I Thinks It's More Than Mere Content
Finding the right training class in the jungle of scrum options is an overwhelming feat within itself. The first step the student has is deciding which Scrum class they want to take and making sure it aligns with their professional and personal calendars. If they’re paying for it out of pocket, they are probably trying to find the best priced class. If they’re the buyer for an organization, they may be looking for even deeper discounts to help stretch their yearly department budget.
All things being equal - class picked, financials met, schedules aligned. What makes or breaks a great training?
“What are the Ingredients for great delivery - could it be in the way you combine the ingredients”
Delivery determines the wealth of experience the student will have and the recommendations a trainer will subsequently receive.
Engagement is not just about the student choosing to stay engaged in the class, it’s also about the trainer engaging the class.
Let’s break it down - How many times have you attended a class and found yourself transformed into a bobble head. You know the ones - those mini toys where the head just keep bobbing up and down? Yep hands in the air we have all been there! It looks a lot like this:
Trainer - maintains a monotone voice
Trainer - has no humor (not even bad humor)
Trainer - makes no connection with students
Trainer - lacks personality
Trainer - could be replaced by a robot and no one would know the difference….
I can hear some trainers objecting now: “Hold on, hold on, hold on! Training is about content - it’s about transferring knowledge to the students so they can pass an exam, or meet the governing body’s set of criteria. As long as I have got them to that point, I have done my job as trainer.”
Errh … No! Wrong answer and please, bad trainer, will you sit down.
So let’s address Content. Content for every Scrum trainer is laid out by the Scrum Alliance in a standardized lists of learning objectives. These learning objectives serve as the goal posts that trainers have to meet with regard to the content of each class. If trainers can’t meet these basics, they can’t be a trainer for the Scrum Alliance - pure and simple.
Delivery methods however are not prescribed, because Scrum is not about telling you how to do things. Instead, Scrum promotes being self-organized to meet the what with your own how. The desire, however, is that the ‘how’ is colorful and that every lesson is an emerging empirical journey that adapts and improves based on feedback from students and participants.
Now, let’s look at the ‘What’. What makes up a great Scrum Class - whether it be a Certified Scrum Master, or Certified Product Owner class or Scrum continuing advancing class? Great would be defined as the students loved it and would choose to train with that trainer again and again and again. Students leave a great class engaged and having gained enough Scrum knowledge to begin the Scrum journey.
The Definition Of DONE
Definition of Done for a great scrum training might look like this:
Trainer would have recent real world scrum implementation experience to share with participants
Trainer would have a great sense of humor that they could call upon to help the class stay fun even after a big lunch
Trainer would have a dynamic personality that would keep students engaged
Trainer would be a great facilitator so they could work around awkward moments and interesting student personalities
Trainer would introduce hands on activities to drive home ideas and teach techniques
Sounds like a lively, engaging class - wouldn’t you agree?
As a trainer, finding a groove that will have everyone dancing or at the very least tapping their foot (even if it’s under the table) is a challenge. It requires commitment to the process of continuous improvement. However, note that continuous improvement is moot without the input gathered from feedback. Now, feedback is often colored by people’s opinions and preferences especially when it comes to training. However, you have to have the courage to take feedback, regardless of how it’s delivered, while remaining open. Sometimes it’s difficult not to take things personally but openness is the pathway to transparency! Respecting your participant’s desire to have a great training experience is the only way you can really hear the essence of what is being said. Hearing in an open, non-personal, non-affected fashion is the only way you can take in the data from the inspections to allow you the necessary room to innovate. When the creative juices of innovation begin to flow, it allows adaptions to be a joy and then continual improvement becomes organic and recurring . The ‘How’ is never easy - it takes commitment but it is doable.
If you were on this journey of ‘How’, these might be some of things you would focus on to achieve great training delivery:
Creating engaging slides that stir conversations
Collating stories from your experience library that can be used to personalize scrum content
Creating activities that teach Scrum in a tactile way while creating muscle memory
Including great youtube snippets that relate and repeat course subject matter
Watching trainers and conference speakers and observing how they engage groups
Finding workshops that allow you to learn new training delivery techniques
Finding a mentor who is a great facilitator and spending time learning from them
Finding a mentor who is an animated trainer and picking up tips that you can apply to your own training style
Reading about facilitation and team building activities
Running mini training sessions to test methods and techniques that you’ve learnt
Creating methods to collect transparent feedback from participants that allows anonymous collection
Holding Retrospective sessions within the sessions so that you can gather realtime feedback that allows you adjust what your doing.
Pause for Reflection…1……..2……..3…..…4………5………6………. Ok
Let’s draw from an Agile practice called User Stories. This tool was made popular Mike Cohn but it’s actually borrowed from Extreme Programming. What would a typical student say?
As a participant, I want to go a Scrum class that teaches me a whole lot, without draining slides and suffering through death by powerpoint, or enduring a trainer that puts me to sleep, so that I can actually enjoy the 2 long days I have to spend in the class.
It’s not easy but doable and if training Scrum is your thing remember that, as a trainer, you want every class you deliver to be a great one!
Delivering a great training experience takes more than content expertise and industry experience. It requires a love of people, a passion for Scrum, a life-long commitment to exploring each and every critique while fostering tenacious inclinations coupled with the willingness to allow your vulnerability to shine through. Throw in a sprinkle of flair and a dash of humor while expressing yourself and you’re well on your way to delivering that GREAT experience for you and your students.