Stop Training “Agile”

  • Published
  • Updated
  • 3 mins read

Stop Training “Agile”

You are currently viewing Stop Training “Agile”

and by “Agile” I mean (Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, etc.)

This post was inspired by another from Al Shalloway that I recently came across. In that article, I read the following—

First, should any certified Scrum trainer train a team in Scrum when they’ve been told by management to do Scrum? Technically, it’s not Scrum since the team is being told what to do – violating Scrum’s suggestion that teams should self-manage.

And it struck me how powerful the point was. Particularly since I believe the majority of agile classes, independent of the focus or certification source, are prescribed for the learners. They’re being told to attend, coerced, or forced to attend as part of some overall agile initiative.

This is a tactical focus and a huge mistake. You can’t become agile or get to an agile mindset by sitting through a class…any class! It just doesn’t work that way.

We recently had a client request a Certified Scrum Master class – a CSM in this case. We don’t have this capability at Zenergy, so we checked with one of our CST partners about their interest and availability to partner on delivering the class.

They responded instead with questions about what the client’s goals were. And what outcomes they were looking to achieve. Looking to understand the client’s intentions.

When it became evident that the client was simply “looking for a class,” our partner withdrew any interest. Essentially, they felt the leaders at the client were only looking to “check a box” and they decided to not be a part of that (almost always) futile effort.

As I thought about the responsibilities that agile trainers have, both direct and implied, it came to me that as trainers, we should be doing something about the excessive prescription of “becoming agile” by simply “attending a class.”

Sure, there’s money to be made, but don’t we also have a responsibility to ensure that we’re—

  • Setting good examples and being role models

  • Walking our agile principles and talk

  • Chasing mindset over money

  • Congruently changing the world of work

I also think it’s a bit of ego and hubris as well. The more experienced the trainer, the more you think you can make a difference no matter the situation. That it’s about you, your class, and your brand. It’s not.

Every agile trainer and coach are foremost ambassadors of and for the agile principles and mindset. It should not be about us.

Any agile trainers reading this, I want you to consider our Zenergy partner’s perspective before you deliver your next private training class. Reexamine why you are delivering the class. And have each student reflect on why there are taking the class.

If it’s simply a prescriptive checkbox, then you’re contributing to the Agile Industrial Complex that Dan Mezick and others talk about. You’re not doing good, you’re harming.

And in that context, I want you to consider whether you should deliver the class or walk away. That it’s not your choice but a responsibility of your privilege as a trainer and agile role model.

Stay agile my friends,


Leave a Reply