Day 3 of the Scrum Gathering this week was a fascinating experience. The dayâ€™s events were run in â€œOpen Spaceâ€ format, where the agenda was completely self-organized by the conference attendees. First, everyone was invited to post their suggestions for a topic onto the wall. Then, all the others came to the wall to see what was posted. Finally, attendees would vote for and negotiate on their favorite topics.
Now, at first it may seem like a disorganized free for all, but in truth it yielded some excellent conversationsâ€¦
â€œWhy are Project Managers Considered Agile Outsiders?â€
The first session I visited explored the question of why Project Managers are perceived so poorly by Agilists. Some highlights were:
- ScrumMaster and Product Owner are not job titles or job descriptions, but simply roles within a project.
- Serge Beaumont suggested we move our PMOs into "scrum support teamsâ€
- Scrum Alliance President Tom Mellor explained that in his organization, the PM becomes the chief servant leader of a project organization, offering organizational support to team ScrumMasters.
- The grouped agreed that PMs transition to Scrum best when changing their identity from "manager" to "member of product X"
The next session explored the topic of Agile Outsourcing. Often, â€œoutsourcingâ€ is a synonym for â€œoffshoringâ€. Accordingly, it was not surprising that this conversation featured practitioners from Bolivia, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, and India. All of us traded humorous insights on the differences in cultural norms. For example, I learned of the â€œBolivian â€˜Yesâ€™â€, which asserts the listener merely hears you, rather than fully agrees to your request. We also talked about contracts, and agreed that offering your clients iterative, incremental funding options could give you a competitive advantage.
After each session, the topic owner would type up his notes from the talk and post them on the â€œNews Wallâ€. This way, I could get the gist of any session I couldnâ€™t get to. There were also ad hoc discussions in the hallway, creating a atmosphere of vibrant knowledge, moving from one person to the next, each transfer being enriched by an individual perspective.
If I sound somewhat energized by the experience, I am. By many accounts this was the best Scrum Gathering ever. Each day offered a different format for learning, keeping people engaged and interested. Each session offered a different mix of participants, keeping the content varied and rich. If you get the chance, I strongly recommend you go to one of the upcoming Scrum Gatherings in Shanghai, South Africa, or Europe.
Question: Did you go the Scrum Gathering? What was most enlightening or helpful about the experience?