Friday, October 9, 2015

This message made my weekend.

I received this today from the Principal at Hope High School where I've been volunteering as a coach.

Here is the message from the Principal. (the Scrum Product Owner ;->)....
Today is our retro, Edwin is so excited about trying a new way that he found. He was busy last night in his classroom drawing diagrams and pics with his new fat markers. When I walked in and saw him preparing I said "well well Mr. Caspar, what do we have here?" He is really doing a fine job!

Edwin is a High School Teacher who organically became the Scrum Master for the team of Teachers at the high school. A post about Edwin at the start of his journey a few weeks ago can be found HERE.

Hope High School is part of Blueprint Education where they are working to bring Agile values and principals into the classroom to allow students to learn 21st century skills. This journey started for them through the introduction of Agile Classrooms.

They are also proud to be sponsored by the Scrum Alliance.

I am so happy to hear such positive news from the school and that things are taking off there for them in more than just the classroom.

Generating Insights
... from Edwin's Retrospective.
(c) Copyright Blueprint Education, 2015
Used with permission.

I understand the students started their own team to help the community. I'm so happy that students have the space to try something so awesome for themselves.

Now.... off to enjoy my weekend :->

Mike Caspar
Passionate About Agile


Hope High School (facebook page)
Scrum Alliance and Blueprint
Agile Classrooms

Are you looking for more info for your own school, district or classroom, contact John Miller at .. or of course, feel free to reach out to me.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Scrum Master Service to the Organization

Many people know that the Scrum Master role involves removing impediments, coaching teams and being the team's voice for Scrum.

From the Scrum Guide.....
Scrum Master Service to the Product Owner 
The Scrum Master serves the Product Owner in several ways, including: 
  • Finding techniques for effective Product Backlog management;
  • Helping the Scrum Team understand the need for clear and concise Product Backlog items;
  • Understanding product planning in an empirical environment;
  • Ensuring the Product Owner knows how to arrange the Product Backlog to maximize value;
  • Understanding and practicing agility; and, 
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed.
Scrum Master Service to the Development Team
The Scrum Master serves the Development Team in several ways, including:
  • Coaching the Development Team in self-organization and cross-functionality;
  • Helping the Development Team to create high-value products;
  • Removing impediments to the Development Team’s progress;
  • Facilitating Scrum events as requested or needed; and,
  • Coaching the Development Team in organizational environments in which Scrum is not yet fully adopted and understood.

An often overlooked part of the importance
of a Scrum Master is ....
Scrum Master Service to the Organization
The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including: 
  • Leading and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption;
  • Planning Scrum implementations within the organization;
  • Helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact Scrum and empirical product development;
  • Causing change that increases the productivity of the Scrum Team; and,
  • Working with other Scrum Masters to increase the effectiveness of the application of Scrum in the organization.

Considering Service to the Organization, ask yourself....
  • Does my organization know this as a part of the Scrum Master's suggested skill-set?
  • What exists in my organization to help existing Scrum Masters get better at organizational coaching?
  • Does my organization allow the room for Scrum Masters to work with other Scrum Masters?
  • What would it take for all the Scrum Masters in my organization to provide this necessary part of the role within my organization?

Failure to recognize Service to the Organization as part of the Scrum Master role can significantly diminish the effectiveness of a Scrum Master in your organization.

A thought....

What will you do to help grow this role to it's full potential where you work?

Mike Caspar
Passionate About Agile


The Scrum Guide and the three duplicated sections are ©2014 Scrum.Org and ScrumInc. Offered for license under the Attribution Share-Alike license of Creative Commons, accessible at and also described in summary form at

Monday, September 21, 2015

Similarities between Agile Coaching and Flight Instruction

I love this video. Someone I know sent it to me last week. I have seen it before.  It's not my student but is a great representation of why I love to coach. 

The first solo is a big deal (first time without an instructor in the plane).

Some moments I noticed....

1 – When she puts the microphone away to catch her breath when she is airborne (realizing she's made it safely).

2 – When she looks over to see her instructor only to discover what’s happening is REAL.

3 – The HUGE smile after that.

4 – Holding her breath when she starts her descent.

5 – The HUGE smile when she realizes she landed it safely.

The first solo is a big deal...

To me, coaching is about building confidence. It's about finding ways to help people overcome their personal (or business) hurdles and then enjoying that amazing feeling they get when they've made it to their next level. 

Ultimately, when someone has overcome their fears and has the confidence to move forward, the only way to have it really stick for them is to take the leap themselves. They can't be pushed. 

You can "nudge in an encouraging way" or help them overcome fears. However, ultimately they have to take the final step themselves. 

You simply cannot force a first solo to happen. 

Agile Coaching isn't about creating change yourself. It needs to be about helping others to find the courage to make their own changes with your help and support.

I took this while working with a 747  Captain
 getting ready for their first solo water landing.
Getting someone to overcome their fears to achieve their first solo is no different than working with an executive to fundamentally change their organization or a group of people to learn to work as a team.

It takes courage, trust and self-awareness. The job of the coach isn't to be their friend, but to help them reach their goals and objectives.  

Most importantly.... It takes a coach who's joy is watching someone else feel this excited about themselves or their company.

Wow… Very emotional video for me!

Isn't coaching amazing :->

Mike Caspar
Passionate About Agile

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Student Skills Matrix

A post about using the OpenAgile Skills matrix to help teachers and students in the classroom at Agile Schools.

Read more at ...


Openagile -
Agile Classrooms -

Monday, September 7, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Courageous Leadership to help their students using Scrum

I recently had the opportunity to get together with a great group of people at Blueprint Education as a volunteer to help out their leadership team.

They are passionate about helping students to achieve their full potential through self-empowerment and self-responsibility and have been working with John Miller from Agile Classrooms to introduce a Scrum approach to education in their classrooms.

The focus is on a feedback driven approach to learning goals. The roots of this approach come from Scrum and are based on the Agile Manifesto (modified for education of course).

To learn more about this approach, start here...

As part of this type of change at the school, or in this case, many schools, understanding and knowledge of what the students are going through was important to the leadership at Blueprint.

The leadership team appreciated that to truly help their students work in an agile way, they will benefit greatly by experiencing and living the values of the agile manifesto and using Scrum themselves.

The best way for the leadership team (Principals, CEO, COO) to help the students work in an agile way is to experience Scrum with Agile Values and Principles themselves.

As sessions proceeded, I made a point of always asking … “What can we learn from this? How does this affect students?’, how can we apply this to our situation?

What is the learning we could share with others?
Early on, this drawing appeared on the wall of the leadership team room…. The leaders realized that for them to embrace this approach of working, they would need to change a primary focus as educators.

They would have to become great at coaching with less focus on teaching.  This, as you might imagine could be problematic for the traditional educator.   

What would this realization mean to them?

A workshop facilitated by the Principals for themselves revealed that the Retrospective (part of the Scrum Framework) would require them to reflect on their own leadership style on an ongoing basis.

This supports the Agile Principle …

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly..


More details about this specific session can be found here..

Scrum’s simple approach of limiting work in process through the application of a timebox and creating focus is impressive. By embracing the timebox with cross-functional teams, people  learn to re-organize and collaborate to deliver potentially deliverable value in small increments where feedback is possible.

To educators, this can mean that the student (or team of students) can establish their own objectives for learning over a fixed period of time, focus on that learning and then obtain feedback on how they might adjust their learning patterns for the next cycle.

To realize their ability to work cross-functionally, we did an exercise using a Skills Matrix approach originating from the OpenAgile Framework.

What are the skills necessary to operate and grow our company and schools as a leadership team?
The leadership team at Blueprint Education grouping their ideas about the needed skills for their team.

The results looked like this...

The team decided on these for their definition of the quadrants for each skill...

All 4 quadrants means you can teach this.

Completed Skills Matrix

This exercise served several purposes including (but not limited to)..
  • It allowed the team members to recognize each other’s skills and strengths and from whom they could learn more.
  • It helped the team recognize that they do in fact have the skills necessary to take on almost any goal in a cross-functional way.
  • It allows individuals to recognize where they might grow their skills to help the team and the organization.
Over time, we’ll learn more about the wonderful things happening at the school(s). 

By example, this video was the creation of the teachers and leaders at Hope High School in Phoenix Arizona. They worked together as a team to discover a shared vision for their school…

If you are interested in learning more, I encourge you to reach out to John Miller or the Blueprint Education folks.  Of course, I'd also be glad to help as well.

More to come...


John Miller & Agile Classrooms -
OpenAgile Institute -
Skills Matrix - OpenAgile -

Sunday, August 9, 2015

WebStorm by JetBrains and chai assertion library code warnings easy adjustment

A technically oriented post today.

Re:  Webstorm undefined function or method warnings when using the chai assertion library for javascript and nodejs.

I spent some time recently working on a new nodejs module (meta-confirm)  and wanted to share a few bits of information I learned in the process as a result of hours of searching and experimentation.

I'm just giving back to the community for the next person who is struggling to find a quick, easy answer to this situation.

The problem: While creating a test using chai assertions, you get the message "Undefined function or method  x() ". In this example: " Undefined function or method contain()".

Undefined function or method contain()

The same issue exists for many of the assertions (not just .contain)

To fix this code completion warning in Webstorm 10....

  • Files  - Settings  - Languages and Frameworks  - Javascript - Libraries

  • Download


  • Change the drop selection from Official Libraries to Typescript Community Stubs

 Official Libraries

Typescript community stubs

  • Find chai and select Download and Install

  • Enable chai-DefinitelyTyped 

  • Now, your code checking in Webstorm will recognize the syntax of the chai expectation library.

Notice that the .contain no longer shows as an undefined function or method warning.

Mike Caspar
Passionate About Agile


chai assertion library
chai TypeScript community stub
WebStorm from JetBrains