Creating opportunities to deliver value (as an Independent Scrum Caretaker)

I have wandered the fascinating realms of IT, technology and software development since graduating in 1992, except for the years of running a bookstore (1996-1999). I discovered an Agile way of working through eXtreme Programming and Scrum in 2003. It became my purpose, my belief and my core; spreading the Agile paradigm to help people create better products and humanize their workplace.

After a career as a consultant (2001-2013) and spending 3 years working exclusively at Scrum.org as partner to Ken Schwaber, in 2016 I decided to further my path as an independent Scrum Caretaker; a connector, writer, speaker, humanizer.

I’ve come to accept the difficulty of grasping what this holds. I understand the difficulty when people offer me positions and assignments, assuming I am desperate (for money, status, work). Regardless, through my self-chosen ‘title’ I consider the areas through which to deliver value to the world, to help that world become a better place to live and to work in.

  • Classes“: Facilitating people’s knowledge and insights in Scrum through Professional Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Product Owner classes, and custom workshops.
  • Events“: Attending and speaking at events.
  • Writing“: Creating papers, a new book and blog notes (reproduced at some other channels).
  • Consulting“: Working with teams and organizations, upon the non-negotiable requirements that it must be personal, about Scrum and serious.

Every activity involves plenty of hours of devising the right words and even many more hours of silent reflection, travelling mental cobblestone labyrinths. I don’t look for money for every single activity in every single service area. Context prevails.

From my standard offer of services:

Through my work I have come to appreciate the uniqueness of every person, team, department and organisation. It has inspired me to move away from fixed approaches. (…) I don’t require specific task descriptions. I require no title. I don’t post my assignments or expose the name of your organisation, unless you explicitly allow or ask me to do so.

Through the initiative of the Scrum Caretakers meetups, I see my experience confirmed that it is not easy being a Scrum Caretaker. It takes quite some intrinsic motivation, belief and dedication (a purpose) to give up (paid) time for mere collaboration on open-ended topics that rarely serve a commercial purpose. It did get me in touch with a lot of non-usuals suspects, outside of the threaded paths of ‘Agile’. The sheer beauty of that experience makes up for a lot of the sacrifices.

I am gratified for the opportunities I stumbled into through my years at work. It served me well in becoming what I didn’t know I wanted (or was able) to be. Most dots only got connected in retrospect, still making it seem as if there was a plan. There wasn’t. In general I had no clue. I still haven’t. But becoming an independent Scrum Caretaker did help me shift towards creating opportunities to deliver value, and help more people deliver value. Reciprocity.

Introducing the Scrum Caretakers initiative

Discovering what drives me is a never-ending journey (1). Starting with eXtreme Programming and Scrum in 2003 was a life changing experience.

My work for different consulting companies (2001-2012) was spent on Scrum. I authored a pocket guide to Scrum in 2013. I went to work with the Scrum.org team and Ken Schwaber in 2013. In 2016 I decided to further my journey of Scrum on an independent basis.

Discovering what drives me is a never-ending journey (2). The stable essence is that:

I care about people. I care about Scrum. I care about helping people create better products and a more humane workplace through Scrum. I care about helping people re-imagine their organisations.

I detached myself from any fixed organisational structure. Of the tangible goals I had in mind, one was to start a community initiative for Scrum across Belgium and the Netherlands, the Scrum Caretakers.

Belgium is where some of my core insights in Scrum were created (2003-2010). Since 2010 however I have worked primarily in the Netherlands. Scrum is completely under-used in Belgium. Scrum is huge in the Netherlands, and splintered. I initiated the Scrum Caretakers community, currently already materialised as a meet-up group.

Anyone can join, from any place in the world, and have access to whatever it is we create. Actual get-togethers are organised alternately in Belgium and the Netherlands for the time being.