Arline and Jeff Sutherland, our co-trainers
Arline and Jeff Sutherland, our co-trainers

Last week LogMeIn brought Jeff Sutherland (one of the original parents of the Scrum and Agile movements) from Scrum Inc. to our Budapest office to give their version of the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) training.  A big part of the culture at LogMeIn is continuous improvement and our primary product development offices are located in Hungary.  We also learned that despite being in Europe often, this was Jeff’s first time in Budapest and thus his first time providing training here!  (Which was a great selling point to our team members here :).  With this in mind, we decided getting Scrum Inc. to Budapest was a great way to improve and invigorate our Agile Adoption across all our product teams.

We must have struck a cord with the organization, as we filled one of the local hotel conference rooms with almost 50 attendees from LMI’s Engineering, Quality, Design, and Product departments.  Jeff and his wife Arline (his co-trainer for this session) used a combination of slides, anecdotes, experiences, and exercises to share the latest learnings in Scrum.  As a great bi-product of this, all our attendees also had the opportunity to earn their CSM certification by attending and passing a test afterwards.

Jeff leading the group through an exercise
Jeff leading the group through an exercise

The first day of training focused on the history and basics of Scrum.  As a professional Agile Coach I’ve been through this training a few times but, if you’re anything like me, I’m always able to learn something new.  Something I (re)learned this training – Scrum is data driven and accountability is critical as part of every role.  We often focus on measuring team velocity to monitor effectiveness of our teams, but rarely do we quantitatively measure the effectiveness of the roles on the team.

Jeff provided a summary of what the focus of each role in Scrum should be, how he suggests measuring each role, and what to do if someone isn’t working out on a particular team.  For example:

  • Product Owners are accountable for maximizing the revenue generated from every story point of work the team produces and this should be measured on this as part of their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • Scrum Masters are accountable for the team’s performance and their improvement over time.  They should be measured on the trend of a team’s velocity over time.

If either role isn’t working out on a particular team, he suggested that they are incorrect fit for that team and should be shifted to another team to see if that is a better fit.  This may not be a perfect answer to all problems, but it is a question that is often raised (how do we rate Scrum Masters and Product Owners?) and provides a good place to start.

We also learned about an exercise I’d like to highlight that is related to continuous improvement, the “A3 Analysis“.  This is a root cause analysis tool (literally written on A3 sized sheet of paper) used to take the symptom of a problem you’re having and through a detailed process figure out what is really causing it.  It also helps to highlight the financial impact of solving it.  The tool comes from the famous Toyota Product System and is used heavily in the lean movement.  It probably warrants a longer post than we have time for here, but know that it was a useful exercise in problem solving and is worth learning more about.

Interactive Session on Day 2 with Jeff
Interactive Session on Day 2 with Jeff

Moving into Day 2, Jeff and Arline adjusted their agenda a bit to focus on LogMeIn’s challenges.  This session was very interactive as Jeff pivoted through a large amount of material driven by the attendees of the training.  This included topics like:

  • Estimating Work Using Story Points and Why it is Better Than Estimating in Time – Because human beings are inherently terrible at estimating  anything, and that includes time.  Why?  Because each of us perceives it differently.
  • Basic Models of Scaling from One Scrum Team to Multiple Scrum Teams – Jeff shared details of the Spotify model of organizational design and shared he considers it one of the “cleanest” Agile implementations he’s seen.
  • How to Voice Technical and Architectural Problems in Terms of Dollars to Get Management to Invest in Them – Focus on the cost savings you’ll get from making that change…i.e. if we do this, getting things to production will cost us XX days/weeks less in development time which we could use to develop new features.
  • Why Moving teams to Continuous Delivery/Deployment is a Critical First Step in a Successful Agile adoption – In short, it saves you engineering time in testing/deployment, it gets value to customers faster, and it lines up nicely with the “Lean Startup” concept that is so prevalent in software today (using MVP‘s to fail fast, small, and learn from the failure).
  • Using the Happiness Metric as a Leading Indicator of Team Performance – Jeff presented with lots of data confirming what everyone inherently knows, but we often forget: Happy teams produce more.

The feedback from the training was excellent as so many of the questions that were answered were relevant issues teams were currently dealing with.  All of us here at LogMeIn are grateful he accepted our invitation to come out to Hungary and spend two days with us.  Special thanks go out to Kaelyn Phillips, our training coordinator here at LMI, for helping to make this possible and Peter Pelyhes, a member of our HR team, for coordinating everything on the ground in Budapest.

So were we successful in “supercharging” our Agile Adoption?  From the number of questions about doing Scrum better and the positive feedback we’ve gotten since the training, I would say it has been an overwhelming “yes”.  Next steps are to apply all this energy and learnings to our day-to-day activities on our teams, which we’re in progress doing.  More on that in a later post…

Jeff Sutherland meets Budapest for the First Time

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