Week 6: Agile Alignment

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.

John Wooden, Basketball Coach


This week I had the pleasure of attending a Scrum master guild meeting with the good folks at Telus (Vancouver/Toronto) and Koodo. The scrum masters were meeting to compile an interview guide detailing just what would be the best questions to ask in evaluating a great scrum master. At first glance, it may seem that this type of internal discussion would be more procedural in nature, not something that would benefit a group of digital media students. However, quite the contrary, it provided pivotal insight into just how major companies like Telus are utilising Agile and Scrum to revolutionise management processes and just how important the Centre for Digital Media’s preparation of its students is for the industry.

From the principles Telus values in an agile team:

  • Agile vs Waterfall, advantages and disadvantages?
  • Collaboration between Product Owners and Project Managers
  • Involving stakeholders in the process
  • The value of scrum
  • Daily standups and the various approaches to them
  • Sprint planning ‘ceremony’
  • The value of post-sprint retrospectives and fun ways to integrate them
  • How to implement actionables (after a retrospective)
  • Tools are important to agile teams
  • Sprint boards: physical vs digital?
  • Various metrics that help evaluate and support a scrum team
  • Conflict resolution – improving process, maximising potential vs. the blame game
  • How to approach continuous improvement

All of these topics are—in one way or another—addressed in the MDM programme at the Centre for Digital Media. This term, our team has had the added benefit of working with Al Sinoy, an MDM alumni, our cohort’s Agile coach, and oh yea, he happens to be our Faculty Supervisor. During the first four weeks of our project, Al has been feeding our team tools, processes and procedures that infuse the team with Agile methodologies. The mindset and the values that Telus Digital is assessing (in a great Scrum Master) are exactly the tools being implemented at the Centre for Digital Media.

As I observed the team of Telus Scrum Masters evaluate what’s important in an agile team, I couldn’t help but nod my head: the digital tool box we constantly evolve and increase as we move through our three project terms, the constant evaluation (personal and team), the sprints, the retros, the refinement, is all part of year-long journey of industry-tested preparation for the digital workplace.

Below are some images from our Sprint process that are also utilised by Telus:

Sprint Board:

Weekly retrospectives:

Post-Sprint Actionables:

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