Category Archives: classes

Should Engineers Take Scrum Product Owner Training?

I was recently asked if engineers or other members of the scrum team would get value from a Certified Scrum Product Owner workshop.

Our Certified Scrum Product Owner workshops are designed to build knowledge and skill in three main areas:

  • How scrum works and how to use it effectively
  • How to build shared understanding of the requirements between stakeholders and the development team so the team builds the right thing
  • How to identify and focus the team’s efforts on the most valuable deliverables

These are topics every member of a high-performing team should be versed in. Having engineers participate in product owner training helps them understand the context within which they do their engineering work, and helps them understand how to interact better with product owners around topics such as the business value of paying down technical dept.

For products that are extremely technical, engineers usually work closely with the product owner in order to define and refine the user stories. If the engineers lack story writing skills, then the resulting ‘stories’ are often little more than a restating of the architecture and technical design. The problem with this is that many of these ‘technical stories’ need to be implemented before there is anything meaningful to the stakeholders. Once those engineers have been exposed to the story writing and splitting techniques in our workshop, they are better able to define/refine stories in such a way that they stay pertinent to stakeholders at all times.

I’ll also point out that all scrum masters should take the product owner training, as scrum masters are the scrum experts who provide guidance to the scrum team and the greater organization. Frequently, the scrum master will be called upon to coach the product owners in the various skills needed to be effective in product owner role.

Cheers,

Chris

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More fun with internet memes: “What does a scrum product owner do?”

We learned earlier what it is a scrum master does. Now it’s time to see what makes a product owner tick:

If this makes you want to become a scrum product owner (and we’re certain it does!), you can take one of our product owner certification classes. The next one is February 25-26, and includes a free Kindle.

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Elizabeth McClellan: An artist’s interpretation of scrum

Artist, illustrator and graphic facilitator Elizabeth McClellan is one of my favorite people, proving as she always does that the kind of work we do here at Agile Learning Labs–and what our clients do when they develop software–is as much art as it is business. Last June, as Chris blogged recently, Elizabeth recorded everything that happened in one of our Certified Scrum Master Workshops in her inimitable style. This week, she did the same for our Certified Product Owner course in Redwood City. Click on each image to see it in all its detail and glory.
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Test Driven Development – Life Beyond the Insanity

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
~ Albert Einstein

 

Are you a survivor of insane software development? Design-code-integrate-test-deploy. Maybe it’s time for a different approach.

Test driven development takes some of the insanity out of the software development process by shifting the emphasis on testing from post-development necessity to the first objective in the project. Create a test and see it fail. Then write enough code so that the test passes. Then refactor mercilessly.

The result?
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Lyssa Adkins, Agile Pop Star…

Lyssa AdkinsI was writing Lyssa Adkins the other day to update her on how briskly the seats in her upcoming class are selling, and I almost called her a “rock star”… But it just didn’t feel right. Lyssa has absolutely nothing in common with Keith Richards (which is a good thing, believe me!). She’s more of a Christina Aguilera type, which is kind of the opposite of the dark, moody troubled-but-oh-so-talented rock star: Lyssa is open, magnanimous, confident, snappy with a comeback, and very, very shiny–a classic pop star.
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A recap of our weekend CSM

This weekend Agile Learning Labs held a memorable Certified Scrum Master training. We capped admission at 28, and had a wait list–a first for us. The distinguished student body included people who flew in for the event from Tennessee, Michigan and Dubai, and a good mix of current agile team members, independent consultants, and job seekers–fewer job seekers than usual as the employment market improves, we’re happy to report!

The atmosphere was bubbly and energetic from the start. People showing up for “corporate training” on a Saturday morning aren’t always all that fired up, but this group arrived fully charged: when Chris called for order at 9:00am on Saturday morning, the buzz of conversation was so thick he felt as if he were interrupting an open bar cocktail party.
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The common roots of Agile & Improv: Reading Lee Devin

Artful Making As a writer and editor, I’m acutely aware of the importance of language and metaphor in framing our experience. It has long been my opinion that our business cultures–and that includes software–have been profoundly affected (dare I say, infected?) by sports and combat metaphorage. We have teams, team players and coaches. We keep score and touch base. We have strategies, tactics and positions, and we can “win” things like market share.
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Breakfast of Agile Champions (this Monday!)

Breakfast Being Agile is hard. Simple, and hard. Simple because, in theory, all we need to do to achieve a yogic level of Agility is to live by the Agile Principles as set forth in the Agile Manifesto. Hard, because the real world impinges on or impedes this effort every %$(^%&! day.

In light of this, Agile Learning Labs' own Steve Bockman has put together a workshop on the first Agile Principle, which reads, simply:

"Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software."

The workshop is called Continuous Delivery of Software: Maximizing Customer Satisfaction by Delivering Early and Often. The first session will be Monday, January 25, from 7 to 9 am at the Hobee's Restaurant in Redwood Shores (you can see it from the freeway). For the tuition of $50, we're throwing in a full, hearty American Breakfast is included–yep, we're talking bacon, french toast, and chorizo omelets here, not burnt coffee and a shrink-wrapped croissant. You'll also receive a certificate of completion you can use to claim 2 PDUs from the PMI.

PDUs and bacon. What more could you ask for? Register here.

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CSM: The reviews are in…

We're blushing. Drew Powers, the new editor of the SF Bay Area Chapter of the Project Management Institute's newsletter, attended our Certified ScrumMaster workshop in September and has written a thoroughly glowing account of the class, concluding that Agile is indeed highly relevant for Project Managers:

…while migrating from a traditional PM environment may require applying Scrum‘s mantra of "Do, Inspect, Adapt, Redo" to the overall organizational culture, I believe Scrum‘s potential for faster time to market of a high quality products that better meets clients‘ needs will prove itself in a relatively short period of time.

Powers also praised our experiential approach to training, and the "give and take" between our instructors, Chris Sims and Jeff McKenna, but perhaps the most flattering part of the review was Powers' summary definition of scrum. When a student leaves your class able to articulate what he learned this well, you know you did a good job with the teaching:

Scrum is a specific methodology within the Agile umbrella of methodologies that also includes Extreme Programming which are characterized by iterative requirements elaboration and product development. Scrum is based on several principles: Iterative elaboration of requirements, self-managing project teams in which the ScrumMaster acts more of as a facilitator than a leader, and a minimum of documentation. The Scrum mantra is Do, Inspect, Adapt, Redo – that is, give it your best shot the first time, learn from what you do, then do it again. It involves three major roles: The Product Owner, sometimes thought of as the Client, the ScrumMaster, and the Development Team, which may include architects and tech writers as well as coders. The Product Owner supplies and prioritizes requirements from a list of requirements called the Backlog. The Development Team determines which of the highest priority requirements they can bring to a customer-ready state (including QA and user documentation) within a development cycle, normally about two weeks to thirty days in length and known as a Sprint. The ScrumMaster facilitates the entire process, but it is key to note that the development team makes all key project decisions and manages itself. The role of the ScrumMaster is to remove roadblocks and enable the development team to focus on the project.

Thanks, Drew!

If this makes you wish you'd been there, join us for our next Certified ScrumMaster training on the weekend of December 5-6, again with Chris & Jeff.

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