the time isn’t ripe to make the call
  • Avoiding taking the bull by the horns, resulting in the tough problems becoming even tougher
Yerkes-Dodson Law (1, page 227). Image from Wikipedia


  1. The First 90 days by Michael D. Watkins

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New Organisation Considerations

Agile Games
Posted in My Scrum Notes, Scrum Roles

Consideration for a New Product Owner

Product Owner Role Overview

  • MUST – One person (2)
  • What happens when the Product Owner is not available or out of office?

Product Goal

  • How does the Product Owner develop the Product Goal?
  • How does the Product Owner communicate the Product Goal?
  • How does the Product Owner align the Product Goal with the business strategy (and other teams)?

Product Backlog Management

Product Backlog Ordering

  • Does the Product Owner have the knowledge to be able to order the backlog?
  • On what basis does the Product Owner order the Product Backlog?
  • How often does the order of the Product Backlog change? Why?


  • What does the Product Owner use to store the Product Backlog?
  • Is the Product Backlog visible?
  • Are there any personal tools the Product Owner uses in addition to the visible Product Backlog?

Product Backlog Items

  • Who constructs the Product Backlog Items?
  • How are Product Backlog Items communicated?
  • Check Product Backlog Items against positive and smells
  • Does the Product Owner understand all of the Product Backlog Items?


  • How does the Product Owner use the Product Backlog to forecast releases and deliveries?
  • How does the Product Owner communicate these forecasts?
  • How does the Product Owner handle changes to the forecasts?

Stakeholder Communication

  • Who are the Product Owner’s internal stakeholders?
  • What are the expectations in communication between the Product Owner and his/her/their stakeholders?
  • Does the Product Owner have direct contact with the customers?


  • Is the Product Owner’s decision respected with regards to order of the Product Backlog?
  • Is the Product Owner’s decision respected with regards to the forming of the Product Goal?
  • Is the Product Owner’s decision respected with regards to releasing functionality live?

Relationship with the Developers

  • How available is the Product Owner to the developers?
  • How do the developers and the Product Owner communicate?
  • Is there mutual respect between the respective responsibilities?


  1. Henrik Kniberg’s checklist
  2. The Scrum Guide

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User Stories

Posted in My Scrum Notes, Scrum Roles

First Conversation with the Scrum Team

This interview structure is adapted from the sample questions from The First 90 Days, page 176 (1).


  • Meet with each direct report in turn and ask the following questions  
  • By asking the same questions of everyone you can see where similarities and differences lie, which will help you understand what kind of team player each person is a little more. 
  • Once you have gone through all the data of the interviews, gather the whole team together and discuss what you have found out through the interviews and have an open discussion.


  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our existing use of Scrum and complementary practices?
  • What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing us in the short term? In the medium term?
    • In terms of our Product and providing our customers with value
    • In terms of our Scrum team’s processes and ways of working
  • What resources could we leverage more effectively?
    • In terms of our processes
    • In terms of our tools
    • In terms of individuals in our team
    • In terms of our interactions inside and outside the team
  • How could we improve the way the team works together?
  • If you were in my position, what would your priorities be?

Optional Follow-up Questions


  • How do you think the skills and responsibilities are balanced in the team? 
  • If there is a mistake/ failure within the team, is it openly discussed in team events? What about with external stakeholders?
  • Is there anyone inside the team or externally who has a big influence on the way we work or what/how we develop, and why? 

Land mines 

  • What was the most recent surprises that detonated and put us off track?
    • What is the most common? 
  • What potentially damaging cultural or political missteps must you avoid? 


  • Are there any Scrum or complementary practices that you know about that you think would benefit us as a team?
  • What are the most recent improvements that were made to our practices?
    • Who lead the change?
    • Do you think it was successful/ worthwhile?
    • Was there any opposition to the change?
  • What current parts of our process frustrates you the most?


  1. The First 90 days by Michael D. Watkins

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Posted in My Scrum Notes, Scrum Roles

Considerations for a New Team

Scrum Roles

  • MUST – One Product Owner
  • MUST – One Scrum Master
  • MUST – Developers

Scrum Team Size and Structure

  • MUST – No sub-teams
  • MUST – No hierarchies
  • SUGGESTED – ‘Typically fewer than 10 people’ (3)
  • Are the team members remote or co-located?
  • Are all the team members committed to the team?
  • Are there any unspoken hierarchies, e.g. an assumed leader?


  • MUST – The team has all the skills necessary to create value each Sprint (3)
  • Are the skills siloed into specialisms, or are the team members multi-skilled (or T-shaped)?

Evaluating Group’s Skill Bases (2, page 162)

Four types of knowledge
  • Individual expertise: gained through training, education, and experience
  • Relational knowledge: An understanding of how to work together to integrate individual knowledge to achieve specified goals
  • Embedded knowledge: The core technologies on which your group’s performance depends, such as customer databases or R&D technologies
  • Metaknowledge: The awareness of where to go to get critical information


  • Do they decide what is developed?
  • Do they decide who does the development?
  • Do they decide how to build an increment?
  • What are they responsible for in terms of product development?
  • Are they held accountable for creating an increment?

Team Working Agreements


  • How do they like to communicate day to day?
  • Do they have any information radiators to aid their communication?
  • What are the understood response times for communications internally and externally?

Team Culture

  • Do they socialise away from work?
  • What is the energy of the team?
  • Is there overtime? Is it acceptable/ expected?

Evaluating Individuals (2, page 171)

Consider these six criteria

  • Competence: Does this person have the techincal competence and experience to do the job effectively?
  • Judgment: Does this person exercise good judgment, especially under pressure or when faced with making sacrifices for the greater good?
  • Energy: Does this team member bring the right kind of energy to the job, or is she burned out or disengaged?
  • Focus: Is this person capable of setting priorities and sticking to them, or prone to riding off in all directions?
  • Relationships: Does this individual get along with others on the team and support collective decision making, or is he difficult to work with?
  • Trust: Can you trust this person to keep her word and follow through on commitments?

Team Smells

Problematic behaviour patterns (2, page 120)

Lack of…Symptoms
FocusThe group can’t clearly define its priorities, or has too many.
Resources are spread too thin, leading to frequent crises and firefighting.
People are rewarded for their ability to put out fires, not for devising enduring solutions.
DisciplinePeople exhibit great variation in their levels of performance.
Employees don’t understand the negative consequences of inconsistency.
People make excuses when they fail to make commitments.
InnovationThe group uses internal benchmarks to measure performance.
Improvements in products and processes unfold slowly and incrementally.
Employees are rewarded for maintaining stable performance, not for pushing the envelope.
TeamworkTeam members compete with one another and protect turf rather than work together to achieve collective goals.
People are rewarded for creating fiefdoms.
Sense of urgencyTeams members ignore the needs of external and internal customers.
Complacency reigns, revealed in beliefs such as ‘We’re the best and always have been’ and ‘It doesn’t matter if we respond immediately’


  1. Henrik Kniberg’s checklist
  2. The First 90 days by Michael D. Watkins
  3. The Scrum Guide

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Posted in Scrum Roles

Interviewing a Scrum Master

Good Candidate Credentials

Ability to be Coached (1)

  • If they are coachable it is a yes
  • If they aren’t coachable, give them a book and feedback as to why

Qualifications (1)

  • PSM III is a top qualification and you will go to the top of the list

Interview Tasks

Suggested Tasks (1)

  • Teach me scrum on a whiteboard
    • If they go off topic, then can ask them questions to see if they are coachable
  • Facilitate a daily scrum
    • Preferably use the team that they will be the Scrum Master for
    • Look for if the team focus their attention on the SM, what do they do?
    • Does the SM try and make it a status meeting
  • Facilitate a retro
    • Sending them in cold, with no preparation time
    • If they do ‘What went well, What went bad, What could go better’ – ask him/her to do something else, and if they don’t’ know anything else then co-facilitate with them

Interview Questions

Curiosity (1)

  • Ask them, ‘what are you reading?’
    • SM needs to be curious all the time
    • If their answer is that they don’t read anything, it is a big red flag


  1. Fixing Your Scrum webinar through on 26th March 2020

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Posted in Scrum Roles

Scrum Master

“The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide”(1)


A Scrum Master…

  • helps everyone understand Scrum
  • is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team
  • helps those outside the Scrum Team understand which of their interactions with the Scrum Team are helpful and which aren’t (1)
  • The Scrum Master helps everyone change these interactions to maximise the value created by the Scrum Team (1)

Scrum Master service to the PO

Maximising Value 

  • Supports understanding product planning in an empirical environment (1)
  • Ensures the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value (1)
  • Coaching question:
    • How is the product going? (2)

Product Backlog Management 

  • Finds techniques for effective Product Backlog management (1)
  • Helps the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items (1)

Development Team Interactions

  • Ensures that goals, scope, and product domain are understood by everyone on the Scrum Team as well as possible (1)
  • Coaching Questions (2) 
    • How is the team doing?
    • How each of you is fulfilling your roles?
    • How can you help one another?

Agility and Personal Development

  • Supports understanding and practicing agility (1)
  • Teaching Questions (2)
    • What must you believe about the team and the organisation to be a good PO
    • What parts of the role feel like a stretch for you?
    • What parts of the role do you feel you have mastered?
    • Which parts will you have to make yourself do?
    • What should I, as the coach, watch for to keep these beliefs?

Product Owner Support Exercise (3)

  1. Brainstorm with the Product Owner all the duties that their role should perform (or both Scrum Master and Product Owner if one person is doing both roles)
  2. Talk through them and highlight the ones that they are not able to do because of time-constraint/ training/ empowerment/ conflict of interest between roles/ etc
  3. Present the outcome to the Product Owner’s manager/ ‘trace the money’ if the Product Owner isn’t the decision maker

Scrum Master service to the Devs

  • Coaching in self-organisation and cross-functionality (1)
  • Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress (1)
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed (1)
  • Coaching the Development Team in organisational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood (1)

Scrum Master service to the organisation

  • Leading and coaching the organisation in its Scrum adoption (1)
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organisation (1)
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development (1)
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team (1)
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organisation (1)

Exercise with Management to Discuss Scrum and Create Impediments List (3, page 103)

  1. Make a space in the room and label it ‘Why Scrum?’
  2. Ask each person to write down an answer ‘Why are we adopting Scrum?’
  3. Each person reads out their answer one at a time and places their sticky on the ‘Why Scrum?’ wall
  4. Collate them together around themes (there is likely to be one around delivery/ predictability)
  5. Facilitator picks the one that best relates to delivery
  6. Place this sticky in an area labeled ‘Delivery; and ask ‘Why is delivery hard?’
  7. Take one minute for everyone to make their own list of all the reasons that delivery is hard
  8. Two minutes to compare lists, and amalgamate with a partner
  9. Four minutes for pairs to work with other pairs to compare and amalgamate their lists
  10. Have each group read theirs out and add the stickies to the delivery wall
  11. You have now made a list of impediments (congrats!)


Scrum Master Qualities (4, page 128)

  • Leads by example
    • Scrum values
    • Trust in empiricism
    • Positive mindset
    • Adaptive approach
  • Enables and empowers others
    • Doesn’t solve people’s problems, but makes opportunities transparent
    • Knows he/she doesn’t have the best answers
  • Creates and environment of safety and is comfortable with failure
    • Safety in conflict
    • Trying new things
  • Cares deeply for people and is also willing to challenge when they are capable of more
    • Assumes positive intent and doesn’t judge people
    • Meets people where they are and helps them find their next step
    • Inspires to hold themselves to even higher standards
  • Opertates with integrity and stays calm under pressure
    • His/her leadership provides consistency and stability
  • Shows low tolerance for organisational impediments
    • Willing to challenge and speak the truth
    • Advocate for the team


  1. The Scrum Guide 
  2. Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins
  3. Fixing Your Scrum by Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller
  4. Mastering Professional Scrum by Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl

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Scrum TheoryScrum ValuesDevelopment TeamProduct OwnerDefinition of Done
Posted in Scrum Roles

Product Owner

‘Responsible for maximising the value of the product resulting from work of the Development Team’ (1)

Be one mind with the sponsor (2)

Vision keeper (2)

Product Owner Responsibilities

Maximising Value

  • how this is done may vary widely across organisations, Scrum Teams, and individuals (1)

Managing the Product Backlog

  • expressing Product Backlog items and ensuring the Development Team understands them sufficiently
  • ordering the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions and so it is clear what is to be worked on next
  • transparency of the Product Backlog is ensured and it is visible

Product Owner in the Business

Product Owner is One Person 

  • the Product Owner is one person
  • the Product Owner may represent a committee
  • those wanting to change a Product Backlog item’s priority must address the Product Owner (1)

Stakeholder Mapping (3, page 178)

  1. With the PO (and identified stakeholders) try and think of every person in the organisation who has a vested interest in the outcome.
    • Where is the money coming from?
    • Who’s job is going to change because of this product?
    • Who might interact with a customer differently as a result of what we are building?
    • Who might be angry if they don’t know what is going on with the product?
  2. Put the following categories on the wall and put each stakeholder inside a category
    • Required for the Sprint Review: these people must inspect and provide feedback on the product increment to enable the Scrum Team to make informed decisions
    • Keep informed of progress: they don’t need to inspect every increment but need to know what progress has been made
    • Monitor: should receive updates periodically (check with them how often they would like these)

Product Owner’s Decisions

Overview (1)

  • the entire organisation must respect the Product Owner’s decisions
  • the content and ordering of the Product Backlog makes the decisions visible to all
  • no one can force the Development Team to work from a different set of requirements

Decentralise Economic Control (4)

  • Have a rule where anyone can spend up to £300 for example to increase target by 1%
  • Boeing example of this on page 42 (up to $300 to save 1lb of weight)

Product Owner Not Empowered Exercise (3)

  1. Create 4 quadrants on a board (Stakeholder, Customer, Development Team, Management)
  2. For each quadrant write the interactions the Product Owner is having now with each group on a sticky and put it in the quadrant
  3. For each quadrant write the interactions the Product Owner is not having with each group on a different coloured sticky and put it in the quadrant
  4. Discuss and work towards removing the stickies (which are impediments) from step #3

Helping the decision maker to understand the number of decisions (6) 

  • Look at the decisions that they have to make for the team but that they can’t make
  • Maybe book a meeting with the person/ people that have to make those decisions every day to get their input into the decisions
  • By the fourth day the person will probably be wanting to change as it is a large overhead
  • Then it makes it easier to have the conversation that the PO should take all decisions that have an impact of less than £10,000, for example


Product Owner Behaviours


  • Committed
  • Responsible (outcome)
  • Authorised (to make decisions)
  • Collaborative
  • Knowledgable (about the business)

Essential Product Owner Characteristics (5, page 179)

  1. PO needs to be knowledgeable about the domain (both Scrum and product domain) 
  2. PO must be empowered to make decisions
  3. PO has to be available to the team
  4. PO needs to be accountable for value

Product Owner’s Relationship with the Development Team

Tips from Lyssa Adkins (2)

  • No micromanaging
  • Hold the team to account
  • Show genuine disappointment
  • Be present


  1. The Scrum Guide
  2. Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins
  3. Fixing Your Scrum by Ryan Ripley and Todd Miller
  4. The Principles of Product Development Flow by Donald G. Reinertsen
  5. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
  6. Fixing Your Scrum webinar through on 26th March 2020

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Scrum TheoryScrum ValuesDevelopment TeamScrum MasterDefinition of Done
Posted in Scrum Roles

Development Team

“The Development Team consists of professionals who do the work of delivering a potentially releasable Increment of “Done” product at the end of each Sprint.” (1)


No one tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments (1)

Self-organising (3, page 56)

Self-organisation enables:

  • creativity
  • accountability within the Team
  • commitment within the Team to the Sprint Goal

Factors that promote self-organisation

  • Trust
  • Time-boxing to help focus and manage risks
  • Fixed Sprint Length – consistent delivery of value
  • Team size – too large increases complexity and overhead for communication
  • Definition of ‘Done’ – common understanding within the development team
  • Scrum Values

Self Organising Stool (4, page 32)

Self Organisation Stool

Cross functional

  • Development Teams are cross-functional, with all the skills as a team necessary to create a product Increment (1)
  • Cross-functional teams are made up of the various disciplines involved in creating your product (5, page 11)

Benefits (5, page 11)

  • Diverse teams create better solutions, because each problem is seen from many different points of view
  • Diverse teams limits the need for gated, hand-offed based processes
  • Teams can share information informally, which creates collaboration earlier in the process and drives greater team efficiency 


  • Scrum recognises no titles for Development Team members, regardless of the work being performed by the person (1)

No Sub-domains

  • Scrum recognises no sub-teams in the Development Team, regardless of domains that need to be addressed like testing, architecture, operations, or business analysis (1)


  • Individual Development Team members may have specialised skills and areas of focus, but accountability belongs to the Development Team as a whole (1)
  • Defining the Definition of Done (2)

Team Size

Too Small (1)

  • can’t complete a significant work within a Sprint
  • skill constraints during the Sprint, causing the Development Team to be unable to deliver a potentially releasable Increment
  • fewer than three Development Team members decrease interaction and results in smaller productivity gains

Too Big (1)

  • can’t be nimble
  • more than nine members requires too much coordination
  • generates too much complexity for an empirical process to be useful


  1. The Scrum Guide
  2. Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen
  3. Scrum Insights for Practitioners by Hiren Doshi
  4. Mastering Professional Scrum by Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl
  5. Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf

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Scrum TheoryScrum ValuesProduct OwnerDevelopment TeamDefinition of Done