We recently interviewed the first Black Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®), Devon Morris, to capture his perspective on some of the most pressing issues we face today. In his honest approach, Devon discusses ways to champion diversity in the agile space and how he's serving the agile community through his new YouTube series, "Unfiltered", designed to provide aspiring Scrum Masters, Product Owners, and Agile Coaches with actionable Scrum advice.
An Interview with Devon Morris
What inspired you to begin the Unfiltered Series?
Back home in Chicago, Illinois for my daughter's birthday, I visited the neighborhood that I grew up in, where I was reminded about how hard 2020 has hit everyone. Every day, I get many questions from people at a crossroads, or they just need to tweak a problem. I decided that the best way to serve most people in our community is by doing a Dave Ramsey-style call-in show providing unfiltered common sense advice on the Scrum/agile life. These conversations are live so they provide an opportunity for many people to benefit.
What are you hoping to achieve with these shows?
The show's vision is to make Scrum/agile life easy and accessible for everyone. Our roadmap for year one is 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours viewed on Youtube. By the end of year three, we are projecting 10,000 subscribers and 40,000 hours viewed. We want the show to be a household name within our community and beyond. My dream is to have an impact on people's personal and professional lives.
As the first Black Certified Scrum Trainer, what's one thing you'd like to share with the community about your experience?
It is a surreal experience yet a microcosm of the world. I sail on the planetary winds as I recall training with Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. They are indeed the spark that sent me on this journey. At the same time, I have seen the belly of the beast with injustice, sexism, and racism within this community.
However, I remember doing some volunteer work at a high school in Phoenix, Arizona, where the vast majority are disadvantaged minorities. The principal told them that I was a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). I saw mouths drop open with surprised looks on their faces and a volley of questions, which was priceless because I look like them and come from where they come from. Think about former President Obama's picture bending over to allow a Black kid to touch his hair. This was my Obama moment.
A lack of diversity in the agile and Scrum space is a prevailing issue. What can we do to make our community more accessible to women and people of color?
First, check our privilege at the door by knowing it and finding ways to resist it. For many of us, this will dismantle our current identity and rebuild it, allowing more meaningful conversations leading to transformative actions. We need to create a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) response team tasked with making this more accessible to less-represented communities. Let's roll up our sleeves, start with the why, and deliver value-based outcomes using Scrum.
Can you recall a moment on your show that gave you deep meaning to the work you do when serving a call-in guest and answering their questions?
Please allow me to take you on a quick journey. A young mother wrote me a letter in December 2020 about her hardship situation. We were able to get her in a hardship Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM®) class in early January 2021. A couple of weeks later, she called the show about getting started with an existing team that knows her based on a different role. The advice that I gave her had nothing to do with Scrum but everything to do with motivating her and finding ways to wipe away those insecurities. Being raised by my grandmother gave me a lot of insight into women's struggles, and I take pride in helping women achieve their goals. I wish that the women that raised me had access to the same kind of help.
Can you share what else you've been doing to serve the agile community?
In 2021, I promise to be more visible in our community by lifting more people as we climb the ladder for DEI to deal with various inequities. I will be joining more conferences, meetups, and community-focused events to find ways to use Scrum to impact our world. We will continue to have hardship classes and making sure our prices are suitable for everyone. See you on the Unfiltered Call-In Show.
Watch Devon in action in this clip from his "Unfiltered" series
In this episode of “Unfiltered”, Devon chats with one of his past students that attended his Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) training. The class inspired the student to “take Scrum by the horns,” eventually leading him to a job offer to become an agile coach at Nike. Devon’s guest calls in to ask how he can start building relationships with existing Scrum Masters and Product Owners as their new agile coach.
Join Devon in his "Unfiltered" series
When: Mondays at 8:00 PM Central Time (Queue opens at 7:45 PM for questions)
Where: Devon's Unfiltered Youtube Channel
Do you have a question or comment? Please visit this page.
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Collection - Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion