On the 2nd and 3rd of May I went down to Auckland for a class to get certified as a Scrum Master. Thought it might be advantageous since our team has implemented Scrum on my behest and I appointed myself scrum master. At the time I started at the company the things were a little messy (PDF). The reaction I could feel was going to be somewhat extreme and I thought I better try and change direction sooner rather than later.
The reaction I got was a lot different than I thought it would be. I was worried that the PMI trained project manager wouldn’t be able to adjust to such loose requirements. Instead, he went on about how writing the explicit documentation was a pain and he hated doing it. Seems that nobody would read it anyway. What a surprise.
My manager comes from military training and I thought he would see it as some kubaya crap dreamed up by liberal technocrats in the valley. After telling him about pair-programming and its benefits, he told me a story about enemy engagement. It seems that the independent soldier on the ground with a gun in his hand will fire it about 20% of the time, not necessarily at the enemy. A group of soldiers, like in a tank, will follow their orders and fire upon the enemy about 80% of the time. So he could see the benefit of team commitment through pairing on tasks. He also told me a story about Roman engineers having to stand under a bridge they designed as the army marched over it. What would happen to me if Scrum failed, I wonder?
The third person I worried about was the business manager and number one technical guru at the company. My fear was that he would see it as a pretentious attempt by the new guy to make his mark. He’s a bit chaotic and was one of the people that did not read the documents being cranked out by the project manager, and saw this as a great middle-ground. It made me a little skeptical that he might think it would be a way to get us to crank out code faster (sprint), to do whatever was on his mind (agile). He seems to really understand the concepts, and has given my room to do it right.
There were skeptics among the team, and a whole new vocabulary to learn. But I had some people to lean on, and thank goodness for them. Props to Yuri Gadow, Mike Cohn and Pete Behrens for putting up with my email rambles. I wanted to add some posts based on some of those conversations, but a corrupted hard drive prevents me from having them anymore. One word of advice, do not use FileVault and encrypt your mac book home directory.
So relying on these fine people got me through the first couple months, until the Scrum Master training came along. One of the skeptics came with me, and now he’s almost an evangelist. I was glad to hear from him that he didn’t think I had deviated very much from the essence of the process. We both learned a lot and were able to immediately apply some of our hands-on training to work. We’d like to run a compressed version of the course for the whole office, to help everyone really understand what it is about.