How the 5 Scrum values guided my preparation strategy for acing PSM1 (95%)
My study plan to ace PSM1 was inspired by the 5 scrum values as mentioned in the Scrum Guide 2020. I cleared the PSM1 certification in less than a month’s preparation with 95% without any formal training/coaching. Here is how I did it:
The Scrum Guide 2020 lists out 5 values of Scrum: Courage, Commitment, Focus, Respect and Openness. It was while reading the Scrum Guide that I realized that these Scrum values are not limited to application within the Scrum framework. The Scrum values can transcend into our lives and can be the beacon guiding our philosophy of living life, let alone clearing the PSM1 certification.
1) Commitment: Create a game plan and commit to it. Any amount of preparation strategy or fancy tutorials or learned coaches cannot help with your preparation if you do not commit to the learning plan. Also, commitment and accountability are two sides of the same coin. Without accountability, commitment means nothing. Set out your commitments as you progress towards your learning goals. Hold yourself accountable to your commitments. If in doubt, do not commit. Not honoring your commitments is not failing, it is disrespecting yourself. Set small, achievable goals for yourself. For me, it was about committing 3 hours every day to prepare for PSM1. I committed to reading one section from the Scrum Guide 2020 every day and would not sleep before I read it.
2) Courage: I come from the ‘non-technical’ part of the world i.e. I cannot write code. I am a freelance communications professional and the primary caretaker of an energetic and curious toddler. When I decided to prepare for Scrum Master in April this year, I was frightful of my ‘background’. I could not convince myself to be a good fit as a Scrum Master. Just when I decided to hang my boots, I took inspiration from ‘Courage’ as mentioned in the Scrum Guide. The Scrum Guide mentions, “The Scrum Team members have the courage to do the right thing, to work on tough problems.” This message inspired me to work on my situation and get to know the Scrum framework more. The more I got to know Scrum, I realized that Scrum is truly inclusive and doesn’t discriminate between techies and non-techies. This fueled my ambition and I decided to give the certification a go!
3) Focus: ‘Timeboxing’ can be extremely helpful in your preparation strategy. Just as timeboxing helps the Scrum Team keep their focus, a good timeboxed learning strategy can help in your journey towards clearing the certification. I set an exam date in mind and started working backwards to create my game plan. Also, setting up specific days for different concepts within Scrum gave me the opportunity to exclusively focus on those areas and understand them fully. I set aside weekends for doing question banks. Creating a focused study plan allowed me to stay true to my learning outcomes and helped me complete the certification within the set timebox.
4) Respect: Respect is essentially admiration for something that resonates with you. While reading the Scrum Guide and trying to understand the roles and accountabilities, it became very apparent that being respectful of others’ work and contribution is central to the working of Scrum. Your preparation is an important stepping-stone to learning to be respectful of yourself and others. Respect your time, learning plan and your resolve to clear the certification. Respect yourself and give yourself credit for taking on a challenging certification.
5) Openness: Be open to failure when you appear for mock exams and don’t get discouraged and disheartened if your score in mock exams doesn’t reach the magical number 85. It is easier said than done. Often in our quest to win, we forget that the journey to success is built on the bedrock of failure. It is easy to lose heart and accept failure, but it will be your openness to learning through failure that will ultimately make all the difference. A Scrum Master is a ‘true leader’, an exemplar of ‘Servant Leadership’. S/he is the support function without whom any Scrum Team would be rendered meaningless. An open mindset is crucial to the function of Scrum. Only when you are open to your strengths and weaknesses and acknowledge them, can you ‘truly’ contribute as a Scrum Master.
Persevere and follow the 5 scrum values in your learning journey and success will follow!