The Doctor: Am I a good man?This year, I have my second full year as a Certified Scrum Trainer behind me. Looking back, it seems the first thing that happened after becoming was a CST was getting a steady stream of requests from aspiring CSTs to co-train with them. I held off the requests until this year. I have now worked with four aspiring trainers. In each case, I learned a lot and have come to appreciate both the value and the limitations of the mentoring system. I want to create a workshop for aspiring Scrum Trainers, so that they can rapidly achieve the level of a good CST.
Clara: I don't know. But I think you try to be and I think that's probably the point.
The Doctor: I think you're probably an amazing teacher.
What does a good trainer do?In my eyes, the purpose of a Scrum Master course is not to teach people the basic mechanics of Scrum. You can learn that from a 10 or 12 page document. The purpose is to enable the participants to discover a new, better, and more fun way of working, and leave them inspired to take that vision back to their companies to make it a reality! And they should have enough hands-on experience to have confidence and enthusiasm while getting started.
Just as Morpheus could only lead Neo to the door, but Neo had to choose to pass through, the job of a Scrum Trainer is to offer people that red pill. If what they learn resonates with them, they will want to plunge down that rabbit hole and explore it for a long time to come!
How do you train that? I believe that being a good trainer is a mixture of passion, attitude, skills and experience.
If there is one thing that can't be taught, it is passion. On the other hand, passion is contagious. So I try to give participants the opportunity to feel my passion and understand why I am passionate about Scrum. I believe sharing stories and learning by doing are the only way. As a Scrum Trainer, you need to be able to tell inspiring stories and facilitate great experiences.
AttitudeIf you teach inspect-and-adapt, you have to do inspect-and-adapt, otherwise it is not authentic. (And sooner or later, you won't be very good, compared to others who do.)
I thought I was a pretty good trainer when I started. (Actually, I thought I was a very good trainer when I applied, which probably slowed my application tremendously.) Shortly after I started teaching certified courses, I noticed my Net Promoter Scores were not what I thought they should be. I also realized that despite collecting feedback from participants since my first course, I had never actually implemented a suggestion based on that feedback!
I wasn't inspecting and adapting, so I resolved to start. Since that moment, I read all the feedback. After each course, I strive to implement at least one suggestion or address one issue in the next course. I also send a follow-up to my participants with a summary of their feedback, and if possible, tell them what I plan to do differently in the future thanks to their feedback.
A funny thing happened. After an initial and substantial improvement, it got harder to improve. In some cases, I even regressed. But I didn't stop, even as I suffered some low points. Some issues were really hard to solve. I knew what the problem was, but didn't know how to solve them, even as I heard, time after time, that I needed to do something about it.
My willingness to adapt actually made it easier for me to change when the time was ripe. By always looking at how my customers were dissatisfied, I knew what needed to be done. Sometimes it took a while, but when I saw the solution to my challenges, I was able to implement them right away! (Thank you to the trainers and co-trainers I have worked with this year: Lizzie, Hugo, Elena, Niranjan and Andreas. Each of you has helped me move forward in important ways.)
The jump in my Net Promoter Scores was immediate and has been sustainable. I don't know if that qualifies me as a good trainer, but I am certainly better than I was two years ago, and it is the inspect-and-adapt cycle of Scrum which enabled me to get here.
How would I summarize the right attitude? A willingness to inspect, adapt and collaborate. How could you train that? Again, I think learning by doing and experiencing a-ha moments is the way to go.
Skills and experience
What else does a top trainer need to know? I believe a CST-level Scrum Trainer should...
- embrace the Agile Mindset
- have a validated deep understanding of Scrum
- have a validated understanding of what is not Scrum
- know how to teach so people learn.
- be able to teach any relevant topic spontaneously without powerpoint
- be able to tell authentic stories about their own experience doing Scrum to illustrate key points
- understand related approaches, e.g. Kanban, Radical Management, Lean Software Development, Extreme Programming, and how they relate to Scrum
- understand effective approaches for change leadership, e.g. Leadership Storytelling, Working Agreements, and how they relate to Scrum
- understand current vs. deprecated Scrum and agile practices
- be able to work with very large groups effectively
This is a work in progress. Two questions:
- Have I captured the right vision for a good trainer? What's missing? What's excessive? What's just wrong? Please leave a comment!
- Is there interest from aspiring Scrum Trainers for such a training? Do you know anyone who would be interested in attending some kind of workshop (webinar? combination?) to become a better Scrum Trainer or have an easier time with the TAC? If so, please share this article with them and invite them to start the conversation on my contact form.
Update: I realized that the form workshop was too limiting. Maybe a webinar, or a combination might be better, as it could be a) more long term, less geographically fixed.