Can’t Learn Agile from a Book

An Agile Coach Helps with Practical Application

Hi, my name is Gerri Slama Grove, and I am the new VP of Operations at GSD Mindset.  I am excited about joining the company and bringing the GSD concepts to the East coast.

I have been a project manager for many years and I have performed just about every role in the Software Development Life Cycle that we’re familiar with. Four years ago, I became interested in Agile, specifically Scrum, and I took the two-day course to get my CSM certification. Then, I attempted to apply the concepts at work.

I wound up playing at Scrum for a number of years, but I never seemed to be able to get the hang of it. Theory is great but theory alone does not give you the entire picture. Theory can also be fun, but we all know it’s experience and working with a mentor that gets us to the next level.

This is where Cynthia comes in. I knew her from our MBA grad school days together. Since then, even though we were on opposites sides of the country, we kept in touch. She always talked enthusiastically about Scrum and we would discuss some of the issues around becoming Agile.

When Cynthia and April founded GSD Mindset, I started asking Cynthia specific questions about Scrum and we had some great discussions. I learned more about Scrum from reading the GSD Scrum Handbook and discussing it with Cynthia than I’d gotten out of the CSM course or from other books I’d read. I brought these new concepts to work and started applying the GSD methods.

Many of us have PMPs, but did we really know how to manage a project when we first started?  I had great luck in my career working with some of the best and smartest coaches in my area.  Coaching really helped show me how to apply all of the project management theory that I’d learned.  Theoretical concepts become straightforward when you look at them the right way and with the right coach or mentor.

Another way to look at this concept is to think of sports. A basketball player can learn how to work the post position and, if they have the right height and some basic athletic ability, they can learn to score and grab rebounds pretty effectively. However, getting to the next level takes more than basic skills. Really good post players spend time with coaches, who show them some additional moves and strategies for working the position. A good coach will also watch and evaluate your skill and correct what you might be doing wrong or give you a new strategy for working the ball in. This makes all the difference. It’s what helps good players become a great players.

And so it is with Scrum. The theory you first learn is great and provides a solid foundation for getting started. To really succeed, you can’t rely on theory alone. You should find a good coach or mentor to help you apply the theory, by breaking it down to concepts that you can work in real life.

Cynthia helped me learn to apply my Scrum theory, and I’ve been able to take this methodology to the next level in my work.  

I’m thrilled to have now joined GSD Mindset, to work with Cynthia and to meet all of you.

Gerri Slama Grove

Please comment and introduce yourself.
I’m excited to get started,
Gerri Slama Grove