Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scrum Gathering: The Doctor is IN

The Scrum Gathering in Munich is now behind us. So much interesting information, so many interesting people, so many things to do, so many ideas which I'd like to deploy tomorrow, and so little time for it all. My personal highs and lows:

  • The dialog room. It took a while for it to get in the swing of things, but interaction is what Agile is all about. Deborah Preuss and Tobias Mayer brought games, poetry and Open Space (back) to the Gathering. My personal favorite was "The Doctor is In" a booth for free private consulting between conference participants. I'd like to start doing that at the Scrum Breakfast.
  • Networking with everybody imaginable.
  • Boris Gloger's Scrum Brazilian Cooking Stand - real coffee, fresh pressed juices, hostesses, and more. It felt almost like the Geneva Auto Show (and what was that Hummer doing parked out front?).
  • Scrum Alliance Confronts its Own Dysfunction - more transparency coming from the board, but its command and control mindset is still very present.
  • Scrum For Lawyers. If the legal profession has a Tobias Mayer, then her name is Regina Mullen and she wants to apply Scrum and Agile to the legal profession. We shared a stage and it was a lot of fun. Agile & Contracts seems to be a hot topic.
  • My Mac-Air fell from about 2 ft on the floor and is now dented and bent. It still works, but it doesn't close properly. 4 months old, and already scarred for life :-(
  • Practitioners from the Scrum Community aren't really worried about the strife in the Scrum Alliance. I had put this down as a high, because it means that Scrum really helps people with their work. But it also means that the Alliance is not really serving its community, so it is being ignored.
  • Too many talking head presentations. (I plead guilty, as charged). No systematic feedback from presentations. No potential for self improvement.
  • 22 of 26 CST applicants were turned down. When I see people like Serge Beaumont (whose talk at the Stockholm gathering influenced my understanding of the Product Owner role more than anything else, with the possible exception of Mike Cohn's books) on the declined list, I just don't understand. 
  • My application was also turned down, which was disappointing. Fortunately my ability to earn my living as a trainer and coach is not based on someone's stamp of approval. A Scrum course (taught by someone who knows and loves the subject and who knows how to teach it) can really transform people's lives. I've seen it happen. I love doing it. And I love hearing back from people.
If the Scrum Alliance has a Scrum Master, then it's Tobias Mayer. Maybe court jester is a better description. Like the court jester, the Scrum Master often helps the organization recognize unpleasant truths. It's a dangerous job. Sometimes kings kill the messenger. It's happened to me and it happened to Tobias (but he was rehabilitated). I think he has correctly analyzed the problems of the Scrum Alliance and indicated the right way forward.

Sorely missed was of course Ken Schwaber. Ken's work has inspired thousands of people to rethink the way they work and make the workplace a better place for everybody. 'Inspect and Adapt' is the basis for a more effective way of solving difficult problems. I read his book and it clicked immediately. This is the way to do projects.

I met Ken at the Scrum Gathering in Stockholm and he agreed to come to Zürich for our Lean Agile Scrum Conference. I had the privilege of participating in and co-teaching at his CSM Course in Zürich at the same time. I thought there was nothing more I could learn at a CSM course, but I was wrong. It was an eye opening experience, particularly his emphasis on the ethics of making commitments.

So the Scrum Alliance (and the training program in particular) has been a victim of its own success. I think/hope both Ken (with his and the Scrum Alliance board are recognizing this issue. Ken and the Scrum Alliance brought Inspect and Adapt to the world. I am confident they will apply their values and principles to resolve them. I can't say How or When, but I have confidence in What.