A small group of Certified Scrum Coaches were on a conference call recently, our voices travelling among continents through the digital magic of the Internet. One coach lamented the lack of having another coach to talk to on the job. Convincing organizations to bring in one coach for a short time is tough enough; it's a really hard sell to get a client to pay for two coaches. So in most cases we're on our own, unless we're part of internal coaching team. On the call, we noted the irony of our situation: coaches advocate collaboration among all of the roles in an organization, but we often have no peers to collaborate with ourselves. That is one reason that we launched the Certified Scrum Coach program.
While it is true that we have a collaborative relationship with our clients – Scrum teams, ScrumMasters, Product Owners, executives – that communication usually centers on their activities. What we coaches often wish for is to have another coach on site to be a second set of eyes and ears. I have had the chance to co-coach on a few occasions and it is a really great opportunity to learn. Once, another CSC invited me to a team Q&A at his company where we were able to enhance each others answers and observe each other’s styles. I have also had the chance to watch fellow coaches do training and vice versa, then compare notes. Student feedback is one thing. Peer review is something else entirely. We all know the value of peer review on a Scrum team. Wouldn’t it be nice for other Scrum Practitioners to get peer feedback, too? And how about Pair Coaching? Wouldn’t it be great to work side-by-side with someone who does what you do but has a different history to draw from?
At this point in history, there is a lot of knowledge in the world about the Scrum framework. How can we all tap in to that knowledge in an interactive way and gain some of the great benefits that collocated teams get from daily collaboration? We know that remote communication is not as powerful as face-to-face communication, but it is far better than no communication at all. There are many opportunities to connect with other Certified Scrum Coaches, Trainers, and Practitioners to compare notes, try out ideas and obtain some of the benefits that come from multiple viewpoints and active conversation.
The Certified Scrum Trainers have an email discussion group that has been active for some time. They also get together regularly for retreats. Many of them make it a point to train in pairs. They seem to have it figured out the collaboration angle. The Certified Scrum Coach community is still fairly small. As it enters its second year of existence, there are 13 of us. Membership is growing at a healthy pace. CSCs are spread across the globe so we communicate through email, discussion groups, Skype and IM as you might expect. We also make it a point to announce when we are in each other’s home territories. That is how I got to co-coach with a mate in Melbourne. Consider some of the following options as well:
- As the CSC Program Committee works through this year’s release of the program, we have a story in our backlog (and encouragement from the Scrum Alliance) to plan retreats ala the CSTs, a chance for all of us to get together in person. The first one will be in Orlando this March, jointly with the CSTs.
- This Summer I attended the Agile Coach Camp in Ann Arbor. Of the 55 people still there for the closing ceremony, 29 were CSMs. Most were doing some sort of agile coaching. This open space event was a great chance to compare notes with peers and build up a network. I still communicate with many of the people I met there via email and Twitter. This year’s Agile Coach Camp is in the planning stage. Watch http://www.agilecoachcamp.org.
- There is an Agile Coaching discussion group on LinkedIn. It gets used for any number of purposes including discussion. We CSCs are committed to keeping active in the greater Agile Coaching community and try to keep up with the chatter there.
- There is a discussion group for Scrum Practitioners on LinkedIn.
- The discussion group on Yahoo! is the original Scrum online collaboration space. If you have not “been there”, visit at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scrumdevelopment/.
- And, of course, check to see if there is a Scrum User Group in your area.
- If you work in an organization that is seeing a lot of agile activity in scattered areas, consider forming an internal Community of Practice for Scrum.
There is nothing quite like being there when it comes to collaboration. But as you can see there are many opportunities for our greater Scrum community and the various peer groups to communicate and, when the stars align, even get together in person. You may have to do it virtually but you don’t have to do it alone!