alacrity in action
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Before we go any further let me clarify one aspect. I fully subscribe to Uncle Bob’s view that certification can be a waste of time.

I have recently had an opportunity to take some extra training and, following very good past experience with training from Skills Matter, I decided to pick a Certified ScrumMaster training from their offer.

I have been doing Scrum for over a year now so I felt I have had some exposure and a little bit of knowledge of the subject. I have also witnessed some of the conversations in the community of advantages and disadvantages of Scrum as well as of alternatives such as (some will say) Kanban. CSM programme itself has also caused a bit of controversy.

I’m a pretty inquisitive person so decided this would be an excellent opportunity to get a first hand experience, gain better understanding and learn. I was also interested to meet Mike Vizdos whom I have heard of before through his witty Chicken & Pig cartoons at http://www.implementingscrum.com/

You suck. And that makes me sad.

If I started a little apprehensive it faded away very quickly. Mike has a teaching style I really enjoy. He is passionate, energetic and enthusiastic without being patronising . He also demonstrated a good dose of pragmatism. His training was clearly rooted in hands-on experience and sprinkled with many interesting and relevant “was-stories”.

My most important take-away will certainly be the way in which Mike deliberately, consistently and explicitly applied the coaching and mentoring skills essential for any ScrumMaster in his training. He took the entire group of 17 people in the course on an accelerated journey through forming, storming, norming & performing. And guess what, it worked.

What I also liked about Mike is that he was open and honest about Scrum without compromising his integrity as a Certified Scrum Trainer.

It was an interesting experience to see some of the common misconceptions about the ScrumMaster role. The most prominent were perhaps that:

  • ScrumMaster is just another fancy name for a Project Manager
    • SM does not replace a PM and a PM on a project does not automatically become a SM
  • ScrumMaster is an additional role anyone can perform
    • To be done well, this is a full-time job and only on one team
  • ScrumMaster is the guardian of the process
    • What process?
  • ScrumMaster is present at and runs all stand-up meetings
    • stand-up meetings are for and are a responsibility of the team
  • ScrumMaster is responsible for producing charts and creating process documentation
    • What documentation? Who are the charts for?

I can now re-iterate a Certified ScrumMaster is certified or, in other words, simply confirmed to have attended the two day training. Is that enough to be a ScrumMaster on a Scrum team – yes. Is it useful – yes. It is essential – no. Does that make one a good (or a better) ScrumMaster – definitely not. Since the pivotal role of a ScrumMaster is to work with people the only way to become good and competent is to practice, practice and practice and go through many deliberate learning cycles.

Also, it does make a difference, who your trainer is. I was lucky (or picked smart).

Thank you Mike for this enlightening experience, it was by no means a waste of time.


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