Friday, July 28, 2006

What would a Scrum Master's Apprentice program look like

What would a Scrum Master’s Apprentice program look like?
The sections below are some of my miscellaneous musing and thinking exercises.  They begin to answer the question: How would I structure a training program that really works to develop muscle memory to those who are asked to both lead projects and the processes that we use to undertake them.  Scrum is an excellent management framework for both project and product work, so I have chosen to start here.  

So you want to be a ScrumMaster?
Well, first I need to ask you what you mean:  Are you being given responsibility for a team who is practicing Scrum? Or would you like to accept responsibility for leading a team through their practice of Scrum?  There may only be subtle differences in these two statements, but answer carefully.  While you consider, I will ask another way: Are you being told to become a ScrumMaster, or is this a journey you are seeking for your self?  True, it is a subtle matter of perspective, but it matters both in results and in approach.
This program is only for those who want to start on a journey that will both change the way you work with teams as well as the way you view software development (and potentially other aspects of your working life)!  If this are not consistent with your goals, then we can certainly offer you an Intro to Scrum, but that would be different from this program.
Next, we need to review the prerequisites.  You need only two things to start your journey: relevant domain experience and a grounding in the terminology.  Scrum, and it’s parent Agile, is not limited to practice within Software Development.  It can be used for many engineering disciplines as well as most task based undertakings.  However, my intent is to focus on software.  
So, what is relevant domain experience?  You need to have experienced Scrum from some point of view – inside or outside a project, as a developer, a manager, a tester, a documenter, a manager, or any other role and become intrigued by what was happening (or not); or you must have experienced traditional software development, in a product or project environment, and been sufficiently disappointed in the experience to ask aloud, at least once, “Isn’t there a better way!”  
Grounding in the terminology is easy.  Pick two weekends.  On the first, read either Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber or Planning Extreme Programming by Kent Beck and Martin Fowler.  On the next weekend, read the other one.  Highlight anything you don’t understand, don’t agree with, or don’t think will work.  During the 2 day Introduction to the program, we will review your highlights and make sure everyone understand from whence we come and to where we shall go.
OK, so what will this program be like?  I can tell you what it is not going to be: it is not going to be a bunch of lectures nor independent study.  One of my favorite lessons from Tao is:
When I hear, I forget
When I see, I remember
When I do, I understand

If I lecture, you will forget.  You will get to your first assignment and prepare for a retrospective or a planning session, and panic will engulf you: how do I do this.  Panic leads to chaos.  We are trying to move away from chaos.  So, we will see and do.  That is going to be the structure of the program.
The ScrumMaster Apprentice program will be set up as follows:
  1. Awareness – You need to know what the Agile methods are and how Scrum inter-relates as a methodology.  Though I can explain this to you, this would be best self taught.  Though you can certainly come across this information experientially, I would recommend reading the two books mentioned above.  They will give you language that we will use in the apprentice program and so familiarity with the lexicon would not be in-valuable.

  2. Leveling – Everyone will come into the program with different backgrounds and perspectives.  The leveling will be our ScrumMaster’s training course – a 2 day session of discussion, theory, practice, and games.  These games will be both role play and scenario practice creating some initial muscle memory behind the theory. This leveling process will also create a networking group for each apprentice class.  As you begin your journey, you will find it extremely valuable to share experiences, questions and solutions with a set of peers who are also undergoing similar journeys.  Though every apprentice will continue to work with a current ScrumMaster throughout their journey, there is always much to be gained in sharing similar experiences.  

  3. Practice – At the conclusion of the Leveling sessions, we will pair each apprentice with an experienced ScrumMaster on one of the products within the organization.  Your pairing partner will be your mentor and will guide you on the first part of your journey.  With the aid of our Master ScrumMaster, you will learn the ways and means of Scrum and servant leadership.  Once you, your mentor, and the Master ScrumMaster believe that you are ready, you will be given your own special Journeyman decoder ring and will continue the journey on your own.  There will be no tests or certifications, but rather the trials and tribulations of experience.  Your Leveling Network, your Mentor, and the Master ScrumMaster will always be available to help and support you, as you continue your journey.

Scrum Master’s Apprenticeship Program
This program is designed as an ongoing journey for people within the organization that we would like to see become accomplished and effective ScrumMasters.  Successful Scrum Mastering becomes the key productivity differentiator for Agile teams.  Unsuccessful mastering adds weight and confusion to a team and drives even functioning organizations back towards chaos.  If we are to make a transition towards an Agile or Scrum-based development methodology, our leaders must be trained and empowered to facilitate development appropriately.  If we are to truly achieve CMMi Level 3 assessment, then all of our leaders must facilitate similarly.  This consistency is the chief differentiator between Level 2 and Level 3 assessment.
This apprentice program has three steps and four gates.  Additionally, we need a Master Scrum Master (MSM) to ensure all of our journeymen achieve and maintain sufficient consistency to support our CMMi objectives.  The MSM will also play an analogous role to the leader of the traditional Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG) and will facilitate rolling the process forward using feedback from each of the Scrum Masters.  No one should be able to assume a role of Scrum Master in the organization without going through the process, regardless of their past experiences.  In a truly agile way, the duration of the journey they take can be foreshortened if they are highly experienced, but stepping through the process will allow them to see areas that have been tailored for their organization.


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