About the Instructor: Simon Bennett
Over a decade’s experience in teaching the CSPO
Simon has been teaching the CSPO since its inception. Not every CST is certified to teach the CSPO and not every CST chooses to teach it either. Many CST’s are naturally Team or software development focussed, leading them to concentrate primarily on excellence in ScrumMastery or Team dynamics. While this is both necessary and vital, it can sometimes be detrimental when it comes to training Product Owners. Often the focus is purely on how the Product Owner can serve the team.
The Product Owner role is very different from the ScrumMaster role. It is a commercial function, more business focussed. It requires a different background, a different mindset and a different emphasis to teach well. This is why that for many years, the Scrum Alliance made it a requirement that in order to teach the CSPO, the instructor in question must have been a Product Owner for at least two years prior to teaching it. In order to meet increased demand for Product Owner training, this requirement has since been lifted.
Real World Product Ownership and Product Management Experience
Simon’s has a background in Business Analysis, Product Management, Project Management and of course Product Ownership. Pair this with an Executive MBA and this makes Simon the ideal choice to teach the CSPO certification. Simply put, he has a powerful combination of lived experience and formal qualifications.
The result is a course that focuses on the day to day reality of Product Ownership bringing a level of understanding and empathy that can sometimes be lost when the focus is on (and only on) how a theoretically perfect Product Owner should be.
A wide range of experiences in different industries
There is no one size fits all Agile. What’s appropriate for a start-up is not going to be suitable for an established enterprise or government agency. Simon has worked on everything from large military projects with budgets in the hundreds of millions using traditional and heavily regulated Waterfall methods such as 2167A and MIL-STD-498 And also to the surprise of many – Scrum!3
But equally he’s also worked for several start-ups discovering eXtreme Programming and Crystal along the way; later for incubators, government research labs, banks, airlines and non profit organisations.
He’s applied Scrum to hardware, software, analytics, data science & finance. He’s successfully dealt with multiple regulatory frameworks and environments. His most recent adventures have been in the heady of world of APRA Compliance Programmes.
Each of these new contexts has provided an opportunity for him to hone his craft and to get closer to the heart of Scrum, creating an ability to not just making it work, but work well, every single time.
Scrum is not just for small teams and simple projects. And it’s not just for software either. The beauty of Scrum is in how widely applicable the framework can be once you understand it deeply enough. Come and learn what’s possible.
Whilst the heart of Agile may well be “individual and interactions” the reality of today’s world is that we now live in a global business environment where even the simplest of projects can to live across multiple cultures and time zones. Over the last 25 years, Simon has worked throughout the UK, Australia, NZ, the USA, Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, the Middle East and Asia – programmes and portfolios of work involving three or more regions and time zones4.
Scaled Scrum Pioneer
Long before there were “Agile scaling frameworks” such as LeSS and SAFe – Simon along with his colleagues at Conchango (UK) was masterminding what we’d now call scaled and distributed Agile projects across Europe, Asia and America (sometimes all three!)
As part of this process, he quickly to learned that you’ve failed to scale agile until you’ve effectively scaled Product Ownership. And if you’re going to scale something, you better first understand how it works.
Scaling Product Ownership is a core part of scaling any agility to any meaningful level. Implementing Product Ownership poorly at scale hamstrings your ability to scale successfully (or indeed at all).
Scaling agile is very often done badly, becoming little more than “Waterfall with Stand Ups” or at the very least somewhat become deeply wasteful as it scales, dramatically reducing its effectiveness.
The worst way to scale anything is to learn it from a book. We suggest that you instead learn directly from the architect of some of the most successful scaled and distributed Agile Implementations on the planet. Scrum is fractal, it was meant to scale. And Scale Gracefully. Come learn how.
More of Simon Bennett
When trainers and coaches talk about their agile experience they’re often exclusively talking about experience as a trainer or a coach. And whilst experienced trainers and coaches are undeniably a good thing, it’s still not the same as lived experience working inside a Scrum Team, or working as a Product Owner. Experience with genuine skin in the game, experience with all the inevitable trade offs, compromises and stakeholder demands that need to be met on a regular, sometimes daily basis.
Starting his Agile journey as a practitioner in the mid 1990’s, Simon is one of the most experienced, if not the most experienced coach, consultant or trainer currently working in Australia today.
When Ken Schwaber, original Agile Manifesto signatory, co-creator of Scrum and founder of the Scrum Alliance wanted to create a new Scrum Certification for the Scrum Alliance, who did he want on the team? Ken reached out to Simon Bennett and Colin Bird who were at the time both working for Conchango in the UK. Colin and Simon had previously worked with Ken on multiple previous occasions most famously on “Scrum for Team System” a Team Foundation Server (TFS) Process Template and associated Scrum Guidance.5
Simon was also invited by the Agile Alliance to sit on the Agile 2013 Stalwarts stage to speak to the topic of “Agile Contracting: A Systems Thinking perspective” alongside Jeff Sutherland, Ron Jeffries, Chet Hendrickson, Linda Rising, Steve Bell, James Newkirk and change management guru Linda Rising.
More of Simon Bennett
The Agile manifesto begins with the declaration “…we have come to value… Individuals and Interactions” — since then the focus has mostly been on the interactions. Team work! Collaboration! Which is of course important.
In contrast to this, the Scrum Guide as well as a great many coaches and trainers, mandate that the Product Owner must be an individual and not a committee – and then places the weight of the world (or at least the work of 10 people) on their shoulders.
Product Ownership can be both mentally and emotionally taxing – after all it’s about making decisions, that have consequences. Again and again and again.
Ultimately the quality of these decisions are going to be affected by the emotional health and mental resilience of the person making them, which is why Simon has focussed so much in this area over the last 10 years.
Simon speaking publicly about this topic (Starting with The Perils of Prioritisation in 2012) as well as offering one on one coaching for Product Owners, especially in high pressure, high stakes environments. If you want people to bring their “whole selves” to work then you need to be prepared to deal with it.
“The Mindful Manager” has come to be Simon’s most popular talk in this genre, and in the last 5 years he has been invited to give it all over the world — often in conjunction with its companion workshop “Toyota Kata for the Mind”
Leveraging off his formal education in both Commercial Law and Game Theory, Simon has been working on “the problem” of Agile Contracting and Outsourcing since 2008, first publishing his work in the 6 out of 5 star rated workshop6 “The Prisoner’s Dilemma: Applying Game Theory to the Problem of Agile Contracting” at Agile 2009 in Chicago.
Since then, as an invited speaker, he has since spoken all over the world both publicly and privately on the topic of Agile Contracting and Outsourcing; alongside consulting on several high value outsourcing deals. (To both vendors and the clients)
His motivation has always been “how can we protect the interests of vendors and clients in a manner equal or better than a traditional contract does, whilst still retaining and maybe even amplifying the benefits of an Agile way of working” and after 10 years of mulling over the problem, he feels he’s pretty much cracked it.
Whilst agile contracting is still only a small part of the the industry, this way of working is slowly gaining traction. Too many people are still struggling in this area, believing that there are no answers! In today’s ever distributed and outsourced world, this work in what Simon now calls inter-organisational agility is becoming more relevant than ever.