Questions and Answers 1: 6/6/17

These are some interview questions taken from the following website:

https://www.scrumalliance.org/agilecareers/careersblog/february-2016-(1)/38-scrum-master-interview-questions

I’ve answered the first five.  Let me know your thoughts!

The Agile Manifesto says “People over processes”. Isn’t the Scrum master – a role to enforce “the process” – therefore a contradiction?

I wouldn’t say contradiction.  The Agile Manifesto also says that while it values the items on the left more, it still values those on the right.  Therefore, it still values the processes in this case.  This is where a Scrum Master’s ability to assess a situation and gradually apply the process, through a pull or just in time system in its own right, is best. Rather than throwing the Scrum Guide at an immature Scrum Team all at once, the Scrum Master should apply, or implement, the most valuable parts of the process first.

I might also argue that Scrum is not really a process, that as a framework, it simply adds structure for processes to sit inside it, and those processes can be chosen and experimented with by the Scrum Team as a whole.

What are good indicators that “Agile” is working in your organization, that your work is successful?

Assessing the value delivered in working software, whether it be by return on investment metrics or early termination to initiatives which prove to not be profitable is the most important.  Measuring the waste in an organisation, and watching the waste decrease as the organisation continues its Agile transformation also suggests that it’s working.

Measuring the ability to be innovative is also key.  Are new ideas catered for in the organisation? Does the organisation promote ideas from intern to CEO? How efficiently does the organisation react to those ideas?  Measuring innovation, and the value gained from it, is vital for an organisation’s Agile transformation.

Are there typical metrics that you would track? And if so, which metrics would you track and for what purpose?

As a Scrum Master, I am less interested in tracking metrics but more interested in making objective metrics available and visible. I’m happy to present metrics as possibilities to the Development Team in an effort to improve on something, however, I would not want to enforce a metric for managerial reasons. I also want to reduce and/or avoid vanity metrics, which can mask actual problems within a team or organisation.

If I was part of an organised Agile Transformation program, I would like to use objective metrics to determine the success of particular patterns and practices introduced to teams, but those metrics greatly depend on the pattern/practice and the targeted team.  The key thing to remember is that valuable working software is the primary measurement of success.

Your team’s performance is constantly not meeting commitments and its velocity is very volatile. What are possible reasons for that? And how would you address those issues?

There are an infinite number of possibilities.  The most common reasons I have seen for Scrum Teams are large dependencies on other teams, which are not managed appropriately, and the lack of coherent Sprint Goals, in which teams are not able to swarm to achieve or negotiate the scope of, during a Sprint to ensure the goal is achieved. Tackling those issues in order of most value would be the first step to improvement.

Shall the Scrum team become involved in the product discovery process as well, and if so, how?

Absolutely!  One of the Product Owner’s main concerns should be the continuous discovery of the product.  As the Product Owner is responsible for the value of the product, he/she should ensure the work the Development Team takes on is valuable and that opportunity is not being missed due to prior assumptions being made.  The Scrum Master should ensure the Scrum Team is able to challenge the Product Backlog and identify opportunity, and fully embrace such change.  The Development Team should try to identify opportunity and value while clarifying Product Backlog Items throughout an entire Sprint and product’s existence.  The entire team and key stakeholders can come together during Sprint reviews to adjust the Product Backlog according to market, technological, legal changes, etc.

If you have any suggestions (grammar, punctuation, spelling, content, etc.) please post a comment below! This article is a living document!

 

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One thought on “Questions and Answers 1: 6/6/17

  1. Really liked your answers and I actually thought of my personal answers before reading yours. And as expected, our answers are on the same lines. One thing I would add for this question:
    “What are good indicators that “Agile” is working in your organization, that your work is successful?”, is the feeling and feedback received from the people in the organisation. If we constantly hear “agile doesn’t work” or “I do agile because it’s a trend” then this might indicate something is wrong. On the other hand, if people are open and want to hear out more and are keen on getting better at what they do, that says a lot. I think you get a lot of success “metrics” from day to day communication.

    Liked by 1 person

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