Category Archives: agile

Agile And Scrum Conference List 2019

Graduates of our Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), and Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) workshops often ask how they can continue their journey of learning about scrum, as well as earn Scrum Educational Units (SEUs) to help them renew their Scrum Alliance certifications. Attending conferences is a great way to accomplish these goals. Here is a list of conferences that you might consider attending in 2019. I’m sure we’ve missed some good ones, so point those out to us by leaving a comment.
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My Clients Aren’t Dying To Adopt Scrum

atul-beingmortal-cover3d1-319x479I recently read the book Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gawande about empowering people to make end of life decisions. Now you might be wondering, what does that have to do with scrum? Well it turns out the same questions we might ask a dying person to help facilitate their end of life in an empowering way are the same ones we might ask a client to empower their scrum practice or agile transformation.
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Scaling Scrum With Scrum

Leadership Scrum Team

One of our clients recently reached out to us asking for advice about how to manage their organization’s scaled scrum adoption. They wanted to know if they could use scrum to manage the adoption of scrum in the organization. The short answer is yes.

Guiding an organization’s adoption of scrum is a big project. It’s a project that will require a cross-functional team. It’s a project where the full scope of work can’t be known when the work starts. It’s complex, exactly the kind of endeavor that you want to use scrum to implement. When I’m working with organizations that are adopting scrum at scale, I always start by recommending that they create a scrum adoption team, and that this team use scrum to do the work of rolling scrum out to the organization.
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World Café – Scaling Highly Interactive Meetings


World Café is a fun, flexible, and scalable technique for group conversations that leads to creative solutions to complex problems. World Café has some similarities to Open Space Technology: both techniques work for groups ranging from a few people to a few thousand; both are frameworks that support individuals and interactions. World Café is useful for generating and communicating ideas, making decisions, and even doing hands-on work. We’ll be teaching product owners how to use it in our upcoming Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) workshop.

How It Works

The facilitator breaks the room into groups, then sets them to explore a set of related topics, one per table. Each table has a host whose job is to stay with the table and provide continuity while the groups discuss the topic. The other participants rotate between tables on a regular schedule, perhaps every 15-30 minutes. The idea is that those who travel between tables will cross-pollinate ideas between the topics and bring fresh perspectives. By participating in each topic, the participants come to have a holistic understanding of the main issue, and are able to understand each sub-issue within this context. In the last round, people have the option of returning to a previous table so there is opportunity for closure and continuity.
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Announcing Our Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner Workshop

Product Action Plan

Agile Learning Labs is excited to announce the first public offering of our Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner workshop (A-CSPO). This workshop is designed for people who have their CSPO and are ready to build a richer skillset, and earn the next level of Scrum Alliance certification. Chris Sims is one of only ten trainers in the world authorized to teach an A-CSPO workshop.

One of the highlights of this interactive workshop is the half-day product road mapping session. Participants will be guided through the creation of a series of minimal viable product (MVP) releases for their product, and learn how to adjust their MVP and their roadmap as market conditions and business needs change.

Another highlight is the use of the World Cafe framework to dive deeply into the skills a product owner needs to communicate effectively with the stakeholders and development team.

The workshop includes several topics taken from the world of lean product development, including the creation and testing of product hypotheses as well as creating a Lean Startup Canvas.

Additional topics covered include: defining and validating business value, crafting a product strategy and vision, how scaling impacts the product owner role, product backlog refinement, avoiding cognitive bias, and much more.

The course includes about 4 hours of self-paced pre-work, followed by a 2-day in-person workshop. In order to take the workshop, you will need to already hold a CSPO from the Scrum Alliance. In order to complete the A-CSPO certification process, you will need to self-report at least one year of product owner experience. Details can be found here on the Scrum Alliance website.

If you are ready to take the leap and become an Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner, then register for our upcoming A-CSPO workshop!


Chris Sims

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How To Create Your Team’s Definition Of Done

A scrum team’s definition of done is an important tool that helps the team add new functionality while keeping the product in a releasable state. Here is one way of facilitating the creation and evolution of your scrum team’s definition of done.

Identify The Work Needed To Release Something

Have the development team identify all of the work items (often called tasks) needed to release a high quality product backlog item (often called a user story) to production. Each piece of work goes on a sticky note. Be as specific as possible. If a team member says “testing” get specific about what that entails and write specific sticky notes:

  • Each acceptance criteria has an automated regression test
  • Unit test coverage is greater than 80%
  • Manual exploratory testing has been done
  • All the tests are passing

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A Scrum Master Is A Teacher, Mentor, Coach, And Facilitator

A scrum master wears many hats including teacher, mentor, coach, and facilitator. Each is a different stance the scrum master might take when interacting with the scrum team, or others in the organization. Part of the art of being an excellent scrum master is being able to select an appropriate stance for a given situation. We also need to be able to flow between them, inspecting and adapting based on the situation and the needs of the people involved.


This is the act of showing or explaining something to someone so that they acquire new knowledge. The scrum master is an expert in scrum and related agile practices. The scrum master spreads this knowledge throughout the organization, enabling people to engage in their work more effectively.
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Cathy Simpson Becomes A Certified Scrum Trainer

The big news from the Dublin Scrum Gathering is that Cathy Simpson has become a certified scrum trainer. This is a monumental accomplishment. She is one of less than 250 people in the world, and less than 30 women, who hold this certification. We have had the privilege of working with Cathy over the past 3+ years and supporting her as she climbed this mountain. It’s been inspiring to see her do all of the work required. We couldn’t be more proud of her.

Congratulations Cathy!

Chris, Betty, and Max

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Turn The Ship Around – Intent Based Leadership

David Marquet was about to become a submarine commander. He spent a year learning everything about the boat he was going to command. Two weeks before he was to assume command he was given a different sub, and the only thing he knew was that it has the reputation for being the worst in the Navy. He made it the best. Here’s how.

Thanks to Peter Green for sharing this video with me in his Certified Agile Leadership workshop.

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Don’t Finish Your Epics! Deliver More Value Instead.


Product team is starting to assign business values to epics so we can, along with effort estimates, set correct priorities. However, we also have quarterly goals. Once we reach the end of a quarter, if an epic is not completely done (all stories under it), how do we get partial credit?


I recommend rolling the value down from the epics into the stories themselves. This way, you can see what you delivered in the quarter. Keep in mind that value estimates, just like effort estimates, are really just a tool to help with planning and decision making. At the end of the quarter, I’d like to see you focusing on the awesome stuff you delivered and what your customers’ reactions were to that new functionality.

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