How the PSM III made me a better agilist

PSMIIIArticleI recently passed’s PSM III* with the 95 required to continue in the trainer process. It was challenging – and it took more than one try. Here’s 500 words on what worked, and why it was worth it.

  1. Practice lean communication. The test is timed and requires both multiple choice and written answers. I personally found it difficult to write answers to multiple part questions that were concise, clear and aligned with the Scrum framework. (If this is not an issue with you, skip to #2.) In case you find brevity just darn hard, read on. Ironically, this will be the lengthiest section in my post, because it’s where I still need practice.
    • Step out of the process zone. If you are process-oriented, like me, specifically listen for questions from technical people and practice persuasive answers. Here is an example: “Why not start the architecture design a few weeks before the first sprint, and just not call it a sprint so we don’t confuse things?” ProTip: read up on emergent architecture.
    • Practice lightning talks. Prepare simple talks on a variety of complex topics for those unscripted opportunities to evangelize Scrum. I had a pivotal learning opportunity in a group whom all gave and received peer feedback on our talks. Lesson learned: There is always opportunity to remove clutter. ProTip: go lean, lean, lean. 
    • Start with the impact. I credit Don McGreal for this tip: Begin with an impactful statement, then allow the conversation to evolve from the questions. This helps gauge where participants want elaboration, instead of assuming I know. It dramatically engages people and helps adapt the agenda to their needs.  Pro-tip: Don’t bury the lead. 
    • Give everyone the chance to show up to the conversation.  Practice a variety of techniques that balance audience participation.  It’s okay to not have the answers yourself. ProTip: Be okay with silence.
    • Tell stories. Nothing illustrates Scrum better than a good story describing how it worked. Visuals should be openings to the conversation – as lean as a good user story. ProTip: Use an image plus six words or less.
  2. Return to basics. This journey illustrated areas where I let my practical experience override crisp Scrum practices. I didn’t learn that at my desk. I had to practice in front of audiences and consume their feedback. I had to be open to change. I had to be willing to fail learn. ProTip: Take risks!
  3. Hone your craft. upped my game. I continue to receive coaching from leaders and their trainers. They share with the spirit of collaboration: sources on emergent architecture, tips on stage craft, keeping my Scrum language fresh. But mentorship is not free. It requires an investment on my part: do the footwork, admit where I am wrong, be the eternal student.  ProTip: Invest in your career.  @JesseFewell.

Scrum applies beyond our teams to our coaching – practice the principles, uphold the values, continually improve. Will my journey inspire you to consider PSM III as your next opportunity?

* Formally PSM II

~Julee Bellomo
Live your truth; hone your craft; show your thanks


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