February 11, 2019

A Year of Professional Scrum with Kanban - Opportunity to Inspect and Adapt

The Professional Scrum with Kanban (PSK) class was launched a year ago - Feb 26 to be precise. We've done some inspection and adaptation throughout the year but this anniversary is a nice opportunity to reflect on where we are and where we're going. 

So what did we have in this inaugural year of Professional Scrum with Kanban at Scrum.org?

  • In this first year what Scrum.org and the class stewards (Daniel Vacanti and myself) have been focused on is introducing the Scrum with Kanban class to the market and creating a supporting ecosystem for it. We did this at conferences, meetups, Scrum.org Trainer F2F events, podcasts. We wrote blog posts and articles and even did a video or two for the Scrum.org Video Blog. 
  • We worked on establishing a worldwide network of trainers that could deliver a Professional Scrum with Kanban curriculum. We ran multiple train-the-trainer events and worked with Scrum.org PSTs to help bring them into the world of Kanban and flow. We were delighted to see how many of the PSTs have already been using Kanban and were anxious to start teaching a Scrum+Kanban curriculum from Scrum.org. We now have over 40 Scrum.org PSTs that are licensed to teach the class. 
  • We (as in the Scrum.org PSTs) trained more than 400 students all over the world. 
  • We created and nurtured an assessment to accompany the curriculum. The PSK1 assessment was launched back in April. 
  • We inspected and adapted the assessment based on feedback and actual performance. What we hear about the PSK1 these days is that it is "Tough but fair". We also made sure that the Kanban Guide for Scrum teams was complemented with some supporting materials in the form of blog posts and articles that can support Scrum practitioners in their learning/competency journey. We hear that these materials complement the assessment well. As usual in the Scrum.org world, it isn't mandatory to take a class in order to pass the assessment and we indeed see a constant flow of practitioners taking the assessment on its own. The pass rate is higher for those who take it after a PSK class understandably. 
  • We launched an open PSK assessment back in August to give people a taste for the assessment and the class. We've had more than a thousand people take the assessment so far (and many of them say it is pretty tough - we have a 53% pass rate)
  • We took in feedback and ran a couple of iterations of changes on the curriculum. We added/removed/changed exercises, visuals, flow. All in all, we closed 72 GitHub issues containing feedback about the class. (We currently have 42 issues in our Product Backlog. )

What have we learned? 

  • The PSK is valuable to all Scrum practitioners. It is especially valuable to Scrum Masters who are looking for ways to help the teams they're working with. We used this insight to hone some of our messaging and positioning over the year to make sure that Scrum Masters indeed see the PSK as a natural step in their learning/competence journey. 
  • Scrum trainers and practitioners are very excited about finding alternatives to Story Points, Velocity and Burndown charts. PSK is coming just at the right time with more and more Scrum practitioners realizing these aren't part of core Scrum anyhow, just complementary practices that work in some contexts. And in many contexts, the alternative of Throughput, Monte Carlo, counting small PBIs delivers better results. 
  • Learning about Kanban's principles actually reinforces your understanding of Scrum and what makes it tick. Talking about queueing theory, small batches, limiting work in process, continuous flow takes people through a journey of rediscovering some of the core Scrum concepts such as the Sprint Forecast and the Sprint itself. Personally, I just love it when I see people realizing how Scrum limits work in process when you do it right. 
  • The format works. Starting with a discussion about the risks of ignoring flow in Scrum, then introducing flow and Kanban, experiencing Kanban and then exploring the impact Kanban would have on the Scrum artifacts, events and roles is overall a good flow for the class. We're still playing with the order of some of the Scrum impact elements and we can definitely improve some of the exploration exercises but the overall story works. 
  • It's possible and important to build bridges and be open to other approaches. We've learned that it's possible to transcend the Agile methodology wars and that sometimes we look to the practitioners in the field like a rendition of Monty Python's "People's Front of Judea" skit. And building bridges isn't just about Scrum.org launching the PSK class. It's also about looking at ways to cross-pollinate between the different Scrum competency areas and therefore classes. Creating this organic links between the domains - e.g. by talking about Monte Carlo forecasting when discussing Release Planning and predictability/confidence/professionalism in a Scrum Master or Product Owner class is maybe even a more important bridge to build. 

What's next with the PSK

  • We will continue to fine tune the curriculum with the aim of optimizing the class experience and the outcomes students are able to achieve after it. 
  • We still have lots of work to do around educating Scrum practitioners and especially Scrum Masters about the value of Kanban and especially the value of doing Kanban professionally when trying to improve the professionalism of your Scrum team. 
  • We will work with the stewards of other Scrum.org classes on integrating key concepts from PSK into these classes where it makes sense. 
  • There are so many cool ideas for what to add to the PSK and how to change it. Many of these make more sense as ideas for a PSK2. We're not yet working on that one but we're seeing more and more demand for it, at least from the trainer community. This could give us the opportunity to dive deeper into topics such as whole value stream flow, DevOps/CD, Scaling, adding Scrum to a Kanban context and more.