The Making Of The Brand-New Professional Scrum Master II class

Finally! With the “embargo” lifted by Scrum.org, we can now share with you the incredible journey that Barry Overeem and I have been on for the past months.

The bottom-line is that Scrum.org has acquired our “Scrum Master Advanced”-class. We’ve been spending the past eight months turning it into the official, brand new Professional Scrum Master II-class (PSM-II) for Scrum.org. As newly minted course stewards, we are now responsible (with Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl) for the entire Professional Scrum Master curriculum (both PSM-I and PSM-II). If you’d like to know more about the class and how we designed it, click here for a detailed write-up by Barry Overeem.

How it started …

We care deeply about what Scrum makes possible. We’ve seen it transform teams and unleash organizations. But we also see that even experienced Scrum Masters struggle to find ways, stances and behaviors that make this possible. This is why Barry and I set out to develop an advanced class where we wanted to deepen and broaden the understanding of Scrum and the role of the Scrum Master.

We wanted to “practice what we preach” and facilitate the class as Scrum Masters. This means that the class is all about creating transparency where it matters (e.g. how “Done” is our increment? How are we enabling self-organization? How can we improve how we inspect and adapt?) and building on the knowledge that is already in the group — two key aspects of Servant Leadership. We also decided to move away from a theory- or ‘best practice’-driven approach. Rather than “sending information” and acting as “experts”, we opted for a style that is best described as “assisted discovery of local solutions”. Using plenty of Liberating Structures and serious-and-fun exercises, we wanted to build and structure what the group already knew.

The first class …

We scheduled the first class in May 2017, despite not actually having designed the class yet. Not wanting to create conflict with Scrum.org, we picked “Scrum Master Advanced” as the name for the class. The first class was a lot of fun and reaffirmed that there was great value in an advanced class. But as with all launches, we identified a lot of areas for improvement. So over time, we refined the class and taught it again to identify further improvements. Since then, we’ve taught the class for over a dozen times.

We designed the first class with the 8 stances of the Scrum Master in mind, using a physical board with post-its to signify the various exercises.

How Scrum.org picked up on it …

Word reached Scrum.org about our new class. So they invited us to travel to Scrum.org in Boston and teach it for an experienced group (including many Course Stewards, CEO Dave West and Steve Porter). You can imagine our surprise, our excitement and also our anxiety.

So there we went. Off to Boston with an entirely PowerPoint-free Scrum Master Advanced-class in our luggage (like 50 flips, dozens of card decks, Tingsha bells and Elmo dolls). The class was a bit scary on one hand, but totally amazing on the other. “Guys, you have created the first real class for Scrum Masters. And we don’t have one.” observed an enthusiastic Dave West.

“Guys, you have created the first real class for Scrum Masters. And we don’t have one.”
Teaching the class at Scrum.org HQ in Boston (which included CEO Dave West with a wig :)

Not fully knowing Scrum.org’s intentions, Barry and I assumed that Scrum.org was planning to develop a Professional Scrum Master-II class of their own and was simply getting a sense of what was out there. But as it turned out, they offered to acquire the class from us and turn it into their official Professional Scrum Master-II class. They also offered to make us Course Stewards of the entire Professional Scrum Master-curriculum (together with Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl) so that we could continue developing the class. Save for some refinements and the creating of official courseware, we didn’t have to change anything drastic.

Working on the class in our hotel near Boston, which involved lots of (pretty horrible) coffee

I vividly remember the walk back to our hotel. Call us naive, but this had caught us totally by surprise. With over 250 Professional Scrum Trainers (PST), our class would be taught world-wide and to (potentially) thousands of Scrum Masters. We simply couldn’t believe that we were now in a position to help shape how future Scrum Masters are trained and supported in their journeys. Wanting to make a dent in the Universe with our newly-founded company The Liberators, it seemed that we were on track of doing just that.

What happened afterwards …

We’ve spent the past months working in secret to ready the class for release. This involved:

  • Creating a extensive Trainer Guide that details the exercises in great detail, allowing trainers to use them in their classes (or find variations that work for them). With this class being incredibly interactive, it requires a different approach from PST’s;
  • Creating a reference guide of PowerPoint-sheets to enable PST’s to use Powerpoint when the situation demanded it. Although we encourage all PST’s to use projection-free approaches, and use the room as the learning space, we acknowledge that this may not work for some PST’s or in some cultures and countries;
  • Creating a virtual Train-the-Trainer program to prepare PST’s for teaching the class. We’ve also created an associated series of virtual meetups (called ‘PSM-II Virtual Face-to-Face’) to periodically gather feedback, share insights and improve the class with the PST’s;
  • Creating supporting materials for the PST’s to use in their class (Sabrina Love had a huge hand in this — thanks!);
  • Teaching the class a number of times with PST’s present to show them how to teach the class (in Sweden, Barcelona, Boston and Utrecht);

Now that the Professional Scrum Master II-class will be taught world-wide by a large group of licensed trainers, we will certainly discover many areas for improvement. We’re a bit daunted by the prospect of sifting and sorting through all the feedback, but are mostly looking forward to making this into an even better class with the Professional Scrum Trainers.

An example from our most recent class

Go and experience it!

If you’re a Scrum Master or Agile Coach with about a year (or more) of experience under your belt, go and explore this new class. Find a trainer to your liking or in your area, and deepen and expand your understanding of Scrum. And let us know what you think. What did you like? What can be improved? Lets work together to spread Professional Scrum and make a dent in the Universe together.

If you’d like to know more about the class and how we designed it, click here for a detailed write-up by Barry Overeem.

If you’d like to experience the all-new Professional Scrum Master II-class, go to Scrum.org to find a class in your area. If you’d like to participate in one of our classes, check out our Eventbrite-page for more information or inquire for an in-house class.

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