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Agile @ Academy

Chapter Leaders

Traditional Team Lead versus Chapter Lead: the five biggest differences

  • Hierarchy is history: you have to let go of your control freak side. Squads decide with their PO on the what and the how for their purpose (no more SteerCo’s or project boards with so many slides that you fall asleep halfway anyway )

  • You are a team member within the squad: within the new model, the chapter lead works for x% of his/her time in a squad. That means refining, reviewing and all what comes with the job to deliver value. The remaining time is spent on “chapter leading.” Having one-on-ones with your chapter members. Having knowledge sessions and doing some tribe generic stuff. That basically means: get your hands dirty and work your ass!

  • Throw your ego out the window: let me be honest with you. I have an ego. As we all do. But in this new way of working, there is little space for ego’s. Which is great! But, as a human being, you like to feel relevant. And based on the traditional organizational model, you would probably try to feel relevant by steering the squads into the right – according to your wise opinion – direction. And by having a large say in their priorities and representing them in several steering committees. But no more of that! You’ll have to embrace the new way of being relevant! Like;

  • Servant leadership: your main task as a chapter lead is to make sure your chapter members are happy. Sounds shallow? Easy? Think one more time!! This is the hard and most crucial part. It is your responsibility to help your chapter members with their development, both hard skills as well as the soft ones. Help them exploit their strengths and handle their weaknesses. Make sure they are properly equipped to perform their job the best they can. A happy chapter member is the best compliment a chapter lead can get!

  • Expertise is everything: forget about a generic management role with lots of bla bla bla… A chapter lead is an expert! He/she translates the developments in his/her domain into strategy within the chapter and makes sure it is well transferred to all chapter members.

Product Owner - Job description

Key responsibilities

  • Maximizing the business value of "Digital Literacy Development Program" via a product vision, release strategy and Product Backlog.

  • Refines and prioritizes the Product Backlog continually together with stakeholders and the delivery team taking into account functional and non-functional requirements

  • In case of conflicts with/between stakeholders on Timelines, Budget or Functionality, escalates to Chief Product Owner/Asset Owner

  • Improves the change management process including testing & acceptance testing for "Digital Literacy Development Program"

  • Initiate, lead and actively align with suppliers with respect to innovation of the products

  • Participate in Governance boards (e.g. Design Authority) to facilitate decision making on changes and priority setting

  • Ensure stakeholder alignment on user acceptance

  • Advice the Asset Owner on change acceptance

  • Align with IT Service Manager on Service Level Agreements agreed with suppliers


Who we are looking for?
You have a background and proven track record in ...... preferably in an international context. Understanding
... processes is a pre. You are able to drive change. You are certified .... You are ambitious and enable higher performance by managing processes. You can translate opportunities in strategy and actions. You have the capacity to manage stakeholders and work/communicate effectively in an international environment. 



Experience and Knowledge

  • Tertiary education, preferably at Masters level

  • At least 4  years relevant working experience

  • Project management

  • Experience in Agile WoW as product owner

  • Knowledge of Academy products and processes, ... prefered

  • Excellent spoken and written English language



Required competences

  • Understands the political relationships within the company.

  • Anticipates and prepares for opportunities and obstacles.

  • Understands the political relationships within the company.

  • Stakeholder management Excellent communication skills - ability to present formal / informal findings and different types of information in a clearly defined and persuasive manner

SCRUM Master Job description


Key Responsibilities: 


  • Doing everything possible to ensure delighting customers

  • Guiding the team and organization on how to use Agile/Scrum practices and values to delight customers 

  • Guiding the team on how to get the most of out self organization 

  • Guiding the team on self organizing to fill in the intentional gaps left in the Agile/Scrum frameworks 

  • Assessing the Scrum Maturity of the team and organization and coaching the team to higher levels of maturity, at a pace that is sustainable and comfortable for the team and organization 

  • Removing impediments or guiding the team to remove impediments by finding the right personnel to remove the impediment. 

  • Building a trusting and safe environment where problems can be raised without fear of blame, retribution, or being judged, with an emphasis of healing and problem solving. 

  • Facilitating getting the work done without coercion, assigning, or dictating the work. 

  • Facilitating discussion, decision making, and conflict resolution 

  • Assisting with internal and external communication, improving transparency, and radiating information

  • Providing all support to the team using a servant leadership style whenever possible, and leading by example

Required Skills/Experience 

  • First level Scrum Master certification (CSM, PSM I)

  • Experience playing the Scrum Master role for at least one year for a software development team that was diligently applying Scrum principles, practices, and theory. 

  • Good skills and knowledge of servant leadership, facilitation, situational awareness, conflict resolution, continual improvement, empowerment, and increasing transparency 

  • Knowledge of numerous well documented patterns and techniques for filling in the intentional gaps left in the Scrum approach(example: numerous Burndown techniques, numerous Retrospective formats, handling bugs, etc)

Preferred Skills/Experience (Any of these is a plus) 

  • Second level Scrum Master certification (CSP, PSM II) 

  • Experience playing the Scrum Master role for at least two years for a software development team that was diligently applying Scrum principles, practices, and theory. 

  • Knowledge of other Agile approaches: XP, Kanban, Crystal, FDD, etc 

  • Knowledge and/or experience with widely successful Agile techniques: User Stories, ATDD, TDD, Continuous Integration, Continuous Testing, Pairing, Automated Testing, Agile Games 

  • Applicable knowledge of the technologies used by the team 

  • Experience applying a wide variety of well documented patterns and techniques for filling in the intentional gaps left in the Scrum approach(example: numerous Burndown techniques, numerous Retrospective formats, handling bugs,etc) 

  • Previous experience as a team lead 

  • Excellent communication and mentoring skills 

Some thoughts from experienced Scrum Master on What's not to do for Scrum Master

The ScrumMaster role might be the more difficult to define among the three role involved in Scrum. Starting from a “bad” ScrumMaster job description, Sam Laing discusses errors to avoid when you create such a role specification. As a bonus, she adds at the end a good ScrumMaster job description.

This morning I received a ScrumMaster job description. About 5 years ago these were really bad, essentially Project Manager jobs with a different name. They have gotten better and I am even noticing words like collaboration and facilitation. The one I read this morning caught my attention as the opening paragraph was great and then it got weird. Anyway. I decided it was worth debunking each Key Responsibility and highlighting whose responsibility that is in Scrum and why.


(NOTE: there are some good job descriptions – I’ve included one at the bottom of this post)

Key responsibilities

– Run daily, weekly and monthly agile rituals efficiently and strictly

I agree the ScrumMaster (SM) should ensure these are happening, however it is not their responsibility to run them. If they are not happening the SM should figure out why and help solve the underlying impediment.

– Tracks work progress to identify blockages and developer divergence from allocated tasks


The team tracks their own progress during the sprint and also allocates tasks themselves. The Product Owner (PO) tracks work progress against the release or product. The SM should note blockages and divergence and help the team and PO to solve these impediments.

– Blocks Business, Operational Staff and Product owners from interference with Development Structure


Uh no. Just no. An SM needs to encourage communication with Business, Ops and PO’s, not block it. Find a way to allow effective communication to happen with all parties and encourage that it keeps happening. If there is ‘interference’ then the SM should dig deeper to solve the underlying problem of why interference is needed.

– Polices channels for submission of development work requests


What? No. The PO is responsible for all work that the team receives, thus if there are multiple channels to monitor it should be the POs responsibility. What the SM could do here is help resolve the multiple channels, into something simpler and easy for the PO to manage.

– Implements structure changes and strategy that are generated by agile retrospectives


Actions from the retrospective are for the team to own, action and do. The SM might note larger impediments and start working on those.

– High velocity communicator – making sure that all information regarding changes in scope,


delays and other detrimental events are communicated to those involved with the piece of work as soon as they arise

Yes the SM should be a great communicator, but detrimental events should be communicated by the team and the PO. Changes in Scope should be a discussion with the PO and the team. If these detrimental events occur often, then the SM should be looking at solving the causes of this. Likewise if scope is changing mid sprint often, the SM might focus on having more grooming sessions and look into some techniques to use in grooming to prevent this happening mid-sprint.


– Blocks stories that do not contain the right level of detail from entering the Dev Structure


Uh no. If the team doesn’t have enough detail then they should explain that during grooming and not commit to taking in the story during sprint planning. If the SM notices that the story seems vague they can ask questions to help the team surface these assumptions and questions.

– Blocks changes to work once in development without following the proper re-evaluation process


Uh no. Change is encouraged as is feedback in Scrum. Should something change mid-sprint, if the team feels they can accommodate the change without it affecting their sprint commitment – excellent it is in. If the team feels they can’t take on the change and make their commitment – the PO decides what is more important and drops stories from the sprint.

– Removes blockers with extreme prejudice when raised by development team


To be fair, I am not sure what “with extreme prejudice” means in this context. Anything preventing the team from going as fast as possible is an impediment. The SM’s job is to ensure these are removed, but not necessarily by removing impediments themselves, they can help the team and PO to remove these themselves if possible.

Essential Skills and competencies

– Certified ScrumMaster

There are many other certification schemes than just a CSM. So if you’re screening based on these 3 letters you’re making a mistake. Plus all this means is I sat in a class for 2 days. Seriously HOW is that essential to being a good SM?


– Tertiary Degree in Commerce, IT or Engineering


Why do you need a degree to be an SM? You require communication and people skills in buckets. Commerce, IT and Engineering may help you understand jargon but it also means you make assumptions when working with tech teams. By the way – Scrum is not just for Tech teams. Some of the best SM’s I know have no techie background. So making this an essential requirement is odd and short sighted.

– 3-5 years as ScrumMaster or Agile Project Manager


Experience as an SM is great to have. As for Agile Project Manager – I don’t know what that is but I can tell you the skills to be a Project Manager and the skills to be a great SM are VERY different. If you have a PM becoming an SM, then they need to unlearn many things. This is not impossible, just very difficult.

– 5 years in Agile Development Environment


As above any experience is important. Even if its experience in doing this agile thing badly – it all helps.

– Strong communicator


More importantly an effective communicator. SM need to be able to communicate in many different forms and with many different people.

– Experience running Scrum with JIRA


This is probably important to this company. More important is that the SM knows various tools and how to simplify them and use them for what they are good for. Sadly most JIRA implementations try and enforce a process and thus end up becoming hugely over complicated things. The SM should try and remove this impediment – there are many ways to do this. Also the SM should not be using JIRA. This tool is for the team and the PO to visualize work and then act on the info.



A great ScrumMaster job description

I got this job description for an SM here and have pasted it in, as the ad will probably be removed at some point. The same people have written a blog post on what makes a good ScrumMaster job description, a very good read.


Your tasks

  • Guide and coach the team and organization to follow Agile/Scrum practices

  • Guide and coach the team to become self-organized

  • Help the team assess their ‘Scrum Maturity’ and higher levels of maturity

  • Improve transparency within the team

  • Remove impediments

  • Guide the team to find the right person within the organization that can help them

  • Build a safe and trusting environment where conflicts can be managed in a healthy way without fear of blame

  • Be responsible for supporting and coaching the Product Owner on Agile/Scrum practices



Your profile

  • Experienced in a ScrumMaster role for at least two years for a software development team

  • Good skills and knowledge of facilitation, continuous improvement, empowerment, transparency and servant leadership

  • Knowledge of Agile approaches – Kanban, Scrum, XP, etc.

  • Knowledge and experience with Agile techniques – Automated Testing, User Stories, TDD, Continuous Integration, Testing, Pairing, Agile Games, etc.

  • You will notice this job specification has much more emphasis on the coaching aspect of the SM, and on responsibility of growing the team. The experience also mentions various agile approaches and techniques. Much more important than a certification or degree.

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