Learning from my PSM III exam feedback

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Earlier this year, I did my first attempt at the PSM III exam. Sadly, I did not make it, but luckily, I now know what to expect. This is empiricism manifest, and this gives me way more confidence for my next attempt. I will not address questions and answers (as these are not known anymore to me, and I am prohibited to share questions), but I received really great feedback that I am free to address.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

“In a situation when working with multiple Scrum Teams, consider who is responsible in Scrum for distributing the Product Backlog items amongst the Scrum Teams. What are the responsibilities in this case of the other Scrum Team members?”

In Scrum, when multiple teams are involved, the Product Owner is responsible for managing the Product Backlog. They ensure that the Product Backlog items are transparent, clear, and ordered. All Scrum Teams have access to the Product Backlog. However, they don’t distribute items among themselves; the Product Owner decides which team tackles which items.

Still, collaboration is key. Scrum Teams often discuss the items to understand the work and offer insights. The Developers within each Scrum Team then plans the work for their Sprint Backlog. This way, there’s shared understanding and alignment across all teams.

Scrum emphasizes a shared commitment. All team members, including Scrum Masters and Developers, play their part in achieving the Sprint Goal. Effective communication and cooperation make this a reality. Transitioning from one task to another, the team ensures that the product goal is in focus. And, by adhering to the Scrum Guide, teams maintain consistency in their approach.

“A Scrum Team is self-managing. However, the Scrum Master is accountable for how well those teams are using the framework. A Scrum Master is not always just a passive observer, and there may be cases where the team needs more active intervention.”

A Scrum Team operates with self-management. Yet, the Scrum Master ensures they adhere to the Scrum framework. They’re not merely onlookers; they actively guide and support. If a team thinks of skipping the Daily Scrum, the Scrum Master should intervene. They’d start by reminding everyone of the event’s purpose. It’s essential for inspecting progress and adapting plans daily. Thus, the Daily Scrum is a core practice. The Scrum Master can also solicit feedback. They’d ask the team why they feel the need to skip. Open dialogue can reveal underlying issues. Together, the team can find solutions that uphold Scrum principles. Remember, the Scrum Master is there to help, not dictate. Their goal is to ensure the team benefits from all Scrum practices.

“Who benefits most from the usage of velocity within the Scrum Team?”

In Scrum, velocity serves the entire team. Everyone benefits from understanding their work pace. It’s a metric, offering insights into the team’s progress. The Product Owner uses it to forecast future work. The Development Team uses it to gauge their capacity. However, velocity is just a guide. Teams shouldn’t compare velocities. Each team’s metric is unique to them. Moreover, consistent use of velocity fosters better predictability. So, in essence, velocity aids the Scrum Team in planning and adapting effectively.

“Consider who is responsible for deciding whether or not a Product Increment is done.”

“What happens if the Increment or one of the PBIs as being part of the Increment, is not done? How would you deal with that? Who decides on how to deal with that?”

“What are the boundaries/rules of Scrum when it comes to deciding when and what to release?”

“Are there any limitations to when a Scrum Team can release a Product Increment? And if so, what would that mean?”

In Scrum, the Definition of Done determines if a Product Increment is complete. The Scrum Team agrees on this definition. If an Increment isn’t “done” or a Product Backlog Item (PBI) remains incomplete, it’s not released. The whole team collaborates on the next steps. They might move the PBI to the next Sprint or reevaluate its priority.

When considering a release, the Product Owner decides. They use the Increment’s “done” status to make this call. Scrum doesn’t set fixed release dates. A Scrum Team can release an Increment whenever it’s ready. However, every release should offer value. If an Increment doesn’t meet this criteria, it affects the product’s quality and value. Delivering consistent value is paramount.

“If a Product Backlog is truly transparent, is there no benefit to be gained by a competitor that gets access to the backlog? If it provides no value to a competitor, what value is it providing to stakeholders?”

A transparent backlog allows clear insight into work items. If competitors access it, they might gain some understanding. Yet, mere items won’t give full context or strategy. Knowing what’s on a list doesn’t equate to grasping its true meaning.

However, transparency isn’t about aiding competitors. It’s about clarity for stakeholders. They get a clear picture of what the team works on. It fosters trust, collaboration, and alignment. In essence, while competitors might see tasks, stakeholders understand the value and direction. Thus, the real benefit of transparency is internal alignment, not external vulnerability.

“Consider whether Self-Organization and Self-Management convey the same meaning.”

“How can you determine if a Scrum Team is self-managing? What are some attributes a Scrum Team would display when being a self-managing team?”

“Research the accountability of the Artifacts and the Artifact Commitments and how they help with transparency.”

Self-Organization and Self-Management are related but distinct. Self-Organization refers to how a team shapes its work and structure. Self-Management deals with how the team manages its day-to-day tasks.

To identify a self-managing Scrum Team, look for certain attributes. They decide their work without external direction. They collaboratively tackle challenges. The team sets its own goals and evaluates its progress.

Furthermore, such a team takes ownership of its results. Feedback is openly shared and used for growth. In essence, a self-managing Scrum Team showcases autonomy, collaboration, and accountability in its actions.

“Research the accountability of the Artifacts and the Artifact Commitments and how they help with transparency.”

In Scrum, artifacts promote transparency. They provide a clear view of work and progress. There are three key artifacts: Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and Increment.

Each artifact has a related commitment. These commitments ensure alignment and clarity. For the Product Backlog, it’s the Product Goal. This goal gives direction and purpose. For the Sprint Backlog, it’s the Sprint Goal. This goal offers a focus for the Sprint. Lastly, for the Increment, it’s the Definition of Done. It ensures quality and completeness.

Artifact commitments help teams and stakeholders understand progress. They offer a consistent framework for inspection and adaptation. In essence, through these commitments, Scrum ensures clear expectations and accountability.

“Consider what the primary stance of a Scrum Master should be when a Scrum Team gets into a conflict situation. What should be a Scrum Master’s primary approach?”

“Consider if there are some conflicts that a Scrum Team cannot (or should not) solve on their own. If that’s the case, what should the Scrum Master’s role be regarding these conflicts?”

“Research some techniques the Scrum Master should employ in a conflict-situation.”

In Scrum, conflicts can arise. When they do, the Scrum Master’s primary stance is that of a facilitator. They help the team navigate disagreements. Their aim? Create a safe space for open dialogue.

Yet, not all conflicts are for the team to resolve alone. Some challenges may be outside their scope or expertise. In such cases, the Scrum Master might step in more actively. They might seek external support or resources to help.

In handling conflicts, the Scrum Master employs several techniques. Active listening is vital. It ensures all voices are heard. Mediation can also be helpful. It brings opposing sides together to find common ground. Lastly, coaching can guide the team to self-resolve future conflicts.

In essence, the Scrum Master supports, guides, and sometimes intervenes to ensure a harmonious team environment.