A Newbie’s Experience Serving on the North American Scrum Gathering (NAGT)

Written by By Erika Flora,  CSP®-SM, CSP®-PO
February 2018

Erika_SGAUS19.jpgI stumbled across the picture of a giant Scrum board while scanning the Scrum Alliance® website. It was from the North American Gathering Team NAGT planning session for Global SCRUM GATHERING® Austin (SGAUS19). I thought, “Wow, that looks really fun.”

I’ve helped with conference planning in the past, and using Scrum to plan an event of this magnitude sounded really intriguing. The NAGT webpage said they were looking for volunteers; and to apply, you had to submit a video as to why you were interested.

I thought, “Video? What an odd request for a volunteer position.” But I wanted to be a part of it, so after a few failed attempts, I came up with a creative video. A few short weeks later I received an email telling me I had been accepted. (Turns out: it was a pretty great idea to ask for videos.) Woo hoo!

Fast forward a few weeks. I boarded a plane to meet face-to-face with the NAGT team in Austin, Texas. I was a little nervous, as I didn’t know any of the team members and wasn’t sure what to expect. My nervousness quickly disappeared. This NAGT is made up of smart, generous, and funny folks. The all-day conference planning session was well thought-out, interactive, and a ton of fun.

We kicked off the day with an exercise to detail: what I can [do]; what I will [commit to doing]; what I need [from the team]; and a fun fact. This set the tone for a day of learning, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Plus, we had the chance to learn a little bit about each another. The team roster includes parents of both human and furry children, a karaoke fiend, and even a member of a pirate band! There was a heap of new information to digest, and the team welcomed any and all questions and ideas — even the really oddball ones.

We completed a lot of work during the day, including reviewing and refining themes for GLOBAL SCRUM GATHERING® Austin 2019. Side note: I’m thrilled about the two tracks I’ll be leading! At the end of the planning day, we did a quick retrospective exercise and assigned action items to complete prior to our next team meeting. It’s rare that a volunteer team comes together and accomplishes so much in such a short working session.

I’m a firm believer that great teams deliver great products. That said, this is going to be a pretty special Gathering. Plus, Austin is a very cool city, with amazing food, music, and “weirdness.” Seriously, where else can you go down a fun-house slide while enjoying a local beer and listening to a live band?

Final thought: If you haven’t already, mark your calendar for GLOBAL SCRUM GATHERING® Austin 2019, May 20-22, 2019. It’s gonna to be a wonderfully weird good time. Look for us at Global SCRUM GATHERING® Minneapolis, April 16-18!

Erika Flora

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