Monday, 6 April 2009

Certified Scrum Master


On Thursday and Friday last week I attended with James Melville a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) SCRUM training course led by Gabrielle Benefield and Jeff Sutherland in London.

Both Gabrielle and Jeff are excellent trainers, and have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they were only too happy to call on when answering the delegates multitude array of tough questions. They've worked for some really big players in the industry and Jeff was one of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto.

Having been a 'scrum master' for over a year now for a couple of projects at Alterian meant that I went to the course armed with some knowledge, and questions that needed answering. I put the term 'scrum master' in quotes because after sitting the course it's obvious to me that what I was practising wasn't really scrum, I just thought it was at the time. I wonder how many other people are/have been in this position. I honestly feel enlightened on the topic following the two days.

Some of the key things I took from the course:
  • A scrum master's main aim is to remove impediments - but what is an impediment? It isn't just what I thought prior to the course, which was in my opinion the general day-to-day interruptions. It's actually anything that gets in the way of the team becoming more productive - this means long term issues and 'epics' in terms of company attitude, behaviour, and big productivity blocks.
  • The daily scrum - in our team we found ourselves often interrupting each other during each persons' turn, because we felt it necessary despite the rules we've previously learnt about the daily scrum. I asked Jeff about this and in his opinion it's the interruptions in the daily scrum that help increase 'information saturation' - i.e. if the interruption is necessary for clarification, questions etc. then it is valid, as long as it doesn't de-rail the meeting and is time-boxed.
  • Scrum Master daily workload - Jeff and Gabi explained that a Scrum Master should spend about 50% of their day removing impediments and making attempts to improve the team's velocity, in an ultimate aim to make the team 'hyperproductive'. Some scrum advocates think that even more time spent removing impediments is necessary. I didn't realise this, I had more in mind something like 25% and have been up to now spent most of my time working on the accepted sprint tasks with the team - I wonder if others have found this?
  • Scrum is a framework - not a defined process. It's up to the team how we operate within the rules, in order for us to become more productive. Inspect and adapt!
We were also lucky enough to grab a last minute ticket to see Jeff's talk at BT on the first evening, Shock Therapy - it was an interesting insight into starting scrum in new teams by throwing them in at the deep end - something definitely worth checking out for new teams just starting out.

More to come as I delve through my notes and re-read through the course materials, as-well as the large amount of recommended reading!