Passing the PAL I – Professional Agile Leadership Certification

Professional Agile Leadership - PAL IThe PAL I was an interesting test and moderately difficult. I was sometimes faced with questions that could easily be a couple of different correct answers.

This was my second attempt at this test. My first attempt was shortly after the exam came out and I didn’t prepare or know what was on the test. I got 80% on that first attempt, two questions short of passing.

The biggest thing I think to remember is that you need to read each word carefully and think about what they mean in context to Scrum. I doubt the claims of that distributed teams are less effective than colocated teams. I have seen about 5 or 6 studies on this in the past year or so and only one of those studies seemed to find that distributed teams were less effective than colocated ones. (* I have provided links to information on this topic below.)

You have to answer from a Scrum perspective, therefore, you have to answer from the perspective that distributed teams are less effective than colocated ones. In most cases, the rationale makes sense and you can tell which ones are good choices. The difficult part is choosing the best choice.

Here is what I did to help me pass the Professional Agile Leadership (PAL I) certification exam:

The PAL I isn’t a memorization exam. The open assessments, the course and blog posts I list above will only take you so far. You have to get in on the Agile mindset, which the above helped me to do. You have to critically think about the information above and relate it to real-world scenarios.

You need to remember that the primary purpose of an agile approach isn’t to create value or save money – it’s to improve the outcome for the customer. So when given a choice between lower costs, more value, or improved customer satisfaction; the likely answer has to do with customer satisfaction.

The Product Owner is not a manager of the Scrum team. The Scrum Master doesn’t tell the team how to do their work. These are obvious statements until faced with some questions about what they are supposed to do in given scenarios.

As with the PSM, you need to answer for the Ideal Scrum environment. So a manager outside the team isn’t going to order a Product Owner to add an item to the Sprint backlog – even if you have seen that happen in real life. That isn’t Ideal Scrum.

Hopefully, some of the above tips and study items help you out. It can be a tricky test, but it is a logical one as long as you have a decent grasp of Scrum. The worst part is choosing the best answer when two or more sound like fairly decent options – remember the Scrum Guide when that happens.

Professional Agile Leadership (PAL I) Practice Test: Professional Agile Leadership (PAL I) Practice Exam

Also, feel free to try my PSM/PSPO practice exam: Scrum Master – PSM I and PSPO I Exam Sample Questions

If you are taking the PAL I, I recommend you take both practice tests.

Books on Agile Leadership

Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change

Evolvagility: Growing an Agile Leadership Culture from the Inside Out

Scrum Mastery: From Good To Great Servant-Leadership


Information on distributed teams, open offices, and colocation:

An Examination of Team Effectiveness in Distributed and Co-located Engineering Teams

The impact of the ‘open’ workspace on human collaboration

The Privacy Crisis

Sickness absence associated with shared and open-plan offices–a national cross-sectional questionnaire survey

Workspace satisfaction: The privacy-communication trade-off in open-plan offices

Document on Telecommuting (No Sources)

Someone’s Thesis Project: The Impact of Telecommuting on Team Effectiveness

The only study I have seen lately that supports co-location and it still makes a note about noise hindering productivity: The Impact of Collocation on the Effectiveness of Agile is Development Teams 


9 replies »

  1. Thank you for the detailed information on taking the examinations. I have passed my PSM1 and going for PAL1. I will let you know how I get on.


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