In January of 2005 I was invited to give a one-hour introduction to Scrum to a college media arts class. The class had one group project: to create a student documentary film on some topic. The instructor and the class used an adaptation of Scrum to manage the work of creating the documentary. Some key features from Agile Work included Self-Steering Team, Iterative Delivery, and Adaptive Planning. The following is one student’s reflections on the project. The student who wrote the following was, during my presentation to the class, acclaimed as the best person to be the Scrum Master.
“The whole documentary process has been an enlightening challenge.
First there was the process to find a consensus on a direction. Possibly the first real challenge as a group. As scrum master there were some great personal challenges. I am not a big fan of teamwork. I see it’s value but I have always worked independently and lived or died by my own efforts. There are huge issues of trust and success when you start with a group dynamic. The trust goes both ways. What if I let the group down because of my health or slower technical skills?? When you work independently you can set your own schedule. Will the pressure of letting down the group be enough to motivate the individuals?
SO the second big learning process for me was to be part of a team.
As scrum master I needed to keep myself focused and everyone on track without being a too pushy. NO one has any real obligation to me or anyone else on the team so setting a manageable pace, problem solving as an individual and as a team was another vital part of the process.
The whole concept of iterations kept things in manageable sections, that was a huge contributor to keeping a manageable goal in site when we were all feeling overwhelmed by the load of all of our courses work. AN interesting observation was that I think there were times when what we were doing in documentary was relatively minor but the fact that we were accountable for it everyday made some people feel overwhelmed. I certainly stand to be corrected but I think because we became such a good team that there was (and still is) a sense of the collective workload.
We all improved our technical skills, me particularly. I still have lots to learn but my confidence level is much higher.
There is a lot of respect shown for everyone’s work. We joke about things but people are mostly very respectful of the time and effort people put into their pieces of the puzzle. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of ego attached individually. We are each willing to recognize each other’s strength’s and weakness without rude or critical.
Overall this has been a positive process that is all about teamwork, individual strengths and respect. Garry [the instructor], you have been terrific about leading from behind! There were many times (and still will be) when we know we have a direction but don’t know how to get on the road exactly. You share your professional experience in such a way that we feel like we went searching for buried treasure and made the map ourselves.
I hope to finish the process and keep the momentum to an exciting finished product.“
The project was indeed completed successfully! Other students in the class also provided very positive feedback on the use of Agile Work methods.