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Scrum Video Tip #2: The Daily Scrum

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What are three things that a ScrumMaster can do to keep the Daily Scrum from becoming mundane?

Key Takeaways:

  1. 3 Questions: stop asking the 3 questions and let your team “just do it”
  2. Order: let the team decide the order of who goes next, have them pass to the next team member
  3. Venue: vary the venue for the meeting, how about going outside or maybe to Starbucks close by

 

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Training From The Back Of The Room With Sharon Bowman

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Sharon Bowman

If you have attended one of our Braintrust training classes, then you know we do things a little differently. We build paper airplanes, we design board games, and we even make fruit salads in classes. We do these fun, interactive learning activities because we use  Sharon Bowman’s techniques for teaching from the back of the room.

After receiving requests from other trainers as well as class attendees, we are proud to announce that Braintrust Consulting Group is bringing Sharon and her training techniques to Sacramento and Orlando for four special classes. The last time that we offered these classes, they sold out. Classes are limited in size, and we expect the demand to be high, so make your reservations early!

 

Two Day Train the Trainer Program:

TRAINING FROM THE BACK OF THE ROOM!

October 19-20, 2015 – Sacramento, CA
 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/training-from-the-back-of-the-room-tickets-16944310890

April 14-15, 2016 – Orlando, FL
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/training-from-the-back-of-the-room-tickets-16944035065

Take your training skills to a more advanced level as you discover how the human brain really learns which is very different from traditional assumptions about learning. Explore the most current “cognitive neuroscience” about effective instruction – how the brain takes in, stores, retrieves and uses knowledge. Discover six powerful learning principles based on the best of brain science, then apply these principles every time you train, teach, or coach others.

This training is relevant to anyone who trains, teaches, or facilitates learning, whether in corporate, business, or educational settings. The training strategies you will learn can also be applied to computer-based instruction, as well as classroom learning environments. If you are an Agile coach or Scrum trainer, you will be especially pleased to discover how to combine Agile/Scrum concepts with collaborative learner-engagement.

Click here for full class details.

 

One Day Trainer Certification Class:

HOW TO PRESENT “TRAINING FROM THE BACK OF THE ROOM!”

October 21, 2015- Sacramento, CA
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/trainer-certification-class-how-to-present-training-from-the-back-of-the-room-tickets-16944951807

April 16, 2016 – Orlando, FL
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/trainer-certification-class-how-to-present-training-from-the-back-of-the-room-tickets-17036153594

This 1-day trainer certification course is designed to give you the professional training skills you need to present Sharon Bowman’s 2-day train-the-trainer program “Training from the BACK of the Room.” Along with individualized instruction, guided practice, instructor and peer coaching and feedback, you will receive a complete facilitator’s guide and slide set for the 2-day train-the-trainer workshop. Plus, you’ll receive a year of free coaching from Sharon to help polish your “Training from the BACK of the Room” presentation skills.

This exciting 1-day certification course is being offered for the second time in the United States and registration is limited to 20 participants. Upon the successful completion of this course, you will be licensed to deliver “Training from the BACK of the Room” to your own clients, customers, company, and country.

You will join an exceptional group of global trainers when you become a Certified Trainer for “Training from the BACK of the Room!”

Click here for full class details.

These classes are limited in size, and we expect the demand to be high, so make your reservations early!

Scrum Video Tip #1: More Effective Team Meetings

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Braintrust CEO & Certified Scrum Trainer Brian Rabon gives us 3 tips for better Team meetings:

Key Takeaways:

  1. Time-box your discussions – using a visual timer can be a great help
  2. Provide an Outlet – make sure that your kinesthetic team members have something to play with
  3. Stretch – provide the opportunity to take a quick stretch break every 30 mins.

 

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SAFE ≠ AGILE (Part 2)

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by Tom Mellor, CST    (Part 2 of 2)

If you haven’t read part 1 it would be helpful to go back and read it. You can find it here 

As a reminder, the close of Part 1 – I didn’t wish to foment organizational change.  My purpose was selfish: improve the odds that we would deliver a better product faster.  I had plenty of skeptics, but none of those people were on my teams using Scrum. So, soon the whole IT department was abuzz with this newfangled approach.  Before you knew it, we had a couple dozen coaches in place and an “agile enablement” unit up and running.  And, Agile was getting sucked into the Hairball……

 

Not EqualBefore I left, over a thousand people at my company went through my Scrum workshops.  I became a Certified Scrum Trainer under the guidance and tutorage of Ken Schwaber.  One assistant vice-president who “sponsored” agile enablement gleefully informed me that I had saved him thousands of dollars of external training costs by doing it inside, and that I should be “proud of saving us so much money.”  The notion of being agile was secondary to establishing a “consistent, repeatable process.” 

 

Naturally, this was counter to everything Agile, and over the last several years of my employment at the company, my optimism steadily waned.   In the end, I was disillusioned with management’s intention of turning being agile into doing agile.  A huge new initiative came along that management was convinced needed to be accomplished with absolute control and planning in place.  Before I retired, I told an assistant vice president: “If you think you will be able to eat this elephant in one planned bite, you will fail miserably.”  He responded, “Thanks for your input, and I wish you well in your retirement.”  What happened?  Failure to the tune of more than $2 billion in cost.  Sigh!

Now, two years after I retired, I return occasionally to the hallowed halls of that IT department.  People are quick to tell me about the latest escapades and nonsense.  Recently, one person told me he has now figured out his job: to discern between the rational and reasonable and the irrational and insane (I think he meant ideas and concepts, not people, but I am not certain.)  He is working on 40 projects and proudly brags that he can attend 3 meetings simultaneously, with the firm belief that his active participation is needed about 10% of the time (6 minutes in an hour long meeting), so he can manage this easily. What is the only appropriate response other than “Wow!”? 

The first question out of this person’s mouth when he saw me was. “Do you know what this SAFe nonsense is?”  “You mean ‘unSAFe’ don’t you?”  I said with a chuckle. I told him how I felt about SAFe, what I have been told, and what I have observed: SAFe is not equal to agile and, in fact, it is oppositional to agile.  It is an anti-pattern to agile.  It layers on more of the same old process crap that others and I tried to fight for almost 10 years.  Well, that isn’t really fair, it enables the layering of more process crap.  More importantly, it enables dysfunctional management and perpetuates the age-old management problems that we tried to tackle over those years.  In short, SAFe actually enables organizations not to be agile, and it does this seductively.

Finally, and most importantly, SAFe has created consultancy and marketing opportunities that have enabled even more financial pillaging from so-called “agile transformers.”  They will spew their magic potion all over and then leave with their money. The organization will wonder why things are still the same, why they aren’t doing agile worth a damn, and what to do next.  Of course, they could always turn to Total Quality Management or Six Sigma.  Those discarded magic potions can always be pulled out of the cupboard and reused.

Oh, and that agile crap???  Well, we tried that and it was just nonsense.  Back to doing the same old shit and expecting different results.  And, by the way, we are not insane!!


Tom & Family
Tom & Family

Tom Mellor has been actively involved in business and IT for over 36 years. A seasoned professional, he has worked in both large and small companies serving in a multitude of capacities and functions. With a rich history in Agile, Tom is passionate about the adoption and use of agile-based product development approaches and in 2004 introduced Agile and Scrum framework into a Fortune 50 company.  Tom has been a Certified Scrum Trainer since 2008 and served on the Scrum Alliance Board of Directors from March 2008 through October 2010 including a term as chair from September 2009 until October 2010. Purpose driven work for Tom means helping organizations, their leaders, and their teams do modern Agile-based product development processes effectively and he helps them do this through consultation, training and coaching. 

SAFe ≠ Agile

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by Tom Mellor, CST    (Part 1 of 2)

The company from which I retired in 2013 has hitched onto the (un)SAFe train (not to be confused with the release train), and I am hearing from lots of people in the organization about it.  I have lots of concerns with SAFe, but my primary one is that it moves focus from teams, and the people on them, to management, especially in a hierarchal, top-down command sense.  It perpetuates the very problems that we in the broad agile community have sought to resolve over the years! 

In short, it gives manNot Equalagement the excuse to perpetuate outdated structures, strategies and tactics, and institute a heavyweight process framework that presents a façade of agile.  It focuses strictly on “doing agile” rather than “being agile.”  It also furthers the arguments put forth by Agile Manifesto signatory Dave Thomas in his blog post Agile is Dead (Long Live Agility) http://pragdave.me/blog/2014/03/04/time-to-kill-agile/.  Bob Galen’s concerns reflect mine: http://bit.ly/1bCafF7.

I introduced Scrum into my former organization in 2004 where we first used it clandestinely on a project to bring Health Savings Account marketing and operations capability into the company.  We had to accomplish this in 90 days, and we had to work with a vendor (who didn’t have a clue what Scrum was).  A rather irreverent line from the business had caused me to want to tackle this work by trying a new approach I had read about in a software development publication written by Scrum co-creator Ken Schwaber. I was intrigued by its simplicity, so I emailed Schwaber.

I joke in my Scrum workshops that when I contacted Ken Schwaber about trying out Scrum at this behemoth company, he thought I was either the craziest or the stupidest person he had met who wanted to give Scrum a go.  I am not sure which side of the coin I fell on, but I do know that we defied expectations and delivered the product in the time demanded.  We did it using a small team that worked in 2 week Sprints while I got corporate BS and process crap out of the way so we could deliver. 

We used Scrum without any formal training.  Schwaber had invited me to attend a CSM workshop in Chicago in February 2004 (one of the early ones, if not the first one), but I told him I couldn’t go because we had to start the HSA project.  “Any advice?” I asked him.  “Yeah. Read the book I wrote with Mike Beedle (Agile Software Development with Scrum 2001 Pearson) and follow it.  Then let me know how it goes.”  So it went, and we delivered that product within the 90 days.  I got a “medal,” or at least a congratulatory letter, from the CEO of the bank division of our financial services company.  The VP of Finance, a fellow named Jack, who oversaw the bank division, wondered how we did it.  “We used Scrum – a lightweight framework that allows us to pivot and react quickly.  We were Agile.” 

“Well,” Jack said, “can you use Scum [sic] on a big thing?” 

“It’s Scrum. How big?” I asked. 

“Big – a complete rewrite of our mortgage system.” 

“When does it need to be finished?” I asked. 

“8 months from now – by the end of the year.” 

“How long did it take to produce the existing system?” 

“Two and a half years.”  Jack looked at me with that you-will-tell-me-yes look that executives knowingly give.

“This isn’t magic, Jack.  We cut out a lot of bureaucracy and process crap in this HSA work. We won’t be able to do that in a large project, especially one that involves intensive government regulation.”

“Give it a try.  We’ll support you in getting that ‘process crap’ out of your way.”

“Ok, but no promises.”

“Think as Yoda: ‘Do or do not. There is no try.” 

We didn’t deliver in 8 months, we delivered in 9.  We developed a simple interim solution that can seemingly only come about when a real team collaborates constantly.  But, the success of the mortgage system project unleashed a torrent of interest, and soon my surreptitious activities were unmasked. 

I didn’t wish to foment organizational change.  My purpose was selfish: improve the odds that we would deliver a better product faster.  I had plenty of skeptics, but none of those people were on my teams using Scrum. So, soon the whole IT department was abuzz with this newfangled approach.  Before you knew it, we had a couple dozen coaches in place and an “agile enablement” unit up and running.  And, Agile was getting sucked into the Hairball[i].


Tom & Family
Tom & Family

Tom Mellor has been actively involved in business and IT for over 36 years. A seasoned professional, he has worked in both large and small companies serving in a multitude of capacities and functions. With a rich history in Agile, Tom is passionate about the adoption and use of agile-based product development approaches and in 2004 introduced Agile and Scrum framework into a Fortune 50 company.  Tom has been a Certified Scrum Trainer since 2008 and served on the Scrum Alliance Board of Directors from March 2008 through October 2010 including a term as chair from September 2009 until October 2010. Purpose driven work for Tom means helping organizations, their leaders, and their teams do modern Agile-based product development processes effectively and he helps them do this through consultation, training and coaching. 


[i] Intricate patterns of behavior have created a Gordian Knot of Corporate Normalcy (conformity with the corporate mindset)…This is the Hairball….and the nature of Corporate Gravity is to suck everything into the Hairball, which is derived from and dedicated to the past. There is little room in the Hairball for original thinking or creativity. To orbit the Hairball is to find balance and joy without becoming entombed in the bureaucracy. You can achieve orbit by finding the courage to be genuine, to look for and promote the finding of better ways rather than following the pallid path of corporate conformity.  It is risky, but rewarding.Orbiting the Giant Hairball; A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie (Viking 1998)

 

Making the Transition from Project Manager to ScrumMaster – A Mom’s Story

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Today started at the California Memorial Stadium, University of California Berkeley with a welcome address for the incoming class of 2019. As a Mom, I sat there with tears in my eyes beside my teenager who was glowing from ear to ear as the band played and everyone chanted “Go Bears!” She looked at me and said, “These are my people!”

From young girl to grown woman
As she grows

As I sit outside lecture halls while she listens to sessions on life at Berkeley, it allows me to reflect on my changing role as a Mom over the past 17 years. Early on, my time was very much that of a Project Manager, arranging schedules and who needs to do what and when. The last year however has seen my role transition to that of ScrumMaster, I’m here to clear roadblocks and facilitate her college decision, I am no longer there to drive the decision!

Nothing highlighted this role transition more than visiting her top 2 school choices this week and last. Wearing my ScrumMaster hat, I had asked what would help her make the decision, she decided she needed to visit both Cornell and Berkeley.

So I booked various flights, hotels and rental cars and we set off to visit Cornell University in Ithaca. It was there that I suddenly realized our roles had changed and that I was here to be chauffeur and facilitator. All the decisions on sessions to attend, where to visit were all being driven by my daughter. I was a sounding board for her working through her pros and cons but I didn’t influence her one way or another, that’s not my role anymore. I’m here to facilitate her making the best decision for herself.

She’s worked through her decision and we find ourselves at Berkeley this weekend where she has decided to spend her next 4 years.

Go Bears!  😀


Kate Megaw

  Kate Megaw – CST, PMP

  Live Agile!!

Join us in learning to use the principles of Agile in our daily lives!

I Just Broke The Number 1 Business Rule… Shhh, please don’t tell anyone

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Brian's Business cards
Brian’s Business cards

Today I threw away my business card collection (Ok, actually I recycled it). I know you are dying to hear why I would commit such a huge business mistake. Here is the whole story…

I have to admit that when it comes to some collections I am a hoarder. I keep:

  • Crossfit t-shirts
  • Love notes from my wife
  • Business cards

Yes, you heard me right… I hoard business cards. There I admit it!!! Ever since I graduated college I have kept every business card that I have ever received. They sit in a nice box and I can only assume I have well over 1,000 cards in my collection.

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. With all the new buds on the trees and birds chirping again, I can’t help but get in the mood to clean and renew my life. That explains why I found my hands on my business card collection. I decided for the first time in over decade to go through the entire box and sort it. Picking up a random set of cards I started to quickly notice a pattern, most all the cards in my hand were for people who had changed jobs. Also, it was taking longer than I thought to go through them all. So, in a moment of clarity I decided to through the entire collection into the recycling bin.

I know you are thinking that I am out of my mind, here is why I made the decision:

  • I already work hard to maintain the most important business relationships. These individuals hear from me on a regular basis and I have their contact info in Outlook and on my iPhone.
  • Many of the cards were outdated – Business cards are static, they don’t change. Keeping a card for someone who no longer works for the same company is pointless since their contact info is no longer relevant.
  • We now have digital business cards – I have been using LinkedIn since it got started many years ago. As of this writing I have 1,562 connections. These connections will never go out of date because you update your profile when you change jobs.

Do you have the courage to join me in recycling your business card collection? Please tell your story in the comments section below…