My personal takeaways from the Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills™ (PSFS) course and assessment

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As a Scrum Master, I’ve always been devoted to encouraging teamwork and positive interactions among team members. Over the years it’s become clear to me that mastering facilitation skills is essential for improving team dynamics and problem solving.

Personally, I considered my facilitation skills to be “okay-ish.” I’ve often looked up to other professionals and trainers who can navigate complex discussions and aid in reaching consensus, utilizing creative brainstorming formats with awesome results. This made me question my own abilities: “Am I a good facilitator?” and “What mindset does an effective facilitator have?” Lacking regular contact with other Scrum Masters and feedback opportunities, I sought another way to evaluate and refine these vital abilities, while also wishing for a varied toolbox of techniques to use when better facilitation is required.

Fortunately, I discovered a course designed specifically to improve these skills. Naturally, I enrolled and am excited to share my insights and experiences from the course and its assessment.

Why facilitation skills matter

Scrum Masters need facilitation skills to improve teamwork and efficiency. They use these abilities to guide complex discussions, assisting teams in reaching agreements and resolving conflicts. Effective facilitation ensures that Scrum events are both productive and engaging, keeping the team aligned and focused on their goals.

My personal takeaways from the Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills™ (PSFS) course and assessment

The “Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills™” course is ideal for Scrum Masters who want to refine these essential skills. Understanding and effectively managing team dynamics requires the adoption of a facilitator’s mindset. This course teaches practical techniques for improving facilitation at Scrum events and team interactions. Participants create a personalized facilitation plan that can be used immediately in the workplace, empowering teams to self-manage and excel. The structured approach of the course improves coaching and leadership skills.

My learning goals

  • Learning (new) facilitation techniques to have a broader range of tools
  • Learning about having and applying a “facilitator’s mindset”
  • Learning about the principles that experienced facilitators use during difficult interactions
  • Understand how facilitation principles impact team collaboration
  • How to encourage diverse viewpoints and promote unity to improve decision-making
  • Acquire and learn to use a comprehensive set of facilitation techniques – not just for Scrum events but for a variety of situations/problems

Course experience

On Wednesday May 1st, 2024, I took part in an online course led by trainer Lavaneesh Gautam of Edge Agility. These were the key topics:

  • Exploration of diverse facilitation techniques, including various Liberating Structures
  • Using negative examples and scenarios as catalysts to generate effective solutions
  • Importance and implementation of work agreements
  • Detailed analysis of facilitation principles: Participatory, Purposeful, Process, Healthy, and Transparent
  • Identifying key facilitator skills and relevant contexts for their application
  • Analysis of the benefits and drawbacks associated with various decision-making processes

Preparing for the assessment

In gearing up for the PSFS assessment, provided some valuable preparatory tips:

I also prepared the training by:

Following these tips, I took the assessment the weekend after the training, on a rainy Porto Saturday morning.

I passed the test with a score of 90%! The time limit was 30 minutes for 20 questions, and to be honest, it felt quite easy. I had plenty of time to revisit questions. I am really curious which questions I got wrong though!

Reflection on the training

The training took place online in Zoom. The trainer, Lavaneesh, is an expert in his field and yet again I have to commend him for his happy and positive energy. He has an engaging teaching style, high energy level, and the ability to maintain participant interest throughout the course. The course has continuous engagement through exercises, and Lavaneesh gave great guidance during these exercises. The facilitation principles of Participatory, Purposeful, Process, Healthy, Transparency were at first hard for me to grasp, but especially after some reflection (and reading more into them), I became more confident.

Resting on my bookshelf is the book “The Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide“. Now that I’ve completed the course, I believe revisiting this book will shed light on common challenges and anti-patterns that Scrum teams face. Understanding what typically goes wrong would allow me to better facilitate discussions aimed at preventing or correcting these problems.

Also, revisiting literature on Liberating Structures might be warranted. The most important piece of literature on this topic is “The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures” by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz.

All in all, this is a really helpful course if you want to fine-tune your facilitation skills!

Final take away: ELMO.

“Enough, Let’s Move On.”

When meetings start straying from the topics on the agenda, you can use ELMO to notice when someone has made a point and redirect the conversation back to it. This keeps the meeting from becoming unproductive due to a single topic. I will use this in some of my …less energetic meetings!

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