July 16, 2015

Scrum Alliance Coaches Retreat – Seattle 2015

Written by Jannette Brace

Last month I had the opportunity to attend my first ever Coaches Retreat. The retreat was made up of about 80 participants. Preparation for the retreat started months in advance, even for us participants. First we were requested to send in an introduction poster. Second, we were asked to suggest topics for the retreats. As I had never been to a retreat like this before, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. So I thought I’d share my experience of the event.

One of the first things we did after the retreat got going was to form teams around topics. There were plenty to choose from, after all the customers (us attendees) had sent them in. We “self-organized” in teams around topics we were passionate about. I became part of a team organized around the topic of Virtual Teams. Next we set off to plan for three 180 minute sprints. Our team was awesome. We picked a team name; stormed a little, formed a little… We created a vision, a backlog, and committed to sprint 1. Of course we did all the ceremonies for each sprint. Each team’s sprint review was in front of the entire group which provided an opportunity for feedback from customers!

Three days of working with peers from near and far led to each team providing a “product” related to their selected topic in 180 minutes. Wow, what an experience! What a result!

My experience of the retreat was not only a learning experience, but a growing experience. I experienced true team self-organization, and boy was it cool. Within my team, I learned that utilizing Scrum Values (Focus, Courage, Openness, Commitment, and Respect) are as important as the Principles and Manifesto. As our team went through storming to norming, we demonstrated these values. We talked about the work ahead of us, and how we were feeling. Yes, feeling! Our volunteer Scrum Master wasn’t sure she was in the right role; I wasn’t sure I was with the right team. I felt that our team more than any other practiced what we preach as ScrumMasters, Coaches and Trainers. I credit each one of us with following Scrum Values to get through storming quickly. In seeing everything the other teams delivered I gained a set of tools I can utilize anytime. I grew in my sense of belonging to the Agile community, and pushed through my fear and lack of control by exhibiting Scrum Values, and being engaged with my team. The retreat was an opportunity for me to continue a journey of learning and growing, all while making new friends.

Here’s to Team Dysfunction!

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