Professional Agile Leadership (PAL) Reminders and Resources
Post from January 29, 2020 (↻ July 10, 2021), filed under Everything Else.
Beside training and certification for the standard Scrum roles like Developer, Scrum Master, and Product Owner, Scrum.org also offers training and certification for other topics. This includes agile leadership, through what Scrum.org calls Professional Agile Leadership (PAL).
Over the course of the last months I have taken a really deep dive into Scrum, and given my priorities I identified PSM (Professional Scrum Master) and PAL as areas I liked to be so familiar with as to also go through respective certification.
PAL, however, was challenging, and it took even more deep-diving to be ready for the exam. To counter the lack of solid online documentation I’m here sharing some key points as well as all relevant Scrum.org documentation that should help you have it a little easier.
I assume no responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the following materials. If you spot something that’s wrong or missing, would you let me know?
Reminders and Key Points
In this section you find some points that may be touched on in the PAL assessment. They’re just light reminders, however, and for effective preparation please consult the resources that then follow.
Remember that the unexpected will happen, and that that’s acceptable as long as one learns from it.
The complex domain is where more is unknown than known.
Depending on the maturity of the team, agile leaders delegate responsibility.
An agile leader makes sure teams have what they need to succeed, and helps remove any impediments to them.
Maintain the option to run experiments to test the market and learn about needs and options.
Keep in mind that technical alternatives can also be evaluated in experiments.
Remember that the team should commit to the Sprint Goal, not to Product Backlog items.
To get an idea of the status of each team, teams can be asked to come up with a workable way to share Sprint Goals and accomplishments during each Sprint.
In order to know what and how a team is doing, also use Product Backlog Items (PBI) and what is being improved as a result of Sprint Retrospectives.
For justified, repeated disruptions it’s useful to reassign that work or transfer knowledge to do the work to individuals outside the Development Team.
Teams that lack engagement may be helped by sharing a product vision that they can connect to.
When the allocation of performance bonuses becomes an issue, consider letting the teams decide how to distribute them.
For staffing new agile teams, consider bringing interested people together, discussing the initiative’s goals, and reminding participants to balance skills and experience, and to self-organize.
To get new teams up to speed, consider spending time with them, being clear about product users and goals, and what metrics will be used to gauge success.
Remember that velocity is not a metric to compare team performance.
Comparing team performance can lead to all sorts of problems. Together with the Scrum Master, identify and remove impediments that stand in the teams’ ways.
It’s important that Product Owners are actively participating and contributing so that the Scrum Team can deliver value.
Work with Product Owners to analyze delivery capabilities and to use respective information for a forecast on possible goals.
Make sure Product Owners are in touch with customers, to understand what customers are trying to do. However, leave product decisions to the Product Owner.
Support Product Owner decisions even when it affects short-term business.
Almost all of the resources that follow are from Scrum.org’s PAL learning path. It may just be a tad simpler to find and access them in list form. My tip: Do all the open assessments, read the articles, and decide on 1–3 good books on leadership. Which ones? I want to read a few more before making recommendations. (Scrum Mastery and Mastering Professional Scrum aren’t on the list for PAL, but useful.)
- Scrum Guides
- Scrum Glossary
- Manifesto for Agile Software Development
- Empiricism, the Act of Making Decisions Based on What Is
- Agile Is Constant Change
- Escaping the Predictability Trap
- 5 Metaphors to Explore the Value of Scrum Values
- There’s Value in the Scrum Values
- 4 Ways to Coach with the Scrum Values
- Characteristics of a Great Scrum Team
- Why You Need Only One Product Owner
- 5 Powerful Things About the Sprint
- Online Nexus Guide
- The New New Product Development Game
- Balancing Autonomy with Accountability
- Leading High Performing Teams
- 5 Agile Leadership Tips for Creating Mature Scrum Teams
- 4 Secrets to Great Agile Leadership
- Release Planning and Predictable Delivery
- Scrum Myths: There is No Planning in Scrum
- Faking It: Estimates and Metrics in Scrum
- 10 Tips for Product Owners on the Product Vision
- The 5 Paradoxes of Digital Business Leadership
- The Elements of Value
- Scrum Mastery: 4 Steps to Optimize Product Value
- So Where Is the Value?
- Customer Value Is Not Enough
- A Better Way Than Staggered Iterations for Delivery
- Business Agility
- What’s Driving Your Need For Agility?
- Freeze the Pond Versus Take the Hill: Two Metaphors for Enterprise Agile Change
- Twenty Top Fails in Executive Agile Leadership
- Zombie Scrum—Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
- What Do Agile Leaders Do?
- Extending Impact Mapping to Gain Better Product Insights
- Solving Agile portfolio planning for Lawns ‘R’ Us
- Evidence-Based Management Guide (PDF)
- It’s Time to Learn the Missing Metric
- Agile Leadership Toolkit: Learning to Thrive with Self-Managing Teams
- The Serving Leader: Five Powerful Actions to Transform Your Team, Business, and Community
- Leaders Eat Last
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t
- Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders
- Managing for Happiness: Games, Tools, and Practices to Motivate Any Team
- Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results
- The Responsibility Process: Unlocking Your Natural Ability to Live and Lead with Power
- The Greater Goal: Connecting Purpose and Performance
- The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues
- Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness
- Agile Leadership Open (Scrum.org)
- Professional Agile Leadership Essentials Practice Assessment (The Scrum Master)
- Scrum Open (Scrum.org)
- Product Owner Open (Scrum.org)
- Scrum Developer Open (Scrum.org)
- Scrum with Kanban Open (Scrum.org)
- Agile Measurement Open (Scrum.org)
- Nexus Open (Scrum.org)
- Scrum Quizzes (Mikhail Lapshin)
❧ This is a lot, and still a bit imprecise. I’ve been in touch with Scrum.org on more targeted materials, and so far haven’t heard back. PAL is not as clear and therefore not as straightforward to learn for as PSM (and PSD and PSPO)—but maybe this helps you a little more than what I had to collect here and there.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.
Have a look at the most popular posts, possibly including:
Looking for a way to comment? Comments have been disabled, unfortunately.
Perhaps my most comprehensive book: The Web Development Glossary (2020). With explanations and definitions for literally thousands of terms from Web Development and related fields, building on Wikipedia as well as the MDN Web Docs. Available at Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.