A War, a Manifesto, Respect, Courage and some barking: Scrum just got real Part 2

By Aqueelah Grant

On February 25–26, 2015, I took a two-day ScrumMaster class with Instructor Peter Borsella of Winnow Management. On March 1, 2015, I passed my ScrumMaster exam and I am now a Certified ScrumMaster. I must first start off by telling you that if you do plan on taking a ScrumMaster class, I recommend you take Peter Borsella’s class. He is a highly recommended and highly regarded instructor. Just about every student I spoke with in class advised he was specifically recommended to them. He is also the Founder of Winnow Management and an IT professional with over 25 years of experience in application development and leadership.

My reason for taking ScrumMaster Class

As a Technology professional who currently specializes in Software testing I’ve learned not to put myself in a box and to “industry expand” myself. What I mean by “industry expand” is that I always put myself in the position to understand every role that is a part of the full SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) including the role of the end user. This allows me to advance in the technology industry. Even if I don’t understand every role 100%, I can still have a conversation about it and give valuable input. Coincidentally, “industry expanding” is one of the main character traits a ScrumMaster must have to be successful.

About three years ago I wrote the following article regarding Scrum entitled, Chicken, Pigs, Poker and Master Splinter — Scrum Methodology just got real. At the time of writing the article I didn’t think about writing a Part 2. I’ve always thought that the ScrumMaster’s role was a pretty interesting one, however it wasn’t until I took an actual ScrumMaster class that I realized how powerful the role was.

History of Scrum (A War)

In class I found out the biggest scrum goes back to World War II. The largest Agile project was D-Day. Before going into scrum class I had assumed that scrum was solely for the technology industry. However, that is not the case. Scrum has been used in the military, manufacturing industry, finance industry and a host of other industries. In reference to scrum and the technology industry Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber conceived the Scrum software development process in the early 90’s.

Benefits of ScrumMaster Class (A Manifesto)

I became even more excited about ScrumMaster class once I saw how much emphasis was being put on adhering to the Agile Manifesto. I must admit that prior to class this was a part of scrum I had not deeply dug into. Understanding and abiding to the 12 principles is a major part of the ScrumMaster role.

Other cool things from class:

You are provided with a wide variety of materials to prepare you for the Certified ScrumMaster Exam

In each exercise all team members were able to rotate roles. In this photo I am playing the ScrumMaster Role for our Books R US store.

We were not only focused on process, we created actual finished products. Here is our finished Books R US product. “We are America’s Bookstore”. a great tagline created by one of my teammates! We are small business owners competing with much larger bookstores. We have comfortable couches with ottomans (go ahead and put your feet up), free wi-fi and the best coffee in town. At least that is what I imagined in my head.

On day 2 we rotated teams so that we could network with everyone in class. In this photo I am playing the developer role during planning poker. We are estimating hours on a payment portal and ticketing system project for a large corporation. I loved the authenticity of playing planning poker with actual cards.

Is the ScrumMaster Role for you (Respect, Courage, and Some barking)

One important thing I found out about the ScrumMaster role in class is that the ScrumMaster should always be it’s own role. So you have the development team which consists of all the people responsible for building and testing the product i.e (developers and QA). You also have the product owner the person responsible for communicating with the customer and last but not least you have the ScrumMaster. Prior to class I had always assumed that the ScrumMaster should always be a project manager. Here’s where scrum gets really real. The following article from Scrum Alliance does a nice job of outlining the ScrumMaster’s role. What does a ScrumMaster do?.

To break things down, the ScrumMaster must be someone who respects the team and ensures that the team gets everything they need. The ScrumMaster must have the courage to stand up and speak out when needed, which means that there may be times when the ScrumMaster actually has to bark at people. During class we had a fun exercise where we said “WOOF”. It was invigorating. The ScrumMaster must also be neutral to the roles it protects as he/she must understand that everyone plays a valuable role.

Instructor Borsella and I doing the secret handshake you’ll learn more about it in ScrumMaster class. One of the major things Instructor Borsella kept telling us during class was to have fun. Had he not said that, i’m not sure I would have, as I was initially nervous about the course. Sometimes we are so focused on what we are after that we forget to have fun. I thank him for being human and for also reminding us to be human as well.

Originally published at www.blacksintechnology.net.

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