Over the past two days I had the best teaching experience of my life. By that I don’t mean I taught people better, or taught them more, or transcended new pedagogical heights. I am looking at this purely from a selfish perspective — I just had a fantastic time. The experience was new, edgy, chaotic and utterly joyful. I believe the participants enjoyed it too — and they even learned some stuff about Scrum.
I have taught many CSM courses over the past four years, and always enjoy them. Yet this CSM was different. It transcended my expectations, it gave me an emotional connection to all the participants that I have never experienced before, and it reinforced my deep belief that Scrum is absolutely about good people and the interactions between them, and has almost nothing to do with method or process.
The WelfareCSM training at The Hat Factory in San Francisco was the first in a short series of CSM classes I am offering at low or no cost to those experiencing financial hardship. A secondary goal of these trainings is to spread the word of Scrum beyond the IT industry into any place it can find a suitable home. WelfareCSM is a laboratory that cultivates and releases various strains of the Scrum virus.
I deliberately chose to run these trainings in non-corporate venues. I believe that the choice of this particular venue was an essential ingredient in the success of the course. Corporate spaces always very neat and very clean and often very gray. They tend to lack character, or they have a forced sense of “fun” painted on top of their inherent dullness. The latter is almost worse.
The Hat Factory is a community workspace in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco. It is a little run down, a little funky, but with an energy of creativity, and essentially living (yes, three people and two dogs live in the space too) that created a homely, comfortable feeling, like hanging out in someone’s home. From the first moments of arriving the whole essence of the course was utterly different to any training I have done, and most likely this was true for others too. The space, and the “welfare” nature of the course set up some very different expectations.
The other thing I did differently to any previous trainings was to create an online group two weeks before the training. All participants joined the group and wrote introductions. Some posted photographs, and between them all they planned what we’d do for breaks and lunch, and various people organized ride shares. A few people arranged to attend an BayAPLN event on the evening of day one. By the time we got together there was already a sense that we were a community — a tribe, perhaps. This imbued the course with a warmth from the first moments.
Each CSM course I facilitate is different to every other, and over time my style of facilitation has changed, emerged. I do not use slides, so do not have the firm framework that this medium offers. However, there is a framework to Scrum and there is a CSM outline that all trainers adhere to. In Scrum terms the outline is the “What”. The way the trainers execute on that is the “How”. My How changes all the time. This time I knew it would change quite considerably as I had around half the participants being from non IT industries. I needed to accommodate them, include them.
My focus on the whole first day was almost exclusively on the Essence of Scrum [ref]. We explored the principles in physical, interactive ways through the use of games, improvisation and other activities.
On day two we went through the Scrum flow, roles and meetings, played with story writing and estimation and ended the day with a 2.5 hour Scrum simulation to pull it all together. Two teams, each with PO and Scrum Master (and me as customer) created a performance piece to illustrate the principles of Scrum. We almost videoed it, but the group decided instead to be utterly exclusive and have one internal performance only. It was beautiful.
Well, you should’a been there 🙂