September was an eventful month for Botron Software – we released major versions for two of our products, Cycle Control and Configuration Manager for Jira. Additionally, we had one of the best summits yet and moved to a new office with an amazing view. The highlight of the month was the arrival of Jeff McKenna in Sofia – one of the original founders of the Scrum framework. He spends a week (re)training our entire staff about Scrum and we were looking forward to learning from Jeff’s impressive 50+ years of experience in agile development!
As our company continues to grow, we recognized the need of aligning our collective understanding of Scrum. Our diverse team is comprised of people from different backgrounds – some have used Scrum before, while others come from a more traditional business environments. Some people come with a background in big enterprises, whilst others have mostly worked for small start-up companies. Since our operations and products are centered around scaling Agile practices, it made sense to set aside a week and get our entire staff certified for Scrum Master & Product Owner.
In the spirit of the Scrum framework, we have put together a blog post that sums up the week-long, company-wide training and its benefits for our organization.
Less is more: developing an entire website in 36 minutes
One of the key concepts in Scrum is delivering functioning product increments quickly and regularly and nothing illustrated the power of this framework better than developing an entire website in 36 minutes. During the entire training, we were deprived of any technology – no computers, no smartphones. Just our pens, papers & above all – our teammates. Once we recovered from the shock of realizing our handwriting has completely deteriorated and the lack of autocorrect would make us pause for a second to remember the correct spelling of a word, we proceeded to use the colorful pens and papers at our disposal and 3 sprints and 36 minutes later, each team had developed a “functional” website on the office walls. We were so carried away in our creative endeavor, that time became irrelevant and we all gasped at the realization that we have accumulated and realized so many (and so diverse) ideas for a very short period of time. This exercise made us remember that we can always do more and better in a relatively short timeframe.
Buy one, get two for free: learning Scrum as a team building exercise
Scrum training is fun (at least the one we had with Jeff). The various concepts of the framework were often presented to us in a form of a game. The Ball Point Game being one of the highlights of the training – this fun and challenging exercise turned on our competitive switch and we were constantly coming up with new and better ideas on how to improve our score. Mind the difference – we weren’t competing against others, we were competing with ourselves.
Later, Jeff crushed our dreams by informing us that we could have done three times better and showed us how. Which again, proved the point that Scrum is a flexible, ever-changing and evolving way of working that always encourages constant self-correction and improvement.
Generating new ideas for improving teamwork
Two days into the training and people started discussing some new ideas on how to improve their Scrum practices. The marketing team chose to switch to one-week sprints, since the tasks were more time-bound, while the Cycle Control team adopted pair-programming and refined their daily stand-up meetings. Needless to say, our training with Jeff inspired us to do a real retrospective on how we do Scrum at Botron and what we can improve moving forward.
Better alignment between team members
As I mentioned in the beginning, our company is comprised of individuals with diverse experience in Scrum – as universal as these practices may seem on paper, in reality, each organization and team implements them differently. Going through this training helped us align our understanding of Scrum and ultimately – improved our teamwork.
A company-wide Scrum training has a lot of benefits – from refining our understanding of the power of Scrum to bringing the entire company on the same page. If you want to combine business with pleasure – consider Scrum!