Category Archives: training

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.



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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 ScrumMaster 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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Who needs certification when you can get this awesome ScrumMaster button?

We are a bit enamored of swag over here at Agile Learning Labs. Witness our latest effort, this adorable 3″ ScrumMaster button you can wear on your conference tee or use to decorate your cubicle Scrum room.

The only way to get one is to attend one of our trainings, public or private. If you are dying to get your mits on one of these puppies in time for the holidays, sign up for our December 4-5 Certified ScrumMaster training with Chris Sims and Jeff Mckenna, and you can have it all–Scrum Alliance certification and your very own piece of Agile Learning Labs bling!

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Training The Trainers

Agile Learning Labs is partnering with Tobias Mayer to put on a brand new series of workshops aimed at trainers, coaches and advanced practitioners of Agile. We’re calling it Creative Edge: Training & Coaching for Coaches & Trainers. Catchy, eh? The Scrum Alliance is generously sponsoring the series, so there will naturally be special pricing for members.

So far Tobias has assembled a diverse and stimulating lineup:

  • Lyssa Adkins will teach a course titled Coaching Agile Teams. If you’re a fan of Lyssa’s recent book, Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition (as you should be) you won’t want to miss this one.
  • Lee Devin will teach Artful Making for Coaches and Teams, which draws from improv traditions to help you become a more responsive and innovative instructor.
  • Sharon L. Bowman will lead a workshop based on her rather awesome book, Teaching from the Back of the Room. If you’ve been wondering how to avoid being responsible for lecture/PowerPoint snoozefests in your work, this course will teach you how to create more organic learning opportunities.

These courses will be offered repeatedly, in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boulder, and Seattle. The first date is October 28-29, so visit the Creative Edge homepage with alacrity. There you can find out which class that will be, and sign up to be notified when venues are finalized and registration opens. We will be offering highly favorable pricing, and if you’re a member of the Scrum Alliance, the discounting will be absolutely crazy, so hie thee hence!

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CSM Early Bird Tickets On Sale!

Chris and Jeff will be leading another weekend Certified ScrumMaster class on September 11-12, and if you register before August 21, you can get you some earlybird pricing. And, to mix species metaphors, if you can muster being an eager beaver in addition to an early bird, and get yourself signed up for our newsletter before the next one goes out bright and early Wednesday morning (that’s the 11th), you can snag yourself a discount code for a significant additional discount.

Due to popular demand, we’re also working on scheduling a repeat of our popular Certified Scrum Product Owner class, so give us a shout if you’re interested in announcements for that class, too.

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Experiencing Agility at SD Forum

Chris will be giving a brief, experiential introduction to Agile on the morning of July 27, sponsored by SD Forum. For anyone who just wonders what the "fuss" is all about, this is a way to get a quick dose–not of lore and theory, but of what it might actually be like to live in an Agile world. One thing is for certain: there is no PowerPoint in this utopia. Also, if you're hesitating over whether or not to take the plunge and get your CSM, this is a good way to test drive Chris' material and teaching methods. This workshop will set you back a mere $35–$25 if you're an SD Forum member, and why wouldn't you be?

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Chris is on the Cranky Middle Manager Show talking about Agile

The Cranky Middle Manager Show If you want to hear Chris explain agile in layman's terms, have a listen to this episode of the Cranky Middle Manger Show, where Chris is the featured guest. The show is hosted by our friend, Wayne Turmel, who is jovially cranky in a way that only a stand-up comic-turned-management trainer can be.

We did a pilot for a two day course with Wayne in Chicago last year, aimed at introducing newly-promoted individual contributors to the dark arts of management. It was a lot of fun, and would be even more fun to do in-house at your company now that you have a hiring freeze and need to bootstrap your junior people into management… but I digress.

Wayne dedicates each show to a historical figure; it's always someone fascinating you've never heard of, and it's always eerily apt–don't know how he does it. This episode is dedicated to Gaius Marius, "reorganization consultant to the Roman Army."

Another Cranky standard, the quote of the week, is from the Kaballah, and is also astonishingly relevant to agile practice:

"Every phase of evolution commences by being in a state of unstable force and proceeds through organization to equilibrium. Equilibrium having been achieved, no further development is possible without once more oversetting,"
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Management 2.0 – Becoming the kind of leader you would follow

I have teamed up with Wayne Turmel, host of The Cranky Middle Manager Show, to create a 2-day workshop to help you move beyond being ‘good at your job’ to helping others excel at theirs. When we take this show on the road in 2009 the price will be $1,000 a seat, but we are holding a ‘dress rehearsal’ in Chicago on December 15 & 16, for a mere $450.

Learn more about the workshop

Claim one of the last available seats



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Agile Project Management Workshop

On June 17th, the Technical Management Institute, Effective Training Associates, and the IEEE are teaming up to put on an agile project management workshop. The workshop will be held in Palo Alto and is open to the public, but admission is limited to the first 12 registrants. The proceeds will benefit the Silicon Valley IEEE.

Workshop Description:
On a software project, uncertainty is certain. The customer will change their mind, a ‘must have’ feature will be discovered, deadlines will move, or an unexpected competitive threat will need to be countered. The agile approach to project management allows the team to easily adjust to these changing conditions in order to produce the most valuable software possible.

This workshop teaches the fundamentals of agile project management, and is recommended for everyone who will be involved in an agile project. We will explore the key roles, responsibilities, interactions, and processes that make a successful agile project happen.

Participants will learn:
– Estimation
– Release planning
– Prioritization
– The rhythm of iterative development and delivery
– Roles and responsibilities on an agile project
– Communication on an agile team
– Empirical process control
– Agile metrics
– Simple tools for managing agile projects

The workshop focuses on practical ‘how to’ skills development, while providing enough theory for participants to understand why the techniques work. Interactive exercises allow participants to learn by doing. Class notes, suggestions for further reading, and free follow-on consulting are all included to ensure that the workshop’s lessons can be effectively applied back in the real world.



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New Classes Available – For Free!

To celebrate America’s two hundred and thirty first birthday, The Technical Management Institute is reducing the price of our one-hour and two-hour classes to zip, zero, or free! For about the cost of a drink of tap water, you can have me come to your company and put on one of these short-format workshops. This will only last a limited time, so act now!

The current list of free short workshops:

The up-to-date list of all classes offered can be found here. Contact me to arrange your free class.

Happy birthday USA!

Photo courtesy of sarboo

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