I am very excited about this post because it represents a new direction and a deeper understanding of what I want to do with my business. As many of you may be aware, the process to become a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) has been undergoing some change lately. It has been interesting to watch the process evolve and I wanted to make my intentions public after completing two of the five co-trainings suggested by the process. It has been a great honor to co-train with Tobias Mayer and Lyssa Adkins and I have learned a great deal about training, communicating effectively, improvisation and being authentic. Thank you very much for your mentoring, time and sharing.
In 2007, as an internal coach for a large biotech company in San Diego, I was asked to create two-day ScrumMaster training modeled off the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) curriculum. In this class, I covered the basics of the Scrum framework and some common tools\add-ons used by Agile teams like user stories, estimating and release planning. Over the course of eighteen months, I trained over forty people on the Scrum framework and coached a number of Scrum internal teams. While I was able to teach the rituals, roles and artifacts of Scrum, I felt something was missing. For the longest time I was puzzled why many of the students were just not embracing Scrum in their day-to-day work. Clearly they had a problem, but it was just not obvious where it originated from.
Recently, I have come to a new understanding of what Scrum means to me and reevaluate what I had considered valuable in the past. After some reflection I have come to realize the problem did not lie with the students, but with the information the instructor provided them and how they were instructed. At the time, I had thought Scrum was simply an effective framework for getting things done, just another another bag of tricks for good project management and it was taught as such. Today, I understand that Scrum is about cultural change and establishing new values in an organization. If Scrum is about values, then the focus of the education should be about the values and principles of Scrum.
This has been a profound change in my thinking about Scrum and has altered the way I interact with Teams. In the context of the CSM class, I have revamped the curriculum away from the standard Powerpoint presentation describing the Scrum rituals, artifacts, roles with me as the center of the course to a participatory, collaborative exploration of the Scrum values and principles, making connections to the Scrum framework with the learners at the center. The result of this change is a CSM course that concentrates on the Scrum values of respect, openness, courage, commitment and focus, generates discussion of how those values are important to the learners and assists the students in making connections of these values to their lives and Scrum. When the conversation shifts to instruction about the Scrum framework, roles and commonly used Agile tools, they are explained in the context of the Scrum values and as further illustrations of the values in action so they become real and tangible for the participants.
In my opinion, the role of the CST in CSM, or Certified Product Owner, class is to guide the learners through a series of collaborative exercises and discussions to examine what the Scrum principles and values mean to them, why they are important to the framework and begin to connect the participants to the meaning of Scrum. I feel the students bring with them a great deal of knowledge and life experience to each class and my job as a CST would be to create an environment where they can self-organize around their own knowledge and then guide them into a fuller understanding of how Scrum works based on their needs. The peer-to-peer learning environment I am trying to create provides students the opportunity to learn from each other, respects and draws upon their years of professional and personal experience and turns them into active participants in their learning. Essentially, I see myself as the participants’s ScrumMaster in learning. I feel this learning experience better equips the students with the ability to facilitate and improvise Scrum in their organizations because they operate from a definition of Scrum that matches their own life experience, not the instructor’s. In addition, this instructional model where the instructor leaves the center and allows the learners to take this space, allows the participants to observe how the role of ScrumMaster is done well.