I am a CST now.

What does that mean exactly?

Well, I feel like I have run through a gauntlet of initiation and have made it.  I have withstood the “baptism of fire” by facing my peers, etcetera and so forth and so on…

In reality, not much changed from Saturday, May 4th, 2013 at 13:30 when I was finishing up a 6 mile hike in Red Rock Canyon to Saturday, May 4th, 2013 at 19:30 when the TAC let me know that I had made the cut.  I continue to seek feedback from others.  I continue to look for the best way that I can convey Scrum concepts to people, coach them, etc.  I can now let the Scrum Alliance know that people are eligible to take the CSM exam or that they have successfully survived the two days in my CSPO class.

What else has changed?

At first, I felt really relieved.  Not just because it was something that I didn’t have to face anymore but that I don’t have to wait to exhale anymore.  See, to my discredit and shame, I have opinions that I have been holding back.  I have feared that if I say the wrong thing the wrong people would get pissed off and I wouldn’t make it to CST.  I know, it’s totally anti-Agile, right?  Truth is though, the process for becoming a CST is woefully subjective still.

Ultimately, my opinions don’t really matter much anyway.  When I get to a client, if they want to call what they are doing “Agile” or “Scrum” or “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, I really don’t care.  What I do care about is that they have an idea in mind of why they want to change, what they are trying to accomplish, how they can serve their customers and employees better, and whether they are open to REALLY changing things or not.  Sure, let’s try Scrum first.  I have seen that work the way it is supposed to.  I have also seen it become like a horribly inedible stew because there has been too much tweaking of the ingredients.  In fact I use the cooking analogy sometimes:  ”We eat ‘spaghetti’ here, but we don’t use noodles, we use rice.  Oh, and we don’t have tomatoes in our sauce, we use plantains.  Oregano, basil, garlic?  Not in our spaghetti.  We use chocolate, coconut, cinnamon.”  So, how is that “spaghetti”??

My opinion on SAFe:  Sure, whatever.  If it gets me in the door at a client so that we can have additional conversations, I am all for it.  There are some elements that can be carved out of the overall process that seem to resemble Scrum, Kanban, etc. and those make sense.

I was at NAVTEQ when Leffingwell was working with us to do “release train” planning.  It provided some vocabulary and terms that the executives liked to hear and an excuse to fly everyone in from Chicago to Malvern to actually COMMUNICATE.  Seriously.  They paid this man a LOT of money to tell them what my colleagues and I had been saying for 9 months.  It was sort of frustrating at the time.  Now, it’s just funny.  Next time, I will charge my clients 3x as much and maybe they will listen…

At any rate, I am still going to work with my clients to the best of my abilities and if there comes a time when I feel I can’t help them, I will tell them.  I am not in this game to trick anyone.  I genuinely want to see people get better at what they do.  I want to see organizations more happy about their employees and vice versa.  I want to see customers really excited about products.  I want to see us make a difference in people’s lives somehow and improve the overall quality of life for the whole world.  I haven’t figure out how to do that yet.  But it’s my vision for what this Agile stuff means in the bigger picture.

Moving forward, I am making a commitment to express more honest opinions about Scrum and Agile in general in stead of fearing that someone won’t like what I have to say.