What is your favourite agile course to deliver and why?
My favourite agile course to deliver is the Applying Professional Scrum (APS) course.
It’s my favourite course to deliver because I believe it generates some of the greatest epiphanies for people who are considering adopting or implementing scrum.
The structure of the Applying Professional Scrum course
In the APS course, we actively practice scrum, which is different to all the other scrum courses we deliver. We run 4 sprints throughout the course, and I’ve been using Minecraft throughout the course to help embed the knowledge and optimize the learning experience.
So, at the start of the course, we divide the course delegates into separate teams so that each team experience Scrum and every individual has the opportunity to contribute and learn.
The first sprint in the APS course
The class starts with a sprint straight off the bat.
The reason we do this is so that people have a frame of reference for how they currently work as individuals, and as a team, and have a benchmark from which they can compare how they improve with each new sprint in the course.
We want people to start the journey by using the techniques and methodologies they traditionally use to organize themselves when they have a job to get done or a problem to solve. We want them to start with what is familiar and witness how ineffective this is when compared to a well-drilled and practiced scrum team.
We often discover that people have a powerful insight into how they currently operate.
- They talk about how chaotic the process was.
- They talk about how difficult the process was.
- They talk about their lack of experience working as a team.
- They talk about the difficulty of navigating uncertainty and complexity.
This first sprint is a simulation of the real-world experience of being put onto a brand new project, working with a brand new team of people, and not knowing what to do, what is going to come next, and/or how best to organize yourself and your team to create or capture value.
- You have no idea of what you need to do.
- You have no idea of who you need to speak to.
- You have no idea of who the customer is.
- You have no idea of what might constitute value to the customer or your organization.
It really is a great way to make learning visceral and prepare people for the next evolution.
Subsequent sprints in the APS course
In the real world, the confusion and chaos that the team experienced in the first sprint can last for an incredibly long time. As the team encounter more problems, they remain shell-shocked and some teams can spend months, if not years, stuck in quicksand with no idea of how to move forward.
People are so used to an executive, a senior manager, or even a project manager telling them what to do, how to do it, and when to do it that they really battle when they are required to self-organize around value creation.
So, the second part of the APS course is where we teach people about scrum.
We teach people how scrum empowers teams to self-organize and how the scrum framework provides a scaffolding for navigating complexity, uncertainty, and discovery in the product development process.
And so, when the second sprint begins, people know how to apply scrum to figure out what work needs doing, how best to organize the team around value creation, and to focus on delivering something of value – a working product increment – by the end of that sprint.
- They do sprint planning as a team.
- They have conversations about the items in the backlog and prioritize work.
- They agree on a definition of done (what standard the work must pass to be considered ready or complete)
- They have a period where they review what has been built or created.
- They have a period of reflection where they discuss and implement what needs to be done for the team to improve and succeed in the third sprint/
And so forth.
The biggest epiphanies that emerge after each of the sprints that are completed are:
- People understand the context of scrum and how it is best applied.
- They understand how to navigate complexity and uncertainty.
- They gain a greater understanding of the work they need to do and the importance of their contribution in the context of a team environment.
- They recognize how much more effective they are, as a team and as individuals, when they have a lightweight agile framework to guide their efforts and contribution.
- They recognize how much more work they can do and how much more effective they are.
- They learn the value of teamwork.
- They recognize the value of delivering a working feature at the end of each sprint.
- They understand the real-world application and benefits of the scrum framework.
So, as a Scrum trainer and practitioner, there are few things more rewarding than watching people find the perfect solution to an incredibly difficult problem they were facing before. Watching people embrace the opportunity of scrum and set about using the framework to continuously improve.
That’s why I love this course and actively recommend it to all of my clients.
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