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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Sep 25, 2020

This week, Dan Neumann is joined by his co-host and collaborator, Sam Falco, to discuss the topic of professional Scrum.


What does professional Scrum refer to? What is professionalism? What does a professional Scrum Master look like? What does it look like to practice Scrum professionally through principles and values laid out in The Scrum Guide? What does professionalism look like on a Scrum team? Sam and Dan answer all of these questions and more in this episode!


Key Takeaways

What does professional Scrum refer to?

Ken Schwaber’s definition: “A professional is someone who works for money and follows the rules established for the profession. Professionals act and work according to standards where they exist. They also embrace and embody a set of ethical principles established by their profession.”

Adhering to the rules set forth in The Scrum Guide

The Scrum values fulfill the role of the “ethical principles” in the software development industry

A mindset of professionalism and a commitment to a certain set of standards

An emphasis on communication and empathy between business and development (so that you can ensure that you are delivering what the customer actually wants and can use)

Professionalism includes really understanding why you’re doing the things that you are doing

Examples of professionalism:

If you are shooting to release a product to end customers by a certain date, how do you use the Scrum events, the sprint planning, the daily Scrum, and the sprint review within the sprint timebox to make sure that you’re on track?

In the sprint review, identify which adjustments and decisions are needed, and iterate

Important notes about doing Scrum professionally through The Scrum Guide:

It’s not just about having the roles, artifacts, and events in place; you also need to be cognizant of the rules that bind these three things together

Commit each sprint (as a team) to a goal, not a scope

When a sprint goal is a laundry list of things to do it can become overwhelming it is much better to commit to a goal and negotiate your scope as you go throughout the sprint

Focus on delivering on the goal; delivering on the value

It is important that the organization gives the Scrum team(s) space to be professional

“Professionalism is not just for the Scrum team, just as the Scrum values are not just for the Scrum team; they’re for the organization to live and make space for.”

The responsibilities of a professional Scrum Master:

They are responsible for coaching the Product Owner, the team, and the organization on how to use Scrum in an effective way

The Scrum Master should not be a glorified administrator

The Scrum Master should be working with the entire organization to help it achieve business agility and valuable outcomes rather than just lots and lots of output

Look for ways in which the organization is inhibiting your team’s further growth and success

Look for the areas and opportunities in the organization for further agility

Aspects of professionalism on a Scrum team:

Strong collaboration (i.e. the Product Owner and the team need to collaborate, and the Scrum Master needs to collaborate with the team, the Product Owner, and the organization)

“What does it mean to be a professional Scrum developer?” It’s more than “I’ve got my work done”

The team should not be working siloed

At the daily Scrum, the team should be collaborating on the most effective thing to do that day to get closer to the sprint goal, figure out who needs help, and understand who’s doing what

Toward the end of the sprint when development work is winding down, it is important that developers are helping the test activities happen

“The development team is not just the people that are writing the code; it’s all of the people on the Scrum team that are needed to deliver that increment, aside from the Product Owner and the Scrum Master.”

It is important to find the balance between being a “busybody” and being a “T-shaped person”

A healthy team spirit is vital

Reduncies in skill sets of team members are incredibly valuable

Being open to learning new things beyond your expertise and having the intellectual curiosity to step outside of your role makes for a healthy, well-rounded team


Mentioned in this Episode:

The lawsuit between Scrum Alliance and Scrum Inc.

Scrum Alliance

Scrum Inc.

Ken Schwaber

Mastering Professional Scrum: A Practitioner’s Guide to Overcoming Challenges and Maximizing the Benefits of Agility, by Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl

The Scrum Guide

Arcade Perfect: How Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and Other Coin-Op Classics Invaded the Living Room, by David L. Craddock and Milan Jaram

Eric Landes


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