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How does a product owner integrate into a Scrum Team?

A scrum team consists of a Scrum Master, a Product Owner, and a team of developers. Outside of software environments, developers are the people who do the work. From content creators to writers throug…

Do you need project management experience to be a product owner?

No, you do not need project management experience to become a product owner. A product owner is like the CEO of the product. They work with elements such as product scope, cost management, risk manage…

Is a product owner a member of the development team?

They can be. In start-up environments, they often are. The CEO or founder has an idea and then sets about creating the product or service in alignment with their vision and mission for the product. In…

How is a product owner different from a project manager?

They are vastly different roles. A project manager is primarily concerned with the delivery of products within a predetermined time frame. A product owner is primarily concerned that the right product…

How is a product owner different to a product manager?

Often, a product owner is a product manager. It is the role that differs rather than the title. A common misconception is that a Product Manager is outward looking whilst a product owner is internal. …

What are SEUs?

SEUs are Scrum Education Units. They were created by the Scrum Alliance to foster continuous learning and reward Scrum Alliance members with benefits for investing in their self-development and profes…

Should I do the CSM or the CSPO course?

Ideally, you would do both. To summarise, if you have anything to do with product development or product management, then the Certified Scrum Product Owner course would be a great fit for you. If you …

Is there a recommended reading list for Scrum Masters?

There isn’t an official reading list from the Scrum Alliance or Scrum organisation, but I have created a recommended reading list for Scrum Masters at each stage of their career development. Scrum was…

I’m a project manager, is the CSM a good fit for me?

Yes, it is. It can be challenging for project managers though. Why? Because a project manager traditionally thrives within structured and ordered environments. Their training and experience are built …

How do I progress as a Scrum Master?

In the role of a developer, you would progress from a junior developer to a senior developer, and from there onto a role in management. In traditional project management, it is much the same. You woul…

I have experience as a Scrum Master. Do I need to do the CSM before doing the ACSM course?

If certification is important to you, then yes, you will need to do the CSM course before doing the ACSM course. There is nothing preventing you from joining the ACSM course, however, we simply cannot…

Can a Scrum Master also be a line manager?

The answer is yes, they can. There is nothing in Scrum that speaks to line management but there is no reason why a Scrum Master could not also be a line manager. I would, however, recommend that the S…

What is my earning potential as a Scrum Master?

It depends on your level of experience and the application, for example, whether you are a contracted Scrum Master on a daily rate or an employed Scrum Master on a full-time rate. According to Glass D…

What can I do with a CSM credential?

The Certified Scrum Master (CSM) credential is an internationally recognised and respected certification awarded by the Scrum Alliance. It is a valued credential for entry-level Scrum Masters who are …

Is there an exam I need to pass to become a CSM?

Yes, there is. The Scrum Alliance have created an online international examination that consists of 50 questions. To pass the examination, you require a minimum of 74%, which translates into getting 3…

Is there an alumni group for CSMs?

Officially, the Scrum Alliance acts as both the certification body and the active community of Certified Scrum Masters around the world. There are currently a little over 1 million Certified Scrum Mas…

Is the CSM course theoretical or practical?

I can only speak to my own course, and that is a combination of both theoretical as well as practical. As the Scrum Guide says, Scrum is relatively easy to learn but incredibly difficult to master. Th…

How long is the CSM course and how is it configured?

Traditionally, the Certified Scrum Master course is 2 full days. From 9:30am to 5:30am. Our online delivery has also experimented with 4 half days to accommodate people who are not able to take 2 full…

Do companies invest in the CSM course?

We do have companies who approach us to provide a private Certified Scrum Master course for anywhere between 12 and 24 people within the company. In these circumstances, we tailor the course to their …

Are there different Scrum Master certifications and how do they differ?

Yes, there are. There are several Scrum Master courses available on the market, certified and uncertified, with varying degrees of credibility. Scrum Certification In my opinion, there are only 2 cred…

Will I be able to lead a Scrum Team after doing a CSM course?

Yes. A Certified Scrum Master course gives you the confidence to set up good scrum within a small Scrum team environment and gives you a solid foundation from which to build. The CSM course does not f…

What will you learn on a CSM course?

You are going to learn Scrum. The Certified Scrum Master course introduces you to the scrum environment. You will learn about the different roles within the scrum team, and you will learn about the sc…

What is a good certification path for a Scrum Master?

A natural progression from a Scrum Master role is to evolve into Agile coaching. There are, however, also many people who love being a Scrum Master and push to become the most influential, knowledgeab…

What is a Certified Scrum Master?

A Certified Scrum Master is a person who has completed the 2-day Certified Scrum Master course and successfully passed the international CSM examination. The CSM credential is awarded by the Scrum All…

What do I need to know before signing up for a CSM course?

A lot of people think that they need to have technical expertise or previous experience with Scrum to sign up for the Certified Scrum Master course but that isn’t the case. The Certified Scrum Master …

How well recognised and respected is the CSM course?

There are about 1 million Certified Scrum Masters in the world today. It is by far the biggest, most widely recognized Scrum Master credential in the world today. The credential is awarded by the Scru…

How well does a CSM course prepare you to be a Scrum Master?

It prepares you very well. Doing a Certified Scrum Master course is like doing your driving license for a car. When you first learn to drive, you are learning how the car operates as well as the rules…

Do you get course materials and textbooks on the CSM Course?

Yes, you do get course materials. At the end of the course, I will share the course presentation PDF with you and if you are at an in-person Certified Scrum Master course, you will receive a print ver…

What is a daily scrum and do Scrum Masters lead them?

A daily scrum is a short, sharp meeting that includes members of the Scrum Team. Ideally, they are stand up meetings to ensure that they do not exceed 15 minutes and that each member of the team is fo…

What do Scrum Masters do?

When I was training to become a coach, my coach at the time, Jen Corburn, said something that answers this question beautifully. She said, “Coaches don’t do things. Coaches help other people to do thi…

What are career opportunities for a Scrum Master?

In the spheres of project management, a project manager would move from practitioner to manager and from manager to director level over the course of a career. In scrum, it works a little differently.…

Must you be an expert in Scrum to become a Scrum Master?

It depends on how you define ‘expert’. There are different stages of career development and deep, expert level knowledge of Scrum comes only with time and experience. You cannot build mastery in a 2-d…

How will I know if the Scrum Master role is a good fit for me?

One of the hardest parts for Project Managers who transition into a Scrum Master role is the lack of recognition for a job well done. The second hardest part is the lack of authority they command in c…

Do I need to be a developer to be a Scrum Master for a Software Development team?

The answer is no. You don’t need to be a software developer to be a great Scrum Master for a software engineering team. There are upsides to being a developer. If you are or were a software developer,…

Can you create a Scrum environment in a company that isn’t Agile?

Yes, you can. In fact, if it were not for people who did create Scrum pilot projects within companies that do not embrace Business Agility, the Scrum framework would never have grown as advanced and p…

Are there different levels of seniority amongst scrum masters
Are there different levels of seniority amongst Scrum Masters?

This is a bit of a loaded question because of the tension between the Scrum Guide’s definition of a Scrum Master and the tendency for organisations to give titles of seniority to people who have excel…

What are 3 traits of a Good Scrum Master

A good Scrum Master is a servant leader of the Scrum team and works collaboratively with others to create an environment where others can excel. It is an extremely rewarding role, but it does require …

What is a Scrum Team?

A Scrum Team is a complex problem-solving unit comprised of three roles. Scrum Master Product Owner Development Team A few people. Ideally 5 to 7 people but it can be as high as 10 people on the upper…

What is the Agile Manifesto?

In February 2001, seventeen (17) individuals – considered to be some of the brightest minds in software engineering and product development – met at a ski resort known as Snowbird in Utah,…

What is the difference between a Scrum Master and a Product Owner?

The difference between a Scrum Master and a Product Owner really boils down to their focus. A product owner thinks about the customer, represents the customer, and makes sure that the customer’s probl…

Is a Scrum Master a member of the development team?

They can be. There is nothing in the Scrum guide or framework that prevents a software developer from being a Scrum Master and a member of the development team, but it can be exceedingly difficult for…

How does a Scrum Master differ from a Project Manager?

A Scrum Master differs from a Project Manager in so many ways. Project Managers are traditionally interested in delivery. They build plans. They assign work. They ensure that work is done, tracked and…

Do you need project management experience to become a Scrum Master?

In short, no, you don’t need project management experience to become a Scrum Master. Project Managers have great skill sets and work well in environments where the vast majority of variables are known…

Do Scrum Masters work outside of Software Engineering Environments?

Yes, they do. Whilst Scrum and the Agile Manifesto were initially created by software engineers to help their teams build and deliver better quality software within shorter time frames, the frameworks…

What is Scrum
What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile framework co-created by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber after years of working with teams in software engineering environments. From 1993 to 1995, they co-developed the Scrum framew…

Do Senior Users Make Good Product Owners?

Few people would disagree that the Product Owner is a critical role in agile teams. That means that organisations often want to ensure that the product owner is as effective as possible – and th…

Why Coaching is the Number One Skill for Leaders in in an Uncertain World

It is often said that everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change themselves. There are few groups for which this is more apt than senior leaders. It was once thought that leaders n…

5 Levers for Changing Organisational Culture

Organisational culture is one of the most powerful, and misunderstood, concepts around. Leaders and coaches alike understand the power of culture to make—or, more likely, break—an agile transformation…

Is your Agile getting stale? Take the Mani-fresh-to Challenge today!

TLDR; Everything changed in 2020, even the Scrum Guide got an update, but the Agile Manifesto didn’t. With my good friend Chris, we came up with an idea to re-develop it and in the process, really pic…

On Agile & Mastery

I’m lucky enough to find my job professionally satisfying. That’s because I think that the line of work I’m in actually matters—not just to me, but to anyone who works in teams or with processes that …

Introduction to SAFe

SAFe® is an acronym for Scaled Agile Framework® and was introduced in 2011 by co-creators Dean Leffingwell and Drew Jemilo as an actionable framework for Business Agility, inspired by the Agile Manife…

Leading SAFe with Jon Spruce

SAFe® (Scaled Agile Frameworks for enterprise) is one of the most popular frameworks for large organisations seeking to achieve business agility. A great analogy from a friend of Jon’s was that when l…

Why OKRs aren’t enough on their own: Goals and Standards

Objectives and Key Results – OKRs – are a well known goal-setting technique; there’s a wealth of great content that explains what they are. This post is about OKRs as part of the ble…

Essential Skills – Critical Analysis

In a recent conversation with Tyrrell Basson from Manchester University, we explored the topic of ‘essential skills’ for the future. What skills would be necessary for an organisation to succeed 12 mo…

Creating Alignment and Autonomy

We know from Dan Pink’s work that high levels of autonomy are a powerful contributor to motivation. For start-ups and small, independent teams this can be straightforward to create. But it presents a …

There Are Sabre-Toothed Tigers in Your Office

An ancient part of our brains that existed to keep us alive in a world of danger has evolved. But rather than evolving by toning down its power to cope with the much safer world of today, it has found…

The SCARF Model – How it affects agile teams

In the post ‘There Are Sabre-Toothed Tigers In Your Office‘, we discussed how our brains have evolved, and that the primal response that helped protect us from sabre-toothed tigers had cha…

Agile Coaching Capability

I’m a bit of a rugby fan and often find myself wanting to run out with the lads, moving through the field like a wrecking ball and scoring the winning try as the opposition lies in my wake, sobbing wi…

Innovation versus Protectionism

The last time we suffered a global pandemic that brought the world to its knees was in 1918. A little over a century ago. The Spanish Flu collided with a transitional world that had just been through …

I’m in a Theory X Team, Get Me Out Of Here!

For 20 years, ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” has been a staple of the UK pre-Christmas entertainment schedules. A group of celebrities are isolated from society, originally in the Austral…

ORCA – A powerful feedback model

Ken Blanchard described it as “the breakfast of champions”; Bill Gates said “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve”; and Jim Yong Kim said that “the most fundamental thin…

Where did you get that hat?

In my previous blog post “Where are all the managers in Agile?”, I discussed why agile doesn’t need the kinds of management that is often present in organisations and suggested some alternatives that …

Where are all the managers in Agile?

The heart of agile is described in the few words of the Agile Manifesto and its accompanying principles; the dominant agile framework is Scrum and its derivatives. Yet, amongst those core references, …

Bring rigour to your thinking

“Belief is so often the death of reason” – Lord Varys, Master of Whisperers – Game of Thrones The Agile Manifesto, created in Snowbird Utah (2001), is a work of Genius inspired by a team of bril…

Genesis: Levels of Agile Capability and Competence

Once upon a time, circa May 2016, the world was a comparatively predictable place. For the most part, square pegs fit into square holes, and we moved from point A to point D in a seemingly logical, se…

Covid Hack – Intention Versus Strategy

Small, cross-functional teams working closely together to frequently and consistently deliver features that delight customers are a cornerstone foundation of Agile. For some, a question arises as to h…

The History of Hierarchies

For 95 percent of the 200,000 years modern humans have walked the earth, there was no such thing as hierarchy. We lived in small bands of hunter-gatherers consisting of a few dozen people at most, The…

Covid Hack – Resilient versus Robust

Many of the corporations we work with are inherently designed to be robust. A concept that permeates every element of that business, from the processes that dictate workflow in each department through…

Covid Hack – Technical Debt

We’ve all experienced massive disruption, complexity and ambiguity in the face of Covid-19 hitting the fan. It’s caused mayhem in many companies, and as people adapt to the new and foreseeable normal,…

Facilitate rapid and effective decision-making

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a collaborative, coaching-style workshop that brings together the teams who do the work and the leadership teams that support and facilitate the work. Making the value st…

Covid Hacks – Hiring

In a recent Zoom session with Laura Howie, CEO of Reel Media Africa, we chatted about the importance of having the right skills, the right mindset, and a culture that embraces excellence. Sometimes yo…

Management versus Leadership

5 Weeks ago, our revenue streams dried up, literally overnight. The Covid-19 fairy waltzed in the front door, waved her magic wand, and *poof* our lives were irrevocably changed in a matter of hours. …

The Coaching Imposter #2

When I last posted something, before life changed significantly for all of us, I was coming to terms with the so-called Imposter Syndrome, but 5 months on from the inception of my Agile Coaching role,…

Customers and Developers in the same room. WTF?

At the turn of the 20th Century, the father of modern Business Management – Frederick Winslow Taylor – discovered that he could significantly increase production output and decrease labour…

First they ignore you

‘How do I get the senior leadership team to buy into Agile?’ is a question I’m often asked. It’s a great question if the leadership team value the principles and values upon which Agile is built. It’s…

Stealth Agile

I recently connected with Tyrrell Basson from the University of Manchester in one of my ‘Ask me Anything’ one-to-one video conversations. Like most organisations, they are dealing with disruption on a…

We didn’t do anything wrong

‘We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.’ – CEO of Nokia There’s a moment where the CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, ends a press conference in tears. He’s gutted. ‘We didn’t do anything wrong’ …

We didn’t have time for Governance!

Many Agile coaches and trainers often speak about the unicorns of Agile. Spotify. Netflix. Amazon. Agility is spoken of in the past tense. The idea that this happened a while ago, and we need to look …

Building bridges amidst disruption

The Case for Business Agility As an Agile coach, consultant and trainer, I pretty much live in a world of disruption, uncertainty and volatility. It’s par for the course. That said. If you’d asked me …

Coronavirus and The Corner Shop – A Portrait of Agility?

If ever one wanted the ultimate portrait of a VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous – the current crazy time through which we are living is it. The novel coronavirus, kn…

The Coaching Imposter

Agile Coaching? Hmm, yes I know what you’re thinking, “what does that mean and how is that an actual job?” Well, I’ve had a very broad variety of comments (my wife included) ranging from ‘I literally …

Exploring & Exploiting: Striking the Right Balance

In 1913, Henry Ford implemented one of the greatest innovations ever seen in manufacturing: the moving production line. Before this change, workers would move from car to car within Ford’s factory, pe…

Agile Bootcamp #4 – Using Story Mapping to Teach Agile

User Story Mapping is a great technique to help teams explore their product scope and plan how they can deliver value to their customers as quickly as possible. Even for large and complex problems, te…

Agile Bootcamp #3 – Scrum Simulation with the Inception Deck

There are lots of ways to help introduce the concepts of Scrum to teams and to give them a chance to put their new knowledge into practice. I wanted to try something a little different. I wanted it to…

Agile Bootcamp #2 – Behind The Scenes at an Agile Bootcamp

The bootcamp is planned, the travel arrangements made and suitcases packed. Now, the hard work starts! After a long day travelling and a chunky time-shift, we arrived at our accommodation well into th…

Agile Bootcamp #1 – To Fail To Plan is to Plan To Fail

When we were asked if we could help another organisation start on their journey to agile, I was keen to get involved. Partly because I thought it would be interesting to get to know a new organisation…

The opportunity of IR35 for organisations and start-ups

The recent announcement from HMRC that IR35 and Off-Payroll Tax would come into effect on the 6th of April 2020 as a means to combat ‘disguised employment’ presents a significant threat to companies a…

Meteors, VUCA, and Business Agility

Once upon a time, two-ton wombats lumbered across the Australian Outback. Around the same time, sabre-toothed cats and woolly mammoths roamed freely across Europe and North America. Millions of years …

Predict Success by Finding Problems

Agile was supposed to make things easier. It was supposed to fix the problems of large projects with big, up-front planning ending up delivering solutions that didn’t meet the customer need. Its focus…

Scrum Beyond Scrum

On my professionalisation journey to Scrum Alliance Certified Team Coach, I am collecting badges and certifications like a cub scout at a swimming gala. I am also going to conference presentations, re…

The 6 Enablers of Business Agility

  When I first started my journey as a Scrum Master, I devoured books on how Scrum worked. I learnt all about Scrum and its commonly applied processes and practices. I thought I had it nailed. Th…

Agile Project Management

To say the words ‘Agile Project Management’ in front of Agile purists falls somewhere in the spectrum between ‘not cricket’ and ‘blasphemy’. Why? Because Agile doesn’t in any way focus on Project Mana…

The Scrum Framework

The Scrum Framework is an Agile framework within which various Agile methodologies can be both employed and deployed. Co-created by Dr. Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, Scrum serves as a framework fo…

What is Project Management?

Project Management, as both a profession and specialised discipline, is relatively young. From the dawn of time, humans have been pretty good at setting objectives and organising people, skills, tools…

Don’t look back in anger

Continuous improvement is a core agile principle. The retrospective is an important event in all agile methods and an ideal time for teams to identify improvements. Yet too often, retrospectives are i…

The Peak of Mount Stupid

This is a blog about coaching; specifically, lean and agile coaching, though it applies to leadership or enterprise coaching just as much. I am part of a new coaching service aimed at increasing the m…

Ways for a group to reach a decision

There are always moments in a project when decisions must be made. How those decisions are reached will vary according to circumstance. What is ultimately important, however, is to have the support of…

Personality traits of an excellent Scrum Master

“Bring it to the team” should be the daily motto of an excellent Scrum Master. Nobody can truly fulfil this role without being fully committed to the team. This means that Scrum Masters must be humble…

How Agile benefits Kanban and XP Development Frameworks

Above all, Agile is about focusing on the customer in the most streamlined way possible. Fundamental goals are established at the outset of a project but can be adjusted incrementally as problems or c…

The Origins of Scrum and Agile

As leadership guru Steve Denning has written, Agile is “not about doing more work in less time: it’s about generating more value with less work.” At base, both Agile and Scrum emerged from an imp…