The challenging journey of becoming a PST
Yes, you read it right, it was really challenging for me, and may be other PSTs have the same or different experience. A couple of times I thought about quitting it but because of some or the other reasons I continued. This article is an attempt of sharing my journey, may be useful to you before you embark on it.
It all started in 2009-2010 when I was working in a manufacturing domain project for a US based client. The project was to migrate the entire shop-floor system built into FoxPro, PowerBuilder, Sybase etc. into .NET and SQL Server. The system was consisting of multiple small applications. We started migrating them one-by-one and none (or mostly) of the delivery was more than one calendar month. During that time, I experienced the Iterative and Incremental delivery without knowing anything about Agile, Scrum etc. We were mixing up a lot of traditional approach and practices within this new approach. I can still remember that our organization was going for CMMi assessment and how frustrating it was justifying our approach to the auditors.
In 2011, I joined another organization, they were launching a new product where the teams were distributed across multiple locations and were religiously following Scrum. Some of the strongest member of Scrum.org community were working along with the teams. I can remember – Rich Visotcky, Eric Weber, Pradeepa Narayanaswamy, Gary Pedretti, Andrew Saeman to name a few. All our team members in India went through the Scrum training – Professional Scrum Developer (PSD) conducted by Adam Cogan. I still think it as one of the best training so far, I have ever had, thanks to Adam Cogan and his team. Later on, I moved to Scrum Master role and attended the two days Professional Scrum Master (PSM) course conducted by Phani Bhushan. I worked as a Scrum Master for 4+ years and later on was asked to take up the role of Product Owner. I started looking for a Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) training but didn’t find any in India. I was really enjoying the new ways of working but with the change in leadership we started moving away from the Agile/Scrum way towards the more plan driven approach. I didn’t like it so I resigned from the organization.
I noticed that Agile coach, consultant and trainers were in demand as compared to the traditional management position. Some of my friends who were really good Scrum Masters had already been moved to the new role so I started exploring it. Since I was already a regular member of Scrum.org Forums so I started looking at how to become a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST).
There was a Train the Trainer class coming up in Bangalore, taught by Steve Porter. I applied for it and went through the review process with Daphne Harris. I read Scrum guide so many times that every single line was on the tip of my tongue. After getting the go-ahead from her, I attended the class. Since we were already doing a lot of it in our day-to-day work, the class went well. I met with some like-minded people – Benjamin Seidler, Jacob Creech, Nagesh Sharma to name a few of them. The evaluation process on third day went well and Steve gave me go ahead for the next step.
The next challenge was PSM III with a score of 95%. I made the attempt and was quite sure that I will be able to pass but may or may not get the required 95%. I scored 88%, not bad but not good enough to move to the next level. I received some really good feedback from Steve especially around using the Scrum framework terminology and the self-organization concepts. It was an “Inspection” and “Adaption” opportunity for me. I took time (2-3 months) to read all recommended books from Scrum.org. It was a difficult time, while in office or at home, the only thing which was going in my mind was about PSM III. I used to read everything related to Scrum especially the case studies and real-life scenarios. I used to correct people on the Scrum terminology being used by them in their project and the general response was “Does it really matter?” It does, without the new terminology you may not be able to feel the change Scrum is trying to bring to you. Sometimes I felt that I am on a mission to make Scrum the way of living life. Daphne was kind enough to give me another free attempt. I made the second attempt and was lucky enough to pass with 95%.
Now the biggest challenge, the peer review. I went ahead for the peer review immediately without much preparation. There were too many technical issues – my laptop didn’t work, I started using my phone, it fell down during the very first minutes. The audio and video quality were not so great. And my response to most of the questions was not good enough, as expected I didn’t get the go ahead. Again, it was an “Inspection” and “Adaption” opportunity for me, I reviewed the peer review recording and listened the feedback given by the review panel. It helped me in acknowledging that I have to understand the difference between coaching and training. I did really good as a coach but needed improvement in my teaching style. Daphne recommended me the book “Training from the Back of the Room” by Sharon L Bowman.
I met with Hiren Doshi, Nagesh Sharma, Naveen Kumar Singh, they gave me some tips and confidence. Looking at my past peer review experience, Steve recommended to do the next peer review in-person during the Agile India. I travelled to Bangalore and had the in-person session. It went well, I answered very well, at-least I thought so. Although it was better, it was not quite good enough yet and was recommend to do co-teaching with existing PSTs. There were not many courses happening in India so I was ready to go outside for co-teaching. Naveen and Nagesh came to rescue and I did co-teaching with them in their classes. It helped me in improving my teaching style, how to keep the students engaged, be concise while answering and most importantly understanding the Professionalism required to be a Scrum.org trainer. Based upon their feedback to Scrum.org, finally the much-awaited email from Daphne came, I was inducted in the PST community.
The journey has been started and I am enjoying it.
I am really thankful to everyone who helped and supported me during this journey, I may have missed some names but your contribution cannot be forgotten. I am happy to support people who would like to join the PST community.