On November 22nd I officially became a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM). I went to my CSM training with Michael Vizdos. I was surprised at what I was able to learn, and the level of conversation was much higher than I had anticipated. To put things in context, we have been using Scrum at Integrum for over 4 years, we have had multiple other CSMs and a CSP on staff, so I figured that I’d heard it all before.
Michael was an excellent teacher, he was engaging, extremely sensitive to the level of knowledge of the other class members and adjusted his content and conversation accordingly. Luckily the other attendees all had some Scrum experience, so we were able to dig into the topics at a little bit deeper level. If you are thinking of taking a CSM class, I would highly encourage you to take one with Vizdos. His experience running and working with large, technical professional service organizations really resonated with me.
So, as the CEO of Integrum, I know that I can never be the ScrumMaster of our team, nor do I want to be. Being a sometime developer on our team is hard enough with the awkward power dynamic of also being “the boss,” being the ScrumMaster would be next to impossible. So why did I spend the money, take two days of my time, and invest so much mental energy into getting certified when I cannot actively take on the role of ScrumMaster?
Part of the answer is, I believe in being well rounded and having a deep understanding of the practices of my company. As I mentioned earlier, we have been using Scrum (and XP) for over 4 years and I feel like I have a good handle on the day to day practice of Scrum. What I wanted to get out of the class was a deeper, more nuanced understanding of why we do the things we do. I’ve read the books, blogs, literature, etc., I’ve talked the talk, and walked the walk, but the one thing I haven’t done is engage in deep conversation about why we practice Scrum, and the role of a ScrumMaster, with someone outside our organization. I want to be sure our practices are mature, and where they are not mature yet, we are taking the right steps and achieving incremental improvements on a path to excellence. We are building a hyper-performance team at Integrum, so we need all the help, training, discipline and experience we can get.
I believe that great leaders, especially when dealing with engineers, also should be practitioners (this is a very nuanced statement, it should not be taken at face value, and perhaps I will address it in depth in another article). I want to feel the pressure, pain, and satisfaction of what I am expecting my employees to do so that I can be a better leader. I also want to be able to apply the principles of Scrum to our entire organization, from sales, to support, strategy to tactics. In order to run the organization under Scrum, I must require of myself an earnest understanding and appreciation of the principles and practices of Scrum.
I am going to be challenging myself to implement more elements of Scrum to how we run the business itself. I can already predict that this is going to be very challenging to the leadership, not because we don’t believe in Scrum, but simply because sticking to the practice of Scrum is difficult. I anticipate we will go through Tuckman’s stages of group development, I imagine some hard conversations being had. We will fail, fast and often. We will talk about why we failed, and how we can do it better next time. We will improve, week after week. Before we know it, we will be more productive, more organized, and more successful than we were a short time before. We will accomplish things we never thought we had the time for.
We will change the world.