The Scrum Master role is a difficult one. Often, they are the ones driving agility into the organization, making the agile practices stick and ensuring that teams, products and the organization are using an empirical process, supporting self-organization and continually improving. The Scrum Master does this using any techniques necessary. Sometimes Coach and mentor, at other times manager and teacher. This ‘many hats’ or ‘stances’ of the Scrum Master makes it a hard job, as it can change depending on the situation. Context is everything for the Scrum Master.
Two dimensions of the class
With the launch of Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II) – An Advanced Scrum Master Class, Scrum.org has built a course that is aimed directly at enabling the Scrum Master. The class splits its time between how the Scrum Master supports the Team, Product Owner, and Organization. And because those things are difficult, it takes advantage of the several facilitation techniques to help students frame the discussion and learning. The intent is that students will take from the class both new ideas and concepts along with practical techniques or practices that will help them deliver more value when they return. By having these two dimensions of new ideas / content and introducing new practices to learn those ideas a Scrum Master can both learn new ideas while gaining greater insights into techniques to improve the actual work upon their return.
The Evolution of the class
It can come as no surprise that this class was developed using Scrum and I will share some of the key learnings that we gained along the way.
- PSM II Assessment and Certification provided great feedback up front and after the class – Though the class and assessment are not tightly coupled we have traditionally built the class and then the assessment. In the case of the PSM II course, we knew what learning objectives we needed to validate but did not know the best way for students to learn about them. By introducing the assessment first, we gathered lots of great feedback on what we were assessing and how that would play into a broader Scrum Master curriculum. This information was invaluable for refining learning objectives, style of learning and how the course was structured.
- Alpha and beta teach drove rapid feedback – Instead of waiting for the launch to get feedback we quickly delivered the class in alpha and beta settings getting feedback and factoring that into the next Sprint. This feedback helped us structure the backlog and plan the work. It also exposed the class to our Professional Scrum Trainer community getting them ready to train which provided a different set of feedback about delivery style and roll out.
- The learning objectives architecture provides a great frame for the class – Just like software, a strong learning architecture ensures that the class is developed in a consistent and effective way. It is easy to get bogged down in exercises and visuals, but the learning objectives provide that external subjective perspective. They also helped us cut content and keep the class focused on the highest priority outcomes. Our learning architecture crosses all of our classes and assessments allowing innovation and change to happen whilst ensuring a clear connection between the classes is there. This helps ensure that a student who attends different classes incrementally learns connected materials in a structured manner.
The outcome we seek
When Ken Schwaber, the creator of Scrum and our founder and leader, talks about the Scrum Master role, his eyes light up as he describes the ‘mischief’ he has executed in delivering change into organizations. He describes the role as pivotal, not just for delivering products, but for readying organizations for the pivot from the age of ‘mass production’ to the age of ‘creativity and digital’. This class does not solve all of the problems that the Scrum Master will encounter or describe EVERY tool they will need to be successful. What it does is provide them with a set of learnings and techniques to help drive that change. I also hope that the people attending these classes will take advantage of the trainers and fellow students to build a network of people they can look to help them ‘change the world’.