This week I took a training that now officially makes me a certified scrum master.
One of the things that I really noticed during our training is the apparent difference between the way our trainer implements scrum in companies and the way I understood it from Ken Schwaber's books (on agile software development and on agile project management) and video (Google TechTalk on scrum).
I have the feeling that in Ken's approach the role of the Product Owner is much less involved than what we've been taught this week. And that the actual ScrumMaster role is a lot less intensive then what Ken suggests in his TechTalk.
The Product Owner role we've learned during our training was pretty close to what Toyota seems to call the Chief Engineer. And that's a term we can probably all imagine what it means. In my recent history it has been called: technical lead, technical project lead, technical team lead, principal developer and I'm probably still missing a few. The only real difference I see is that the Chief Engineer is empowered, meaning that he/she has the backing of management and is allowed to do the things necessary to get a product or project completed. But of course having a Chief Engineer somewhat dilutes the role of the scrum master whose major responsibility is guarding that the team really follows the process. With such a simple process, that should never be a full time job. Which Ken seems to suggest it often is.
Of course in scrum it doesn't really matter if companies implement it slightly different. After all, this is an agile process. So what's a little flexibility between friends. And I actually believe that this flexibility is what makes scrum work for so many companies. Have a little faith in the ability of your people to somehow work towards the goals that you set out for them. It of course depends on the people, but then again... that's what I already said a few months ago.
What this training mostly showed me is that it really matters a lot who helps you implement scrum in your organization. If Ken Schwaber would have taught us, we probably would come away with a "completely" different interpretation of scrum. Not necessarily better or worse, but definitely different. Now that is something that you might want to consider before you book the first scrum training for your company.