If You Have Been Wondering…

September 19, 20083 min

…where I have been, I just wanted to let all of you know I have been teaching.  One of my responsibilities is to train people on how to use Scrum.  During the past two weeks I have trained about 14 people on how to be an effective and useful Scrum Leads, our equivalent of a ScrumMaster.  To be a Scrum Lead, you need to complete my tailored, two-day course inspired by the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) class I attended in February, 2005 and taught by Ken Schwaber, Tobias Mayer and Paul Hodgetts.  [Please note: I do not “mint” brand new ScrumMasters and I make it very clear to the participants in my course they are not CSM and they need to take the Scrum Alliance’s course to become a CSM – CEN].  


rugby-kidsWhen I began with the original outline, I used the CSM material as the basis for the “must have” topics, but over time I have added a number of topics, exercises and discussions around skills I have found people need in order to be a good Scrum Lead in large organizations.  In October, I will have taught this class six times this year!  The course agenda has morphed and flexed around what people in the class wanted to discuss and the exercises they found useful.   Some of the items in the original agenda are now separate, two-hour training sessions on a single topic or specific tools\techniques.  You just can’t do everything you want in two days, so I am always looking for ways to shorten the class and focus on the key elements of Scrum – quality, inspect-and-adpat, visibility, accountability, self-management and collaboration.

Day 1 Purpose: Learn the Scrum framework & how the various roles interact.

  1. Why am I here?  How is this training going to work?
  2. What is Scrum?  How is it related to Agile software development?
  3. What does Scrum mean when it talks about collaborative, self-managing teams?
  4. How do the pieces of Scrum work together to deliver value to the customer?
  5. How do the various Scrum roles interact with each other?  What is the mandate of the Scrum Lead?

Day 2 Purpose: Practice using parts of Scrum & demonstrate your command of the material.

  1. How do I ask questions for change?
  2. Do I understand the workflow of Scrum?
  3. Why are user stories useful for a Product Backlog?
  4. How can I estimate items in the Product Backlog?
  5. How do Scrum teams use the Product Backlog for short term & long term planning?
  6. What are some techniques I can use at the Sprint Retrospective Meeting?
  7. Do I appreciate the value of Scrum?  Can I use it on my project?

I agree this is a pretty ambitious agenda for two days and I like to divide the class into two high-level pieces: day one is more theoretical and thematic, while day two is more practical and ties together all the theoretical concepts into real activities.  My main goal of the course is to give each of the participants enough information about Scrum so they can decide if using the framework will work in their environment.  I consider a statement like this to be a success: “Thanks for taking the time to explain Scrum and I understand how the pieces fit together, but it ’s not for me.”

One of the main reasons for creating a tailored Scrum class was we had a lot of people being asked to run Scrum teams with little more than the standard “one-hour-this-is-Scrum-powerpoint-now-are-you-ready-to-do-it?” presentation.  I feel the lack of training and recognition that Scrum Leads need help and guidance was a main contributor to why we struggled so much with Scrum when I first got here.  Having poorly trained people execute a process they did not understand and were oh-so-quick to modify was how Scrum acquired a “bad reputation” with management and the engineers (for differing reasons, of course).

My motto for the Scrum Lead class: “No More Bad Scrum”.