Back to Basics

I recently taught a Certified Scrum Master Course to 5 co-workers. In preparation for this, I spent countless hours over many late nights developing course material, slide decks, and exercises that were replayed many times on my family!  I even approached it with some agile methods- I used daily iterations, a card wall to guide me, and a backlog to keep me on track, working toward my goal.

The class couldn’t have been any better laid out- I had a PM, a BA, 2 Developers, and a Quality Engineer. Upon learning this, I had a moment similar to the crowd, as the moment Rodney Dangerfield hit the water at the end of his Triple Lindy attempt in “Back to School”. I was set. What I wasn’t prepared for was the imbalance of pre-existing knowledge. A couple of the attendees had lots of practical experience (some good, some bad) actually working in ‘agile’ teams. Others had mostly theoretical experience.

Training Day 1. I love the stage. I love teaching. I love agile methods. This is my moment! With very little fanfare, we started. Late. I’ve already blown my time contract, which was just the beginning of a recurring theme. “(Dang), where is that kid?!” The first thing I realized was that everyone in the room was there because they REALLY wanted to be there. That makes this different from a lot of training sessions! The next thing I figured out was that my agenda was going to be a very loose guideline, ‘adaptable’ 🙂 It’s all good. The class showed me some grace, worked through lunch, ran some exercises at break-neck pace, and got us to my day 1 goal…sort of.

Training Day 2. Catching up. The team was very flexible, and managed the content that we HAD to get through very well. Result of ‘gelling’ as a team? Additionally, they helped scrap half of the ‘extra that I was going to speak to, and injected their own. Quick decision making as a result of training together and learning how to gain consensus? This was a fabulous ad-hoc, adaptable means of fitting the training to the time box (we changed scope!).

While this was all a good set of contributions to my knowledge base and experience as an instructor, the real meaty stuff came from the retrospectives (like usual if you run in Agile Circles). Remember that we had a few veterans in the midst of the training? Can you imagine what the overwhelming feedback was from them? Reviewing the basics! I felt, in that moment, that I just fired up Windows 3.1 for the first time and developed an appreciation for drag and drop copy & rename, versus command line wizardry! How refreshing- Agile Veterans walked away from my class thanking me for the material, and that it was important to get a refresher on the basics! I felt fully validated, and I walked away from that feeling really good about what I originally felt really disappointed about starting early on day 1! It also cast light on the fact that you could, and should retrospect pretty much anything that you put stock in!

I just want you to know- we’re all counting on you.

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