Monday, April 21, 2008

The Scrum Gathering Continued

For me, one of the signs of a really good convention is when I end up spending more time in the halls talking to people than I do in the actual sessions The Scrum Gathering in Chicago was no exception. Throughout the second and third days I found myself continually challenged by how the things I encountered forced me to discard my preconceptions about what Agile and Scrum were all about.

On the morning of the second day I sat in for a talk given by Dan Rawsthorne called “Complex Backlogs”. One of the oddest, and most exciting moments for me (being a complete PM Geek) was sitting in the back of the hall and listening to Dan explain how he is able to calculate Earned Value (he called it Earned Business Value) on his Scrum projects. That was the point where I had to basically take every argument I had gathered into my little “agile cons” wagon and toss it all over the cliff.

I spent the rest of the second morning talking to the folks I met in the halls. Doug Shimp and Sam Hazziez from 3Back and Jim Cundiff from the Scrum Alliance were all very receptive to the idea of developing a stronger connection between the SIG/PMI and the Scrum Alliance.

After lunch Michael Herman moderated an Open Space session that lasted through lunch on Wednesday. I had no experience with an Open Space session but I really enjoyed it. The basic premise seems to be that the agenda is set by the people there who want to raise topics. Topics are scheduled in small groups and the people who are interested attend the topics they find appealing. If you aren’t participating or learning, you are supposed to move on. Whatever happens in the group is what is supposed to happen. The results are compiled and posted to a wiki, which is made available to the attendees. It was the most organic working session I have ever been a part of and the best part was that if something seemed to not really strike my interest, no one was offended if I just got up and moved on. I was able to take part in a number of topics and contribute in each of them. 

During the first session I participated in, I had a kind of panic at the fact that the topic/conversation seemed to have no specific set agenda or direction… even though that was kind of the point. I also found that when I would offer a comment, rather than being able to just offer up my tiny “pearl “of insight and then get back to my email, these folks actually wanted to engage in conversation with me about topics. 

After lunch on the third day the Ken Schwaber held a session for the attendees. Ken is the founder of Scrum and his talk generated a very lively discussion within the group. Being more accoustomed to the PMI Congress and Leadership events, it was very exciting to see such an open and engaging exchange. I definitely came away feeling that, at least at the Scrum Gathering, there is not so much focus on status - it is just a bunch of Scrum Geeks getting together to talk shop.

I came away from the Scrum Gathering very excited about the ideas and the possibility of developing a bridge between the IT&T SIG and the Scrum Alliance. It is something I’ll be working on in the coming months, and I am hopeful it will reduce the polarization between the two groups.

Video with Mike Cohn and the guys from Big Visible will be posted early in the week.

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