I’ve been an intermittent attendee for Agile meet-ups for quite some time. I attended two versions in Michigan and I can’t even count the variations in the Denver area. Recently, I’ve been observing the interactions and asking myself questions regarding the value of Agile meet-ups. Then as I embark back into the world of coaching, I decided to get a few of the Scrum Alliance certifications. So I took the ScrumMaster certification class. This experienced helped me figure out what was bothering me with meet-ups.
I’ll start with the class experience. First, let me highlight that the class was exactly what I expected: Engaging, Interactive, Agile Mindset to Scrum practices. Think of this class as the introduction and awareness of how to think differently (from project manager to Agile ScrumMaster), which is perfect for many people. For example, I watched light bulbs turn on for people when the discussion regarding multi-tasking impacts occurred. So there is definitely value in providing this class. However, I had to wonder if my presence actually helped or hurt the learning. Let me explain…
Almost immediately, I felt uncomfortable in the team exercises. It was clear that I had more experience and knowledge. My participation was not exploring these concepts but giving examples/stories of applying them. I found myself quickly filling the role of facilitator/coach within the table exercises. I believe they found value in my knowledge and coaching but I was definitely having a completely different experience then the rest. Did I learn anything, of course! But it wasn’t that Ah-ha moment that the rest were experiencing. That said, I also didn’t feel comfortable with the role that I was taking. I’m taking this course too, I didn’t want to imply that I was above it or was all done with learning.
This brings me back to meet-ups. This is how I feel there too. Often the topics/questions are awareness related…what is a team charter, etc? This is great for many people but again if I’m in attendance, I find myself in that same facilitator/coach role. This is not a problem in itself but only if I go into the situation with that understanding. Yet, I also think about where do the people that have embraced the agile mindset and are practicing go to learn? Conferences, absolutely! Training like the one I’m giving in Denver on TFBOR, absolutely! However, that can take significant time and money. Where are the local small options? I’m sure it’s what is intended by the meet-ups. Yet, putting together a wide spectrum of mastery levels and trying to meet everyone’s needs is unrealistic (I suddenly have a bigger appreciation for school teachers). Yet, the idea of starting a meet-up by new vs practicing doesn’t sit right with me either.
I don’t have an answer. I just wanted to acknowledge this challenge because I believe finding a solution is important if we want to keep challenging ourselves as practitioners.