Happy 2018 (and a personal Retrospective on 2017)

Tags: Scrum

Happy 2018 everyone! I wish you all a blessed year, both in your work and outside. The start of a new year is also a great moment for me to reflect on the year that has gone. What did it bring? What do I hope to take into the new year, and what do I prefer to leave behind?

P.s: this post doesn't tell you anything new about Scrum. It is not educational. But I'm putting it out there as a matter of openness. Maybe there's something you can relate to, or you can help with (or I can help you with).

Some of my highlights from 2017

  • I've had a lot of fun writing a book with Johannes Schartau about Zombie Scrum. Although the book isn't finished, it has helped us both to deepen our own knowledge of Scrum and find helpful metaphors and narratives to explain what can go wrong;
  • Working with Barry Overeem was awesome in general. We've spent a lot of time together this year, facilitating workshops and training and developing new ones. We've also had a lot of fun writing the series of blog posts on Scrum Myths and Liberating Structures. Being a freelancer can be lonely, but it's not if you find people you can connect with on a personal level. Barry is certainly one of those people. Aside from the personal connection, I've learned a lot from working and writing together. I'm looking forward to our continued collaboration in 2018;
  • I've had the pleasure of facilitating seven 'Professional Scrum Master'-courses with Barry Overeem. Using our own, unique brand of 'serious-but-fun' facilitation, we helped a lot of people get started as Scrum Master. Every training was different from the one before. Partially because of the groups, and partially because of our own drive to keep improving the material. I learned a lot from spending this much time teaching Scrum;
  • With Barry Overeem, I developed a 'Scrum Master Advanced'-course. It's easy to get stuck in 'analysis paralysis' when designing a new training, so we just decided to start with a 'minimum viable training' and move forward from there. Since then, we've facilitated three fully-booked courses. No training has been the same, as we've spent a lot of time refining the material and optimizing the flow of the training based on feedback and our own observations. As it stands, we have a pretty amazing course that helps Scrum Masters deepen their knowledge of Scrum and the practices that can help them and their teams;
  • I thoroughly enjoyed my coaching run at Studio Fonkel. Starting before the summer, I helped their team to grow in their autonomy from management. Not only was (and still is) this a great team to work with, it also helped me to find new methods and ways to make issues transparent, and help the team resolve them;
  • I had a lot of fun coaching teams from the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs, together with Gerard van Dieren from De Galan Groep. Although most of my work lies well inside of IT, I helped this team use a Scrum-like process to support an organizational redesign (STIP). Applying Scrum outside of IT always requires a strong focus on the principles, not the practices - a challenge that I really appreciate;
  • Every year brings so many experiences that its hard to choose the highlights. Every team I meet brings new challenges and new learning opportunities. Thanks for your trust in me, your willingness to take on Scrum (or something related) and for having me :) This includes the wonderful teams from SUPERP, VDMi, Kaarten Carrousel, Noun, het Kadaster, DTC Media, W3S, Care & Able, Budget Energy, Waterschap Aa & Maas, Go-Events, Matchcare, ProRail, Honestly and CNGRS;
  • I've met a lot of people that brought new things on my path, or that I learned a lot from in 2017. I'm thankful for having met them. This obviously includes Barry Overeem and Johannes Schartau, but I would also like to mention Max Brouwer, Gerard van Dieren, Chris de Jager, Hans van der Burgh, Floris van Woudenberg (and the whole team from Fonkel), Jurriaan Kamer and the various Scrum Masters that I've worked with this year (you know who you are);

What I learned in 2017 ...

  • That I can just 'go with the flow'. I learned to rely less on preparation, and more on being in the moment and reading the group;
  • That being a good facilitator is really at the very heart of a Scrum Master;
  • That saying 'No, thank you' is difficult :)
  • That being active as a software developer and having a pretty fully booked coaching agenda don't really work well together. I've decided to put software development on a slow burn (which sucks, to be honest - but you have to make choices);
  • That co-writing is a lot of fun;

What I hope to leave behind ...

So 2017 was a really good year! But everything can't be awesome, so there are also some things I would like to leave behind:

  • Filling up my entire agenda with coaching jobs, training, and workshops, making it hard to spend a sufficient amount of time on writing, relaxing and preparing new material;
  • I have a tendency to accommodate rather than confront, to work with what we're given rather than demanding what is needed. Although this often feels comfortable for clients and teams, I feel that I can be more effective if I am more confrontational about what is needed. One team, in particular, would've benefited from this;
  • On a more personal note; being bothered by feeling nervous and tense before every single workshops and training that I facilitate - to the point of having trouble sleeping. You'd think it would pass after hundreds of sessions, but it doesn't. Although I don't expect that the nervousness itself will fade - most of the professionals I meet feel nervous before sessions - I would like to relate to this tension in a more natural, healthy manner;

Coming up in 2018 ...

So whats up in 2018? A lot, actually:

  • I'm currently in the process of setting up a company with Barry Overeem. We've got a pretty cool concept and hope to make some big waves this year. We'll be spending a lot of time on writing, new workshops and material for Scrum Teams;
  • Barry Overeem and I will be facilitating our very first workshop on Liberating Structures, together with Fisher Qua and Keith McCandless. This is very exciting for us, as we've become big fans of Liberating Structures over the past years. As do a lot of other people, judging from the 50 people that have already signed up - which exceeds even our wildest dreams;
  • I hope to complete the book I'm writing with Johannes Schartau. The artwork is really amazing (thanks to Roald Schaap);
  • I hope to become a Professional Scrum Trainer for Scrum.org in 2018. I'm just putting this here so that everyone can remind me when I 'forget' investing the time and effort to get this done. Its been long overdue, anyway :)

Other than that, I'm all for seeing what 2018 puts on my path. You can't plan this kind of stuff anyways :)

Christiaan Verwijs
Christiaan Verwijs

Scrum Master, Trainer, Developer & founder of Agilistic