On The Table Read ebook magazine UK, Certified Scrum Trainer Angela Druckman describes her Agile Mindset Blog and why she wants to dispel myths about Scrum.
Written by Angela Druckman
I started my career as a traditional IT project manager. But a painful lesson early on with a project that was delivered millions of dollars over budget and years (yes, years) late made me realize there had to be a better way. Enter Scrum.
Scrum is a type of agile project management used predominantly in software and technology. It is ideal for projects that are of higher than average risk, have limited resources (not enough time, money, etc) and will experience emerging resources. Teams work from a prioritized list of requirements with the goal of delivering the most business value possible for the time and money available.
I’ve been a Certified Scrum Trainer for 14+ years. Scrum is recognized as the #1 agile project management framework in the world. My work has taken me to five continents and 23 countries. Nowadays, I offer both in-person and virtual classes, meaning anyone anywhere in the world can take my classes.
People take my certification classes to grow their careers and make themselves more appealing to employers. However, many of the people who attend my courses are old-school project managers. They’ve had a career of believing that, if something is in a multi-color Gantt chart, it must be true. Over my 2-day certification classes, we carefully pick apart some of these myths and open them to a new way of thinking.
Blogging To Change Thinking Patterns
Still, it takes time to change these ingrained thinking patterns. This is one way my blogging is important. Some of these lessons have to be repeated again and again for people to actually be open to hearing them. It would not be too strong a statement to say that, in a way, I am deprogramming them from brainwashing. And people in my classes are always free to share my blogs with colleagues and friends. Even if someone cannot come to a class with me, if I can help them better understand Scrum and how to use it correctly, then I think that is a good thing.
One important way I use my blog is to dispel some common myths about Scrum. Scrum is deceptive. It is simple…but simple and easy are not the same thing. I find I spend as much time teaching people what Scrum is not as I do teaching them what it is. The blog helps me do this. I will often tackle common misunderstandings about Scrum (like when to use it versus a more predictive approach to project management) in the blog format because it is something people can absorb quickly and share if they like.
I also use my blog to highlight some of my special clients and this, in turn, can help them hire great candidates. One of my star clients is the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT.) NDOT’s information technology department is fully agile and uses Scrum to manage the vast majority of their technology projects. However, prospective employees don’t always think “agile” when they think of government jobs. This, coupled with the fact that NDOTs job titles and descriptions didn’t always match industry standards made it hard for them to attract good applicants.
The Agile Mindset Blog
As part of The Agile Mindset blog, I decided to write a case study about them, which you can read here. I highlighted their success and tried to give readers an idea of what a great place NDOT was to work. The last time I visited them, I met a new employee who had applied because he read the case study. I really love it when things like that happen because it means my blog has given a client a direct tangible benefit.
I also find The Agile Mindset blog gives prospective course attendees a chance to get to know me before they make the decision to sign up for class. You can pick up a lot of my personality and teaching style from the blog. It is not usual for people to come to my class in a state of fear. Maybe they have recently been laid off. Or perhaps they’ve been in a job interview, highlighting their years of traditional project management only to hear “Yes, but what do you know about Scrum and agile?” They want to know they will be taking the class with someone can explain things clearly and patiently.
One gentleman told me he took my class because he read one of my Q & A blogs (where I let people submit questions and I answer them) and I “seemed very patient with stupid questions.” That made me laugh a little. But it is a reminder that people who have little to no knowledge about agile practices like Scrum can feel intimidated by it. Reading a blog that takes these concepts and puts them into easy-to-understand language is very reassuring to them.
Bite Sized Information
Finally, I think blogging is important because it is a way to provide information in bite-sized pieces. Most of my blogs can be read in a few minutes. When I have a topic that requires more in-depth coverage, I usually break it out into two or three parts. Early in my career, I wrote 5000-word white papers. Those days are over. People want information in small, easy to digest relevant pieces. I believe blogging is an idea way to do that.
Ironically, I took this idea even a bit further with my book “30 Days to Better Agile.” I knew that some of my class attendees would buy the book with the idea of giving it to their manager to read. I also knew some of those managers would take one look at a 200-page book and say “Um…yeah, I don’t have time to read that.” So, in my book, I sprinkled in boxes in the margins called “Agile Tips.” There’s about 35 of them, each being a sentence or two of insight about agile practices like Scrum. I tell people “If your manager won’t read the whole book, have them read the Agile Tips. It will take less than a half hour and they will at least have a basic understanding of Scrum.
In summary, The Agile Mindset blog is one of the key tools I use to educate people about Scrum. It allows me to answer common questions, dispel myths and highlight client success stories. Whether or not someone ever attends one of my classes, if they are interested in learning more about agile practices like Scrum, I am confident my blog will bring them value.
Find more from Angela Druckman
The Agile Mindset blog: https://www.thedruckmancompany.com/the-agile-mindset
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