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Category Archives: Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

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.

Is the Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) training right for me?

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Project Management, Scrum, Training

With the KAIP Academy’s Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) training sessions taking place soon, we wanted to address some questions we’ve received about whether a CSM designation is worth it. One of our partners, Michael Bosch (Certified Scrum Professional from Brightline Solutions, Inc., a locally-based firm offering Agile Delivery and Change Management Services) answers some questions we’ve received. Hopefully these will help you if you are on the fence about getting your CSM certification! If there are any questions we haven’t addressed, please ask them in the comments—or email academy@kaipartners.com—and we will tackle them in a future blog post!

Question: I have relatively limited experience using Agile processes and I am not an “IT” person. I do business process analysis and participate in Change Management on an Agile project.) Would training to be a Certified ScrumMaster® be appropriate for me?

Answer: Absolutely. Scrum, at its heart, is what’s known as an empirical process control framework. This means it helps us figure out what needs to be done when it hasn’t been done before. Organizational change management frequently involves solving the unsolved, building incrementally and adaptively, and creating and maintaining early and constant communication with the project community. All these are honed in the acquisition of a CSM.

Question: I would likely be described as an “end user” of systems rather than a person who develops systems. Would it be useful for me to be a Certified ScrumMaster® if I’m not developing new systems?

Answer: Yes, if you find yourself leading or being part of teams that are called upon to perform what is referred to as “knowledge work, i.e., effort that requires creative, adaptive, incremental development of something that has a lot of unknowns to it. If this describes your team’s work, then having the knowledge of a CSM will help you be more predictably successful.

Question: I have learned the basics of Agile and use it on the projects I work on—how would getting a CSM help me at all?

Answer: Learning Agile in a way that it can be used to get reliable, adaptive products in the hands of clients when they need them in a way that provides real business value is constant and rewarding journey. Pursuing a CSM adds to the value of that journey; moreover, it provides a benchmark with which we can rely on a set of established, common knowledge about Scrum as a community of Agilists.

Question: I readily see the value in getting my CSM designation in my role, but I literally can’t afford to take time off from work and pay for the training costs: How can I get my employer to endorse or sponsor my training?

Answer: When I got my CSM, I ran into similar issues. One idea is to work out a bargain with your employer: you’ll take the time off as vacation if they pay the course. Another selling point to give your boss: You can provide the team/organization with a presentation of what you learned. Or, you could do some research and gather data and information (the KAIP Academy website and KAI Partners Blog are a great place to start) on the real business value, profitability, and potential for innovation represented by employees gaining their CSM.

Question: I work in administrative services but work with Project Managers and Certified Scrum Masters daily, how would being certified as a CSM myself help me?

Answer: The CSM certification provides a balanced, effective introduction to Agile and Scrum. The value this provides is exposure to the concepts, vocabulary, and mindset of an Agile framework. It would help you in understanding the difference between the approach your PMs follow as opposed to your CSMs – giving you a firm perspective on the entirety of work being performed and delivered.

Question: As a human resources professional (in a leadership role), other than understanding the language, process, and methodology, is there a benefit to me or my organization for me to be a Certified ScrumMaster®?

Answer: Agile and Scrum are human-centric and collaboration and communication dominant. In these and other ways, Agile comports with the mindsets of human and talent resource management. HR is a process-centric discipline, too—much of what is performed follows prescribed workflows. New initiatives, unusual circumstances, and expansion of business services often result in a need for an HR team to have a framework to plan, execute, and deliver on these needs that is adaptive and lightweight. Scrum to the rescue!

Question: Would having this certification make a difference in the way I perform my job functions or interact with my staff (of whom I have PMs and Agile/Scrum personnel)? From a human capital perspective, what would be the benefit (or the disadvantage, if any) of achieving this certification as a human resources professional in a leadership role?

Answer: Dedicated, committed acquisition of a CSM will result in positive changes in one’s leadership styles and capabilities. It provides an alternative to Theory X management styles, giving the HR professional a fresh look at how to govern the creation and sponsorship of self-governing, self-managing teams. Without the knowledge and practices provided by a CSM certification process, an HR professional would be unprepared to support this ever-more common organizational structure.

From HR to PM and everything in between, we hope this article helped you get the answers you need to know whether the Certified ScrumMaster® training is right for you!

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