Sean Still is a Certified ScrumMaster at ALLATA in Elk Grove, California and actively pursuing his Certified Scrum Professional credentials with the eventual goal of earning his coaching certification. He was first introduced to Agile / Scrum in 2011 when joining a development team named Wuji as a team member and subject matter expert. This experience left a deep seeded lasting impression of the benefits and amazing potential of Agile. After team Wuji was disbanded Sean spent a short time serving as a team member and subject matter expert on two other development Agile / Scrum teams. These teams were not doing Agile / Scrum well and left another deep seeded and lasting impression. After this development effort ended he went back to his previous job within the company as a traditional waterfall style team manager but was left yearning to get back into the Agile world.
In early 2013 the decision was made to get back into the Agile world permanently by becoming a Certified ScrumMaster, certification was earned first week of April 2013. Sean waited a little over a year for the opportunity at ALLDATA to move into the ScrumMaster role permanently and once there hit the ground running and has not looked back.
Team Wuji was formed in December 2011 with the goal of developing a new data processing method at ALLATA. Sean was brought onto the team as a Team Member and Subject Matter Expert and had no previous exposure to Agile. The ScrumMaster for Wuji was a well-seasoned veteran, fantastic Agile ambassador and a very good teacher. The rest of the team including the PO all had worked very closely together previously in the same department but most team members had little if any exposure to Agile. The ScrumMaster was a true servant leader and let the team succeed, fail, grow and mature organically in a safe environment. Because of this approach the team grew fast into a high functioning team and was able to achieve some amazing results. The team was later internationally recognized for some of the techniques used by the ScrumMaster. This amazing experience is what planted the Agile seed, allowed Sean to grasp the amazing potential of Agile when it is done well and understand the positive impact of a good ScrumMaster.
Directly after team Wuji was disbanded in November 2012 Sean moved to teams Yin and Yang in the same roles. This was a polar opposite experience for him. The teams were not cohesive, trust was low, team engagement was low and the ScrumMasters had poor servant leader skills. This left the second lasting impression on Sean, being the pain and dysfunction when Agile is done poorly.
While Sean was breaking ties with teams Yin and Yang in March / April 2013 he attended the Certified Scrum Master training and in early April received his certification. Upon breaking ties with Yin and Yang he went back to his original role in the company as a Senior Editor.
July 2014 Sean was given the opportunity to move into a full time ScrumMaster role. Initially Sean was given two teams to start an Agile transition with. He was very familiar with both of these teams having come from one team and worked very closely with the other. About six weeks was spent preparing for the transition then suddenly it was cancelled. This taught Sean another valuable lesson and that is with Agile comes transparency and transparency scares some people.
In September 2014 Sean was given two teams to run, Shared Technologies and Quote. Shared Technologies was an established mature team so sliding into that team was fairly easy. He adapted to their rhythm and method in order to reduce the transition impact in moving from one ScrumMaster to another. After a short time Sean recognized that because of the size and two distinct directions the team was going that the team probably needed to be split. In the team’s retrospective the idea was floated and the team had the same thoughts so the team was split and the Production Editorial Tools team was created giving Sean 3 teams at the time to serve. He continues to serve Shared Technologies and Production Editorial Tools teams to this day. The third team called Quote on the other hand was a tremendous challenge. The team started with unclear goals and because of this the team was given two Product Owners. As expected this quickly led to problems for the team members. Sean worked with the two Product Owners to establish clear goals and a clear division line that between them would satisfy their needs as well as satisfy the needs of the team. This worked well for a while but sadly the stronger and more senior of the Product Owners got sick and had to take a leave of absence. This unfortunate turn of events left the Quote team with a weak Product Owner that did not understand Agile and was making no effort to learn it. The team started having regular conflicts with the PO. Sean did his best to manage this conflict but eventually had to recommend that major changes in the team be made which soon after was made. The Quote effort was absorbed into mature team with a strong PO to company and team members benefit.
In February 2016 a great opportunity was presented that Sean seized. The Director of the Marketing department at ALLDATA was looking to adopt Agile. To begin the transition effort he shadowed the group for two weeks to understand the team’s needs, existing process, roles, pain points, etc. With this information he developed a transition plan with the Director and selected ScrumBan as the best Agile methodology fit based on it needs for the department. The transition effort started with a one day training session where the Agile methodology, mindset and framework were taught. Additionally the group created artifacts such as roles and responsibilities, working agreements, definition of done, definition of ready and a few others. The following day the team launched its Agile transition using a physical Kanban board. The physical Kanban board was an important choice because it afforded the group a safe environment to make mistakes and learn from them. The physical board also allowed Sean to monitor and modify the board and “Wips” to best suit the needs of the team. Once the methodology stabilized the board was smoothly migrated onto a virtual board using Jira. Each daily standup from the start of the transition starts with a short, 2-3 minute coaching point. These small coaching points and consistent messaging moved the team quickly into best practices. As I am writing this the transition is still very young and exceeding expectations but several important lessons have been learned. First, an Agile methodology can easily be applied to a non-technical group. Second, a creative minded group needs a slightly different approach, they see things and look at things a little different then technically minded people. Third, while the team has embraced the mechanics of the Agile methodology they are struggling with adopting the Agile mindset, meaning that Agile is easy to do but being Agile is challenging.
Outside of the Agile world Sean enjoys anything related to aviation, loves history, races BMX with his son and has coached completive soccer for 15 years. Sean has also served as Vice President for Rancho Cordova Girls Softball and board member for the Rancho Cordova 4th of July event.
February 2016 - Present, Elk Grove, California, United States
Serving as an Agile Transition Coach and ScrumMaster for the Marketing department. Training the department on the Agile mindset and methodology. I also created, oversaw and maintained all Agile ceremonies and artifacts.
January 2015 - Present, Elk Grove, California, United States
Serving as a ScrumMaster for the Production Editorial Tools team. Oversee and maintain all Agile ceremonies and artifacts.
July 2014 - Present, Elk Grove, California, United States
Served as a ScrumMaster for the Shared Technologies team. Oversaw and maintained all Agile ceremonies and artifacts.
ALLDATA, Scrum Master
September 2014 - March 2015, Elk Grove, California, United States
Served as a Scrum Master for the Market/Quote team. Oversaw and maintained all Agile ceremonies and artifacts.
ALLDATA, Team Member
December 2012 - April 2013, Elk Grove, California, United States
Worked as a team member and subject matter expert on teams Yin and Yang in the further development of the data publishing system created by team Wuji.
ALLDATA, Team Member
December 2011 - November 2012, Elk Grove, California, United States
Worked as a team member and subject matter expert on team Wuji. The purpose of the team was to develop a new data publishing process.