My colleague Don MacIntyre invited me to attend and co-teach his Scrum @ Scale Certified Practitioner class in Raleigh, NC last week (September 10-11th, 2018). It was in my hometown so how could I refuse.
It was a 2-day class with ~20 attendees. There was a nice mix of agile and Scrum experience across a spectrum of well-known companies leveraging agile at scale. We even had one gentleman fly in from India for the class.
Don spent most of the time teaching, but I had a few opportunities to teach basic Scrum and contribute to our general coaching conversations. Overall, I think the class went very well.
A colleague of mine in Dallas, Jack Schwartz, sent me an email asking the following:
I’m working on a presentation focused towards Hiring a ScrumMaster and I wonder if you could provide some insights to the following questions:
- What are the top skills you like to see in a good Scrum Master?
- How can a hiring manager tell if a prospect is truly an agilest and not just using scrum words with ‘legacy’ project management? (other than clairvoyance)
Well, Jack here is my initial stab at a response…
What are the top skills you like to see in a good ScrumMaster?
Well, first I’d like to say what I’m not looking for:
- I’m not looking for someone who is strong in a functional area within the team. For example, if I’m staffing for a ScrumMaster in a team with a weak or non-existent Development Team Lead in it, I’m not looking for the SM to fill that role. Or an equivalent, PO, UX, BA, Testing, or any other role. If I have a skills gap or weakness in a team, I need to fill that with someone with those skills.
A few of weeks ago I attended a 3-day workshop given by Trans4mation which was entitled, Agile Transformational Leader. They are a relatively new company that is focusing on the agile adoption, now transformation, space. They are led by Michele Madore and Michael Spayd. Michael is well known in the agile coaching space, having founded ACI with Lyssa Adkins. And Michelle is a very seasoned enterprise-level agile coach. They both co-taught the workshop with Stuart McCalla.
One of the backdrops for the course is the Leadership Circle assessment tool for leadership affinity. It wasn’t clear to me going into the workshop just how pervasive this tool/model was in their material. To say that it is “central” is probably an understatement.
In this post, I want to share some of my observations and learnings associated with the workshop.
One of the new capabilities of my agile coaching practice is the ability to deliver the Scrum Alliance, Certified Agile Leadership (CAL1) class. It’s a relatively new certification for the Scrum Alliance and it targets the management and leadership levels within organizations who are planning to or who have already adopted agile approaches to software development.
I’ve been coaching agile transformations (organizations, groups, teams) for over 15 years. During that time, I’ve noticed that there are literally 3-tiers to any transformation:
- Sr. Leadership Tier
- Organizational Leadership & Management Tier
- Team Tier
Most organizations only focus the transformation or adoption towards the team level. But in my experience, success is in effectively guiding all three tiers towards agile principles, tactics, and leaner agile mindset.
In fact, I think the critical tier is in the middle.
I’ve sometimes heard it called the “frozen middle” because it’s where true agile transformation lies, but it’s the tier that often gets the least attention.
Enter – Certified Agile Leadership
The CAL is solely focused towards the middle-tier. And finally, we’re engaging leadership folks with training and coaching of their agile transformational skills.