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How 30 Agilists On Zoom Changed My Mind

by Adam Weisbart

I woke up on the morning of March 21st in a panic.

The night before, I’d flown home from teaching a Certified ScrumMaster course in Los Angeles. Traveling is nothing new for me, but this trip was different…

For one thing, there was this guy wearing a full plague doctor suit on my flight:

Between my trip to Los Angeles, and my flight home, my world had changed.

A New Reality

COVID-19 had arrived.

And I was scheduled to head back out on the road in 48 hours to teach another course.

I know that in the grand scheme of what we’ve all been through over the last many months, that me needing to cancel a class ranks pretty low on the list of traumatic or disappointing things… but…

Nevertheless, 20 people were expecting me to teach them about Scrum on the coming Monday. Clearly, if I were going to teach the course, it was going to have to happen virtually.

In almost a decade of teaching, I’d NEVER taught my Certified ScrumMaster course virtually. And having to teach my course virtually is what had me in a panic. I’ve never been a fan of teaching remotely. But it appeared I had no choice.

Help Arrives

In my angst, I sent an email out to the Certified Scrum Trainer and Coaches email list pleading for help: “Subject: I have to teach my course by Zoom in 2 days. HELP! I’ve got 48 hours to figure this out. I’ll be hosting a lean coffee on the subject of remote training and facilitation in 45 minutes. Meet me at this Zoom link. If no one shows up, I’ll shut the room down.”

I didn’t expect anyone would show up on a Saturday with only 45 minutes notice. However, when I arrived in my Zoom room, there were 30 other people from all over the world logged in.

To my surprise, most were just as panicked as I was. I proceeded to facilitate a lean coffee for 2 hours, during which some of the best collaboration I’ve ever experienced happened. We learned from each other, evaluated tools, suggested approaches to recreating in-person activities virtually, and commiserated about how scary it was that things were changing so fast.

The process was — dare I say — magical. And it all happened online. Virtually.

Collaboration Creates Connection

It turns out, discovering that others are in the same boat as you is a brilliant way to create connection, solve problems, and feel less alone. Maybe you’ve gotten a glimpse of this while having dinner by Zoom with friends and loved ones you can’t see in person during quarantine.

Since that day, I’ve taught my course (virtually) to hundreds of people. And you know what? Their experience of learning about a new way of working together using Scrum (as noted in post-course feedback) has been powerful for them. People have had an amazing time.

While I still prefer teaching in person, I realize that won’t be possible for a while. I’m thankful I can keep helping to change the world of work for the better during this difficult time. I’ve noticed a huge shift in myself… I went from someone who dismissed collaborating virtually, to someone who’s intrigued and curious about it.

This shift got me thinking: “What can I do in the next month to help bring some more agile joy into the world during a time everyone is struggling and our favorite agile events are being canceled?” The answer? Agile Virtual Summit.

Agile Virtual Summit 2020

Inspired by the collaboration I experienced during the lean coffee, I called up some friends. Friends you might know… Lyssa Adkins, Jim Benson, Diana Larsen, Clinton Keith, and 12 others.

Together we’ll be putting on a FREE virtual summit June 1st - 5th. The 16 of us will be speaking on topics ranging from agile leadership to personal agility. From how to turbocharge your retrospectives to why agile companies are built for times like these.

10,000 people have already registered. If you want to feel less alone… If you want to feel like others are in the same boat as you are during this uncertain time, join us

There’s nothing like connecting with 10,000 other agilists during these trying times.

Stay agile. Never change.