This month I finished the Scaled Professional Scrum™ (SPS) course and assessment, another great milestone in my professional journey! Just a few months ago, in December 2022, I had pursued the Professional Agile Leadership™ (PAL-E) training and the subsequent PAL I assessment. Despite the valuable insights gained, I found myself grappling with some unresolved questions regarding the scaling of Scrum and the sharing of knowledge across diverse teams.
As a Scrum Master coordinating multiple international teams, these were the exact areas where I felt a need for deeper understanding and proficiency. Fortunately, another course that promised to shed light on these subjects was within my reach! I was in luck when my employer recognized the potential benefits of this course and decided to sponsor both myself and a colleague.
In this article, I will share my personal reflections and key lessons from both the course and the assessment.
Scaled Professional Scrum™ with Nexus Training
The Scaled Professional Scrum course is explained as follows on the Scrum.org website:
“Even after achieving success with Scrum, teams are still limited by the amount of work they can do and the value they can create. They need to expand, or scale, to a group of Scrum Teams working together on the same product. When doing so, they often encounter common challenges with cross-team dependencies, self-management, transparency and accountability.
When introducing heavy-weight scaling methodologies, teams often find that the added overhead slows down the teams and distracts from the essence and benefits of Scrum. Instead, Scrum.org created the Nexus Framework™ by minimally extending the Scrum Framework to include ways that help solve the dependency and collaboration challenges of cross-team work. Since Nexus enhances the foundational elements of Scrum, it reinforces the benefits of Scrum while also being familiar to those that have used Scrum.
The Scaled Professional Scrum™ (SPS) with Nexus course, builds on the Nexus framework by introducing complementary practices and techniques proven to help teams scale.”
My learning objectives
My motivation to join the course was to expand my knowledge on the topic of scaling, with the aim of applying it to my constantly evolving organization. Specifically, I sought insights into:
- Methods for evaluating and nurturing the growth of multiple teams,
- Strategies to facilitate the sustainable and agile expansion of teams, and
- Techniques to enhance knowledge sharing among (remote) teams.
With these objectives in mind, I signed up for the two-day course. On the 8th and 9th of April, 2023, I engaged in an intensive two-day online course conducted by Xebia/Xpirit. The course was expertly facilitated by our trainer, Jesse Houwing .
Insights from the course
To set the stage for the course, I had prepped myself by studying the fundamentals of Scrum scaling and undertaking deskresearch to shape my understanding of this new topic. This preliminary work proved invaluable in helping me get a handle on the terminology and concepts introduced during the course.
We delved into several enlightening topics during the sessions, we:
- debated the various motivations that might necessitate scaling;
- explored the Stacey Matrix to comprehend the factors contributing to complexity, a concept akin to the Cynefin model;
- examined the Nexus Framework along with its underpinning theory, and how it enhances the Scrum framework as an ‘exoskeleton’;
- discussed team organization strategies including upscaling personnel, feature teams, and team self-selection;
- studied the crucial role and activities of a ‘Nexus Integration Team’ within Nexus;
- learned about impact mapping and its importance in securing developer buy-in, as well as its value for Product Owners;
- covered all the Nexus-specific events, such as Cross-Team Refinement, Nexus Sprint Planning, Nexus Daily Scrum, Nexus Sprint Review, and Nexus Sprint Retrospective;
- acknowledged that scaling isn’t invariably the silver bullet solution!
The SPS assessment
In gearing up for the SPS assessment, our trainer shared some valuable preparatory tips:
- ✅ Review the Evidence Based Management Guide
- ✅ Review of a reference guide provided by the trainer, encompassing topics we didn’t delve into in-depth during the course
- ✅ Revisit the Scrum Guide
- ✅ Study the Nexus Guide
- ✅ Undertake the Scrum Open Assessment, aiming for a 100% score
- ✅ Take the Product Owner Open Assessment, again aiming for a 100% score
- ✅ Complete the Nexus Open Assessment, yes – aiming for a 100% score
Additionally, I supplemented these guidelines with my own measures:
- ✅ Thoroughly examined my course notes
- ✅ Completed and summarized the book “The Nexus Framework for Scaling Scrum” to reinforce the topics discussed during the course
So on a sunny spring Sunday I did the assessment – and I passed!
I got a score of 92.5% (85% was needed to pass). The time limit was quite alright. I had 60 minutes to finish 40 multiple choice/answer questions! I finished with 11-ish minutes, having enough time to revisit questions. The nature of the questions focused a lot on reducing dependencies and improving transparency.
Conclusion, reflection and what is next
The course gave really good insights into scaling. Appetites were both sated and sparked!
How was Xebia/Xpirit?
My aim was not only to understand the varied concepts behing scaling and Nexus but also to discuss their practical applications through concrete examples. As a visual and experiential learner, I had hoped that our trainer would cater to this learning style. To my delight, the training was tailored to meet these preferences. The majority of the course was dedicated to group assignments where we worked on fictional cases and collectively analyzed the results, facilitating a robust learning experience.
Jesse’s approach is characterized by a keen sense of (geek) humor and an innate curiosity, which lend a unique flavor to his teaching style. He structures his learning materials effectively and provides invaluable insights drawn from the real-world practice of Scrum. His examples are relatable and contextual to our own situations. Conducting a two-day online training that fully engages all participants is no small feat, yet Jesse navigates this challenge with finesse. His depth of practical knowledge is impressive, and he makes every effort to keep the classes as interactive as possible. His teaching style is smart, insightful, and kept me engaged throughout the course.
So what is next?
Armed with this newfound knowledge, I am eager to apply it to my current role and responsibilities. The insights gained from the Scaled Professional Scrum™ (SPS) course and assessment have equipped me with the tools to navigate the challenges of scaling within my organization. While my curiosity beckons me towards exploring other scaling frameworks, such as LeSS, I find myself naturally gravitating towards Nexus. Its fidelity to the essence of the Scrum framework resonates deeply with me.
As I embark on this next chapter of my professional journey, I am excited to see how this expanded understanding of scaling Scrum will empower me to drive meaningful change and facilitate the sustainable growth of multiple high-performing teams.