Guest Post: Raymond, A New Scrum Master

I’ve invited a fellow Agilist in as a guest blogger, something I think I’m going to be doing more of.  Raymond is a newly minted CSM, and he’s a voracious reader of Agile books. He’s off on the right foot–using his CSM as the foundation for Agile and always looking for ways to expand his knowledge.  Writing about Agile is one of the best things a scrum master can do to develop at an individual level, and when I asked Raymond if he was interested, true-to-form, he snatched up the chance to write his first blog about the topic:

 As a “waterfall” project manager of 8 years, I can honestly say I was pretty stoked when introduced to the Scrum Agile framework.  The major aspects of Scrum that excited me were the continuous flow and providing increments of working software.  This was great news because as a project manager, I can honestly say that it was extremely rare to see the fruits of the team’s labor.  What I was used to (and most project managers will agree) is the following:

  • Get a project with inadequate detail around the scope
  • Spend tons of time on documentation
  • Assemble a team
  • Large amounts meetings to go back and forth about requirements
  • Get to a point where we can have something produced (that will be tangible)
  • Finally, go  to production with a half baked product or service, and move on to the next project
With the Waterfall methodology there was a lot of time spent on “what are we going to do” instead of actually DOING something, and then scrambling in the 25th hour to try to get things done to meet the deadline.  However, with Scrum there is an expectation that the team delivers something that can be used by the end-user at the end of every Sprint –> I’M IN!!!

This exposure came from a fellow co-worker in the IT-PMO of Red Hat, and then deepened by another co-worker who was a CSM, CSPO (and now CSP).  Then came the suggestion that I take the Scrum Master course and become a CSM –> Here’s where things got exciting. 

After spending a few months with the Red Hat Scrum evangelists, I decided to adhere to their suggestion and take the course to further my knowledge and become certified through Scrum Alliance.  The class was interesting and insightful, but there was one thing I noticed; everything taught was in the “perfect world” scenario.  Having the experience of being on both sides of the fence where, one group is just starting to use Scrum and one group has already

“everything taught was in the “perfect world” scenario.”

adopted the framework, there is a huge intangible piece that needs to be in place and that’s BUY-IN.  With Scrum framework not being as widely adopted as Waterfall, one of the most difficult aspects that you run into is trying to get buy-in from upper management and team members.  The major thing to consider is people usually do not respond well to change and Scrum will change EVERYTHING in regards to how to go about completing a project.  To get the most benefit you must first convince people that this practice works, and you have to actually do it.   So before you get to implement all this knowledge that you gained in you Certified Scrum Training class, you have to convince the powers that be that it’s worth doing –> Imagine how fun that’s going to be!


As for me, I consider myself fortunate – maybe even a bit spoiled… Reason being, once I received my CSM, I was presented with the great opportunity to work with a team that has been using Scrum under the tutelage of our Red Hat CSP.  So there was no convincing, bribing, winning over and/or persuading people to buy-in to this framework.  They do it and they do it well!

Sooooooooooooooooo, I said all of that to say, while Scrum is the best thing since sliced bread when it comes to providing tangibility in projects, what they don’t elaborate on is how difficult it is to evangelize and get buy-in.  Something you definitely need to think about if you’re going to be implementing Scrum into your world, is how you’ll convey it so that people will be on-board and willing to give it a shot!  The one thing I can suggest is to convince everyone to try it.  If you can get a scrum team and a project, take requirements and break it down into user stories, hold ceremonies and use artifacts, I am certain that this will have a positive outcome with peers (and upper management).   Another suggestion is to read Mike Cohn’s Succeeding With Agile: Software Development Using Scrum.  This book gives great suggestions on implementing scrum into a new environment. 

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