PSPO Assessment Tips

PSPO Assessment Tips

Robb: We’re going to give you some PSPO Assessment Tips. I know we already have one out there for the PSM I, and how you can prepare for that, but we felt we were neglecting our Product Owner friends. So Greg, what would be your number one tip for how you would study for the PSPO assessment?

Greg: The number one tip that I would start with is, use the open assessments. There are two of them that I think are valuable for the Product Owner. The first would be the Product Owner Open. Seems pretty obvious, but rip through that thing, understand what’s in it, and look at the comments at the end of that open assessment. That’ll help you understand the purpose of the questions, and what they’re looking for. 

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Same goes for the Scrum Open. I think it’s going to be more difficult for Product Owners to handle the Scrum Open, but it’ll be good for you. It also has a similar format, more questions, but understand the intent of those questions and look at the tips at the end of those open assessments. That’s like free content. Chances are you are going see some of those questions on the test, almost guaranteed to see some of those questions on the test. So that’s my number one. 

I think the number two is the Scrum Guide. Robb, I think you make this comment all the time in class, the number one way to fail the assessment guaranteed, is to…

Robb: Not read the Scrum Guide. 

Greg: There you go. 

Robb: Just don’t read it. If you want to fail, don’t read it.

Greg: (Greg Laughing) That’s 100% way to fail. So reading the Scrum Guide, again, with the open assessments in the background, you have some context for the Scrum Guide and hopefully that’ll make more sense. 

Number three is going to be core to the structure around the Product Owner class, the Professional Scrum Product Owner class, and that is the three V’s for the Product Owner. You know what those are, right? 

Robb: I do. Vision, Value, and Validation.

Greg: Okay, so let’s talk about that for a second. I think this might help people understand the importance of it. So vision is the whole purpose. It’s the giant “why”. Give me a reason for why this exists. You as a Product Owner, the product itself, and then we can start disseminating the idea of value. And that’s actually a big nugget there. What is value? There’s a Product Owner Pathway at It’s an entire area that you can explore some additional information articles that can help break that down if that is a mystery. But value is key. If we don’t have that, as a Product Owner, we’re not going to be able to satisfy our accountability which is to maximize value. So out of the three V’s, it all comes down to understanding value. But without the book ends of vision, the purpose, and validation proving that that purpose has true value, we’re at a loss. So those three views are critical. And that anchors pretty much all the learning for the Product Owner and the experience. So those are the top three.  

Robb: I want to add one about the validation thing. One thing you have to assume as a Product Owner is that you’re wrong. You always have to assume that what you’re doing is wrong, and you’re constantly looking to validate it. And so remember that the Sprint Review is your way of verifying with the people that care about what you’re doing. They validate that you’re on the right track. And so you try an experiment for a Sprint, you put it out there, and they take a look at it. You’re going to get immediate feedback, but they’re not your only source of validation. Releasing is also a source of validation, and that’s really the ultimate validation. How do you know what you are building is valuable unless your customers react positively?

So I just want to throw that out there. Remember that important part about validation because you’re going to see a lot of questions on the test that trip you up into thinking that you’re way more focused on requirements writing, and document producing, then you are verifying that what you’re doing is actually cared about by your customers.

Greg: Well, that’s huge. Assumptions are killer in that one, and we can’t know until we validate. So without releasing…

Robb: Assumptions to assume makes an a** out of you, and someone else.

Greg: (Greg Laughing) I think so. We’ll have to find that one and document that somewhere. In a certain emoji, a donkey emoji. 

So my last and final tip on this one is for the Product Owner assessment, you need to put on the mindset that you are the owner, or you may think of this as “What would a CEO do in a business situation”? Are they going to sit in the background during a board meeting and not have any input, or insights, or comment or take accountability for the direction of their company? You have to ask the same question about a Product Owner. So a Product Owner who’s basically not thinking as a CEO, or as a true owner, may find this test very problematic. So they’re going to have to think differently. What if you actually owned it, and you had the accountability and authority to do so? What decisions would you make? And how would you work with those parties, especially stakeholders. And this is a giant topic, but a true Product Owner, as an owner, needs to engage and collaborate with many, many parties, and to work with them so they can, well, go back to the core which is maximizing value. So there you go, those are the top four tips.

Robb: Oh, and one thing to remember, Product Owners are not Project Managers. There will be a number of questions that will trick you into thinking that there’s some new form of project. So here’s the last tip from me.
Greg: That’s a good tip. Alright, that’s it. I wish you luck on the PSPO I.

If you’re reading this and are preparing for the PSPO I assessment and have any questions you want us to expand on please contact us.

Greg Crown

Likes baking, craft beer, whisk(e)y & beaches.