I just had a terrific scrum master interview with a local company, and it was a huge relief! Not because the job is terrific (although I’m sure it will be if I get it), but because the hiring process has me meeting with the product owners and current scrum master in my first interview. I’m not meeting with executives or even the functional manager– at this stage, the company doesn’t even know who the my functional manager might be, because they haven’t decided which team would be the best fit!
I’ve had quite a few Scrum Master interviews in the past 2 months, and I can tell you– most people hiring scrum masters don’t know what they do. That’s usually fine– as a technical writer, I have coached hiring managers on how to interview me and other writers, even during the interview process. But when I come into an interview and I’m talking to product owners and scrum masters who want me to tell them how my last team worked, and demonstrate how I approached that role? That’s a huge relief.
A little bit of knowledge went a long way today. When we talk about “culture fit,” we usually often talk about work/life balance, office wardrobe, and whether there’s a ping pong table in the cafeteria. But for me, culture fit is about how much I have to push to get people to understand what I’m talking about. I don’t mind coaching, and a scrum master is always going to have a lot of opportunities to help the team learn and improve.
But I really love it when the company is already on that path, and I no longer have to explain what I do, just how I do it so well during the interview.
Wednesday night, I went to a presentation on Agile and AWS held by AWS Las Vegas at Innevation Center. The speakers were Jon Hathaway of HATech, and Alex Singh of OrgAgility. The presentation was primarily a case study of transitioning slot machine manufacturing giant IGT into having a lean, Agile DevOps team and company culture to support it. By coaching the DevOps team in using Agile and AWS, they report that IGT reduced the time to upgrade slot machines on the floor from 18 months to 2 weeks.
That’s a phenomenal reduction in time, and I was very impressed with their results.
My One Takeaway
I took three pages of notes during the presentation. A lot of it was repeat information from my experiences with Agile, but I always like to have one takeaway to share, and here’s the one I chose from last night:
In this particular DevOps team, each day was like a mini-iteration. They start the day with a standup, like most teams, but that standup plans the goals and tasks for that day only. This keeps the team extremely flexible and able to solve problems. Multi-day tasks can be tackled, but if they have a higher priority item come in, they can switch focus on that item for one day, then refocus on the next. This reduces the overhead from context-switching. Employees are already context-switching by going home at night, so changing focus in the morning doesn’t reduce more productivity.
There were a lot of other topics and tons of information on using Agile and AWS, so much so that I felt almost like we were cramming a 2-day session on Agile into 90 minutes! But it was a very solid talk and both Alex and Jon were highly receptive to questions from the attendees.