Making the Transition from Project Manager to ScrumMaster – A Mom’s Story

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Today started at the California Memorial Stadium, University of California Berkeley with a welcome address for the incoming class of 2019. As a Mom, I sat there with tears in my eyes beside my teenager who was glowing from ear to ear as the band played and everyone chanted “Go Bears!” She looked at me and said, “These are my people!”

From young girl to grown woman
As she grows

As I sit outside lecture halls while she listens to sessions on life at Berkeley, it allows me to reflect on my changing role as a Mom over the past 17 years. Early on, my time was very much that of a Project Manager, arranging schedules and who needs to do what and when. The last year however has seen my role transition to that of ScrumMaster, I’m here to clear roadblocks and facilitate her college decision, I am no longer there to drive the decision!

Nothing highlighted this role transition more than visiting her top 2 school choices this week and last. Wearing my ScrumMaster hat, I had asked what would help her make the decision, she decided she needed to visit both Cornell and Berkeley.

So I booked various flights, hotels and rental cars and we set off to visit Cornell University in Ithaca. It was there that I suddenly realized our roles had changed and that I was here to be chauffeur and facilitator. All the decisions on sessions to attend, where to visit were all being driven by my daughter. I was a sounding board for her working through her pros and cons but I didn’t influence her one way or another, that’s not my role anymore. I’m here to facilitate her making the best decision for herself.

She’s worked through her decision and we find ourselves at Berkeley this weekend where she has decided to spend her next 4 years.

Go Bears!  😀

Kate Megaw

  Kate Megaw – CST, PMP

  Live Agile!!

Join us in learning to use the principles of Agile in our daily lives!

I Just Broke The Number 1 Business Rule… Shhh, please don’t tell anyone

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Brian's Business cards
Brian’s Business cards

Today I threw away my business card collection (Ok, actually I recycled it). I know you are dying to hear why I would commit such a huge business mistake. Here is the whole story…

I have to admit that when it comes to some collections I am a hoarder. I keep:

  • Crossfit t-shirts
  • Love notes from my wife
  • Business cards

Yes, you heard me right… I hoard business cards. There I admit it!!! Ever since I graduated college I have kept every business card that I have ever received. They sit in a nice box and I can only assume I have well over 1,000 cards in my collection.

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. With all the new buds on the trees and birds chirping again, I can’t help but get in the mood to clean and renew my life. That explains why I found my hands on my business card collection. I decided for the first time in over decade to go through the entire box and sort it. Picking up a random set of cards I started to quickly notice a pattern, most all the cards in my hand were for people who had changed jobs. Also, it was taking longer than I thought to go through them all. So, in a moment of clarity I decided to through the entire collection into the recycling bin.

I know you are thinking that I am out of my mind, here is why I made the decision:

  • I already work hard to maintain the most important business relationships. These individuals hear from me on a regular basis and I have their contact info in Outlook and on my iPhone.
  • Many of the cards were outdated – Business cards are static, they don’t change. Keeping a card for someone who no longer works for the same company is pointless since their contact info is no longer relevant.
  • We now have digital business cards – I have been using LinkedIn since it got started many years ago. As of this writing I have 1,562 connections. These connections will never go out of date because you update your profile when you change jobs.

Do you have the courage to join me in recycling your business card collection? Please tell your story in the comments section below…

Braintrust’s New Guaranteed to Run Program

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BTCG Guaranteed Class Badge-Web-01
Ever signed up for a class, make travel arrangements, and then at the last minute gotten a call saying that the class is cancelled due to low enrollment? Talk about being pissed off. We hate when this happens! The personal impact of a cancelled class includes:

  • Not getting the necessary training that you need in the time you need it
  • The cost of re-booking your travel
  • Having to re-arrange your schedule

In an industry where it is commonplace for training classes to be cancelled or rescheduled, Braintrust has decided to make a deeper commitment to our clients. We realize it takes a major commitment to schedule the necessary time to come to one of our classes and we take that very seriously. And so, we created this new guaranteed to run program to eliminate the uncertainty and possibility of cancelations. We appreciate each of our attendees and want to show our dedication by having classes that are guaranteed to run, no matter what.

When the guaranteed to run seal of approval is seen next to a class, you can write it in ink in your calendar. Even if it’s just you and the instructor, you can be 100% certain the class you registered for is going to take place on the date scheduled. The guaranteed to run seal of approval lets you book your Braintrust class with confidence.

We sat down with Braintrust President, Brian Rabon, to learn more about why he championed the new guaranteed to run program.

Why did you decide to create the guaranteed to run classes?

Brian: Braintrust has always put our clients first and we value input from each of them. One of the suggestions we hear a lot is the idea that classes need to be guaranteed. We take those comments to heart and we realize that classes being rescheduled or cancelled are a major inconvenience. In a continued effort to serve our clients better, we created the guaranteed to run program, which means clients can book without fear of cancelation. In some cases that may mean that Braintrust will run a class with only one or two attendees in the classroom. That’s okay with us, because every student is our top priority and we will honor our guarantee.

Are all Braintrust classes guaranteed?

Brian: Our long term goal is to guarantee as many of our classes as we can. Currently, we are testing the model by guaranteeing select classes in beta markets. You can tell which classes are guaranteed by looking for the guaranteed to run seal with our favorite Braintrust pig giving the thumbs up.

BTCG Guaranteed Class Seal Only-Web-01

Braintrust President Brian Rabon Featured in New Issue of Better Software

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Better Software CoverAs the President of The Braintrust Consulting Group and as a Project Management Futurist, Brian Rabon is a leading expert on Agile. This month, he loaned his expertise to Better Software Magazine by writing an article entitled “Being Agile, Even If My Organization Isn’t”.

In this article, Brian takes a closer look at what it truly means to be agile and explores the concept of personal agility. As part of his examination of personal agility, Brian explains the seven facets of achieving personal agility and provides a list of questions to ask yourself in a personal retrospective.

Regardless of whether agile is being adopted at your workplace, Brian points out that you can become more agile yourself. By conducting frequent personal retrospectives you can fuel your personal and career growth. You can form meaningful relationships with coworkers in order to focus on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. And you can learn to work at the right times in order to be most productive.

Click here to read the full article. 


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Sharon Bowman

If you have attended one of our Braintrust training classes, then you know we do things a little differently. We build paper airplanes, we design board games, and we even make fruit salads in classes. We do these fun, interactive learning activities because we use  Sharon Bowman’s techniques for teaching from the back of the room.

After receiving requests from other trainers as well as class attendees, we are proud to announce that Braintrust Consulting Group is bringing Sharon and her training techniques to Nashville for two special classes. These classes are limited in size, and we expect the demand to be high, so make your reservations early!


Two Day Train the Trainer Program:


Jan 12-13, 2015 – Nashville

Take your training skills to a more advanced level as you discover how the human brain really learns which is very different from traditional assumptions about learning. Explore the most current “cognitive neuroscience” about effective instruction – how the brain takes in, stores, retrieves and uses knowledge. Discover six powerful learning principles based on the best of brain science, then apply these principles every time you train, teach, or coach others.

This training is relevant to anyone who trains, teaches, or facilitates learning, whether in corporate, business, or educational settings. The training strategies you will learn can also be applied to computer-based instruction, as well as classroom learning environments. If you are an Agile coach or Scrum trainer, you will be especially pleased to discover how to combine Agile/Scrum concepts with collaborative learner-engagement.

Click here for full class details.


One Day Trainer Certification Class:


Jan 14, 2015 – Nashville

This 1-day trainer certification course is designed to give you the professional training skills you need to present Sharon Bowman’s 2-day train-the-trainer program “Training from the BACK of the Room.” Along with individualized instruction, guided practice, instructor and peer coaching and feedback, you will receive a complete facilitator’s guide and slide set for the 2-day train-the-trainer workshop. Plus, you’ll receive a year of free coaching from Sharon to help polish your “Training from the BACK of the Room” presentation skills.

This exciting 1-day certification course is being offered for the second time in the United States and registration is limited to 20 participants. Upon the successful completion of this course, you will be licensed to deliver “Training from the BACK of the Room” to your own clients, customers, company, and country.

You will join an exceptional group of global trainers when you become a Certified Trainer for “Training from the BACK of the Room!”

Click here for full class details.

These classes are limited in size, and we expect the demand to be high, so make your reservations early!

Roles in Scrum – Attitudes & Traits

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Most people who have heard of Scrum will know the roles involved, at a minimum.  However, they may not know the attitudes and traits that are important for the roles.  This

The Scrum Team
It’s a team effort

article is an excerpt from the book, “Scrum for the Rest of Us,” by Brian Rabon that will define some of the attitudes and traits that great Scrum practitioners have.


If one sentence were used to sum up the duties of the ScrumMaster, it is that they facilitate the Scrum process as a Servant Leader (someone who leads by first taking care of others’ needs).  A ScrumMaster works hand-in-hand with the Product Owner to act as an Information Radiator to the Stakeholders and clears Roadblocks out of the Team’s way.

Key Attitude

“I don’t succeed unless the Team succeeds. My mission in life is to grease the wheels and ensure that everyone is playing nice and that the process is running smoothly.” – ScrumMaster

Traits of an Effective ScrumMaster
  • Humble with no need to take credit for the Team’s work. They get all their satisfaction from seeing the team succeed
  • Servant Leader who puts the needs of the Team ahead of his/her own, and is willing to do what it takes to help the team succeed
  • Diligently pursues any obstacle blocking the Team’s progress and will not stop until the obstacle is removed
  • Advocates for the Team, Product Owner, and the Scrum process throughout the organization
  • Loyal to the Team, the Product, and the Organization

Product Owner

The Product Owner has strategic oversight of the Return on Investment (ROI) for the Product.  They are involved in Product Planning through Visioning, Road-Mapping, and Release Planning.  In general, the Product Owner works with Stakeholders and project sponsors to perform strategic planning.

The Product Owner is also responsible for the Product Backlog.  They own it, maintain it, and prioritize it (Note: Some say that the Product Backlog is Ordered, not Prioritized). They always assure that the needs of the Stakeholders are being best presented to the Team for implementation within the Sprints.

Key Attitude

“I own this Product and I want to see it succeed.  I will only ask the Team to build what has Business Value and an ROI for my organization.  I am a consensus builder, and I love marketing and selling the value of what the Team has accomplished.” – Product Owner

Traits of an Effective Product Owner
  • Loves to communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Able to see the big picture
  • Adept and nimble at navigating the political waters
  • Holds admiration and respect from the key Stakeholders (Don’t worry: this takes time to develop)
  • Has a passion for the Product and markets and sells it to everyone
  • Willing to make decisions at the last responsible moment
  • Likes to spend time with the Team and answer their questions
  • Not afraid to get into the weeds from time-to-time

Team Member

Think of the Team Member as someone who does the work of developing the Product. A Team is ideally comprised of 5 to 9 members (7 +/- 2).  The three primary characteristics of the Team are that they are Cross-Functional – diverse skill sets on the Team, Self-Orgaznizing – everyone decides what type of work they would like to do, and Self-Managing – they decide their own tasks and the order in which to accomplish them.

Key Attitude

“I do my work, and I do it well, but my race isn’t won until all my fellow Team Members cross the finish line with me.  We win as a Team. I check my title (as well as my ego) at the door; I am willing to do whatever it takes to help the Team succeed, even if that means working outside my area of expertise or comfort zone.” – Team Member

Traits of an Effective Team Member
  • “T-Shaped” person: someone who has deep knowledge in one or two areas, but is also skilled across multiple domains (a Specializing Generalist)
  • Craftsperson who is a career professional and takes pride in doing quality work
  • Team player who enjoys the camaraderie of working with others on challenging problems
  • An open individual who is willing to share the honest truth (the good, bad, and the ugly) of how they are doing at all times
  • Someone who isn’t afraid to ask for help when they need it.

We realize that it is often difficult to find all of the traits in a single person.  These traits can be learned and should be considered a “model” for excellence.  Are there other traits that you specifically look for in the roles in your Scrum teams?  We would love to hear about them.

Braintrust’s own Kate Megaw just became a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST)!

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Kate Megaw
Kate Megaw, CST, PMP


Braintrust Consulting Group is proud to announce that Kate Megaw, our COO, has been officially awarded the Certified Scrum Trainer® designation by the Scrum Alliance.

Earning this certification now means that Kate can now help others transform their complex projects with greater innovation and efficiency through the use of Scrum. Because Kate also holds the CSM and CSPO certifications through the Scrum Alliance, she can now teach Certified ScrumMaster and Certified Scrum Product Owner classes.

For those of you who don’t know a lot about the CST® designation, it is an extremely rigorous process that takes several years to complete. Kate has been working toward this goal since 2012.

In order to be considered for CST® certification, an individual must:

  • Demonstrate a deep knowledge and understanding of Scrum concepts, practices, and principles.
  • Hold an active Certified Scrum Professional designation from Scrum Alliance.
  • Have extensive experience implementing Scrum inside organizations as a member of the team, as the Product Owner or ScrumMaster, or as a mentor.
  • Have taught Scrum (to a minimum of 100 students) in a noncertified context or in partnership with a current CST.

The application process alone requires five letters of recommendations from existing CSTs, based on co-training with them.

We took a few minutes to ask Kate about the process and here’s what she had to say:

Q: What made you decide to pursue your CST® certification?

Kate: Over the last five years, I have worked with companies all over the United States as a Scrum Coach and taught non-certified classes such as Scrum Essentials, Kanban Essentials, and User Story Workshop. I’ve seen the benefits of the Agile/Scrum framework first hand. I believe in the methodology. I believe it is the most effective way to get work done. So for me, becoming a CST® was the next logical step.

Q: How hard was the process?

Kate: Overall the process was definitely rigorous. But I can confidently say the Scrum Alliance has built a great program for earning the CST® certification. It takes a ton of work, but there is a reason for everything that they require. The challenging process is the best way to ensure that only the highest quality, most dedicated professionals carry the CST® certification.

Q: What was the most rewarding part of the process?

Kate: One of the requirements for earning the CST® is co-training with people who have already earned their certification. For me, this was absolutely priceless. It was great to see how other people teach CSM and CSPO classes, because we each do it a little differently. So, co-training is an opportunity to learn from others and kind of pick the best parts from each person’s training approach. I think I probably took more notes than some of the class attendees. It was fascinating to see how other trainers structure their classes and will definitely have an impact on how I train as I incorporate some of their methods into my classes.

Q: So, now that you have earned your CST®, what’s next?

Kate: In addition to my Agile coaching, I will now be teaching some of the certified Braintrust training classes such as CSM and CSPO. As with everything in Scrum, my goal is to continually improve. The learning is never complete. My goal is to continue to be actively involved in the Scrum community, continue learning from other CST’s and to build the best possible training classes for our clients.