May 3, 2018

A journey in Agility beyond IT

The experience of a student of a Certified ScrumMaster training and what followed for his working life

In 2017, Gia-Thi Nguyen attended a Certified ScrumMaster course in Berlin. What follows, in his own words, are his experience, success, and joy.

I have been with Siemens for about 16 years and worked in different functions. At the moment I am the Head of Operational Excellence within the Digital Factory (DF) division and responsible for several processes in our regional companies all over the world. Working in the financial realm, I believe that an agile mindset can be applied to any environment and it was important for me to have the necessary competence to understand and apply Scrum methodologies to drive our own internal Digital Transformation activities. You can read more about our ongoing Digitalization story.

I have colleagues who have joined different training institutions but the overwhelmingly positive feedback was about agile42. As a bonus, Berlin is always a nice place. My aim was, firstly, to understand in an experiential way the methodologies of Scrum and, secondly, to validate and challenge what I knew/thought I know. I was really excited by the extremely high level of positive energy in the room coming from both trainers and participants and I enjoyed the diversity of backgrounds. The context (food, location, setting, etc.) was very cool as well. In the end, what stuck with me was the importance of focusing on being agile, rather than just doing Scrum. By the end of the course, not only had I experienced Scrum and secured my own knowledge, but I felt confident enough to pass that knowledge on to my colleagues.

Scenes from CSM training

The overall impact of the course on my working life has been incredible. I lead different Projects on a global scale. Now, when I start projects, I do not plan with lengthy timelines, but focus on what I can deliver and by when, using monthly sprints. Furthermore, no more excel or powerpoint for status tracking; just a picture of a Product/Sprint Backlog and reviewing delivered value. My team is always pulled and not pushed, especially when I am building it up. I used to have 10+ team members (pushed) when I took over the project, but now, for this initiative, by pulling the right set of competences, we ended up becoming only a team of 3. We have no more business requirements, but simple user stories. Adding constant incremental value means no more timelines with year-long phases! 

We used Sprint planning for our milestones, regional on-site workshops which were a task from our backlog. The aim of the workshops was to go thoroughly through the processes of a regional company to jointly define concrete actions aimed at achieving our shared goals.  

After 5 Sprints, a lean team of 3 process experts has conducted nearly 30 on-site workshops in different countries with the aim of supporting the local processes in order management through concrete measures. This was achieved in one year, although initially this process was planned to take more than 2 years. The process was very natural, and the faster progress happened despite having to spend a lot of time and energy in the beginning to “explain” why we do it the way we do it. These changes have created a faster, leaner, more motivated organization with better collaboration. In addition, we increased our initial planned financial targets by more than 70% and had the first savings much earlier as well. 

Going into the future we feel confident that this was no fluke and that we will reproduce the results on an even larger scale in different fields by applying the same mindset and practices. And so the journey continues.

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Gia Thi Nguyen

Certified Scrum Master with focus on being agile rather than doing Scrum.
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Image of giathi.nguyen

Gia Thi Nguyen

Certified Scrum Master with focus on being agile rather than doing Scrum.

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