I spent the day yesterday with 30 of my CST and CSC colleagues in a session led by Mike Vizdos and Jean Tabaka exploring ways to improve our craft. Mike had been very clear in his description of the session: it should be a positive experience — no complaints! I’m happy to say we achieved that goal, and in a way that did not compromise of beliefs and values — and did not detract from the passion for Scrum, for “transforming the world of work” so rife in our group.
Sadly, my comments of two days ago “we are not very good” hung over a number of some members of our community (some present company, but mostly those not in attendance) as a negative force. It is interesting, and maybe odd, how a phrase can be interpreted differently by different people. Some found my words to be an attack, an insult while others saw the same phrase as a call to change, a challenge to improve. It was also odd to me how it went from “you are not very good” to “you suck”. On a 1-5 scale of very bad, bad, mediocre, good, very good I stated that we were not at position 5 (very good). That is more likely to mean we are at the next level down (good) than off the scale altogether (at the wrong end) with “suck”. I’m English, I don’t even use that word, but it seems worse than “very bad” to me.
Face-to-face, and one-to-one conversations go a long way towards better understanding. Why do you think we push so hard on having co-located teams? Trust, respect and understanding are born through looking someone in the eye and speaking ones own truth. I hope I mended some broken bridges yesterday. The CST/CSC community is full of compassionate, passionate people who care deeply about what they do. Maybe in the end that is a value of far greater worth than great training skills — and many of us have those too! In fact, one of the things that really impressed me yesterday came from one of the newer trainers who simply stood up and said words to the effect of “I struggle with this, I feel underskilled and I need help”. It is this desire to face our shortcomings and be willing to improve that sets the good trainer apart from the mediocre one. Agile is all about continuous improvement. It has to start with the individual.
The highlight of the day for me was when Alan Cyment facilitated a lively, movement-and-discussion session to discover consensus on the meaning of the term “great CST”. Alan’s style of facilitation is offbeat and exceptional: fast, physical, seemingly chaotic but always with clear and actionable output. Alan rather conducts a group of people than facilitates them. It has to be experienced to be understood.
The session ended with a brilliantly funny exercise led by Jean Tabaka which consisted of drawing pictures based on written statements, and writing statements based on the subsequent picture. After seven iterations of this, you can image the final statement had little to do with the original statement. The output was hilarious.
So today we go into the conference proper, which kicks off with a keynote by Jeff Sutherland and is followed by eight deep-dive workshops run by Matt Smith, Lee Devin, Joseph Pelrine, Lyssa Adkins, Micah Martin, Karl Scotland, Luke Hohmann and Tom & Kai Gilb. It promises to be a great day.