The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.
I’ve been hearing more and more about Certified Scrum Trainers (CSTs) who are using lessons from outside of software development to inspire their students. Most recently, I’d heard about a presentation given by Danube CST Michael James at last fall’s Stockholm Scrum Gathering, in which he shared some fascinating findings from high-performing teams in aviation, psychology, and jazz. Not long after, I ran across this article on the SD Times web site in which Jeff Feinman reports on how some trainers are using principles from other fields to help their students better understand Scrum. For example, one trainer mentioned in the story has attendees engage in exercises drawn from improvisational theater, another leads participants through a series of stretches.
So what’s the value of teaching teams about Scrum using these methods? For one thing, it draws participants out of their shells and gets them to start talking to one another. That might not sound like a big deal, but, given that software developers are often introverted personality types, it’s a big step toward getting a team to behave like one. In a bigger sense, it gives participants experience working outside of their comfort zones. This is good practice for team members at organizations that are about to transform through Scrum. Leaving familiar working behaviors behind for new, sometimes challenging processes is scary for a lot of team members. So a no-pressure or goofy team-building exercise can break that ice and show a team member that a break from the norm can be exhilarating—or even lead a team to accomplish what they never dreamed was possible.
How has your Scrum team helped members acclimate to new processes? Have those efforts worked? How did team members respond? Please share your experiences in the comments section.
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Scrum Training Series
- Do you REALLY want to learn Scrum? Try a 3.1-day CSM class with case studies. July 25, 2013
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