No matter how well you've done in your training program or how hard you've studied, you're bound to make mistakes when you finally sit down for your Scrum Master exam. Here are the three most important questions people often get wrong.
1. Is the Scrum Master a manager?
The answer is yes. But most people will choose no. That might be because the no's all come accompanied by a neat explanation, and the yes is followed by a period. Too simple. But most likely, it's because they don't recognize the kind of manager a Scrum Master is. This is really about the future of management, where a manager is also – or primarily – a coach to his team, guiding and removing obstacles along their way in order to facilitate high-performance work. Just because you're not formally part of the hierarchy, doesn't mean it's not management. It's just not your standard type of management.
2. Can you combine multiple team roles within one person?
Scrum stays silent on this subject. And that means it's definitely an option. Whether it's advisable, is a different story. And that all depends on the roles. Combining the Scrum Master and Product Owner accountabilities, for example, is what we used to call project management – and that kind of power in one person is usually what we're trying to avoid. Whatever combination you make, just make sure you know what you're getting into. Can you still meet the requirements for both, even when the going gets tough?
In a truly Agile work environment, there is always more than one right answer. The Scrum Framework exists to enable teams to do complex product development in an Agile way, and that's why it prescribes as little as possible. It wants teams to find their own way and experiment with what works for them. So, while some combinations are definitely more suitable than others, the answer is: Yes, all of the above (or below).
3. Does the Daily Scrum have to be daily?
A lot of people believe the answer is no. And honestly, that surprises me. It's right there in the name! The Daily Scrum is called Daily because you do it, yes, daily! But didn't I just say that everything is possible in the Scrum Framework? I did. Then why be so strict about this one? Well, once Scrum does prescribe something, it means business.
Every day you're at work, you and your team get together and make a plan for the day. And that's because research (Coplien, 1994) has shown that every single high-performance team has a daily event where they decide what they need to do that day to reach their goal. No exceptions. Have a goal, and check whether you're working toward that goal at least once every day. These are the core values of Scrum, and they aren't optional.
And finally, the most important advice I can give anyone taking the exam: read the Scrum Guide. And be thorough. Good luck!