Tag Archives: Scrum Gathering

Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Beta CSM Exam

This afternoon I took the Beta version of the knowledge exam for the Certified ScrumMaster credential.  I’m not allowed to provide any details on the questions, but I will provide my impressions.

I’ll start with a story.

Microsoft Certified Application Developer

About six years ago, near the end of my career as a technical contributor, the company I was working for, Solution Architects (who still have my profile on their “people” page), decided that I should become a Microsoft Certified Application Developer.  At the time, I was doing .NET development and I had a long background in Java and Objective-C development.  The approach we decided on was for me to go to a “Boot Camp” where I would be immersed in all things .NET and after nine days of solid training, write the Microsoft exam.

I arrived at the Boot Camp (which was very much a outdoorsy camp environment) quite excited.  I got a room for myself, and it looked like I would be treated very well.  One the first day of classes, the instructor gave us some strong advice: come to class, and then in all your spare time, do the practice exams and study them hard.  I was a bit baffled by this.  We were also given the huge Microsoft Press books to study for the exam (I kept them for a few years, but recently got rid of them).  My first night I studied the books and my notes from class.  To be frank, the instructor spent most of the time going over exactly what was in the books and giving us all a little time on computers to do the “exercises” in the books.  Instruction was really limited to rote recital of the book content.  Any time someone would ask a question that was in any way deep, the instructor would simply redirect with another reminder to study the practice exams.

The second night I decided I would try the practice exam since the first of three real exams was in the afternoon of the third day.  It was fairly simple multiple choice test questions.  I went through all the questions, made sure I found the answers for ones I didn’t know in the books or in my notes, and then after I had done a once-through, I did a quick second pass.

And then, the next day, I took the real exam.  I was utterly, completely shocked.  The real exam was exactly like the sample exam.  The only difference was that the word problems change the names of the fictional people and companies used in the problems.  The structure of the questions was identical.  The answers – including the ordering of the multiple choice answers – were exactly the same.  And of course, it was a breeze.  Anyone could have passed.  In fact, it was completely unnecessary to attend the classroom training part.  I was extremely dis-illusioned.

Why do I mention this experience with a certification exam?  Simple: it has made me extremely sceptical of exams.  They simply cannot measure any level of competency.  They simple measure people’s ability to pass exams.  And since there are many fair and unfair ways to do that, exams are not relevent.

Now I will say that I have changed my mind just a wee bit about this… but that’s a topic for a completely different blog post.

So, when I heard that the Scrum Alliance was going to add an exam to the CSM certification, I felt that it was a waste of time, and probably would encourage all sorts of bad behaviors.  I still think that.

The Beta CSM Exam

Okay.  A few facts about the exam.  It was administered in a room in the convention center here in Orlando.  There was a registration desk and when you sign in you are given a password.  You then go to a workstation which has Internet Explorer running pointed at the exam site.  The exam has bookends: at the start an experience self-assessment that is used to help interpret the exam results, and at the end a satisfaction survey.  Throughout the course of the exam, you are able to comment on the questions.  These bookends and the feedback along the way are a great way to help improve the exam and I really like that.

As I mentioned, I am not allowed to discuss the details of the questions.  I will make some general comments about the questions.  Some questions are about Agile, some are about Scrum principles and some are about Scrum practices.  Some are fairly standard fact-based kinds of question like: what are the roles in Scrum, while others are more scenario-based question like: you are the ScrumMaster and X-bad-behavior is happening… what do you do?

There were 99 questions in total and I was told that it would take approximately one hour to go through the questions.  Now, just so you know, I normally do _really_ _really_ well on multiple choice exams, and I normally complete them extremely quickly.  I read fast, and my mind seems to be able to eliminate incorrect options almost subconsciously.  So, for this exam, I completed it in 35 minutes including the time it took me to comment on about a third of the questions.  If I hadn’t been commenting as I went, I estimate it would have taken me about 20 minutes.

How Did I Score?

Well, I got 84%.  Not bad.  The summary page of the exam said this was a “mastery” level.  I should explain why I didn’t score higher (after all, Certified Scrum Trainer (TM) Mishkin Berteig should be able to do 100%!!!).

I decided before I even started, that I would answer the questions as if I was a “perfect” student of my own training.  In other words, I would deliberately get things wrong if I taught them differently than the “right way” that the question implied.  As well, if I didn’t cover a topic in my training, I would do a best guess putting myself in the shoes of someone who had attended my class.  There were two broad topic areas that I don’t teach about that showed up: Product Vision and Release Planning.  As well, there were a few topics that I teach slightly differently: Scrum Team membership, burndown charts, and Sprint Planning/Sprint Backlog Tasks.

Apparently, despite these differences, a student of my class would do pretty well on the exam.

The Problem

When I first became a Certified Scrum Trainer (no TM, this was before the existance of the Scrum Alliance), Ken Schwaber had a clear policy that as a trainer I was encouraged to integrate into my training materials and approach things that I had discovered through actual practice about Scrum.  I loved this.  It meant that Scrum was not a Canonized Body of Knowledge, but rather a living framework for doing excellent work.  When we put in place an exam like this, it changes the nature of Scrum.  Is this good or bad?  I think it has aspects of both.  The clear down side is that it will have the tendency of freezing Scrum which might make it less relevent.

Another problem is more personal: as a trainer, there will be clear pressure for me to teach to the exam.  If a student of mine goes and does the exam, and fails because (in part) I have taught things differently than what is on the exam, then does that mean this person can blame me?  Sure!  Why not?!  So then I am faced with a problem: do I teach what I know works or do I teach what I know will be tested?


There is a simple way to avoid this second problem and in fact to mitigate the first problem at the same time: the exam should be taken before taking the CSM course.  The exam is clearly based on the reading materials: Agile Software Development with Scrum and Agile Project Management with Scrum.  Then, if people don’t pass the exam, they can blame only themselves for not studying these excellent books deeply enough.  And, it will simplify training since as trainers we will know that people coming into the class are already _knowledgeable_ about Scrum.  We can then teach our variations, see the dynamic of people in the class, and offer Certification based on that.

This solves the trainer’s dilema easily and obviously.  What is not so obvious is that it also helps prevent Scrum from ossifying.  The Certification becomes based on living interaction with an experienced Scrum trainer rather than an exam.  The long term effect of this is that people will place less importance on the exam (rightly) and more importance on making a good showing in the course (rightly) and then we have a relationship-based Certification.  Since it is based on a relationship, it can live more easily as an organically changing framework rather than a defined (simple) methodology.

After all: Individuals and Interations are valued over Processes and Tools (Agile Manifesto).

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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Day 1 Summary

The first day of the Scrum Gathering in Orlando is finished.  I had a great day all-in-all.  I went to 3 and a half sessions, took a nice sun break in the afternoon, and then mingled at the evening reception.

Some observations:

More People Using Agile and Scrum for Non-Software

This was interesting.  When I actually spent time talking with people I heard several times that people were using agile approaches in non-software environments.  One person is working with an oil company to apply agile methods to all project work.  Another two people are extending agile / Scrum into marketing departments.  And one other person was applying agile into the whole organization.

Of course, with OpenAgile, I’m very interested in all this.  I’m hoping that I can organize some sort of group / institute / organization for people using agile methods outside of software development.  If you’re interested, please contact me on LinkedIn or Facebook or any other method you wish.  People seemed to be in general agreement that this is still new stuff, and that they are having to make adaptations to make agile work in these other environments.  After all, not all work is purely creative or problem-solving!

Economic and Recession Fears

Gregory Balestrero gave a talk about the relationship between the PMI and the Scrum Alliance.  I felt that his talk was much more 30000 foot level and that it probably wasn’t quite right for the audience.  The questions people asked at the end seemed much more appropriate for someone who was an author of the PMBoK rather than the CEO of the PMI.  There was a mis-match between presenter and audience.  At any rate, Gregory spoke quite a bit about the economy and the fears people have about it.  He emphasized that this time actually represents a real opportunity for organizations to get better at doing projects by focusing on value.  I couldn’t agree more!

As well, in my discussions with several other individuals who are coaches or run agile coaching businesses, I heard quite frequently that the past few months have been hard on business here in the United States.  One company has actually laid off some coaches.  This is in line with our experience at Berteig Consulting… up to a point.  December and January were slow, and in fact slower than “normal”, but we still did very well in the Dec. to Feb. quarter.  Clearly the Canadian market is still moving well, and there is a recognition that agile and Scrum are a means to help organizations get through these tough times.

One a related note, the resort we are staying in and in which the conference is being held is the Gaylord Palms.  Apparently, bookings are way down at the hotel to the point where they have temporarily closed some of the restaurants in the resort.  Likewise, when my family went to a water park during the day today, some of the rides were closed because there were so few people.  Please remember: this is Spring Break!!!  Clearly tourism is _way_ down.

Reconnecting with Friends and Collegues

I’ve met up with (in no particular order): Tobias Mayer, Alistair Cockburn, Catherine Louis (from Nortel), Sanjiv Augustine, Mike Vizdos, Carole Marks, Mitch Lacey, Jim Cundiff, Gabby Benefield, and probably others that I can’t remember.

I also met for the first time several people.  I hope I can keep in touch with everyone!

Highlight of the Day

Mike Cohn gave a presentation on Leading Self-Organizing Teams.  It was fantastic.  My favorite part of it was his introducing the CDE (Containers, Differences and transforming Exchanges) model.  In this model, self-organization is positively influenced by appropriate constraints on the containers, differences and transforming exchanges among the people who are asked to self-organize.  To explain: containers define in-ness vs. out-ness for participation, scope of work, environment of the group that is self-organizing.  Differences are the variations in the skills, qualities, attitudes, knowledge etc. of group members.  And transforming exchanges are the interactions between group members both amongst each other and with outside groups, where such interactions cause a transformation of some sort: creation of value, sharing of knowledge, new activities, etc.

By using the CDE model, we can diagnose challenges facing an agile team.  Mike Cohn included a number of scenarios for us to use to practice the application of this model.

Looking Forward to Day 2

Hopefully Day 2, which is primarily and Open Space event, will be even more interesting that Day 1.  I will continue to post frequent articles about the events of the day!  Please feel free to ask for more details in the comments… or to suggest that I connect with someone, or to bring up a topic for the Open Space portion.

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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Ken Schwaber and Alistair Cockburn – You Thought You Knew Scrum

PLEASE NOTE: these are my own notes based on the presentation – any errors or omissions are my own.

TOPIC: Treat People as Adults

– “we need to X first”… e.g. X=architecture
– – this is a parent-child approach – need to tell someone how to do something
– – does this mean we are not adults?
– – only through direction and planning will we do intelligent things
– Story from “Scrum in the Enterprise” about a “team” of 17 people
– vs. treating people as “resources”
– — banter —
– “Maverick” book

TOPIC: Teach “ask the team” by actually asking the team (in the class).

– teaching by example!  Using the adults in the class to help answer the question

EDITOR’S NOTE: okay.  this is very interesting, but I’m having so much trouble hearing that I’m going to bail on this one.  Instead, I believe that Mike Vizdos at implementingscrum.com is also blogging this session.  I’m sure his notes will be up soon 🙂

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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Mike Cohn – Leading Self-Organizing Teams

Something wrong with starting late at a Scrum Gathering!

Did this talk before at SD conference at Santa Clara

Think self-organizing teams are fundamental to all agile methods
– people claim: Unified Process is an agile process – but doesn’t rely on self-organizing teams
– Wicked problems: get the right people together, throw them at the problem


Self Organization and subtle Control – not all forms of control are evil

Containers, Differences and Exchanges Model

Influencing how the team evolves

Premise: self-organization isn’t just locking a team in a room and saying “just do it” – we influence

What is a Self Organizing Team?
– does not mean:
– – the team gets to decide what goal they pursue
– – or even necessarily who is on the team
– – – some self-org teams are given this responsibility

Complex Adaptive Systems
– a dynamic network of many agents
– – acting in parallel
– – acting and reacting to what other agents are doing
– control is highly dispersed and decentralized
– overall system behavior is the result of a huge number of decisions made constantly by many agents
– e.g. QA group
– in a project:
– – sounds like a software project!

Some Examples
– ant colony
– flock of geese
– us right now – self-organized into room, some at front, some near power outlets
– a crowd batched up to get into a concert or sporting event
– – Jimmy Buffet concert – queueing, at the bar, at the beach etc.
– a family preparing, eating, and cleaning up after a meal
– cars and drivers on the heighway
– a software team

Control is not Evil
– was command and control leader before scrum!
– Simple rules or incentives are used to guide or direct behavior
– – “Drive this direction and on this side on the highway.”
– for bioteams, these are provided by nature
– for our teams rules and incentives can be added by managers or leaders… or in some cases by team members
– Generative rules – rules that generate behavior
– Some control is okay

Quote from Philip Anderson, The Biology of Business about Self-organization

Popular to criticize Taylorism – don’t specify exact steps, instead put in place things that guide behavior

(NOTE: slides on website)

Takeuchi & Nonaka “Although project teams are largely on their own, they are not uncontrolled… ”

What this is not
– we’re not talking about
– – being deceptive or sneaky
– – manipulating people
– – IS subtle rules and guidelines
– nothing I’m going to advocate needs to be secret
– – but there may be reasons why you don’t broadcast your reasons
– – e.g. if you have to fire someone

Containers Differences and Exchanges

Glenda Eoyang: Conditions for Self-Organizing in Human Systems
– Container
– – a boundary within which self-organization occurs e.g. project, team, role, nationality
– Differences
– – there must be differences among the agents acting in our system
– – e.g. technical knowledge, domain knowledge, education, experience, power, gender
– – e.g. individual sub-goals
– Transforming Exchanges
– – agents in the system interact and exchange resources
– – information, money, energy (vision)
– how can we use these to influence the way the team behaves?
– – amplify or dampen the differences
– – re-frame the problem
– – change the communication environment

Comment from audience about “Wisdom of Crowds”
– groupthink!

Using the CDE model
– Adjusting the Containers:
– – formal teams, informal teams, clarify (or not) expectations
– – e.g. the AI programmers thought they could not talk with each other, only the people on their teams
– – introduced a Community of Practices
– Differences:
– – dampen or amplify them within or between containers
– – e.g. if people are having a hard time making decisions because they are all too different, maybe adding people to increase similarity
– Exchanges:
– – insert new exchanges, new people, new techniques or tools
– – e.g. team that needed to get outside help re: architecture
– – cross-training

– enlarge or shrink team

– don’t require consensus
– – creativity comes from tension
– – quiet disagreement is not as good as fierce debate that leads to behavior change
– _do_ require consensus
– – e.g. if one person is dominating the discussion
– ask hard questions
– – then expect teams to find solutions

Transforming Exchanges:
– remove a document
– create a document!
– encourage communication between teams and groups
– – who isn’t talking
– add or remove people
– – change reporting relationships
– encourage learning


You are the ScrumMaster or PM:
– situations
– ID one thing to change
– use CDE model

Good Group Discussion around Scenarios

Mike Cohn is really good at creating discussion exercises.  I’ve always been impressed.  The discussion excercise asked us to apply the CDE model to the various scenarios.  In our group we only looked at two out of the five scenarios.  Each time the discussion was great – lots of good ideas from people about how to solve the problem in the scenario.  What wasn’t so good at first was using the CDE model.  It’s easy to just look at the scenario and come up with solutions.  What isn’t so easy is to use the model to generate solutions or to map solutions into the model.  At a personal level, I also found that folks in my group were emphasizing imposing solutions rather than using the Scrum model to have solutions emerge from the team’s own efforts.  For example, the retrospective is a Scrum practice that really should be the first line of defense.

Aother Philip Anderson quote:

“Self-organization proceeds from the premise that effective organization is evolved, not designed.  It aims to create an environment in which successful divisions of labour…”

Variation, selection and retention
– evolution is result of these three elements
– consider a giraffe:
– – variation: longer neck
– – selection: helps it reach food
– – retention: more food means more progeny

Seven levers for influencing team evolution:
1.  Select the external environment
– more than the physical environment
– business, industry
– approach to innovation
– approach to mistakes
– types of projects
– expectations about multi-tasking and focus
2. Define performance
– selection – traits that help us survive
– short vs. long-term performance
– providing training
– support sustainable pace
– explore wild ideas
– not exchanging deadlines for unmaintainable code
– e.g “Up or Out” culture – burn out or be promoted!
3. Manage meaning
– stories from leaders
– keeping messages out
– “we will become profitable this quarter”
– rituals
– Story about Mike’s background (1994)
– – valley of death
– – product did not have a long life
– – no new features
– – decided to create new product
– – “valley” in decline of revenue from old product, vs. increase in revenue for new product
– – as part of this, replaced two-ply with one-ply toilet paper to remind everyone of the need to save costs!
– Another story
– – “our GM counts the cars in the lot every day at 5pm” – not a good culture for Scrum!

4) Choose People
– who is on the team
– adjust:
– – team size, decision making style, location, gender, background, motivation

5) Self-selecting members?
– should a delivery team be allowed full control over who is on the team?
– under all circumstances or only some?  which?
– what are the advantages and disadvantages?
– – people often will choose to work with similar people
– doing this is giving up some control
– “you can self-organize unless I disagree” is not a good message!
6) Evolve vicarious selection systems
– variation-selection-retention
– – selection was determining which variations will be retained – can take a long time
– so we often use vicarious selection systems
– – this is an animal that can smell that a food is poisonous, rather than eating it
– using only the marketplace as our selection mechanism takes too long
– Organizations can have vicarious selection systems:
– – retrospectives, Google’s 20% policy which attracts people to projects, compensation
7) Energize the system
– unless energy is pumped into the system, entropy will set in
– make sure the group has a “clear, elevating goal” or an “igniting purpose”
– motivation
– opportunity
– information
– Teamwork by Larson and LaFasco or Hot Spots by Lynda Gratton
– example: Bill Gates and “Internet Tidal Wave” memo

New book by Mike Cohn:

“Succeeding With Agile”

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Scrum Gathering – Orlando Florida – Dr. Mark Paulk

Notes from the talk by Dr. Mark Paulk

PLEASE NOTE: These are raw notes based on both the talk and the slides for the talk.  Any errors or omissions are mine.  – Mishkin


  • Research
  • Practices that characterize the Scrum agile method, along with common variants and tailorings
  • Which Scrum practices, or variants thereof, have been implemented and the perceived value of the method
  • Factors affecting Scrum adoption


  • a process for incrementally building software in complex environments
  • (really likes the Nokia test)
  • Backlog – all outstanding work for a product area
  • Sprints – 30-day increments of work that produce a deliverable
  • Scrums – daily status check meetings

Scrum Practices

  • practices: 30-day Sprint, Product Backlog, Daily Scrum, …
  • roles: ScrumMaster, Development Team, Product Owner, …

Variations on the Scrum methodologies

  • different lengths of Sprints
  • ScrumMaster = Project manager

People do stupid things because they interpret e.g. CMM to be waterfall
Waterfall is a stupid idea – CMM introduces 7 different lifecycles
Loves iterative, evolutionary lifecycles
What are the variations of Scrum that are legitimate?
From an impericist perspective, Dr. Paulk doesn’t care
Where is the dividing line on Sprint length?
2 weeks? 4 weeks? 6 weeks? 6 months?
Probably universal agreement that 6 months is counter to the Scrum philosophy
But 6 weeks vs. 6 weeks + 1 day?
As empiricist, when hears role of ScrumMaster, says it’s a Project Manager
what about teams that have both a ScrumMaster and a Project Manager?
There are going to be terminology issues
when doing survey, it is important to make sure that people know what you mean when you use certain terms e.g. Product Owner
E.g. What is a “project” vs. “task” (8 hour projects in a CR environment)
Not officially part of the methodology:

  • Defining “done”
  • Quitting/stopping and being “done” are not the same thing wrt End of Sprint
  • Design reviews
  • Code reviews
  • Unit tested

Practices commonly associated with other agile methods

  • if every successful Scrum project did TDD, then we might consider bring TDD into the method definition (relationship to “done”)
  • Test-driven development
  • Pair programming
  • Good engineering and management practices in general
  • Top-10 risks list
  • Risk management is done differently in agile approaches (note: the spiral model is explicitly targeted at dealing with risk)
  • Customer-supplier relationship

Empirical research always leads to surprises – we go in with pre-conceptions
Practice Effectiveness

  • The Scrum method in principle should be used without much variation – significant variation probably indicates a “ScrumBut” implementation
  • early termination of a project is not failure – business decision
  • Practices that are perceived as working will continue to be used…
  • Perception is important!  People will continue to use what they perceive to be effective
  • “Superstitious” learning
  • Were any Scrum practices perceived as not being feasible?
  • Did any Scrum practices not work well when tried?
  • Can we measure this in any meaningful sense?
  • Did it increase market share? Etc.?

What is the definition of a successful project?

  • Dept. Of Def. – meeting schedule is the most important factor
  • System, culture and environment play a huge part!
  • cultural clash between DoD and agile approaches do things
  • overcoming this clash is the only way that the DoD can get benefit from agile

Why Adopt Agile Methods?

  • pilot the agile practices and see how they work?
  • Use agile methods on my projects (because I like it)?
  • Adopt agile methods in a particular domain – where appropriate?
  • – Scrum is not as software-specific as other agile methods
  • – used a Scrum-like approach for the development of CMM!
  • – Some areas where these methods just might not be appropriate e.g. DoD
  • – Architecture breaker – a problem that requires a project be re-started (Barry Boehm)
  • – reliability on life-critical systems
  • Adopt agile methods for the organization?

CMM and agile – complementary
CMM eyes-wide-open, tailor when needed, standardize when possible
what class of projects would agile methods be applicable?
Process community has learned things about the factors that affect adoptions
Assessment readiness survey – even this can be difficult

  • Assessment failed (1/3)
  • Assessment completed, but nothing done with it (1/3)
  • Assessment completed and followed up with changes (1/3)

… fired “customers” who were dead in the water
Measuring Business Success

  • Does the project have a “product vision” that characterizes success?

How does the project measure success?

  • financial/market (profit, market share)
  • quickly responding to changing customer needs
  • cost and schedule drivers
  • quality
  • customer satisfaction / delight
  • innovation (building for the future)

Where does Scrum/agile fit in terms of business drivers?
Factors Affecting Adoption
some general adoption issues

  • sponsorship – addressing business problems
  • resistance to change
  • we need a requirements specifications
  • shelfware (facades)
  • training, user groups, conferences
  • scope of piloting / adoption
  • politics, responsibility, accountability

some cultural issues

  • power and control
  • uncertainty (when will we be done?)
  • confrontation vs. Compromise
  • risk aversion
  • National cultures are a big factor in methodology adoption

The Agile Alliance (quote the Agile Manifesto)
values need to inform research
e.g. Need to provide human feedback not just documented feedback
Cultural Misfits (Using the DoD as an example)

  • regulatory requirements for a level playing field raise challenges for evolutionary and incremental development
  • level playing field for vendors
  • The need by the contracts officer for a requirements specification
  • one project the proposal took more effort than the project itself
  • Progress payments defined from a waterfall mentality
  • Barriers – regulatory and cultural – to a collaborative customer relationship
  • Protests from competitors

Research Realities

  • We’d like more information than most people are willing to take the time to provide
  • participation by people doing the work is crucial to insight
  • Surveys inspire more questions
  • Follow-up interviews provide deeper, but less comparable information
  • e.g. To explore causality vs. correlation

Research Plans

  • survey of Scrum projects
  • Interviews and case studies of selected projects
  • hoping to chat with people here at the conference!
  • Publications confirming / testing “what everyone knows”
  • Scrum practices, variations, and associated practices
  • business value of Scrum
  • factors affecting Scrum adoption

Questions and Answers
haven’t seen much evidence that research changes anything – is spending this money worth it?

  • We don’t use empirical research very much!
  • Having evidence in toolkit can help discussions with people who have limited time/information to investigate independently e.g. executives
  • Research can help us understand the barriers to Scrum adoption

Starting with a theory of Scrum to test?  If so, what is it?

  • Starting actually with pure exploration of factors that affect adoption, and practices actually being used – surfacing issues

Couldn’t hear question – seemed to be about security
Would you use the Scrum approach for the research itself?

  • Collaborative approach with the Scrum Alliance, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, etc.
  • Getting feedback from public at large
  • Not going to use all the practices e.g. Daily Scrum because working part-time as an individual, not with a team

Dr. Mark C. Paulk
Carnegie Mellon University
Institute for Software Research
407SCR 115
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA

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Scrum Gathering Orlando Florida – Day 0 – Registration – NOT!?

Let me start by saying that I’m very excited to be in Orlando Florida for the next four and a bit days for the Scrum Gathering and then the Scrum Trainer Gathering to be held immediately following.  I look forward to connecting with friends, acquaintances, collegues, and of course making lots of new connections.  I also look forward to the sessions.

Over the next few days, I’m hoping that I will simply be posting my notes from all the sessions that I attend as well as any Tweets and relevent email exchanges.  Let’s start even before the conference itself starts with the registration process.

The Scrum Alliance is a growing organization and is clearly working hard to be professional.  It has gone from a concept in the mind of Ken Schwaber (at least) and matured to a well-known not-for-profit (or is it non-profit) organization that manages a substantial certification program, website, and conference schedule.  All that work to be professional was undermined for me this evening.  It’s a small thing, really, but I think it is important to mention.

When I checked at the hotel reception (Gaylord Palms), they told me that the Scrum Gathering registration would be open until 11pm.  Since I was hungry, and more importantly, my family were very very hungry, we decided to eat and that I would register after dinner… at about 10pm.  I went to the convention centre part of the resort to the location the person at hotel registration had indicated… and found absolutely nothing.  No signs.  No people lingering.  No little tiny note saying “Sorry… we closed registration early this evening, due to (illness|laziness|no one coming|hotel staff told us to get lost|etc.)”  Not only that, when I went back to hotel reception after wandering about hoping to find someone, they still had no idea that registration had closed.  I wonder how many people wandered up there only to find no one there?

I’m not impressed.  I would have been quite happy if there had been a note or some other attempt at communication to indicate that unfortunately the original commitment to be open until 11pm was not going to be honored.  I would have been even happier if hotel reception could have told me this.  But it’s pretty frustrating to realize that the people who are the first line of representation of Scrum didn’t understand/remember that Scrum is about visibility… clear proactive communication.

If this had been a conference for plumbers, doctors, astrophysicists, homeschoolers, or almost any other professional group, I wouldn’t see this as a big deal at all.  It would in fact be just another minor annoyance to quickly forget.  From the Scrum Alliance I find it less excusable.

Now, given that all the above is pretty much a rant that may be at least in part a reflection of my long day of travel, I have to step back and acknowledge that there might be a good reason that there was no one at the conference registration desk when I went almost an hour before they were to close.  Perhaps there was only one person on duty and he/she got suddenly ill!  Perhaps the person on duty simply took an extended bathroom break and didn’t think that there would be anyone coming at so late an hour.  Perhaps someone else suggested that they close up early and since the person on duty was bored, it was an easy suggestion to act upon.  But the lack of communication still bothers me more than it would normally.

I’m sure the remainder of the conference will be great.  I hope that you all who are reading this find that my impressions are more sunny for the next four days.  After all, I am in the Sunshine State!

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