Super-Hard ScrumMaster Quiz – Test Yourself!

For a little while last year I was using a quiz in my Certified ScrumMaster courses that was deliberately designed to be super hard.  Why?  Because if anyone could answer it correctly before the end of the class, I would give them their certification early and allow them to leave.  Not a single person out of several hundred was able to do it.

So… want to give it a try?  I’ve got two files here.  One is the quiz without answers.  The other is the answer key.  Let me know if you have any questions!!!

CSM Class Test – Super Hard! (PDF, 1 page)

(Please, give it a try before you even download this next piece!!!)

CSM Class Test – Answer Key (PDF, 1 page)

This test was first created by me and one of my close colleagues, Julien Mazloum from Outsofting.  We were trying to make the CSM class something that the Chinese audience would really appreciate culturally.  It worked well, up to a point.  The main problem was that some of the questions were too subtle for people for whom English was their second language.  That said, when I used it in my North American courses, still no one passed it!  In fact, the best score I ever saw was 25 correct out of 30.

Have fun!

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Announcing Summer of Scrum Toronto 2014 Pre-Registration

One of our big plans this summer is to have a selection of advanced Scrum and Agile – related training courses.  We are delivering some of them ourselves, but we are also bring in outside experts for others.

Here is the course list at a high level:

- a 1-day “Advanced ScrumMaster” course
- a 1-day “Advanced Product Owner” course
- a 1-day “Managing for Success” course
- a 1-day “Enterprise Agile” course
- a 2-day “Agile Engineering Practices” course
- a 2-day “Agile Coach Training” course

Our schedule for these events will be finalized in the next few weeks.  If you are interested in any of these courses, please pre-register here.  Pre-registration will give you a guaranteed spot and a discount of 10% above and beyond the early-bird registration price.

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“Meet: Scrum”, the Diagram

Recently, in my work helping teams to learn and implement Scrum, I have deliberately not been using diagrams.  Having participants create their own ways of describing Scrum based on their own understanding is often a much more powerful approach to learning than showing them a diagram.  If you give someone a map, they tend to assume that all of the exploring has already been done.  If you give them a space to explore, they tend to create their own maps and provide new knowledge about the space being explored.  Maps and diagrams do serve a purpose.  They are useful.  What’s important to always keep in mind is that they should not be regarded as definitive but rather as one  contribution to a body of knowledge that can and should grow.

Anyhow, this isn’t intended to be a blog post about diagrams but rather as a post sharing a diagram that I have created.  One of the participants of a Scrum training that I recently facilitated asked me for a diagram and I said I would find one for him.  All of the other diagrams out there that I could find didn’t exactly convey my own understanding of Scrum.  So, I decided to create my own.

This is the first increment.  I am open to feedback and I look forward to finding out how this interacts with others’ understanding of Scrum.

ScrumDiagramTravisBirch

You can download it at this link: Meet: Scrum.

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Great little presentation on Retrospectives… and a bonus download!

If you are a ScrumMaster or Coach or Project Manager or Process Facilitator of any kind, I encourage you to become a master of Retrospectives.  I just happened upon this great little set of slides and presentation notes about Retrospectives by a couple of people, Sean Yo and Matthew Campbell, done a couple months ago.  Very helpful with some practical information, some great links… I strongly recommend checking it out.  My only concern is that they limit the scope of retrospectives too much.  I have a list of topics that I think can and should be considered in a retrospective:

  • Technology / tools
  • Work space / physical environment
  • Corporate culture
  • Corporate standards and policies
  • Teamwork
  • Work planning and execution
  • Skill sets
  • Interpersonal dynamics
  • External groups
  • Personal circumstances and needs
  • The process you are using

 

This list comes from a presentation I used to include as part of my Certified ScrumMaster course.  (Now, in my course I teach three specific methods of doing retrospectives as part of an in-depth simulation exercise.)  Here is a PDF version of the Retrospectives Module.

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Updated: Agile Estimation with the Bucket System

I have added a pdf download of this article about Agile Estimation with the Bucket System.  It’s just a handy, nicely-formatted document that can be used for quick reference.  It is now part of the materials I give out for my Certified ScrumMaster training classes.

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Certified ScrumMaster one of the top paying certifications of 2014

Interesting list here on Global Knowledge (a certification and training vendor (just like Berteig Consulting :-) ) ).  CSM is #6 in pay at $107,396 (is it really 6 significant figures of accuracy?  Wow!).  Anyway, it is cool to see the CSM cert on such a list since I’m one of a small number of Certified Scrum Trainers.  If you’re interested in coming to one of my classes and getting this certification for yourself, please check out my course listings in the sidebar on the right here on Agile Advice.  There’s many in Canada, there’s some in the US and there’s some in China.  Hopefully see you at one of them sometime soon!

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The Rules of Scrum: Your ScrumMaster creates and maintains the team’s Sprint burndown chart

The Sprint burndown chart tracks the amount of work remaining in the Sprint day-by-day. The burndown chart is updated daily and is visible to the team and stakeholders. This activity is part of the ScrumMaster’s duty to facilitate the Scrum Process. This activity is part of the ScrumMaster’s job to satisfy stakeholders as the chart allows the team to easily see how it is trending on committed deliverables. This information allows the team and the Product Owner to discuss any necessary adjustments to the team’s commitments for the current Sprint in a timely fashion. What happens if the ScrumMaster fails to create and/or maintain the team’s Sprint burndown chart? Most likely we will be unable to see if the team is on track, late or early in its current Sprint. To find out this information we would have to wait until the Sprint is done which is much too late. Also, without daily updates on the trend of the team it is more likely that Scrum Team Members may slip back into an individualistic approach to work instead a team based approach.

For more information about the turndown chart, visit the Scrum Team Assessment.

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The Rules of Scrum: Your ScrumMaster helps the team expand the definition of “done”

Delivery each Sprint of potentially “shippable” is at the heart of a true Scrum implementation. In order to help the team properly implement Scrum and derive the intended benefits of empirical process control and collaboration with stakeholders, the ScrumMaster needs to help the team expand its definition of done at least until it is able to deliver a potentially complete “shippable” increment of product every Sprint. The ScrumMaster should help the team to revise its definition of “done” every Sprint with the necessary adjustments being made as the result of the Sprint Retrospective. As Scrum teams mature, it is expected that their definitions of “done” will expand to include more stringent criteria for higher quality. The ScrumMaster should always be looking ahead to new ways that the team can expand its definition of “done” in order to deliver higher quality product to the stakeholders and exceed their expectations.

For more information on the definition of done, visit the Scrum Team Assessment.

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The Rules of Scrum: Your ScrumMaster never tells the team how to solve a technical problem

Solving technical problems is the job of the product developers on the Scrum Team, not the ScrumMaster. The ScrumMaster is responsible for the Scrum process and has authority over the team only in this limited realm. By overstepping the bounds of authority in this way, the ScrumMaster becomes an obstacle for the team by reducing its ability to self-organize. A ScrumMaster who is part of a team that has reached a high-performance state may be able to safely make technical suggestions, but should always be careful not to push the team to accept those suggestions.

To learn more about solving technical problems, visit the Scrum Team Assessment.

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The Rules of Scrum: Your ScrumMaster consistently avoids doing hands-on technical work with the team

The ScrumMaster is focused on two main goals: to remove obstacles of all sizes and to help the team become better at using Scrum. Both of these jobs require much work and plenty of skill. To do this well the ScrumMaster will need to refrain from doing hands-on technical work. If the ScrumMaster does this then the team will be protected from interruptions, move faster, and feel supported. If the ScrumMaster doesn’t do this then the team will be interrupted often, become slow, and feel unsafe and in harms way. A ScrumMaster doing hands-on technical is wasteful and distracting.

To learn more about ScrumMasters, visit the Scrum Team Assessment.

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The Rules of Scrum: Your ScrumMaster has the bandwidth and capacity to respond within minutes to the team’s questions

The ScrumMaster is a full Team Member of the Scrum Team and is required to be focused on helping the team achieve its goals. However, he does not do the work of the Sprint Backlog. Instead he focuses his energies on removing obstacles and helping use Scrum as best as possible. One way to achieve these goals is to be able to respond to questions by the team within minutes. If the ScrumMaster is able to do, the team will move faster, solve problems easier, and cut through obstacles much sooner. If the ScrumMaster is not able to do this, the team will become stalled, frustrated and likely lose trust in the ScrumMaster and the Scrum process.

To learn more about your ScrumMaster, visit the Scrum Team Assessment.

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The Rules of Scrum: Your ScrumMaster is expected to work diligently to remove organizational obstacles

One of the valuable and important responsibilities of the ScrumMaster is to remove obstacles that impede the team’s work. This is necessary so that the team can become more and more productive in their work which gives greater value to the company. If the ScrumMaster does not work diligently on removing these organizations obstacles, the team will get bogged down by challenges and become demotivated to progress, and their morale will drop and become apathetic to the work and to Scrum. The benefit of removing these large obstacles is that it speeds up the cycle time of the work by the team. This is essential so the Team Members can focus their energies on delivering working software.

To learn more about organizational obstacles, visit the Scrum Team Assessment.

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The Rules of Scrum: Your ScrumMaster is empowered to immediately remove in-team obstacles

One of the primary ways that the ScrumMaster serves the team is by removing impediments to the progress of the team. If the team does not have what it needs to progress in its work, whether it be technology, tools, the right space, etc., the ScrumMaster must have the authority to immediately fill those gaps for the team. The ScrumMaster should not need permission from management in order to get the team what it needs. There should be request procedure that the ScrumMaster needs to go through in order to get sign-off from acquisition departments and what not. At the same time, if there are interpersonal issues between team members, the ScrumMaster must be empowered to intervene and help individuals overcome their differences without the involvement or permission from their direct line managers. Any process or procedure that the ScrumMaster is forced to follow prolongs the impediment for the team as well as the consequential waste and unrealized delivery of value.

To learn more about in-team obstacles, visit the Scrum Team Assessment.

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The Rules of Scrum: All people outside the team know that it is the ScrumMaster’s job to shield the team from interruptions

A ScrumMaster is an individual who both guides and protects the Scrum Team. One of the ways that the ScrumMaster protects the Scrum Team is by shielding it from interruptions. The interruptions that the ScrumMaster cares about stopping are those that are from outside the team when they are in a Sprint. Most interruptions are not related to the team’s current work and need to be blocked by the ScrumMaster so that the team will be able to focus on its current goal: the Sprint and its Product Backlog Items. All of the stakeholders of the team need to be aware that the ScrumMaster is responsible for blocking these interruptions. This awareness creates a freedom for the ScrumMaster to do this very difficult part of the job in a way that is transparent and effective. If the stakeholders are not aware of this part of the job, then they may become upset when interruptions are blocked or find ways around the ScrumMaster to get interruptions to specific team members. If the team is not aware that this is the ScrumMaster’s job, they may feel trapped, may lose hope in the Scrum process, may take on the work themselves (which will be too much for them since they are responsible for the execution of the Sprint goal), feel unsafe which could lead to hiding obstacles (which causes waste and delays), and it may even cause Team Members to accept interruptions as normal which will create an environment where interruptions and unrelated requests become widespread. All of these negatives effects and many more can be solved by the organization knowing that the ScrumMaster’s job is to shield the team from interruptions.

To learn more about a ScrumMasters duties, visit the Scrum team Assessment.

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The Rules of Scrum: Your ScrumMaster is allowed to communicate directly with any stakeholder of the team

It is the ScrumMaster’s job to remove the Scrum Team’s obstacles that occur through all levels of the organization. To do this properly the ScrumMaster must be able to connect directly with all stakeholders of the team including those outside the organization. This direct communication aids in addressing identified obstacles with the appropriate individual or group. Without the ScrumMaster being allowed this direct communication, he will have to deal with a third party which may distort the information and/or be unable to convey the importance of removing an obstacle or addressing a need. The ScrumMaster is like a catalyst that should be able to set ablaze those individuals that are interacting or connecting with the team either directly or indirectly.

To learn more about ScrumMasters, visit the Scrum Team Assessment.

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