April 13, 2022

Why Scrum Masters should consider PSM-II training.

psm-II

When you aspire to a Scrum Master role, some form of certification on your resume is a must. Scrum.org offers the acclaimed PSM learning journey to support Scrum Masters to professionalise their skills. I am a Professional Scrum Trainer for scrum.org and I have trained hundreds of Scrum Masters over the past few years.  Newcomers start their career with a PSM-I class to gain an understanding of Professional Scrum and the essence of the role of the Scrum Master. I observe that many experienced Scrum Masters hesitate to join a PSM-II class. Possibly that's because it is unclear to many what the PSM-II training has to offer. Maybe this article helps. 

I have learned over the years being a Scrum Master, that there is a common evolutionary path for Scrum Masters for learning Scrum and Agile. After reading the Scrum guide, I started to work with a team. That is to say, I tried. The reality was that I was struggling with myself because I was insecure about this framework. It was deep and difficult to master. I felt like an imposter and did not fully understand the concepts I was trying to explain or implement. To solve this I took a PSM-I class. And that helped... I felt more confident, and I could focus more on the team and how they were operating. However, I am sure I must have made a lot of useless interventions in those days. I remember my team was struggling and they were asking many questions I did not have the right answer to. On the other hand, I got the team doing some form of Scrum. I had more space in my head to reflect and I started to notice many of our problems were related to the interactions with other teams. My focus was shifting to problems related to scaling Scrum. Much later, after I studied scaling, I was getting drawn to problems in organisational design. I was extending my scope, using what I had learned and in search of the root causes of my imperfect Scrum. 

scrum master challenges

For more details on this you can have look at this presentation: Iterating toward Professional Scrum

At the time, after I got better at handling my team's problems, I noticed I needed three things: 

  • I needed other Scrum Masters to reflect on tough problems I was facing
  • I was lacking skills to deal with larger groups of people
  • I needed more knowledge about scaling

I felt the need to discuss, deepen and reflect on difficult Scrum Master dilemmas. I knew I wasn't the only one struggling. I wanted to know how others look at things so I could learn from them. The Scrum Master colleagues at work were all too busy with their daily challenges. I signed up for scaling training, but that addressed my needs only partially. I also needed to get better at (large group) facilitation and coaching. I signed up for a class called "facilitation for effect". It was a great class, but unfortunately not Scrum related. The practices and skills were very helpful, but the context of the exercises was very generic. There were no other Scrum practitioners in the class. I had no peers to discuss my current problems like disengagement in retrospectives.

It was only in 2018 that scrum.org introduced the PSM-II class. This class is designed to support experienced Scrum Masters in their professional journey. The content of this training deepens and extends the understanding of Scrum, and looks at the challenges Scrum Masters face and how the principles and values of Scrum help you to deal with those situations. 

PSM-II targets those who have practical experience working as a scrum master, applying the Scrum framework with one or more teams. The training takes attendees through many aspects that influence the effectiveness of the Scrum Master role. The training improves the skills you need when you act as a trainer, a change agent, a coach and most of all, enriches your skills as a facilitator.

This training is built upon the Liberating Structures. Students experience Liberating structures while working on advanced Scrum related problems. In addition to that, the Liberating Structures are debriefed and time is spent reflecting on the way the exercises were facilitated. This two-step approach provides a double loop learning deepening both the content (Scrum) and the structure (facilitation with Liberating Structures). This is a powerful combination that gives you practices you can start using in your daily work immediately.

Being a professional scrum master is a challenge. The job requires a wide range of capabilities and skills. The scrum master consults, coaches, teaches and facilitates. The Professional Scrum Master-II class will grow your knowledge about complex, advanced scrum problems and focuses on improving your facilitation skills by adding Liberating Structures to your Scrum Master toolkit.

Upcoming PSM-II classes:

June, in person in Amsterdam

September, in person in Amsterdam