TL; DR: 60 Questions for the New Scrum Master

Congratulations to your new Scrum Master position! Now what?

What has served me well over the years is a combination of observation and asking questions. The following 60 Questions for a New Scrum Master may support you in learning more about the Scrum team’s way of working and the organization’s culture.

60 Questions for the New Scrum Master — Take them to the Team! By Age-of-Product.com

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Get Started and Inspect and Adapt along the Way

The following set of questions is intended as a starter to get a new Scrum Master airborne in a short period. Depending on how familiar your team is with Scrum, the kind of the team’s organization and its culture, and the market your Scrum team is serving, this set of questions may require change.

The questions have proven helpful in 1-on-1 conversation, in group discussion, and the form of an anonymous survey. But, no matter the format, the questions pave the way for a new Scrum Master to gather insight into the Scrum team’s way of working and the organization’s culture they need to start to support the team.

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20 Questions for the Scrum Team

The first set of questions addresses the whole team. It has proven helpful to learn more about the alignment between the team members and general practices. Or the lack thereof.

  • How large is your Product Backlog?
  • What is the typical age of a Product Backlog item?
  • What is your average lead time from an idea being added to the Product Backlog to its delivery?
  • Does your Product Backlog contain work items none of the current team members is familiar with?
  • How often are you refining the Product Backlog?>
  • On how many Product Backlog items are you working in parallel during Product Backlog refinement?
  • How long does the refinement of a typical Product Backlog item take?
  • How are you creating Product Backlog items?
  • Where are you discussing Product Backlog items?
  • Who is writing acceptance criteria and in what format?
  • How are you estimating the likely effort of a Product Backlog item?
  • Are you estimating in man-hours or story points?
  • How are you practicing the estimation process if the team shares different opinions?
  • What is a typical distribution of work item sizes in your Sprint Backlog?
  • Are you re-estimating work items at the end of a Sprint? If so, under which circumstances are you doing so?
  • What was your velocity for the last three Sprints?
  • How many user stories are typically not finished within a Sprint and for what reasons?
  • Are you changing Product Backlog items once they become part of a Sprint Backlog? And if so, under what circumstances?
  • How would you consider the level of technical debt?
  • What are the three main challenges the Scrum Team is facing today?

You can find more details on the questions here: 20 Questions a New Scrum Master Should Ask Her Team to Get up to Speed.

20 Questions for the Product Owner

The interview script helps an initial conversation between the Product Owner and the new Scrum master to get the latter up to speed. The questions focus on winning traits of high performing, value-creating teams. They range from product vision and strategy, via product discovery, and collaboration within the team, to good practices of product delivery.

  • What is the product vision and the corresponding go-to-market strategy?
  • How do you learn about new ideas and requirements?
  • How do you include user research in the product discovery process?
  • How much time do you allocate to user research and understanding your customers’ needs?
  • At what stage do you involve the Scrum Team in the product discovery process?
  • How do you organize the collaboration with stakeholders?
  • How do you deal with pet projects?
  • What is your approach to creating product roadmaps?
  • How large is your Product Backlog?
  • What is the typical age of a work item in the Product Backlog?
  • What is your average lead time from picking an idea for validation to adding the corresponding work item to the Product Backlog?
  • Does your Product Backlog contain work items none of the current team members is familiar with?
  • How often are you refining the Product Backlog?
  • On how many work items are you working in parallel during Product Backlog refinement?
  • How long does the refinement of a typical work item take?<
  • How are you creating work items?
  • How are you discussing work items? Only during refinement sessions, or also on Slack or via comments on tickets, for example?
  • Are you changing work items once they become a part of a Sprint Backlog? And if so, under what circumstances?
  • When do you accept work items?
  • Have you ever rejected work items?

You can find more details on the questions here: 20 Questions from New Scrum Master to Product Owner .

20 Questions for the Developers

The interview script supports an initial conversation between the Developers and the new Scrum Master to speed up the latter. The questions focus on winning traits of high-performing, value-creating Scrum Teams. They range from the Definition of Done to technical excellence to product discovery to collaboratively creating an actionable Product Backlog.

  • Who is creating your Definition of Done?
  • How would you consider the level of technical debt?
  • Are you tracking the development of technical debt regularly?
  • How much time per Sprint do you allocate to refactoring and bug fixing?
  • How are you spreading knowledge among the Development Team members, how are you improving your technical excellence level?
  • Do you have any skill gaps that would require formal training classes to improve your team’s effectiveness?
  • Do you have the right tools available—software, hardware, cloud applications—to accomplish the team’s mission?
  • Are you involved in the hiring process of new Development Team members?
  • At what stage do you participate in the product discovery process?
  • Have you ever interviewed customers of our product to learn more about their needs?
  • How often are you refining the Product Backlog?
  • On how many work items are you working in parallel during Product Backlog refinement?
  • How long does the refinement of a typical work item take?
  • How are you creating work items?
  • How are you discussing work items? Only during refinement sessions, or also on Slack or via comments on tickets, for example?
  • Is your Product Owner changing work items once they become a part of a Sprint Backlog? And if so, under what circumstances?
  • How are you estimating the likely effort of a Product Backlog item?
  • Are you estimating in man-hours or story points?
  • How are you practicing the estimation process if the team shares different opinions?
  • What are the three main challenges the Development Team is facing today?

You can find more details on the questions here: 20 Questions from New Scrum Master to the Developers .

Conclusion

Listen, observe, and learn. These questions will quickly get you through the first few days on the new Scrum Master job, understanding why things might be the way they are. The answers also provide a sound basis for a team Retrospective.

How do you start in a new Scrum Master position? Please your thoughts with us in the comments!

Related Content

20 Questions a New Scrum Master Should Ask Her Team to Get up to Speed

20 Questions from New Scrum Master to Product Owner

20 Questions from New Scrum Master to the Developers

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