One of the business partners I work with, Conscires, has been doing a series of interviews with their trainers and consultants this Spring. Here is the interview I gave a few weeks ago.
Q: What does ‘being Agile’ mean to you?
A: To me, Agile is a state-of-mind and way of thinking. My background prior to software was in science, so I find the Agile idea of devising a hypothesis for change, creating an experiment to prove (or disprove) your hypothesis and checking the results very appealing.
Q: When and how were you first introduced to Agile and Scrum? What caught your attention?
A: I was first introduced to the world of Agile by a colleague who lent me Kent Beck’s book, Extreme Programming Explained – 1st Edition (aka the “white” book). I was very new to software development and Kent’s ideas of having automated tests that you could run whenever you wanted appealed to the scientist in me. I first learned about Scrum via the Internet and attended a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) course taught by Ken Schwaber in 2005. I was hooked on Scrum ever since.
Q: How do you contribute to spreading awareness about Agile and Scrum?
A: I formed Agile San Diego ten years ago to promote the ideas of Agile and Scrum in San Diego County. I have been speaking regularly at conferences and user groups both in the US and internationally for nearly eight years on the topic of Agile and Scrum. I have written a short book on Scrum, Fourteen Observations of Good Scrum Practice, that you can buy on amazon.com or download from my website and the book has been translated into Spanish.
Q: What are the expectations, in general, of the people who attend your classes? What kind of feedback do you get from them? Please share some interesting and enriching experiences!
A: Most people are expecting a really dull class where I talk at them for two days. In the first moments of the class, I turn their perceptions around by engaging them in an interactive learning experience that uses Scrum to teach Scrum. My main goal in any course is to engage every learner, turn them into active participants and leverage their personal and professional experience to amplify their understanding of the material I am sharing with them. Often I hear from many learners that my course was the best learning experience in their career. That is cool.
Q: Do you see much interest for certified trainings? If yes, why do you think people are looking for certification?
A: Many people attending certified classes are looking for a certification to advance their careers and\or improve their worth in the job market. Other people are using the certified classes to ensure a certain level of quality with a course. I would say about 50% of the people come to certified classes just for the certification, but they leave with a new perspective on Scrum.
Q: After becoming a CSM or CSPO, what do you see as the next step (in terms of growth) for an individual?
A: Get some experience! As I explain to all the participants in my courses, the best way to learn about these ideas is to put them to work. The more opportunities one has to try out ideas and see the results, the more powerful your understanding of Scrum will become. The next thing I suggest to the learners is to do some reading. There is so much we cannot cover in a two-day course that it is the responsibility of each learner to continue their education through self-study.
Q: What, in your opinion, are the best things about Agile?
A: That you do not have to know everything up-front and be omniscient! Agile allows you to iterate on a solution and learn as you go. I also believe the Agile movement has allowed us to humanize the workplace, to talk about our passions, what types of things we motivate us and ultimately make the workplace more meaningful for the people who do the work.
Q: Are there any drawbacks to Agile, in your perception?
A: Since I consider this a strength, not a drawback, but Agile relies on the people to succeed. Without motivated and inspired people, Agile will not succeed. However, you can’t succeed with any process, framework or methodology without talented and motivated people.
Q: Do you think it is a good idea to implement Agile and Scrum in non-IT teams?
A: I believe it is possible to apply the values and principles of Scrum outside of the software world since they are what define Scrum. In my opinion, the challenges lie when applying the practices of Scrum outside of software development. In some domains, the practices of Scrum may not make much sense. One needs to be very thoughtful when using these practices outside the domain where they were created. We need to consider what are the essential values and principles the practice was trying to support and perhaps create new practices more appropriate for the domain.
Q: How long have you been working with Conscires, and how do you find the experience?
A: I have been partnering with Conscires since the end of 2010. I have really enjoyed working with the Conscires team. The quality of the people who work at Conscires is very high and I have had some very intellectually stimulating conversations with all the trainers and consultants at Conscires.