Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Agile

How I learned what Scrum, Agile, and Sprint Really Means

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, Event Recap, KAIP Academy, Learning, Scrum, The WorkShop, Training, Workforce Development

By Nick Sherrell, MBA, CSM

If you’ve been in the project management world within the past ten years or so, you’ve probably heard some buzz words floating around like scrum, agile, or sprint. You might have even worked within a team that used these words commonly to explain how they get work done. As a project manager who has worked within many teams in the healthcare industry, I’ve heard these terms used on many different teams—and unfortunately I’ve heard them used to explain vastly different things.

One team I was on used the term “scrum” to name their daily and weekly status report meetings, while another team used this word to describe a last-minute all hands on deck meeting to put out fires started by an executive.

Feeling confused, I turned to Google hoping to find clarity in what these terms truly meant and how they worked together. Ten websites later (and three YouTube videos of funny animals…darn you click bait!), I was even more confused than I was before I started my search!

I decided my next search was going to be for a training course led by someone who truly knows what these words mean and how they work. I found the KAIP Academy website that showed an offering for a two day in-person course led by Bernie Maloney, a Certified Scrum Trainer with over 20 years leading agile for very successful companies like HP and TiVo. I signed up immediately and breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I was going to get to the bottom of this!

If you’re interested in attending one of KAIP Academy’s upcoming training courses, you can find more information or register here.

I pulled up to The WorkShop – Sacramento (a new collaborative workspace located in East Sacramento’s Cannery Business Park) and was immediately met by…Koi fish! The entryway had a large waterfall and Koi pond with a walking bridge to get to the training area. I knew this wasn’t going to be the boring trainings I’ve been to before!

The training room had 22 other students with a lot of the same questions and experiences I had, but from many different industries. Some were developers from private software development companies looking for a smoother way of working, others were managers and directors over state agencies responsible for finding more efficient ways of leading teams, others were creatives looking for a more structured way to get to new ideas, and some very honest people were looking for a nice certification they could add to their resume and grow their career.

I found a comfortable chair at a friendly table and got all of my stuff set up for a full day of lectures…Five minutes later I was in a self-organized group and performing my first sprint! I quickly learned that this wasn’t a class to sit quietly and learn the theory of agile and scrum—this was a class where you roll up your sleeves and learn first-hand the framework and benefits of working agile.

Bernie led us through many different exercises defining the terms, roles, deliverables, and activities of performing scrum according to the official Scrum Guide (written by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber). We played a ball game using these concepts and saw just how scrum unlocks innovation by fostering creativity, knowledge sharing, stakeholder feedback, and time management to increase our output 3-5 times over the course of three iterations!

We had many other breakout sessions during the course where we learned facilitation techniques, product vision, user story creation, and most importantly communication within and between teams. Bernie expanded each aspect of the scrum framework from product backlog to sprint retrospective and had a tailored exercise for each that not only defined the terms but allowed for teams to feel their effectiveness and potential challenges.

Many students had experiences with scrum and agile that they were able to share with the class. Some were stories of how scrum did great things to improve their teams, others were stories of how scrum got derailed due to certain forces getting out of whack and terms turning into twisted versions of their intent.

“Scrum is lightweight, easy to learn, hard to master.”

This was the mantra repeated by Bernie throughout the course. From my experience of seeing these terms used on multiple teams to explain vastly different things, I can now see how they derailed from true scrum framework. Armed with the knowledge of how true scrum works (and its power) I can now go back to my team and set us back on a path toward fostered innovation and adding value to the customer.

About the Author: Nick Sherrell is a Project Manager with over 10 years of healthcare experience ranging from Quality, Performance Improvement, Technology Implementation, Data Analysis, and Consulting. Nick has worked with organizations ranging from the Sacramento Native American Health Center, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Blue Shield of California, and The Advisory Board Company. He received his MBA from UC Davis in 2015 with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior and Innovation. He lives in Sacramento with his wife and two children and still dreams of being a professional baseball player one day! Find Nick on LinkedIn here.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Enterprise Architect

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Enterprise Architecture, Government, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Sacramento, Scrum, Technology

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of one of our Consultants, Steven Duart. Steven works with one of KAI Partners’ public sector clients as an Integration Enterprise Architect. He helps implement the structure, guardrails, and guidelines for the future product development teams to modernize a large-scale statewide information system.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into Enterprise Architecture consulting work?

Steven Duart: I was recently told that I have a thought process of an Architect. Reflecting on that comment, I believe that mindset was developed through both education and experiences. I went with a traditional education route and received a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, a second Bachelor’s degree in technical studies, and a Master’s in computer information systems. The experiences of having to design a technical architecture for client that did not understand their business and working for a State agency that did not know what their true mandate is have matured my mindset which is naturally analytical and good at synthesis, abstraction, visualization, imagination, and practicality. I believe that I have always been an architect, but the realization did not happen until I was surrounded by like-minded individuals in the work I currently do.

KAIP: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

SD: It was not until around the past five years that I started to obtain certifications. In the past two years I have received two certifications, Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) and TOGAF® 9 Certification (The Open Group Architecture Framework). I believe those two certifications have helped me establish myself at and allowed me to take on additional roles. The TOGAF® 9 Certification has given me the knowledge of their framework and how to tailor their framework to develop an architecture for clients.  It has been a benefit for State clients because the TOGAF® 9 Certification is internationally recognized. In addition to my CSM and TOGAF, I also hold a certification in Functional Programming Principles in Scala and am a Certified Paralegal.

Here are a few certifications I am evaluating to help me provide better service to clients:

  • AWS Solution Architect
  • Certified Business Architect
  • Certified Product Owner

KAIP: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

SD: My favorite part of Enterprise Architecture is that it is a unique line of work which juggles past, present, and future. We must focus on the future, while living in the now and being completely aware of the past. This drives my thinking, impact, and presence. It allows for me to put the customer at the center of an approach (i.e., Agile) and design technology around the customer’s unique needs. This enables innovation of a product service experience through iterative, incremental activations which delivers continuous enterprise transformation at speed and scale.

KAIP: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

SD: The most common question I get is, “Why do I need a ‘Framework’ for IT Architecture?” The advice I give is that using an architectural framework will speed up and simplify the architecture development. This will ensure more complete coverage of the designed solution and make certain that the architecture selected allows for future scalability in response to the needs of the business.

Quick Q&A with Steven:

Daily, must-visit website:

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to:

  • Music
  • Hawaiian R&B
  • Reggae
  • Rap
  • Indie
  • Podcast
  • Security Now
  • tv
  • Hollywood Babble On (This is a fun podcast, but may not be for everyone)

Best professional advice received:

  • The best career advice I received was to be persistent and resilient and to not let detours or failures derail my career. Successful men and women frequently have failures and detours in their careers, but do not let those bumps dissuade them. In fact, for successful people, failures are a part of success and detours are seen as opportunities to push your career further ahead.

Book you can read over and over again:

  • Beyond the Band of Brothers
  • The Biggest Brother

Most-recent binge-watched show:

  • Silicon Valley
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Archer

About Steven: Steven Duart is an Enterprise Architect who works with one of KAI Partners’ public-sector clients. Steven has recently partnered with KAI Partners to launch an Enterprise Architecture practice to deliver business driven experiences at the intersection of strategy, design, behaviors, and products.   Steven is a certified in TOGAF and has a Master’s degree in computer information systems from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Steven is a die hard Notre Dame football fan, he enjoys playing recreational sports, and could go to the movies daily.

The Benefits of the Certified ScrumMaster® Training Course

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, Event Recap, KAIP Academy, Learning, Sacramento, Scrum, Team Building, The WorkShop, Training, Workforce Development

By Daniel Fast, CSM

I recently had the honor and privilege of attending the Certified ScrumMaster® training at the KAIP Academy. This short, yet informative two-day class allowed me to expand my creative and mindful solution-finding skills.

The class was very different than any of my previous training events. It went beyond traditional lectures and book learning and instead focused on lively, interactive, and passionate Scrum meetings.

I recently joined KAI Partners and at the time did not know some of our staff who participated in the class. I got to meet some of our great staff using the techniques and methods from our Certified Scrum Trainer, Bernie Maloney.

Mr. Maloney demonstrated that the scrum methodology is expressive and personal. This was made clear as I got to know each participant beyond their “work” role. Learning about each person—not as a resource, but as a human who has skills beyond their title—was quickly evident in our discussions.

Naturally, it is easier to talk and participate when everyone has a voice. Knowing each person beyond their work role made one of our training exercises more approachable.

The exercise involved building a city using only LEGOs and our imagination. We started with a collaborative discussion about the initial design phase. What looked like chaos in some ways was a well-organized effort of distributed tasks. This course taught us how to capture our energy and direct it into tangible results. This mindset became second nature when we approached our list of tasks.

One of the great practices and changes in philosophy in the Certified ScrumMaster® training is the “pull vs. push.” Imagine a to-do list of a dozen different tasks, each requiring a different level of effort and time to complete them. The “push” method would have an authority drop tasks into each person’s lap—not very exciting or new. The “pull” method differs as each team member pulls a task, based on their own passion and ability to accomplish the task. The team accomplishes the full vision using their individual creative contributions.

The Certified ScrumMaster® training allows managers and teams to operate as a diverse and creative collaborative/collective—and it’s fun! As a newly appointed Certified ScrumMaster®, I look forward to continuing to add to the KAI Partners family the skills to help our clients and the community achieve success.

 About the Author: Daniel Fast is an Associate Consultant for KAI Partners. He has worked as an IT Consultant for over 18 years. Mr. Fast has managed clients in health care, SaaS companies, lobbying, and law firms. Mr. Fast has also provided direction to non-profits as board member and president. He is comfortable wearing many hats over the year as project manager, software developer, staff developer, and world champion stick fighter.

How to Navigate OCM on an Agile Project [INFOGRAPHIC]

Agile, Best Practices, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Communications, Infographic, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Prosci, Scrum

By Debbie Blagsvedt

What do current communication trends and Agile—the interactive system development framework—have in common? They both have increased the speed in which an activity occurs with the work being done in “sprints,” or 1-4 week periods. Mobile and visual communications have reconditioned people to prefer consuming information in small chunks and systems are built in pieces using an Agile framework.

With shorter, tighter, and visual communications as the go-to preferred method of communications and the increasing prevalence of Agile, traditional change management strategies and plans are being challenged. This infographic provides six ways Organizational Change Management can evolve to meet the demands of Agile and changing communication trends.

We hope this infographic aides you in successfully bridging the gap between your agile and OCM environments!

About the Author: Debbie Blagsvedt is an Organizational Change Consultant with over 25 years’ experience in change management, performance management, process improvement, training, and facilitation. She has a worked in both the private, public, and non-profit sectors in industries that include health, legal, financial, social services, high tech, and transportation. She currently works as an Organizational Change Consultant with KAI Partners on assignment with a child welfare services agency.  Debbie is passionate about collaboration among teams which she believes leads to high employee satisfaction and is equally fascinated with the rapid-fire speed of change and what it means for organizations today. Debbie grew up in the bay area but now considers Sacramento her home. She has many interests from home projects to wine tasting, volunteering, witnessing the changing face of Sacramento, and going on new adventures with her family and friends. Not to mention nightly walks and occasional mountain hikes with her dog, Emmett.

KAIP Academy Certified ScrumMaster® Training Recap

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), KAIP Academy, Learning, Sacramento, Scrum, Training

Photo Credit: Ryan Hatcher

By Ryan Hatcher

The KAIP Academy held its first training sessions last week, delivering two successful Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) trainings.

The truly innovative aspect of this training, led by veteran Certified Scrum Trainer Bernie Maloney of Radtac, was the overarching idea that the class members and the trainer are all active participants in a two day “sprint.” It turns out that Scrum and the Agile framework, in addition to being effective for project delivery, are also an excellent way to teach Scrum and the Agile framework.

The collaboration and teamwork inherent in the Scrum process was especially visible seeing groups of strangers quickly becoming cohesive teams capable of solving problems ranging from tossing ping pong balls through a course to building a city made of LEGOs.

At the beginning of the course, Bernie promised that we would get to know our classmates, learn, and have fun. Like an experienced Scrum team, he delivered high value on all three.

The KAIP Academy is excited to offer more training courses beginning in 2018. To stay up-to-date on future KAIP Academy course offerings, please email academy@kaipartners.com or visit the KAIP Academy course page. We look forward to passing more learning opportunities onto you soon!

About the Author: Ryan Hatcher is a skilled communications and management consultant with over a decade of experience campaigning for government, public affairs, and political clients. A recent addition to KAI Partners, Ryan serves as an executive consultant providing communications support to one of California’s heath care agencies. He resides in Sacramento with his wife, Nikki, and their two dogs.

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