ACSM: Getting Started

We are excited to help you achieve your goal of becoming an Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (ACSM).  This page contains the mandatory pre-work to prepare everyone to have a great experience in our course.  If you need any assistance before the class, please contact

This course focuses on the next-level of skills and experience
that agile professionals need, specifically facilitation skills.

Get ready for your ACSM course

The mandatory prework on this page consists of three parts:  read the  Agile/Scrum/Kanban refresher sections, download and fill in leadership development pdf to bring to class, and submit your answers to the three questions at the bottom of the page.  So no “dog ate my homework” excuses please!



Agile has roots in Lean and object-oriented thinking, which is many decades old.  The Harvard Business Review article “The New New Product Development Game” from 1986 helped popularize lean thinking in the West and intensified these conversations about a better way to do work.  Along with other inspirations, this began the development of numerous frameworks such as Extreme Programming, SCRUM, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal, Feature-Driven Development, Pragmatic Programming, and others  – sympathetic to the need for an alternative to documentation driven, heavyweight software development processes that were not working.

On February 11-13, 2001, at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, seventeen people (from these various frameworks) met to talk, ski, relax, and try to find common ground—and of course, to eat. What emerged was the Agile ‘Software Development’ Manifesto. 

The Agile Manifesto

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

© 2001-2019 Agile Manifesto Authors. This declaration may be freely copied in any form, but only in its entirety through this notice.



Scrum is an Agile framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.  The term “Scrum” comes from a 1986 Harvard Business Review article in which authors Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka made an analogy comparing high-performing, cross-functional teams to the scrum formation used by rugby teams. Created by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber.

Review of Scrum Framework

Source:  Videos are a subset of material created and given permission to share
by former colleague, Peter Green with Humanizing Work.

1. Scrum Theory 5:47

We’ll answer these questions:  Why Scrum? What is it built to do?

2. Scrum Roles 2:39

We’ll explain the three roles within the Scrum Team.

3. Intro to Scrum Events 3:34

We’ll get an overview of how all of the Scrum Events work together as a system.

4. Scrum Artifacts 3:48

We’ll highlight the three artifacts of Scrum (something that humans make).


There are two other commonly used agile frameworks in addition to Scrum: eXtreme Programming (XP) (we will cover at a high-level during class) and Kanban. 

Kanban can have several meanings and word uses in the agile space. The term gets thrown around a lot; let’s start with definitions:  

  • a signboard or billboard in Japanese
  • a just-in-time method of inventory control, originally developed in Japanese automobile factories
  • a Japanese lean manufacturing system in which the supply of components is regulated through the use of an instruction card sent along the production line
  • an agile approach or framework

Kanban, as it’s known today in the agile space, is the application of lean concepts and kanban systems, by people and teams, to optimize the flow of value to your customers. 

Image Source:  Dr. Ian Mitchell (wikipedia)

Source: Dr. Ian Mitchell (wikipedia)

The four Kanban principles we teach are:

Based on these principles, there are many practices to determine priorities, focus, and improve. That is what Kanban is about. Additionally, there are other lists of principles, practices, and ideas out there around Kanban – these are simply the four we use. There can be a bit of confusion around if something is a principle or a practice as well. Some Kanban principles out there seem to be more practices AND some may even look at the four principles listed above and say those are practices, not principles. That is okay. The world allows for variation.

Kanban does require that management and employees be “all in” to make problems transparent and then to work together to solve them and continuously improve. This might not be immediate, but if these issues are not being worked on quickly, the chances of value decrease. Kanban simply expects that everyone is doing work as issues emerge.

Why should I use Kanban instead of Scrum?

There are many opinions on this as you might guess. We typically look at a few factors when assessing which might work best.  Kanban can be a good place to start when:

  1. Can’t commit to a 1-week sprint to iteration because we don’t have the predictability to know what the next highest priority will be.
  2. Need people from different departments and areas of the organization, and it does not make sense to create teams around these people since they are not needed full time for the work.
  3. Work with vendors and external departments and divisions in our organization, so the steps that we do are only part of the full delivery process. We have handoffs today.
  4. Want to use Kanban and it’s principles.


A facilitator creates a space
for a group to arrive at better outcomes,
more easily than they could otherwise
manage on their own.

Please download and print this PDF on leadership development areas to bring to class.  At the very end is an assessment chart.  For each skill or responsibility, self-assess your knowledge and use. Place an ‘x’ in the column corresponding to the appropriate number:

  • ‘1’ is the lowest (little knowledge or use – you rarely use it)
  • ’10’ is the highest (a lot of knowledge or use – you use it all the time)
  • ‘?’ indicates that you are not familiar with the concept (most people will have a number of these before the class).


Please submit your answers to the following questions.  Unfortunately, you will not receive an indicator if your answers were correct.  Bring your answers to the course and we’ll find out!