Mastering Professional Scrum: A Practitioners Guide to Overcoming Challenges and Maximizing the Benefits of Agility

Stephanie Ockerman / Simon Reindl  
October 2019
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Mastering Professional Scrum: A Practitioners Guide to Overcoming Challenges and Maximizing the Benefits of Agility
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For Scrum Teams and Agile Leaders who want to enable greater business agility, this book is a practical guide to overcoming challenges and maximizing the benefits of Scrum, unlike books that are focused on basic understanding of the framework, or are too heavy on theory.


Mastering Professional Scrum is based on years of training, coaching, and working with Scrum to deliver products across many industry sectors, from startups to multinationals all around the world. The book begins with an overview of why business agility matters and why Scrum works. Then the authors cover the situations that cause organizations to have to change the way they do things, and the challenges of a rapidly evolving marketplace. Adopting an approach that is based on high quality and fast feedback helps to manage risk and provide the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements and situations. The importance of professionalism in the industry is introduced.


Many Scrum implementations have drifted from the framework and/or are going through the motions without the true spirit of professionalism and transformation. This common pitfall will be examined using a case study to be referenced throughout the book. The case study will be representative of where many existing Scrum Teams and organizations may find themselves — a team has been doing Scrum and has seen some benefits, but there are still many challenges that arise from both within the team and from pressures in the organization and the market.


  • Helps readers understand the challenges organizations face with adopting Scrum and keeping Scrum healthy, as well as when and how to apply the Scrum Framework
  • Specific coverage on how to form and launch a Scrum team
  • Shows how to adapt and extend the Scrum Framework to specific situations, and how to measure and manage product development using the Scrum Framework
  • Teaches practitioners to know how (and when!) to get management involved in the support of Scrum

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ken Schwaber xiii
Foreword by Dave West xvii
Introduction xxi
Acknowledgments xxvii
About the Authors xxix

Chapter 1: Continuously Improving Your Scrum Practice 1
Focus on Seven Key Areas to Improve Your Scrum Practice 2
Growing Scrum Requires a Team to Improve Other Capabilities 7
A Process for Continuous Improvement 12
Summary 21
Call to Action 22

Chapter 2: Creating a Strong Team Foundation 23
Forming a Team Identity 23
What Makes a Good Team Member? 24
Who Should Be on a Scrum Team? 27
How Do Scrum Teams Form Working Agreements? 29
What Does Self-Organization Look Like? 31
How Do Scrum Teams Collaborate? 36
How Do Teams Progress? 42
Summary 47
Call to Action 48

Chapter 3: Delivering “Done” Product Increments 49
What Is a Definition of “Done”? 50
Using Sprint Goals to Get to “Done” 55
Getting PBIs to “Done” Earlier in the Sprint 58
Limiting Work Items in Progress 62
Building in Quality from the Beginning 64
Quality Metrics 68
Tackling Technical Debt 70
Summary 74
Call to Action 74

Chapter 4: Improving Value Delivered 77
What Is Value? 77
Delivering Faster Is a Good Start, But Not Enough 78
Product Value and the Scrum Team 80
Using the Product Vision to Enliven Team Purpose, Focus, and Identity 81
Measuring Value 83
Inspecting and Adapting Based on Feedback 90
Summary 92
Call to Action 93

Chapter 5: Improving Planning 95
Planning with a Product Mindset 96
Creating Alignment 100
Product Backlog Refinement 101
Planning a Sprint 107
How Far Ahead to Refine 111
Planning Releases 112
Summary 113
Call to Action 114

Chapter 6: Helping Scrum Teams Develop and Improve 115
Using the Sprint Retrospective to Uncover Areas for Improvement 115
Identifying and Removing Impediments 118
Growing Individual and Team Capabilities 124
Being an Accountable Scrum Master 127
Summary 135
Call to Action 135

Chapter 7: Leveraging the Organization to Improve 137
Organizations Need to Evolve to Succeed 137
Developing People and Teams 138
Getting Comfortable with Transparency 144
A Culture of Accountability, Not a Culture of Blame 145
Letting Go of (the Illusion of) Control 146
The Real Power of the Iron Triangle 146
Funding Initiatives 148
“Being Agile” Is Not the Goal 152
Nail It Before You Scale It 153
Summary 154
Call to Action 154

Chapter 8: Conclusion and What’s Next 157
Business Agility Requires Emergent Solutions 157
Call to Action 160

Appendix A: A Self-Assessment for Understanding Where You Are 161
Business Agility 161
Effective Empiricism with Scrum 162
Effective Teamwork with Scrum 167
Analysis of Assessment Answers 168

Appendix B: Common Misconceptions About Scrum 169
Scrum Is Not a Methodology or a Governance Process 169

Index 175


Stephanie Ockerman has more than a decade of experience in both traditional waterfall and agile delivery approaches and has worked with implementations in leading large-scale technology programs, acting as a Scrum Master, and coaching Scrum Teams and organizations. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through PMI and a Co-Active Coach trained by the Coach Training Institute. Stephanie is an active blogger and frequently speaks at agile and leadership conferences around the world.


Simon Reindl is an experienced developer, trainer, coach, and technologist. He has more than 20 years’ experience helping organizations in the private and public sectors and all industries adopt new technology and improve the value delivered. He is qualified to lead the full range of Professional Scrum Training courses (PSF, PSD .NET, PSM, PSPO and SPS) as well as coach people at all levels—whether in technical or managerial roles. Simon is a qualified teacher and Certified Agile Coach. He is also an active blogger and speaker at agile and technical conferences around the world.