Recently, I had the pleasure of co-training a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) course with our resident Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), Dave Prior. Dave is an awesome trainer and person and I couldn’t wait to see how he approached training. Here’s what I learned from him.
The CSM Class
The CSM class, as I describe it, is the type of class that you get out of it what you put in to it. If you are heavily engaged, it’s a game changer. If you aren’t, well you might leave as you came. To get past the engagement issue, Dave uses a variety of techniques and as I taught along beside him, I felt privileged to get to soak up some of his goodness. Since I value the learnings, I figure others will as well. So here they are.
What I Learned
Dave’s approach to CSM training is to teach the actual training as an agile experience. It solves most of the engagement problem because the class is doing agile from the very beginning. Here’s how.
There are four sprints to the class each lasting half a day. Dave prioritizes the typical topics for the class like Principles and Values, Ceremonies/Events, Roles, and Artifacts and forms a product backlog on a wall with cards representing learnings from the class. The students go through a sprint planning and select the amount of topics they believe they can accomplish in the first sprint. Our class of 31 (too many people BTW), selected about a third of the course that they believed they could get through. We moved the cards into the sprint backlog column and built out an “in progress” column, a done column and an accepted column. The class had to accept the learning.
What a fantastic way to approach learning. Doing it from the very beginning without teaching a thing. Doing it this way, the class was able to reference what they had already been doing when we came to the product backlog, sprint planning, and others. This method also increased the engagement because students weren’t merely lectured, they were facilitated and engaged in interaction from the very beginning.
They also chose way, way too much and failed the first sprint. Nothing wrong with that as it mimicked what many scrum teams actually do. They again had a point of reference for how their own teams might feel when they go back to their own companies.
One of the biggest kudos in our class surveys was the banter between Dave and I. There were times we had differing points of view based on our experiences. I feel that during those times, we exhibited openness and transparency by talking through our perspectives. The class highly valued those times by encouraging us in class and then on the surveys.
After the class, Dave and I had a retrospective and he suggested that I vary the intensity of my presence when the crowd was either enthused or not engaged. But keep it real at the same time. I really identify with the intentional variation because it’s easy to tell when you are losing a room and can be hard to get them back. Adding some tools to ramp up engagement after a big lunch can be super helpful.
What I Will Do Differently
Since co-training the CSM, I have begun to physically put up my product backlog for the class. It’s a great mechanism and reinforces what the class is doing.
I am also keeping a couple of energy boosters in my back pocket for when things get a little dull. I have a variety of games that encourage crowd participation and shake things up.
If you get a chance, check out one of our upcoming CSM training classes. When you do, have a blast, go all in, and know that you have a great teacher and agilist leading the way.