Last year I scheduled a Product Ownership class that was entitled: Scrum Product Ownership 2.0. The description alluded to more advanced topics and I worked hard to weave them into the course materials and my plans.
Folks seemed to be interested in more advanced topics and I was trying to fill that need in the agile market – beyond the pervasive basic certification courses.
But something interesting happened when I delivered the class. I had three primary discoveries:
- Everyone in the class was clearly struggling with more basic skills and tactics;
- As I tried to convey more advanced topics, I realized that they really weren’t. Instead, they were based on doing the basics…well;
- And finally, the class was looking for silver bullets. That is, they wanted advanced topics that would solve all of their challenges.
Looking for the Silver Bullet
For example, here were some of the requests:
- Making PO role in distributed teams easy;
- How to do fast and effective and (accurate) estimation;
- How to make your stakeholders attend the Sprint Reviews;
- How to write user stories faster, while driving fewer questions;
- I don’t have time to “spoon feed” the team stories, I have customers to visit. How can I get free of the team?
I realized as we went through the class that I was offering stories and techniques that might solve some of the challenges. But at the same time, there were no guarantees.
On the flight back
On the flight back I promised myself that I would never label another class as “2.0” on any topic, as I think it sends the wrong message to attendees.
That message is: there is a core set of practices beyond the “basics” that will somehow address your challenges.
Instead, I wanted the message to be: how do you refine, update, and leverage basic Agile & Scrum techniques in more advanced situations. That is, the student realizes that you NEVER stop needing to refine a hone your basic skills.
I was watching Stef Curry the other day on TV as he prepared for a game. He has a pre-game ritual where he practices dribbling drills…simultaneously with both hands. It’s rather famous. He also is famous for his hard work in practice. He spends literally hours in the gym after the team practice is through.
Stef is clearly an advanced basketball player. Arguably in the Top 3 players currently in the NBA. Yet, he doesn’t look for checklists, or advanced techniques. Instead he constantly and doggedly works on the basics as a means of advancing his skills.
In other words, he practices his craft. Constantly!
On another note, someone approached me at a recent Scrum Gathering and asked me what it takes to become a great coach. We discussed classes to attend and books to read. However, we came to the conclusion that the best way was to…COACH. To spend time coaching people and learning by doing the craft.
Getting back to the point. What do “Advanced” or “2.0” classes look like?
Personally I’m going to stop using that language. Instead I’m going to be using terms like:
- Sharpening your saw
- Hand-on practice
- Collaborative learning
- Context-based approaches
- Learn by doing, and doing
Sure I may get less folks attending, but I feel that the marketing AND the classes themselves, will be more targeted towards the point. Advanced agile is simply becoming better and better at situationally applying the basic principles and practices.
That it’s not something you attend a class on. It’s something that you DO!
Stay agile my friends,