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The Youngest CSM

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The Youngest CSM

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My seventeen-year-old son Ty recently participated in a two-day Certified ScrumMaster course. He is not a software developer, and has little interest in that craft. He is a high school student and a musician. Still, he enjoyed the training greatly and learned a lot. After he completed the course he —along with the other 15 participants— was awarded the CSM certificate. He is now more certified in Scrum than I am.

A few days after the course we were chatting about it, and after waxing lyrical about the trainer (Alan Cyment) Ty asked why I didn’t teach CSM any longer. I said it was a long story… and then went on to give a precis’d version, ending up with asking him if he now felt qualified to work as a ScrumMaster. Of course not, he replied, how ridiculous! Indeed.

No self-respecting developer or other professional really thinks the CSM has any true value beyond a certificate of attendance, I explained, it is the middle managers who write job descriptions, and the HR recruiters seeking “resources” that have made it so important.

Ty’s take on this was that Scrum trainers should offer a similar two-day course to these middle mangers and HR folk, to show them how foolish they are being. Nice idea. But who would show up? Managers are far too busy crafting detailed job descriptions, and recruiters too busy with making sure all the latest certification acronyms are entered in their filter systems.

Talking with Ty reminded me just how natural a way of working Scrum is. Ty is untainted by corporate America. He attends school, composes songs and plays in bands. This is just how I work naturally, he said (referring to his creative work), and expressed bafflement over the whole “waterfall” command-and-control thing that he had learned about. To him, it sounded like school.

For us old people who have been indoctrinated in Tayloresque and theory X management styles, who have had hierarchical, command-and-control, reward-and-punishment systems hammered into us for years, Scrum is no longer natural. So the teaching of Scrum is not a process of adding information, but rather removing it, stripping out all the nonsense we have accumulated so we can once again see the obvious simplicity of the ideas offered to us by the Scrum framework and principles. Self-organization, collaboration, trust, transparency, emergence… these are not new ideas, they are just forgotten ones.

Wouldn’t it be great if future generations didn’t have to go through that painful learning-just-to-unlearn process? I suggest that taking Scrum into schools will seed future generations with the right mindset for the new world of work which is emerging.

A growing number of organizations, such as World Blu, The Plexus Institute, Waking Up The Workplace, Heart of Business, TED, Holacracy1, The Agile Alliance, World Cafe and Open Space World (to name just a few) are guiding us towards a new future. This movement is too big to ignore, or write off as a fad.

Harnessing the way of working that kids and teenagers naturally practice could give the world of work just the tidal wave it needs to level the old mindset and prepare the ground for a new beginning.

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