Posted by: Carlos Buxton | Apr 11, 2011

CSM Class in Boston sponsored by Conscires Agile with Alan Cyment

Last Friday we completed a CSM course in the Boston area taught by Alan Cyment (CST, twitter: @acyment) and his wife Veronica acting as the class ScrumMaster. Alan and Vero live all the way in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is where I grew up! We had a great time talking about common experiences and catching up.

Alan and Vero

They did an outstanding job facilitating the learning while embedding the entire experience in a Scrum framework, immersing students in the experience throughout the entire course, which included retrospective moments at the end of each teaching segment. It was a pleasure to see them work through it in this fashion and at the same time demonstrating it first hand to the class participants. They had a great chemistry together that made the experience extremely enjoyable, and fun to watch. I got a lot of new ideas to try out in other teaching engagements. Alan and Vero definitely complement each other extremely well, and their teaching approach is very efficient, fun to experience and effective. I have been teaching and learning a long time and I think their approach is among the best!

Final PB delivered to class

The participants came from all over the Boston area (we even had someone from Connecticut) and comprised a diverse and very energetic group full of eagerness to learn.

The class

Alan’s teaching style does not include Powerpoint, which a number of students indicated was a huge bonus and kept them focused and involved. Their passion for what they do is palpable, comes through in every aspect of the class and engages everyone in a positive learning experience.

The learning circle

Alan in the learning circle

The first day included a variety of games from the start to get to know the each other better such as Tribes and a linear version of the Constellations games, which I learned from Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spade. I don’t have a source description for these yet, but if you are interested drop me a line and I can give you what I have. If on the other hand anyone has a source where I can find descriptions, by all means send them my way and I can update this post. I think games are a great way to not just break the ice and start working together but most importantly to enhance the learning process immensely. I was further delighted by the inclusion of games and the choices Alan and Vero made to elucidate their points.

Another good game was the Multitasking game, which left most of us out shape needing a break and showed us that we need to go back and learn the lyrics to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. I have to thank my partner in this game for carrying me through it!

yeah.. Multitasking is not very productive...

The final game of the first day was what Alan called “Vampires of Strassburg” which was a lot of fun. It was very interesting to see how everyone scattered after the first vampire was formed so as not to be vampirized. When you are “vampirized” you groan out loud, so you can imagine the sounds in the room after a few moments into the game. We left the door to the hotel lobby open, so the front desk later asked what we were doing that we were having so much fun. I cannot think of a better compliment to the learning process.

The  bulk of the second day was a Scrum simulation using LEGO’s to build a prehistoric bird: the “Birdie Birdie” business-critical project. Here are the teams hard at work to satisfy the customer.

Alan explaining the "Birdie Birdie" Project

Consultant Team 1 meets the customer

Consultant Team 2 meets the customer

Consultant Team 3 meets the customer

Consultant Team 4 meets the customer

And here is part of the customer team… The tie gives it away!

What did I not tell you my definition of done??

The last day finished with an open floor of topics to vote from. The class decided to have a conversation about organizational cultures, which led in the direction of discussing the Schneider model.

Organization Culture Discussion

Alan did a great job describing and characterizing the 4 quadrants, it reminded me of another blog I read some time ago about the same topic. Check it out.

In closing:

The experience in the class was priceless and I am reminded that regardless of experience there is always a lot of learning around the corner if you are open it.

I don’t have a source for any of the games above yet, but I will try to include a link to sources as they become available or create a description in a separate part of this blog. Stay tuned from time to time.

I want to hear from you:

What was your experience in the CSM class with Alan, or any other you attended? What did you like? What made you stop and ponder?

Let us know! Comment!

(You can find Alan’s blog at


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