The ScrumMaster Diaries: Chapter 1 – We stink

Dear Diary,  

This is Nick.  I’ve never been much of a writer before, but I made myself a New Year resolution to try to keep an ongoing diary so I could look back in a few years and see how things have gone.  Right now I’m hoping it will be a happy thing to see.  I’m just not so sure it will be.  Today was a pretty rough day at work and it is making me wonder if I made the right choice by going to work for WidCo 6 months ago.  

The good news is we all have a week off and we aren’t even supposed to think about work.  The bad news is thinking about work will be really depressing after today.  Bob (the head honcho of WidCo) picked today to tell us all that the company isn’t doing so well.  Our last two product releases caused us to lose 15% in market share and the slide is continuing.  We really stink was the bottom line of his message.  

Diary, I don’t know what we’re going to do.  I’m really worried.  We’re still in a bit of a recession and finding work now would be nearly impossible.  There has to be a way to make a difference.  I know I’m not supposed to think about work this week, but I don’t think that’s possible.  I’m going to go into the basement office and try to piece together some ideas on how I can help WidCo be successful!  

-Nick  

Dear Diary,  

Is that how I start a second diary entry on the same day?  I have no idea, but I don’t really care right now.  I’m excited and there is no one I can tell about why I’m so excited!!!  I think I figured out a way to help WidCo be successful.  Yes!!!  

I have to write this down so sometime down the road I have an accurate history of how it happened.  It all started by me doing an exercise I learned a long time ago.  I tried to write down WidCo’s problem as accurately as I could and came up with “WidCo has been unsuccessful with software.”  The exercise then says to take that statement, flip it around and search for how to do the opposite.  So, this is the Internet age and I went to Google and typed “succeeding with software” and pressed the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.  Well, I was VERY lucky!!!  

To say that I was lucky is an incredible understatement.  I ended up at amazon.com with a book called “Succeeding with Agile” by someone named Mike Cohn.  I had no idea what “Agile” was, or who Mike Cohn was or what “Scrum” was or anything, so I was very confused.  I was even more confused when I read the description because it talked about success with agile and scrum and I thought to myself “well that’s great, but what does that have to do with succeeding with software?”  Then it slowly started to sink in – I think.  

Agile seems to be an umbrella for a whole lot of software development processes.  I’m a PMP so I understand there are lots of methodologies out there like RUP for example, but I had never heard of agile.  Then I learned that Scrum is a particular type of agile development which apparently was created in the mid 1990’s.  I did more research and found out Mike Cohn is pretty famous in the agile and scrum world – at least there are some well regarded books written by him and he speaks at lots of conferences.  

Once I got that figured out I decided to dig a bit deeper and see how this agile/scrum thing would help WidCo.  Turns out it may be a silver bullet for us.  

We stink at a lot of things like requirements gathering.  Nothing against Jeff and Laurie, but they don’t really know what the dev teams needs to be successful.  Turns out agile and scrum don’t care so much about requirements!  

We aren’t real good at documenting our work (which is part of why Jean’s job is so hard these days), but agile says write code and don’t worry about documentation.  

The process we use today is pretty bloated with lots of signoffs and paperwork and such, but agile gets rid of all that and says to just get working and refactor if you don’t do it right the first time.  

I am very excited.  I also saw the book was available on Kindle, so I ordered it and it should be downloaded by now.  I’m going to go read for a few hours then come back and write some more.  Can you tell I’m excited!!!!!!!  

-Nick  

Dear Diary,  

Crud, Crud, Crud!!!

Double Crud!!!

This sucks – big time!  I started reading the book and found out it isn’t a basic introductory book.  It really is meant for a person who knows the basics and wants to go beyond them.  Luckily he mentioned something called a Certified Scrum Master class.  Turns out there are quite a few of them around the world.  One is being held locally next week.  I guess I’ll talk to Henry next Monday and see if he thinks it is a good idea.  I’m really not looking forward to having a conversation about attending a class I don’t really know can help us, but it doesn’t look like I have much choice.  The course is $1200 and I’m definitely NOT going to spend my own money on it!

-Nick


So, it looks like our hero Nick is going to grab the bull by the horns and try to convince his boss that becoming a Certified ScrumMaster will help the team. What do you think? Will Henry go for it? Will Nick chicken out?

 

Oh, by the way, this is my 100th blog entry!  Raise a can of Diet Coke (or other favorite work appropriate beverage) and join me in a toast – To a lot more blog entries in the future!

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  1. It doesn’t really matter whether he goes to the course or not. With approach like that: “Turns out it may be a silver bullet for us” odds are good the course won’t help him much anyways.

    I know that’s just a story but it’s naive to the point where it’s even hard to discuss merits.

    By the way, if someone wants to learn Scrum:
    – there are a lot of sources available in the Internet
    – there are (I guess) books on Scrum basics
    – there are communities willing to share their knowledge and experience
    – and of course there are courses

    Personally I would start with others and attend the course only if I found information insufficient, but that’s really about how one learns most efficiently. If course is the best choice for someone I’d be far from discouraging them to attend it. The other thing is paying for the course but then we come back to the list above, where most of items as free.

    • I agree, it is rather naive, but that is also the point. This story, while not true, has may elements of truth in it from things I have personally seen or experienced. I can say with certainty that if Nick were a real person he would NOT be unique. to believe he is unique would be foolish on our part. There are many people who have similar beliefs or hopes as they try to adopt Scrum.

      As for items available on the Internet, you are correct there are many. However, there are well over 60,000 Certified Scrum Masters today so people do tend to go to a course. Learning from a book or article or video is great, but the ability to experience a course with its interactivity is usually a better choice for actually learning. Without interactivity it is very difficult to understand how a process can fit the uniqueness of individual organizations.

Bob Hartman

Known as Agile Bob, brings over 30 years of experience and broad industry knowledge cultivated by serving in almost every role in the software industry including developer, tester, documentation writer, trainer, product manager, project manager, business analyst, senior software engineer, development manager and executive. Over the past 15 years Bob has grown from being an early adopter of Agile to his current status as a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST) and Certified Enterprise Coach℠ (CEC) and an expert in training, coaching and mentoring across all areas of Agile development. Bob is a popular speaker, having spoken at numerous major conferences, seminars, workshops and user group meetings where his engaging style, holistic view of development and personal anecdotes are always well received by attendees.

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