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Exam Code: PSPO-II Practice exam 2023 by team
PSPO-II Professional Scrum Product Owner II

Exam Specification: Professional Scrum Product Owner II (PSPO-II)

Exam Name: Professional Scrum Product Owner II
Exam Code: PSPO-II
Exam Duration: 120 minutes
Passing Score: 85%
Exam Format: Multiple-choice, multiple-answer

Course Outline:

1. Product Owner Role and Responsibilities
- Deep understanding of the Product Owner role
- Collaborating with stakeholders and development team
- Defining and prioritizing product backlog items
- Maximizing the value delivered by the product

2. Product Strategy and Vision
- Defining product vision and roadmap
- Setting product goals and objectives
- Creating a compelling product strategy
- Aligning the product with business goals

3. Product Backlog Management
- Eliciting and capturing product requirements
- Creating user stories and acceptance criteria
- Prioritizing and ordering the product backlog
- Refining and estimating backlog items

4. Release Planning and Forecasting
- Creating release plans and release goals
- Estimating release timelines and capacities
- Monitoring and adjusting release plans
- Managing dependencies and risks

5. Product Value and Metrics
- Identifying and measuring product value
- Defining and tracking key product metrics
- Conducting product experiments and A/B testing
- Continuously improving the product based on feedback

Exam Objectives:

1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the Product Owner role and responsibilities.
2. Apply effective techniques for product strategy and vision definition.
3. Master the art of product backlog management, including requirements elicitation and prioritization.
4. Develop proficiency in release planning and forecasting.
5. Understand the importance of product value and metrics in driving product success.
6. Apply Scrum principles and practices to maximize the value delivered by the product.

Exam Syllabus:

Section 1: Product Owner Role and Responsibilities (20%)
- Deep understanding of the Product Owner role
- Collaborating with stakeholders and development team
- Defining and prioritizing product backlog items
- Maximizing the value delivered by the product

Section 2: Product Strategy and Vision (20%)
- Defining product vision and roadmap
- Setting product goals and objectives
- Creating a compelling product strategy
- Aligning the product with business goals

Section 3: Product Backlog Management (30%)
- Eliciting and capturing product requirements
- Creating user stories and acceptance criteria
- Prioritizing and ordering the product backlog
- Refining and estimating backlog items

Section 4: Release Planning and Forecasting (15%)
- Creating release plans and release goals
- Estimating release timelines and capacities
- Monitoring and adjusting release plans
- Managing dependencies and risks

Section 5: Product Value and Metrics (15%)
- Identifying and measuring product value
- Defining and tracking key product metrics
- Conducting product experiments and A/B testing
- Continuously improving the product based on feedback

Professional Scrum Product Owner II
Scrum Professional thinking
Killexams : Scrum Professional thinking - BingNews Search results Killexams : Scrum Professional thinking - BingNews Killexams : Agile Scrum Basics for Professionals Course Details

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Agile Scrum Basics for Professionals Course Details

Classroom with students

Agile Scrum Basics for Professionals is a seven-hour non-credit course designed for leaders and practitioners across a variety of industries to learn how the Agile Scrum methodology and framework can streamline your projects. Scrum is a highly collaborative method that can improve the development, management and delivery of complex projects. This course is the perfect place to start for agile project management beginners and those looking to start a path toward certification.

Cost: $199

In this Agile & Scrum course you learn:

  • The differences between an Agile approach and traditional methodology, and discover why Agile is more effective
  • How adopting Agile approaches can increase business value
  • The core practices and philosophies behind this way of working

This course is designed for:

  • Agile organizations
  • Project managers in a diverse range of industries
  • Senior leadership
  • IT and software professionals
  • Product managers

Contact Kena Sears-Brown, Director for more information: 215.571.3936 and

Fri, 19 Aug 2022 10:45:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Why is becoming a Scrum Master a great career option?

Why is becoming a Scrum Master a great career option?

As an Agile Consultant, I think this is a great question, and I’m often asked why becoming a Scrum Master is a great career choice. 🚀  So, in this article, I will address this popular question circling the Agile sphere.

So why is becoming a Scrum Master a great career option? 🤔

The Scrum Master – A Stellar Step on the Leadership Track

Here’s my perspective: Firstly, I feel like the Scrum Master is the first next step for a team member on the leadership track.  🌟

The Scrum Master role is the perfect stepping stone for any team member on their journey to leadership. Imagine donning the gold shirt in Star Trek – it signifies your ambition to move forward, take on more significant accountabilities and demonstrate your leadership capability.   You want to demonstrate to your organization that you can lead.

Demonstrating Leadership Before Position

But remember, you have to demonstrate that leadership before you get the position. 🎯

Leadership isn’t granted with a title. It’s earned through action. If you’ve been a long-time team member, irrespective of your speciality – coding, testing, operations, or documentation, your focus should be enhancing your team’s effectiveness.  💼

Striving for Excellence in Your Domain

As a professional, you’ve been thinking, “How can you help your team be more effective?” as an individual, as an expert on that team. Logically, team members will look to you for some of those answers.

Now, what does this mean?

Let’s say you’re a whiz at automation. You’re demonstrating leadership if you’re constantly striving to make processes slicker to deliver more value to customers.

You’re showing that you’re knowledgeable and capable, and in doing so, you’re naturally transitioning into the Scrum Master role.  🌟And by adding more value, you are demonstrating that leadership ability. 🏆

Picking Up Accountabilities

Once the team respects you, and respects your ability to help them become way better, then that will be seen hopefully in the organization.

As a Scrum Master, you pick up accountabilities that perhaps nobody else addresses. Once you’re there and your team respects your ability to enhance their effectiveness, your leadership will go from strength to strength.  🎯

Scrum Master – Your First Step on the Leadership Ladder

So, if you ask me, the Scrum Master role is the starting point on the leadership track for any team member. From there, your journey can take you wherever you wish to go within your organization.

Remember, every organization has a unique flow, but the Scrum Master is a universally recognized and respected step on the leadership ladder. 📈

Intrigued about becoming a Scrum Master?

Join our Agile and Scrum courses to gain more knowledge and skills and make your first move on your leadership journey!

Master the skills needed to excel in your role and help your team to deliver excellent results.

Keep leading, keep growing! 🚀

Naked Agility is an #agile consultancy that specializes in #scrumtraining, #agilecoaching and #agileconsulting to help teams evolve, integrate, and continuously improve.

We recognize the positive impact that a happy AND inspired workforce can have on customer experience, and we actively help organizations to tap into the power of creative, collaborative, and high-performing teams that is unique to #agile and #scrum environments.

If you are interested in #agiletraining, visit

If you have identified the need for #agilecoaching and #agileconsulting, visit

We would love to work with you.

#scrum #agile #scrumteam #agileprojectmanagement #agileproductdevelopment #projectmanagement #productdevelopment #agilecoach #agileconsultant #agiletraining #scrumtraining #scrumorg

Keywords:       Scrum Master, Leadership, Career, Agile Methodology

Hashtags:        #ScrumMaster, #LeadershipJourney, #CareerInAgile


#Agile, #AgileCoach, #Scrum, #ScrumMaster, #AgileCentre, #ProductOwner, #BusinessAnalyst, #AgileProjectManagement, #BusinessAgility, #ScrumTraining, #AgileProductDevelopment.

Tue, 15 Aug 2023 20:56:00 -0500 en-GB text/html
Killexams : What Is A Scrum Master? Everything You Need To Know

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

A Scrum Master is a team leader responsible for ensuring the team implements Scrum in theory and practice. Scrum is one of the most popular forms of Agile, a project management methodology created for software development. The Scrum Master is responsible for serving as a leader for the Scrum team and larger organization, according to the Scrum Guide.

Scrum Master Responsibilities

In a Scrum practice, the team is composed of the Scrum Master, the product owner and the development team. The project owner is responsible for maximizing the end goal’s value, while the Scrum Master’s job is to ensure the team stays on track.

Melissa Boggs, Certified Enterprise Coach and former Co-CEO of Scrum Alliance, spoke to Forbes Advisor and explained that the Scrum Master’s role is to “help the team understand the value of Scrum and how Scrum can best serve the team, for the team to serve the customer.” The Scrum Master focuses on the team’s continuous improvement by introducing and using Scrum principles and practices, Boggs added.

Additionally, their responsibilities include making sure the Scrum events take place and are positive and productive. They also help ensure Scrum is implemented by the team in a productive way and lead the team to adopt Scrum.

A Scrum Master can be either a dedicated position or a temporary role one of the team members takes on during a project. While some teams and organizations require a full-time Scrum Master, others who are further along and more mature in their Agile journey may elect someone on the team for the role, Boggs said. How the Scrum Master fits into the overall team “depends on the goals of the organization, the maturity of the teams and the capabilities of the Scrum Master,” she added.

How To Be an Effective Scrum Master

An effective Scrum Master will understand Scrum, the value of all its elements, their team and how to marry all of them in an emergent way, Boggs said. They will be effective leaders who understand the team’s needs and keep the team on track with their goals.

This means a Scrum Master is continuously learning and creating opportunities for the team to develop their skills. “They are excellent communicators, coaches and creators,” Boggs said. A Scrum Master must be able to integrate both the long-term and short-term strategy while managing the team. “They are able to see the big picture, but they also help the team to decompose the big picture into smaller, incremental chunks of value,” she added. An effective Scrum Master also helps the team create feedback loops and connections with their customers.

According to Boggs, curiosity and openness are two essential qualities for an exceptional Scrum Master. Effective leadership requires patience, focus and understanding that developing a high-performing team is a long-term game. “They are able to see the big picture, but they also help the team to decompose the big picture into smaller, incremental chunks of value,” she added.

Tools and Resources

There are various certifying bodies in the Scrum space, but two of the most well-respected are Scrum Alliance and Boggs recommends that certification seekers spend time evaluating the certification and business models of the organizations before choosing one to invest in. Some differentiators to look out for during research are the price, reputation and community.

How To Become a Scrum Master

There are a variety of backgrounds that could prepare someone for the role of a Scrum Master. “We see everyone from QA Managers to engineers to school teachers that make excellent Scrum Masters,” Boggs said. It is common to see former project managers working in a Scrum Master role, she added.

Differences Between a Project Manager and a Scrum Master

While a project manager keeps track of different aspects of the team, the Scrum Master is focused specifically on the team and ensuring they are effective and achieve the project goals.

“The Scrum Master is not focused on time, scope and budget, but rather building and supporting an environment where a team can iteratively and incrementally build products and Boost their system,” Boggs said. “The Scrum Master is accountable for ensuring that the team has everything they need to be effective and that any impediments are removed from their path. They do not control what, how or when the products or projects are completed; those responsibilities are differently distributed in the Scrum framework between the team and the product owner.”

Scrum is often confused with a project management methodology in general. Instead, it is a “framework for developing and sustaining complex products,” according to the Scrum Guide. Scrum relies heavily on the idea of empirical process control and recognizes the complexity and uncertainty that is involved in product development.

Related: What Is A Scrum Board?

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Scrum Master fit into the overall team or organization?

The specific way the Scrum Master integrates into the overall team is unique to each company. It is not uncommon for the Scrum Master to report to either the engineering organization or an Agile organization, according to Melissa Boggs, Certified Enterprise Coach and former Co-CEO of Scrum Alliance.

Is a Scrum Master the same as a project manager?

A project manager is different from a Scrum Master. While a project manager keeps track of different aspects of the team, including budget, resources and timelines, the Scrum Master is specifically focused on the team and ensuring it is effective and achieves the project goals.

What skills are essential for a Scrum Master?

An effective Scrum Master is knowledgeable and trained in Scrum. One way to gain the necessary skills is through certification. While there are many certifying bodies, the two most well-known and respected are Scrum Alliance and Scrum Masters have a range of backgrounds and experiences, including software development, QA management or team leadership.

What makes an effective Scrum Master?

An effective Scrum Master will understand Scrum, the value of all its elements, their team and how to marry all of them in an emergent way, said Melissa Boggs, Certified Enterprise Coach and former Co-CEO of Scrum Alliance. A Scrum Master will be able to see the project’s big picture but can break it down into practical and shorter-term goals for the team.

What scrum master certifications are available?

There are several scrum master certifications that you can obtain. Some of the most common include
Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) and Certified Scrum Developer (CSD), which are offered by the Scrum Alliance; Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) and Professional Scrum Product Owner I (PSPO I), which are administered by; and SAFe Scrum Master (SSM), which is offered by Scaled Agile. There are also more advanced certifications that you can obtain, including Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (ACSM), Certified Scrum Professional ScrumMaster (CSP-SM), Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (ACSPO), Certified Scrum Professional Product Owner (CSP-PO), Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II), Professional Scrum Master III (PSM III), Professional Scrum Product Owner II (PSPO II), Professional Scrum Product Owner III (PSPO III), Advanced Certified Scrum Developer (ACSD) and Certified Scrum Professional (CSP).

Fri, 31 Dec 2021 14:56:00 -0600 Leeron Hoory en-US text/html
Killexams : Coding, Agile & Scrum Go Mainstream

Why would BloombergBusiness (BB) devote a whole issue—38,000 words—to the subject of writing computer code and managing computer coders? Because that’s the future.

“Software,” we learned from Marc Andreessen in 2011, “is eating the world.” In the process, software is eating up organizations and executives who don’t understand it or know how to manage it. As the BB article says, “Now that software lives in our pockets, runs our cars and homes, and dominates our waking lives, ignorance is no longer acceptable. The world belongs to people who code. Those who don’t understand will be left behind.” So BB is offering a tour of the strange, magical, mysterious world of software for frightened executives—and everyone else.

This cleverly-written, and often-funny, article by Paul Ford begins with the quandary of an apparently successful executive whose experience and skills are useless in coping with languages he doesn’t understand, management practices with strange names he cannot grasp, people he doesn’t feel comfortable with and threats to his survival as a manager that are all too real. Software development is consuming an ever-larger part of his budget while it is becoming ever central to his, and his organization’s, future.

The article follows the executive through an extended lesson in what software is all about. It describes the different languages—Java, Python, C, C++, C#, Perl and so on—along with their strengths, weaknesses and personalities, and even more important the management practices that are used to direct it.

It is safe to say that in the 21st century, it will be as common in high school to learn a couple of languages like Java and Python as it was to study French and Spanish in the 20th century.

Managing Coders

With a light touch, it gives a simplified and amusing account of the executive’s encounter with the terminology and management practices of Scrum, with its daily standups, its Scrum Masters and its sprints.

This is real. A Scrum Master in ninja socks has come into your office and said, ‘We’ve got to budget for apps.’ Should it all go pear-shaped, his career will be just fine. You keep your work in perspective by thinking about barrels of cash.

It gives a fair account of the main management practices of managing software: Agile and Scrum.

There are as many variations of Agile. I’ve had terrible meetings in my life when I sat between two teams and one of them explained, at length, why Agile with Kanban was better than Agile with Scrum. You could smell the money burning

Here is Agile, as I’ve seen it done: You break down your product into a set of simple-to-understand user stories about who needs what. You file those stories into an issue-tracking system, often a commercial product such as JIRA.

You divide work into sprints of a week, two weeks, or whatever suits your management style, and you supply each sprint a name and a goal (implement search, user registration), then the programmers take stories to go off and make them happen.

Every day your team checks in and tries to unblock one another—if you are working on the tool that sends e-mail and the e-mail server isn’t working, you tell everyone. Then someone else steps up to help, or you stick with that story and do the best you can, but everyone needs to be working toward the sprint goal, trying to release some software. And once the sprint is done, you deliver something that actually, really works and move on to the next thing, slowly bringing a large, complex system into operation.

That’s an ideal case. Done well, it avoids magical thinking ('It will all work when we get everything done and wired together'). It has its critics and can seem to have as many branches (c.f. Scrum, Kanban, and 'Agile with Discipline') as Protestantism.

It gives an account of what happens when the troubled executive picks up his courage and attends a daily standup.

One day you go to the pen where they keep the programmers. Their standup starts at 10 a.m., and some hold cups of coffee. They actually stand. Mostly men, a few women. They go around the room, and each person says what he did yesterday, what he plans to do today, and if he has any blockers. Most of the people are in the office, so they’re doing the standup in person; when people are traveling, they do it over chat. Two people are dialed in, the new hires from Boston and Hungary, both with strong accents. They tell the same story as the rest.

The executive gradually becomes comfortable with the world of software.

They will do their standups. And after the standups, they will go off and work in the integrated development environments and write their server-side JavaScript and their client-side JavaScript. Then they will run some tests and check their code into the source code repository, and the continuous integration server will perform tests and checks, and if all goes well, it will deploy the code—perhaps even in August, in some cloud or another. They insist that they’ll do this every day, continuous releases.

Then will come reports. Revenue reports, analytics, lists of new markets to conquer, all manner of new customer data that will be yours to parcel out and distribute. That will be your role, as the owner of the global database of customer intent. Thousands, then millions, of new facts that can help the company plan its sales and product development cycles. A good thing. And, you hope, the new site will generate more revenue, being faster, better, API-driven, and deployed across platforms to Web, mobile Web, and multiple apps…

When the site is introduced, you’ll buy the coders a cake and send them to the JavaScript conference of their choice. You’ve learned that the only appropriate reward for people who write JavaScript is more JavaScript. TMitTB will get his bonus. The CTO is already considering him for new things. You like the CTO. She has become a friend of sorts.

You can feel it, the S, off in the distance, coming toward you. It will arrive in due time, and you will stick it to the front of the VP in your title and all will be well. The coders all smile at you in the hall now that you’ve sat in on code reviews and feature discussions and stood quietly in the middle of standups. You know some of their names, even if you could do a better job of pronouncing them.

Perhaps you have a future in software after all.

Hello World.

Change Or Die

Not all encounters between executives and software will end so happily. Many executives will not make the effort to understand the new world of software that is emerging or the management practices related to it. And the new world will gobble them up and spit them out.

Many will find that mastering software involves shedding some of their basic assumptions about how the world works and how it should be managed. Top-down directives don't work in this world: code responds to intelligence, not authority. Nor does maximizing shareholder value work in a world in which customers are in charge. So the learning involves more than mastering the technical aspects of coding. It involves a different way of understanding and interacting with the world. It is a Copernican revolution in management.

A bonus for executives: once they understand how Agile and Scrum can manage the extraordinary complexities of software development, they will realize they can use the same management expertise to manage the mounting complexity of the rest of their business. In effect, Scrum is a major management discovery.

BB has done executives a great service by providing us with a simplified Baedeker for this strange new world. Death is not inevitable. There is no longer any need to go on faking your way through meetings about software. It can be understood. It is the future.

So read the article. Then re-read it. And then re-read it again.

As the editor says, “It may take a few hours to read, but that’s a small price to pay for adding decades to your career.”

And read also:

Why software is eating the world

Scrum is a major management discovery

Why do managers hate Agile?

Inspect and adapt the Agile Manifesto

Agile: Best kept management secret

Follow Steve Denning on Twitter @stevedenning

Also on Forbes:

Fri, 18 Aug 2023 01:46:00 -0500 Steve Denning en text/html
Killexams : Agile vs. Scrum vs. Waterfall

Agile vs. Scrum vs. Waterfall

group of Agile project managers sitting in an office

When it comes to project management methodologies, it may seem like there are countless options that are always changing and advancing. The most common project management methods used in business and enterprise are Agile and Waterfall along with the implementation method of Scrum. There are differences and benefits between Agile, Scrum and Waterfall depending on your organization’s goals and the project at hand. Another common tool in project management is Kanban boards, which are most often used in Lean Six Sigma, a process improvement methodology.

Agile vs. Waterfall

Agile is a project management methodology that focuses on adaptability and regular team and stakeholder communication throughout the life of a project. The iterative nature of Agile project management allows for greater adaptability during development. It is best used for projects where change is anticipated or expected throughout the lifespan. For example, in the IT world, developing a user interface application would require a lot of testing and regular feedback and improvements to meet the end user’s needs. Using an Agile approach allows development teams to incorporate beta testing to ensure the delivery of a more effective end product. 

Waterfall is a project management methodology that relies on linear planning to differentiate tasks and eliminate variables. In waterfall, one phase of a project cannot be started until the previous has been fully completed. Unlike Agile, in which you can return to various points throughout a sprint or feedback cycle. Waterfall is effective in that it eliminates the need for change, whereas Agile incorporates change throughout development. 

Before a Waterfall project begins, all assets, documents, requirements, tasks and expectations are collected and assigned to specific team members. Then, each phase of the project is completed in a linear and dependent fashion. For example, in a construction project where there are strict contracts and standards, a more linear approach may be required. Construction on a new building can’t begin until the architectural plans are complete, zoning and permit regulations are met and materials are acquired

Agile vs. Scrum

At Goodwin, we offer courses and professional skill tracks in Agile Scrum, as it is the project management methodology that is growing at a greater pace, leaving the more rigid rules of Waterfall behind. So what’s the difference between Agile and Scrum?

Scrum is a framework within Agile project management that utilizes short development “sprints” that are powered by iterative feedback from stakeholders and internal teams throughout the many phases of project development and delivery. Projects are broken out into smaller phases or milestones and once feedback is delivered and implemented, Agile teams can then move onto the next phase of development to reduce the need for redevelopment at the final phase of delivery.

Scrum is simply how Agile gets done. Agile Scrum focuses on conducting sprints, extracting feedback and clarifying tasks for each member of a team. Regular communication and collaboration across teams is a hallmark of Agile Scrum.


Drexel’s Goodwin College of Professional Studies offers professional pathways and courses to get up to speed about Agile Scrum. You can take two-day courses, ranging from beginner to advanced levels here on campus. Or, you can explore a professional skill track in Agile project management that includes on-campus courses and online essential skill training through The Skills Hub.

If your company is using waterfall and exploring adopting Agile, consider about Agile project management with Scrum training for your employees. Talk to us about getting a complimentary training skills gap analysis and our multiple employee discount.

In the meantime, please take a look at our Benefits of Agile Scrum page for more information on the topic.

Fri, 19 Aug 2022 10:45:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : Best Scrum Software for Project Management in 2023

Scrum is one of the most popular agile methodologies, so many teams naturally want a project management software that has features to support a Scrum approach. In this software guide, we’ve rounded up eight of the best product management platforms that can be used by Scrum teams. We compare their pricing, features and more to help you decide which Scrum project management software is the best for your team.

Jump to:

Top Scrum project management software comparison

Besides affordable pricing, you want to make sure that your project management software has certain key features. Here are some of the features to look out for when comparing Scrum project management software:

Native time tracking Multiple view types Templates Forever-free plan Pricing Yes Yes Yes Yes $8 per person per month
Jira Yes Yes Yes Yes $7.75 per person per month
ClickUp Yes Yes Yes Yes $5 per person per month
Wrike Yes Yes Yes Yes $9.80 per person per month
Lucidspark No No Yes Yes $7.95 per person per month
Basecamp No Yes Yes No $15 per person per month
Trello Yes Yes Yes Yes $5 per person per month
Asana No Yes Yes Yes $10.99 per person per month

Jira: Best for software development teams

Logo for Jira.
Image: Jira

Owned by Atlassian, Jira remains one of the best project management solutions for IT teams on the market today. Its issue tracking features makes it easy to log bugs and assign them to members of your team. It offers multiple project views and templates to support agile methodologies, including Scrum. Jira also integrates with over 500 other tools and offers more than 3,000 extensions, so you can take the platform’s functionality to the next level.


  • Free: $0 for up to 10 users.
  • Standard: $7.75 per user billed monthly.
  • Premium: $15.25 per user billed monthly.
  • Enterprise: Contact the sales team for a custom quote.


  • Robust scrums board with agile-specific features.
  • Unique roadmap feature displays a bird’s-eye view of projects.
  • Enterprise-grade security solutions.
  • Seamless syncing with other Atlassian products.


  • Great reporting and analytics capabilities.
  • More than 3,000 extensions.
  • Very customizable.
  • IT-specific features such as issue tracking.


  • Can be complex for new users to learn.
  • Customization can be time consuming to set up.
  • Free trial is only seven days long.
  • Could use more collaboration features and project views.

For more information, read the full Jira review.

SEE: The 9 best agile project management software for 2023

ClickUp: Best for teams on a budget

Logo for ClickUp.
Image: ClickUp

While a relative newcomer to the project management space — it only launched in 2017 — ClickUp has quickly made a name for itself thanks to its combination of affordable prices and excellent project management features. With paid plans starting at only $5 per person (billed annually) this is a great choice for Scrum teams of all sizes who want the most popular project management tools without breaking the bank.


  • Free Forever: $0; best for personal use.
  • Unlimited: $5 per user per month billed annually, or $9 per user per month billed monthly.
  • Business: $12 per user per month billed annually, or $19 per user per month billed monthly.
  • Business Plus: $19 per user per month billed annually, or $29 per user per month billed monthly.
  • Enterprise: Contact the sales team for a custom quote.


  • More than 15 project views.
  • More than 1,000 integrations.
  • Built-in team chat messaging tool.
  • 24/7 customer support for all plans.


  • Free plan offers a high level of functionality.
  • Can manage complex projects.
  • Excellent values for the money.
  • User-friendly interface.


  • Free plan has 100MB of limited storage.
  • Some users report occasional performance issues and lags.
  • Can present a learning curve due to the number of features.

For more information, read the full ClickUp review.

Wrike: Best for power users

Logo for Wrike.
Image: Wrike

Wrike is one of the most full-featured project management solutions on the market. While it can be overwhelming for small teams, Wrike is an excellent choice for power users who are looking to manage a portfolio of complicated Scrum projects and want more niche functions such as risk predictions. Those willing to master the advanced learning curve will find it a powerful solution with a high degree of customizability.


A free trial is available for each of the following plans:

  • Free: $0 per user per month.
  • Team: $9.80 per user per month.
  • Business: $24.80 per user per month.
  • Enterprise: Contact the sales team for a custom quote.
  • Pinnacle: Contact the sales team for a custom quote.


  • Custom request forms.
  • Risk predictions.
  • Invoicing software.
  • File and video proofing.


  • Great for project portfolio management.
  • Organized interface is well laid out.
  • Premium security and data privacy features.
  • Two-way sync with 12 other apps available as paid add-ons.


  • Team plan supports only 25 users.
  • Must upgrade to Business plan for time tracking and template creation.
  • Advanced plans are more expensive than competitors.
  • Learning curve is very high compared to alternatives.

For more information, read the full Wrike review.

Lucidspark: Best for brainstorming

Logo for Lucidspark.
Image: Lucidspark

Whiteboards are a key element of Scrum project management and agile methodologies, but they’ve been difficult to replicate in a digital space — until Lucidspark. This virtual whiteboard replicates the experience of posting sticky notes and freehanding drawings on a board in a physical meeting. Because it’s designed specifically for brainstorming and ideating, Lucidspark will work best when used in conjunction with a dedicated project management solution such as the other products listed in this article.


  • Free: $0 for up to 3 boards; best for personal use.
  • Individual: $7.95 per person per month.
  • Team: $9 per person per month.
  • Enterprise: Contact the sales team for a custom quote.

A free trial is available.


  • Add virtual sticky notes to the board.
  • Free hand drawings and connections as if you were using a marker.
  • Collaborate with teammates in the chat.
  • Sort sticky notes by category to create a clear plan of action.


  • Captures the experience of using a whiteboard.
  • Unique visual collaboration tool that isn’t replicated by competitors.
  • Agile-specific templates available.


  • Not a standalone project management solution.
  • Free plan not suitable for business teams.
  • Must upgrade to Team plan to get revision history and chat features.

SEE: 6 best mind mapping software for project management in 2023

Basecamp: Best for small teams

Logo for Basecamp.
Image; Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management solution that was designed with freelancers, startups and other small teams in mind. It offers a unique flat rate pricing option that will appeal to many businesses looking to standardize their project management budget. Basecamp has a friendly, simple interface that will appeal to teams looking to get started with Scrum project management.


  • Free: Only available for teachers and students, not businesses.
  • Basecamp: $15 per user per month.
  • Basecamp Pro Unlimited: $299 per month, billed annually.


  • Hill Charts offers a unique project visualization.
  • Card Table offers a new take on Kanban boards.
  • Many communication tools such as message boards that are great for remote teams.
  • Documents and file storage.


  • Has both per-user and flat-rate plan options.
  • Free for invited guests.
  • User-friendly interface.
  • Free for students and teachers.


  • No forever-free business plan.
  • May be more expensive than competitors, depending on how many users you need.
  • No native time-tracking abilities.
  • Need third-party integration for Gantt charts.

For more information, read the full Basecamp review.

Trello: Best for beginners

Logo for Trello.
Image: Trello

Purchased by Atlassian in 2017, Trello originally gained traction for its intuitive Kanban boards but has since developed into a full-fledged project management tool. Its simple, visual approach makes it a good choice for people who are new to Scrum and/or project management. Its free plan supports unlimited users, so the whole team can try it out before you decide if you want to upgrade to a paid plan.


  • Free: Up to 10 boards per workspace.
  • Standard: $5 per user per month if billed annually, or $6 per user per month if billed monthly.
  • Premium: $10 per user per month if billed annually, or $12.50 per user per month if billed monthly.
  • Enterprise: $17.50 per user per month when billed annually.


  • Built-in automation tool called Butler.
  • Highly visual user interface.
  • Easy-to-use mobile app.
  • Intuitive Kanban boards.


  • Unlimited users on the forever-free plan.
  • Intuitive Kanban boards.
  • Seamless syncing with other Atlassian products.
  • Good selection of native integrations.
  • Completely transparent pricing plans.


  • Free plan is limited to only 10 boards or projects.
  • Project management features aren’t as robust as some competitors.
  • Limited customization options.
  • Reporting tools could be improved.

For more information, read the full Trello review.

Asana: Best for simple Scrum projects

The Asana logo.
Image: Asana

Asana is another project and task management tool that is a good choice for Scrum beginners. Asana is best suited for simple and straightforward Scrum projects that don’t require very complex project management. This is because the platform lacks certain features, such as native time tracking and complex dependencies, that more robust alternatives have.


  • Basic: $0 per user per month for up to 15 people.
  • Premium: $10.99 per user per month billed annually, or $13.49 per user per month billed monthly.
  • Business: $24.99 per user per month billed annually, or $30.49 per user per month billed monthly.
  • Enterprise: Contact the sales team for a custom quote.


  • Multiple project views available.
  • Workflow builder helps standardize task execution.
  • Advanced reporting and analytics.
  • Many data import options.


  • Great task-management features.
  • Free plan allows unlimited projects and tasks.
  • Integrates well with third-party tools.
  • Offers support for agile and Scrum projects.


  • No native time tracking.
  • User interface could be more intuitive.
  • Advanced security features only available with the Enterprise plan.
  • Not suitable for projects with complex dependencies.

For more information, read the full Asana review.

Key features of Scrum project management software

Scrum-specific templates

Most project management platforms offer prebuilt templates to make it easier and faster to create a new project. However, not all of them offer a wide range of templates that are specific to agile and Scrum methodologies. Check each platform to see if it offers templates that will be useful for your specific project management methodology.

Customizable workflows

Scrum methodology involves very specific workflows, and these should be reflected in whatever project management software you choose. The workflows should also be customizable to fit the individual needs and timelines of your team, especially if you’re managing complex projects over a long period of time.

Team collaboration tools

Switching to email, Slack or Team every time your team needs to discuss a task wastes time and splits the conversation across multiple platforms. The best project management software keeps everything in one platform with collaboration tools such as comments, notifications and messaging.


Automation helps teams reduce repetitive, manual tasks so they can focus on getting more valuable work done. Automation rules can do things such as assigning all tasks in a certain section to one person or setting up a workflow when a new task is added to a project. Each platform approaches automation in a slightly different way, so make sure your top choices use automation in a way that works for your team.


Most project management platforms offer some integration, but this can vary widely from a couple dozen apps to hundreds of other software solutions. It’s always a good idea to check each app in your software stack to make sure that your chosen project management system will integrate with all of them. Otherwise, you’ll have to use an outside solution such as Zapier or build a custom integration using an open API.

How do I choose the best Scrum project management software for my business?

Before you select a new Scrum project management software, consider your current project management solutions and how they succeed or fall short of your requirements. Once you identify the shortcomings, you can look for a new project management solution that solves them.

Take advantage of free trials and forever-free accounts so that you can test drive the software for yourself. Most of the platforms listed in this guide offer both of these options, so make the most of them before committing to a paid plan. If you have questions about a platform’s capabilities, scheduling a live demo with the sales team may be more efficient than trying to poke around on your own. Also, seek out reviews from other users who are currently using the software to see what they have to say.

If you still aren’t 100% committed after the trial period and demo, consider paying for a month-to-month subscription rather than signing up for an annual plan. Although this may be a little more expensive up front, it might save you from signing up for an entire year of a service that ultimately doesn’t work for you.

The entire team should be involved in choosing a project management software. Ask the people who are using the software on a daily basis what their need-to-have and nice-to-have features are. Involving them in the process will also make them more motivated to use whatever new Scrum project management software you ultimately choose.


We reviewed this project management software based on a number of criteria, including pricing, ease of use, user interface design, and the difficulty of the learning curve. We also weighed additional features such as automation, project views, templates, and time tracking. We evaluated these platforms by consulting users reviews and product documentation.

Sat, 29 Jul 2023 08:16:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : Guest View: The agile mindset: It’s time to change our thinking, not Scrum

Organizations that have transformed their software development from conventional to agile have gone through numerous trials. Some of these have worked and some haven’t, but the trial results have delivered invaluable knowhow.

Even after textbook implementations of agile methodologies, many organizations have found that they’re far away from realizing its true benefits. In fact, many organizations are still using legacy software development practices, and as such, agile adaption initiatives are engrossed in tweaking agile/Scrum to complement these practices. Building agile capabilities in conjunction with waterfall methodologies or iterative software development has also posed humongous changeover challenges.

Practitioners are gradually realizing that:

  • Agile is not about delivering chunks of software, slicing it by feature.
  • Agile is not about following practices that are profoundly different.
  • Agile is not about traditional role players developing software, just wearing different hats.

When it comes to managing enterprise-wide change and the challenges that come along with it, we need to leverage the agile mindset in order to reap the benefits.

Agile ‘mindset’ is a game changer
A key to leveraging the true capabilities of agile is to embrace the culture of what it means to be agile. This in fact is the most often overlooked aspect of agile implementation.

Focusing early on building the capability of an agile mindset, as well as soft skills (e.g. the ability to self-organize), is an indispensable investment. Secondary investments like supporting tools, technologies and collaboration infrastructure can then be rapidly leveraged by the team as they now understand its significance in delivering agile values.

(Related: Being a tester in an agile world)

Agility has many facets; let’s review the key ones:

  • Customer centricity: Teams need to understand that customer centricity is the No. 1 factor to ensuring success. Providing business-enabling software is the primary measure of accomplishment. It’s a moot point if you deliver software that is flawless, complete and on time if it fails to deliver measurable value.
  • Continuous Delivery of value adding software: Teams need to orient themselves to carve out a feature from the high-level requirements that can be built fast and pushed to production (say, within a couple of weeks). Conventional “gates,” sign-offs, deep-dive reviews and inspections need to be replaced with suitable techniques from agile or by suitable automation.

There is nothing wrong with these techniques, it is just that they are dated and inefficient methods that fail to meet the expectations of today’s customer expectations. Automation is key to achieving a state of Continuous Delivery, and teams need to progressively automate the engineering activities to the extent they can. Without leveraging automation, Continuous Delivery may not be sustainable.

  • Welcoming change to requirements to benefit customers’ competitive advantage: Every seasoned developer knows that any change to requirements is unsettling as it has a ripple effect on subsequent development. But today’s competitive environment has us facing situations where customers experience enormous volatility, and businesses ought to be responsive enough to survive and succeed. Developers need to understand customers and their needs beyond a story or epic to appreciate the value of change to requirements, and to gear up to fulfill it rather than avoiding or deferring it.
  • Collaboration between business and developers, encouraging face-to-face conversation: Collaborative working and frequent conversations among the team and business are indispensable to knowing what brings value to business and how quickly it can be achieved, eliminating any bottlenecks.
  • Trusting a motivated and competent team to build the software: A competent, multi-skilled and motivated team is indeed a strength, but trust and empowerment make it consummate and unique. The key benefits of agile are delivered best when the teams are self-organizing and have clarity about their mission and goals. Empowered teams may disrupt conventional ways of building software so organizations can reap the benefits of agility.

Conventional software development methodologies didn’t seamlessly integrate concepts that agile brought in, and changing Scrum or XP to fit one’s organizational culture won’t result in any significant or meaningful advances. But adapting to the agile mindset surely will.

Thu, 20 Jul 2023 12:00:00 -0500 en-US text/html
Killexams : Scrum injury risk in English professional rugby union

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Sat, 18 Jun 2022 03:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Killexams : The Comebacker

The day was cold, cold even for August in San Francisco. As Lionel walked over the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, the wind seemed to be coming from every direction—the Pacific, the bay, the brackish creek underfoot. And with every step, Lionel’s left shoe squeaked, an especially maddening thing, given that he’d just had them resoled. For years he’d passed a subterranean shoemaker’s shop, thinking it would be old-timey and fun to engage the ancient Romanian proprietor in some project. Finally Lionel had entered the man’s tiny shop and asked him to resole his favorite leather shoes, so soft they felt like moccasins. The whole encounter had been as quaint and satisfying as expected, until Lionel retrieved the shoes a week later and found that the left one now let out a cartoonish squeak with every footfall.

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When Lionel went back to the shoemaker, the old man shrugged. “Some shoes squeak,” he said.

Lionel had learned to walk on the edge of his left foot. This decreased the sound, but gave him a worrying gait. People at the stadium had begun asking him about it.

Lionel covered the Giants for the Examiner—the home games at least. The paper didn’t have the budget to send him on the road. The season was effectively over anyway; the team had no chance at the playoffs, and the mood in the clubhouse was dour. Not that the players were so garrulous in winning, either. Sydney Coletti saw to that.

Brought in to head the media-relations department, she’d drilled the players on verbal discipline, and day after day, they dispensed word clusters that made sense but said nothing: “Trying to contribute.” “Just focused on getting the win.” “Great team effort.” “Happy to be here.”

Sydney strode around the stadium in beautiful suits, sunglasses embedded in her raven hair. As if aware of her imperious affect, she often brought in treats—candy, cupcakes, huge bars of artisanal chocolate. She was polished and warm, but had no qualms about limiting access if a reporter crossed her. So Lionel had traded candor for access, and loathed himself for it.

“Nice work, Lionel,” Sydney said when she approved of something he’d written. It was a terrible thing, to be praised this way.

“Get me sticky,” Lionel’s editor, Warren, demanded.

The problem was that when a player said something even vaguely sticky—Warren’s word for memorable, colorful, controversial—the sportswriters pounced, and often the player paid the price. Apologies followed, and lost endorsement deals, diminished love from fickle fans, a requested trade, a new team. That, or a player could just keep his mouth shut.

Squeak, squeak, squeak.

Lionel entered at the stadium’s media gate and made his way through the dim hallways to the locker room, where he showed his lanyard to Gregorio, the security guard.

“Hannah beat you,” he said.

“Beat me how?” Lionel said, thinking it could be any of 10, 12 ways. There she was, interviewing Hector Jiménez.

Hannah Tanaka was technically his competition, in that she wrote for the Chronicle, the larger of the two valiant locals. But from the time he’d started on the Giants beat, she’d done everything humanly possible to help Lionel—introducing him to every staffer at the stadium, sharing every tip and data point—and he’d quickly fallen in love with her. She was so steady, so funny; her laugh was raspy, almost lewd.

Squeak, squeak, squeak.

She turned when she heard him. She had her notebook out, and her phone—she had some transcription app that converted everything a player said to text, instantly—but she looked at Lionel and smirked. That smirk! Good lord.

She was married, though, and had two teenage girls, and so every year Lionel had gotten better at disguising his heartache. During the games, they sat next to each other, bantering, complaining, comparing notes, and with every word she said, in her low, clenched-jaw way, he was stung by the great injustice of finding his favorite person, sitting next to her every day, but heading home each day alone.

Lionel looked around. He could talk to the second baseman, Hollis, who had some kind of problem with his heel, but what was the point? Warren wouldn’t supply him space for news of another almost-injury to a player on a losing team.

Hannah finished with Jiménez and sidled up to Lionel. “Behold the new guy,” she said, and nodded to a gangly man in the corner. She handed Lionel the day’s media packet and pointed to the relevant paragraph about a middle reliever, Nathan Couture, being called up from AAA Sacramento. “Get him before Sydney puts the muzzle on,” Hannah said.

The man in the corner was holding the sleeves of his uniform apart, apparently dumbfounded to find his own name, COUTURE, stitched to the back of a Giants jersey.

“Nathan?” Lionel asked.

The pitcher turned around and smiled. His teeth were small, and he was missing his left canine; it gave him a look of youthful incompletion. He had a narrow, pockmarked face and a weak chin. A wispy mustache overhung his stern, chapped lips.

“First time in the majors?” Lionel asked.

“Indeed,” Nathan said.

That word—it wasn’t heard so much in a locker room. Lionel wrote “indeed” in his notebook, and then asked the most inane, and most common, query in sports. “How does it feel?” It hurt to utter the words.

But Nathan nodded and inhaled and exhaled expansively through his nostrils, as if this was the most provocative question he’d ever heard.

“When I got the call, just yesterday, I was elated,” Nathan said.

Lionel heard an accent. Rural. Southeastern maybe. Georgia? He wrote down “Elated” and underlined it.

“The drive from Sacramento was a fever dream,” Nathan continued. “The scenery rushed by like meltwater. And then to get here, to this cathedral, to warm up, and to meet these men at the top of their craft”—he swept his arm around the room, now filled with a dozen or so players in towels and jockstraps; one was jiggling his leg, as if to awaken it—“and to be welcomed by them without condition, and now to see my name on this shirt … I have to say, it’s sublime.”

Lionel wrote and underlined “sublime.” He looked around to see if he was being pranked. But no one was listening; no one was near.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name,” Nathan said, and extended his hand. Lionel introduced himself, and found that Nathan was examining his face with a friendly but jarring intensity. He rested his eyes on Lionel’s notebook. “Do you take shorthand?” he asked.

Lionel’s handwriting was a chaotic mix of cursive and all caps—a madman’s scrawl. “No, no,” he said. “This is just my personal code, I guess.”

In four years, no player had ever asked even the vaguest question about Lionel’s process or profession.

“I assume you’ll call me a journeyman,” Nathan said.

Lionel had just written that exact word. He quickly crossed it out.

“Don’t, don’t,” Nathan said. “I like the word, and for me it’s apt. And removed from baseball, it’s a good word, don’t you think? Journey-man. I know not everyone loves it, since it implies a kind of purgatory just below success, but in isolation, the word has a simple beauty to it, right? How could you not want to be called a journey-man?”

Lionel looked at the word he’d obliterated. “I guess so.” He circled it. When he glanced up again, Nathan was looking down at him with priestly interest.

“Did you dream of this work as a boy?” he asked.

Lionel couldn’t speak. He returned to the assumption that this was a prank. He looked around. No one looked back.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t probe like that,” Nathan said, and laid a hand on Lionel’s shoulder. “I just had the sudden awareness that the two of us are in the enviable, even surreal position of living out our most impossible dreams. The fact that we aren’t digging ditches or mining coal—that I’m paid to play a game and you’re paid to watch a game and tell people what you see—it seems, in a world of sadness and misfortune, to be a thing of great luck. Don’t you think?”

Lionel watched the game in a daze. He sat in the press box, Hannah on his right. On his left was Marco DaSilva, in his mid-20s, round-shouldered and stat-obsessed, and for some reason doing AM radio, where the average listener was 76. Lionel read, and reread, his notes, while hoping Nathan Couture would be called in to pitch.

“Interesting guy?” Hannah asked.

“His numbers are shit,” Marco said.

It was not right to withhold anything from them, but Lionel kept the strange interview to himself. The Giants lost badly and Nathan didn’t play, and somewhere along the way, Hannah, bored by Lionel’s distracted state, moved to sit next to Marco, and made a show of having an especially good time with this new seating arrangement.

Lionel wrote up the game, but because Nathan hadn’t been a factor, it made no sense to include him. He’d play sooner or later, Lionel figured, at which point he could get him into a story. Maybe Warren would let him do a profile. Or maybe not. Warren didn’t generally like human-interest stories.

That night, Lionel went online, searching for Nathan Couture. His hometown was Thomasville, Alabama. He was 28 and had never been to college. His statistics were unremarkable in every way, which meant he was unlikely to remain in the majors for any stretch of time. He was both average and old. A mediocre pitcher who was happy to be in the bigs, and who asked about Lionel’s work and method? What was he thinking?

Nathan was sent back to Sacramento the next day.

Lionel wrote up his summaries of the games that week, printing the players’ inanities, and Sydney baked white-chocolate brownies, which were exceptional.

“I don’t like her baking, actually,” Marco said. He and Hannah and Lionel were watching batting practice on another cool August afternoon.

“Her cookies are brittle,” Hannah said. Lionel hadn’t thought about Sydney’s cookies that way before, but they were definitely on the crumbly side. Soon the three of them had turned on all the food in the stadium. The garlic fries, which had been so crisp last season, were now less crisp, and the little pepperonis on the pizzas had dropped a few notches.

“Remember when they were sort of curly?” Lionel asked.

The gates of complaint were now open. The architects of the park, they agreed, had not allotted enough elevators, so the writers often had to wait—sometimes many minutes—to get from the field to the press box.

“And the paper towels!” Marco said suddenly, tragically.

In the bathrooms closest to the press box, the paper-towel dispensers had been replaced by air dryers, which they all agreed were too loud.

“Well,” Marco said, his voice weary, “I guess we should go inside and get the lineup for tonight.”

Lionel grabbed the copy Sydney had put in his cubby and saw Nathan’s name. He felt a flutter of excitement that embarrassed him.

“Couture is back,” Hannah said, and Lionel nodded, giving away nothing.

The game began, and by the sixth inning, with the Giants up 5–0, it was highly unlikely they would need Nathan. He was the third or fourth middle reliever on the roster, and the starter was still soaring.

But the Padres hacked a series of singles into shallow left and right, and suddenly it was 5–3, then 5–4. The manager made his way to the mound and took the ball, and the starter walked to the dugout, head low and muttering. Lionel looked to the bullpen to see who would emerge.

When Nathan stepped out, he waited on the warning track, taking a long breath. He walked onto the grass like it was the first step of a royal staircase, and then broke into a steady trot. The rest of his entrance and preparations were routine. He kicked the dirt and took his warm-up pitches. His face appeared on the massive outfield screen, in a goofy photo, and 20,000 fans wondered, idly, who he was. Then, without fuss, he struck out the first batter with three pitches.

“Damn,” Marco said, and typed feverishly for a while. Lionel assumed he was looking for some numerical context for what had just happened.

The next batter hit a rope toward left. Winebrenner, the third baseman, knocked it down but bobbled it, and there was a runner on first.

When the third man up hit a dribbler to second, Hollis fielded it—clumsily—and flipped it to the shortstop, who stepped on second and threw to first for a double play.

“Okay,” Hannah said. “Okay.” For Hannah, this was high praise.

Next inning, Nathan took care of the first three batters in much the same way—with crafty pitch selection and pinpoint placement. When the third hitter fouled a ball high, Nathan ran after it, briefly confusing the first baseman, who waved him off and caught it.

Between innings, Hannah took a cryptic call.

“Huh,” she said. Apparently Hollis, the second baseman, was getting an MRI. The heel that had been bothering him was now shot. Something had happened during that double play.

More experienced pitchers closed out the eighth and ninth, and that was that. The Giants won, 5–4. Down in the locker room, the early word on Hollis’s heel was bad. Warren would not want the story of Nathan Couture, not on the night the starting second baseman got injured. Lionel wandered over to Nathan anyway. Most of the players had showered already, but Nathan was still in his uniform.

“Is that corny?” Nathan asked. “I wanted to savor it a bit longer.”

Hollis seesawed into the room on crutches and the reporters swarmed. The professional thing to do would be to go over and hear from the player who’d won four Gold Gloves and was being paid $12 million. But Lionel stayed with Nathan.

“I noticed you paused when you first stepped out,” he said.

“I did,” Nathan said. “I assume you want to know how it felt?”

Lionel smiled and licked the tip of his pen theatrically.

“It was big,” Nathan said.

Lionel wrote down “It’s big” and for a moment, he wondered if Nathan’s earlier eloquence had been a fluke.

“Kidding, Lionel. Truly, I think it’s a happy, wholly irrational spectacle,” he said. “Don’t you think? I mean—”

“Hold on,” Lionel said, and scrambled for his tape recorder.

Nathan took a deep breath. “I mean, those upper-deck seats are probably 200 feet up. Think of it. Twenty-five thousand people were here tonight, some of them sitting 200 feet in the air, to see men play as silly a game as has ever been conjured. Balls and bats and bases—all of it perfected and professionalized, sure, but essentially childish and irrelevant. And to serve it, to celebrate it, this billion-dollar coliseum is built. People come 100 miles to watch it under 1,000 lights. When you and I first met, it was a day game, a completely different atmosphere. At night the stadium takes on the look of deep space. The sky is so black, the lights so white, illuminating a surreal sea of green. When you jog out there, as I did, in the dark, it feels, briefly, like you’re in a spaceship, approaching a new planet.”

Hector Jiménez, the catcher whose locker was next to Nathan’s, had begun listening, and was giving Nathan a disapproving look.

“There was some confusion over that foul ball,” Lionel said, and already Nathan was nodding.

“First of all,” he said, “that ball was rightfully Gutierrez’s, but it started out over my head, and that northeast wind took it toward the first-base line. So I had it in my sights, but then it evaporated. I mean, it ceased to be!”

Lionel caught Jiménez’s eye. He looked alarmed, horrified.

“And for a long moment,” Nathan continued, “as I searched the void for the ball, I thought, I’ve caught a million balls. How could I lose this one? And then I thought, Why am I here? Where are my legs? Are my arms still raised? Why can’t I see? The sky was so black, and this solid thing, this baseball, had utterly disappeared in it! So I wondered if the ball had been real, and if I was real, if anything was real.”

Jiménez tossed his gear into his duffel and zipped it loudly.

“Then I smelled roast beef!” Nathan said, and laughed loudly, placing his hand on Lionel’s shoulder. “I thought, Is that roast beef I smell? Who brought roast beef to the ballpark? Then Gutierrez yelled, ‘Move, kid, I got it!’ and my eyes swung toward him. As they did, I saw the blur of 1,000 faces in the stands beyond first. Then he caught the ball.”

Jiménez walked away. Seconds later, Sydney appeared. She always grew suspicious when interviews ran long.

“Everything good over here?” she asked.

“Fine,” Lionel said, but the interview was over.

Lionel had to wait a few days for the drama of Hollis’s injury to play out before asking Warren for some space in the paper to profile Nathan. Warren had zero interest in it, especially since Nathan hadn’t played again. But then one day an ad dropped out, so on page 23, Lionel was allotted six column inches to introduce “Nathan Couture, Pitcher With Unique Outlook.” He did little more than print the two long quotes he’d gotten from Nathan before Sydney had hustled him away, but the article made an impression.

“You have to play me that tape,” Hannah said, clearly dubious.

All the reporters wanted to talk to Nathan, but Nathan was suddenly unavailable. Sydney felt they’d dodged a bullet in having this eccentric Alabaman talk and talk and somehow avoid a catastrophic mistake. She would not risk it again. But then she said she would.

“The owner insisted on it,” Warren said.

The octogenarian owner of the team had evidently read Lionel’s article, and was an immediate fan of Nathan’s. He wanted Nathan in games, and wanted Nathan to talk, as much as he could, before and after games. The owner, viewed as an eccentric himself (though from Kansas), was assumed to be not long for this world. Three days after Nathan’s first outing, he pitched the eighth inning of another tight game, and again he held his own, and the Giants won. This time, he had to bat, and actually stroked a line drive into Triples Alley. Against the wishes of the first-base coach, Nathan rounded first base and was easily tagged out at second. It made for a comical and eventful inning, and the home crowd went berserk.

Afterward, a scrum of reporters surrounded him, and Lionel, who had unwisely waited for the elevator, found himself in the third ring. He felt oddly proprietary, even jilted. He wanted, to a degree that filled him with shame, some kind of acknowledgment from Nathan that he was different, that he had been first.

Nathan looked around and smiled broadly. “Well, this is extraordinary.”

Hannah was closest. “General thoughts, Mr. Couture?”

Nathan stared at the ceiling for a while, as if peeling back the many layers of the query, then rested his eyes upon her.

“First I thought about the smell of the grass,” he said. “They cut it today, so the smell was fresh and just a bit sour, as newly cut grass is. There’s something both wet and dry at the same time, both dead and alive. I inhaled a bit longer than usual, wanting to take everything in, and I saw four men, all gray-haired, arm in arm in the stands, posing for a picture. Then the Jumbotron showed a picture of the same men, as teenagers, at a ball game. Same four guys, same pose, just 50-odd years ago. And I had the feeling that the four of them, whenever they stand side by side like that, probably feel invincible.”

“Nathan, I—”

Another reporter broke in, thinking Nathan was finished. But Lionel knew he wasn’t.

“Then I saw a seagull. Maybe you did too? It hovered over home plate for a moment, maybe 20 feet up. Under the lights it looked like a tiny angel. I wondered what brought this bird, alone, to the ballpark. No doubt he hoped he might come across some discarded chips or fries, but the risk is considerable, too. Wouldn’t the lights, and 30,000 people, be daunting? But then again, he can fly. Is anything daunting when you can fly? And briefly I thought about the nature of flight. I do think there will come a time when humans can fly more or less as birds do, and I wondered how that would affect our idea of freedom. Will anyone ever feel constrained, spiritually or materially, if they can fly?”

Lionel wrote down “If we can fly.”

“And then it was time to pitch,” Nathan said. There was scattered laughter, and the exchange of looks. Nathan was stranger in person than he had been in Lionel’s article. A dozen hands went up.

“Oh jeez,” Nathan said. “I just went on and on. And you probably have so many other players to talk to. Why don’t we do a speed round? Deal?”

Someone in front asked, “What was it like to get your first hit?”

“If you remember,” Nathan said, “I fouled off the first two pitches. And fouling a ball off is like every mistake you make in life: You put everything you’ve got into a task, and if it’s just a little wrong, it’s wrong enough to make the whole effort a waste of time. The ball goes nowhere, or worse than nowhere. But when the barrel of the wooden bat hits the ball just so—you feel nothing. There’s no resistance. Nothing at all. The ball leaps into the sky. The struggle is gone.”

Marco edged in. “Nathan, the average spin rate of your four-seamer is solid, at 2320, putting you ninth among middle relievers, but tonight, your average for the last three batters was 2090. Do you have a plan to address that?”

As Marco talked, Nathan’s face slackened, his eyes glazed, and when Marco was finished, he said, “Honestly, Marco, I have no ever-loving idea.”

A balding man in a baby-blue sweat suit raised his hand. It was Tom Verlo, from the L.A. Times. He’d likely come upstate to throw a bit of cold water on San Francisco’s new attraction.

“Can you tell us about running?” he asked. “You looked a bit rusty.”

“Was it as bad as I’m thinking it was?” Nathan said, and flashed an enormous and spectacularly awkward smile. “You know, as natural as it was when I hit that ball, running was the opposite. I felt like I was running in 1,000-year-old armor. By the time I got to second, the ball was in the second baseman’s glove. He was waiting for me like a groom would a bride. When he tagged me out, I was so relieved, I wanted to fall into his arms.”

Tom smiled. “On the broadcast, it looked like he said something to you.”

“He did. He said, ‘Mijo, now you can rest.’ ” Nathan looked at the clock on the wall. “We should hurry. Superspeed round now.”

“What does it sound like when a ball is caught?” a young web reporter asked.

“When I was a kid in Alabama, my grandfather lived in the backyard, in a little cottage. Every night after dinner, I would walk back to his place with him, and he would kiss me on the crown of my head and say, ‘Adieu.’ Then he would close the door, and the sound of his door closing would be a muffled, wet, and decisive click. That’s what it sounds like when a ball is caught. Like the click of the door to my grandfather’s home.”

Nathan looked at the clock. “Okay, one last one? I see you, Lionel.”

Lionel, standing in the back, was happy for Nathan, and for the moment felt unnecessary. He shook his head.

That was the game, and the interview, that broke Nathan Couture into the national media. The next day, and for the following week, he was everywhere. ESPN did a segment, and Jimmy Kimmel had him on his show. With Sydney offering Nathan freely to all, the only thing Lionel could do was go to Phoenix.

Nathan’s parents, though they’d raised Nathan in Alabama, had moved to Arizona, and Warren green-lit a longer profile. In a stolen moment before a game, Lionel told Nathan he was thinking of going, and Nathan gave his blessing. “I trust you,” he said.

“Thank you,” Lionel said.

“You report accurately and you listen carefully,” he said.

“I try,” Lionel said.

“They are tremendous people,” Nathan said. “Immeasurably charming. You’ll love them, and they you. I’m envious that you get to see them. I’ll call ahead and let them know I vouch for you.”

Lionel arrived at a comfortable ranch house 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix. A pickup truck was out front, and next to it, a small fishing boat rested on a trailer. Lionel rang the bell, and when the door opened, a thin couple in their late 60s stood before him, arms around each other’s waists. Jim and Dot, short for Dorothy.

“Lionel,” Jim said.

“I took the liberty of pouring you a glass of ice water,” Dot said.

Lionel followed them in. He walked on the side of his left foot, but the squeaking was clearly audible. Lionel guessed, correctly, that they would be too polite to mention it.

“Come sit,” Jim said, and indicated a plush leather recliner in the living room. It was almost surely Jim’s TV chair, and Lionel took the honor given. Nathan’s parents sat to his right, on a matching couch.

“Nathan speaks highly of you,” Dot said.

“He does,” Jim agreed.

Lionel got his notebook out and looked around the room. He’d expected a house full of books, but saw few. There were no trophies, either—no shrine to their son, the professional baseball player. An enormous TV dominated one wall. Next to it were two photos, from middle school, he guessed. One was clearly Nathan. The other was a girl, younger by a year or two, who shared a version of Nathan’s goofy smile. But there was something knowing, even sardonic, in her eyes.

“So how does it feel,” Lionel asked, “with Nathan becoming this …” He almost said “curiosity” but instead chose “phenomenon.”

“Oh, it’s been so nice,” Dot said.

“He worked hard,” Jim said. “Deserves it.”

Lionel smiled, thinking they were warming up. But they were done. Dot held her glass of water with two hands and smiled at Lionel in a motherly way. Lionel looked down at his notebook.

“So outside his skill as a pitcher,” he said, “one of the things that’s gotten Nathan noticed is his way with words. Was he always loquacious?”

Dot winced. She looked to Jim. Jim chewed his cheek.

“I read your first article,” Dot said. “When you had him saying ‘Indeed,’ right away I thought, That’s the comebacker.” She pointed to her temple.

“He was never, you know, book smart,” Jim added. “That was his sister.”

“Never read a book unless you tied him down,” Dot said.

“He didn’t talk a whole lot,” Jim said, “and when he did, he did it in a regular way. He was all laser-focused. That’s how his coaches described him.”

“Single-minded. Then the comebacker happened,” Dot said.

“I’m sorry. The comebacker?” Lionel asked.

“Well, he was hit by a comebacker,” Jim said, sounding surprised that Lionel didn’t know. “In Sacramento. It was on the radio up there.”

“We were at the game,” Dot said. “It was awful. Nathan threw a fastball to a very big guy, I think he was from Nevada, and this guy hit the ball right back at him a million miles an hour. Hit him right here.” Again she pointed to her temple.

“From our angle, it looked awful,” Jim amended. “But later we saw it on tape, and it was more of a … It sorta grazed his head. The doctor checked him out and said he was okay. Nathan felt okay too. He pitched the rest of the inning and did fine. But then he took us out for dinner afterward, and it was like talking to some other person.”

“He had a $10 word for everything,” Jim said. “He said the wine was ‘unafraid.’ I remember that. The wine was ‘unafraid.’ That was new.”

“He did say that. He said a lot of things,” Dot said.

“He talked a lot that night,” Jim added. “We flew home the next morning, and a few days later, he gets called up to the Giants. Which is when you met him.”

“We figured the new way of talking was some temporary thing,” Dot said. “But then your article comes out, and he’s still talking this way—‘indeed’ this and ‘glorious’ that.”

“His sister talked like that. She was the reader.”

Lionel was afraid to ask.

“She passed young,” Dot said, and leaned forward, her hands on her knees. “It was a tumor. When they found it, it was too big.”

Jim cleared his throat. “Anyway. With Nathan, when he was talking like that, we put it together. It had to be the comebacker.”

Dot was nodding steadily, her eyes locked on Lionel. “Like something got knocked loose, and whatever was clogged up in there came pouring out. Sometimes people get hit in the head and start speaking another language.”

Jim nodded enthusiastically. “French, Portuguese, Turkish. But it seems like it’s usually French.”

By the time Lionel left, the impossible heat of paved Arizona had relented. He drove with the windows open, the red sunset behind him. He got back to the hotel and checked his messages. One was from Hannah.

“Sorry about your boy,” she said. “You probably know more than I do. Call if you want to compare notes.”

Lionel looked online and found a short blip about it. Nathan had been pitching in Cleveland when he blew out his arm. He left the park in a sling.

The professional thing for Lionel to do would be to return to Nathan’s parents’ home and get their reaction. But he couldn’t bring himself to bother them, and was so shattered that he sat on the bed and stared at the wall for the better part of an hour. Finally he got to his feet and drove his rental car to the airport.

Back in San Francisco, Lionel waited for news. For two days Nathan wasn’t at the park, and no one had updates. Finally a press conference was called.

The room was full. Lionel sat at the back. The team doctor came out and said they’d done an MRI and consulted with the best certified in the city. Nathan would need surgery, and even after that, the prognosis was not good. “I can’t promise anything,” the doctor said.

And then Nathan walked in, wearing a coat and tie, his arm in a sling. He sat down. He looked warmly out at the throng of reporters, but before he could begin, Tom from the L.A. Times walked in late. “What’s the prognosis?” he asked.

The room groaned, but as always, Nathan treated the question with great decorum.

“If I were still 18,” he said, “I might be able to get the surgery. Then, in 10 or 12 months, I could return, though with reduced capacity. But I’m almost 30, so there is no way back. Even if I did every last thing right, I’d be, at best, a single-A player. And an old one at that.”

Hannah was in the front row. She raised her hand.

“Hi, Hannah,” Nathan said. “I’m guessing you’d like to know how it feels?”

She laughed and lowered her hand.

“It’s a good question. At the moment, I’m still stunned. Numb. I have to admit my imagination had gotten away from me, and I saw great glory ahead. I was looking forward to the rest of the season, to seasons to come, to the lights, all those people sitting 200 feet in the sky to watch this game. It’s over sooner than I expected, for sure. So for the moment, I’m adrift. Don’t you cry now, Hannah.” He looked around the table for tissues. “All we have up here is water. Here,” he said, and poured her a tall glass from the pitcher. And as he did, time slowed. Every reporter in the room watched closely, as if they’d never before seen water move from one vessel to another.

Nathan sat down again, and called on Lionel.

“Did you have any warning?” Lionel asked.

“You know, my friend, I really didn’t. I felt good that day in Cleveland. But it’s probably like any other thing. How can a sequoia withstand a thousand years of earthquakes and fires and wind, and finally, one day, it just falls? One afternoon, a gust comes and it gives up.” Nathan stood. “I’ll miss you all. Hope I see you here or there or somewhere in between. Goodbye now.”

Lionel walked onto King Street, trying to figure out how to shape the story, or if he should bother. He still hadn’t written about his time with Nathan’s parents; his heart wasn’t in it. When he turned the corner at Third Street, heading home, he felt a presence next to him.

“Caught up to you!” It was Nathan, out of breath. “I tried to find you at the park, and then was wandering around the neighborhood, hoping to run into you. I know you live around here. Then I heard the squeaking.”

They ducked into a burrito place. Lionel tried to order margaritas for them both, but Nathan declined. “I don’t know why my mind is working the way it does now, but I don’t want to mess with it.” He ordered a lemonade.

Lionel ordered a lemonade too, and they sat by the window facing the park. “Your parents told me about the comebacker,” he said.

“Yeah, I figured,” Nathan said. “Funny thing is, I don’t feel different, and I don’t see differently than I ever did before. I’ve always noticed the same things, but I guess that now I have the need, and maybe the words, to describe it.

“My sister was the eloquent one,” he continued after a pause. “My parents mention her?”

“A little bit,” Lionel said.

For a second Nathan smiled, as if thinking of her, of something she’d said. “Anyway,” he said, “I’ll be studying you, making sure you get it right.”

“I can do better,” Lionel said suddenly, and Nathan did not argue the point. It was criminal to sit in that park, Lionel thought, with all that color, all that vaulting joy in a world of sadness and misfortune, and not do better.

“You plan to fix the squeak?” Nathan asked.

“I took it back to the shoe guy,” Lionel said, “but he freed himself of any responsibility.”

“Can I?” Nathan asked, and Lionel took off his shoe and handed it to Nathan.

“It has to be an air pocket, right?” Nathan said. Even with one bum arm, he quickly found the pocket and aimed a fork at it. “Can I?” he asked again. Lionel nodded, and Nathan jabbed a strategic hole. “Try it now.”

Lionel put the shoe back on and walked a few steps. The squeak was gone. His relief was immeasurable. “Thank you,” he said.

They finished their lemonades and stepped back into the city. The lights were on in the stadium. Lionel had forgotten there was a home game that night. He turned to Nathan, thinking he’d be wistful, but his eyes were sharp and happy.

“So what will you do now?” Lionel asked.

“I’ve been thinking about that. Are you walking this way?” Nathan was heading toward the water, his gait loose. Lionel followed.

“Maybe you buy that Romanian shoemaker out.”

Nathan laughed. “You know,” he said, “a few years ago, I was in a high-rise in Guangzhou, visiting a friend at his office. Long story. But anyway, this was 42 floors up, and there was a man outside, cleaning the windows. He had one of those wide T-shaped tools for cleaning the glass—like a blade. You know the tool. So simple. He drenched the window with soap, applying it with such liberality. Just soaked this vast window overlooking this limitless city.”

Nathan turned to the towers of downtown San Francisco.

“And then, with the T-shaped blade, he slashed the surface of the glass with the precision and finality of a guillotine. He got every last white sud. As we watched, the view through the window went from muddy to crystalline.”

Lionel couldn’t figure out what the connection was. Nathan wanted to be a businessman in a Chinese high-rise? And how had this minor-league pitcher from Alabama ended up with a friend in Guangzhou?

“So I thought I’d like to do that job,” Nathan said. He meant cleaning the windows. “Not necessarily in Guangzhou, and not forever, but I’d like to try that for a while. I like being outside.”

They’d arrived at the water, and Lionel thought he should get back to the ballpark. He reached out to shake Nathan’s hand. Nathan lowered his sling and took Lionel’s fingers in his.

“Or babies!” he said, still pumping Lionel’s hand. “You know how after babies are born in hospitals, there are nurses who hold the babies while the moms recover from the birth? How do you get that job?”

Nathan released Lionel’s hand and began backing away, toward the South Beach marina, where hundreds of white masts looked like lances aimed at the night.

“Imagine holding babies all day!” Nathan said. “Wouldn’t that be a worthwhile life? So tomorrow I’m going down to the maternity ward to find out who gets to hold the babies. I want to hold all those babies before they go home.”

This story appears in the September 2023 print edition.

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