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Meet Alistair (Alex) Sloley


CSP Alistair (Alex) Sloley lives in Black Diamond, Washington, and works in Bellevue, Washington, at Construx Software Builders, Inc.

For you, what is the main difference between the initial CSM, CSPO, or CSD certifications and a CSP certification?
The CSP certification indicates that the Scrum practitioner has experience actually leading organizations in Agile transformations. The CSP means more than experience, though; it means the practitioner has dedicated himself or herself to furthering their knowledge of Scrum through study and engagement in the Scrum community.

What was your favorite part about becoming a CSP?
My favorite part in transitioning to the CSP was the engagement and collaboration I have enjoyed with other CSPs and Scrum practitioners in the community.

Give us an example of how the CSP certification has helped you in your career?
My CSP certification tells my clients that I am serious about Scrum. The CSP is also a natural rung in the ladder of pursuing the CST and CSC.

How did you first find out about Scrum?
The first ScrumMaster I met was at Microsoft in 2007; she had previously been a ScrumMaster at REI. She trained me as the first ScrumMaster of the Scrum pilot project in our group. We keep in touch to this day -- I even attended her wedding celebration recently.

What do you find easiest about Scrum?
I love the fact that Scrum is easy to learn. When I spin up a Scrum team, or even explain it to my kids, the concepts are easy to understand and just seem like common sense.

What do you find most difficult about Scrum?
Well-executed Scrum requires discipline and rigorous dedication. The Scrum team and especially the ScrumMaster need to be trained, nurtured, and coached so that they learn how to sustain an effective Scrum environment.

What's your best -- or worst -- worst work experience using Scrum?
My most recent success was helping kick-start a new pilot Scrum team at a large research company that is ISO compliant. The pilot was wildly successful and the team presented their work and success to the board of directors and at local conferences. As a result, one of the main pillars of their 2015 IT strategy is to take the entire IT department Agile. The developers love it, the business appreciates the rapid feedback and delivery, and the quality of the product is better than ever.

Have I had bad experiences and failures as well? Of course! The failures are sometimes more valuable than the successes when it comes to your personal experience. As long as you fail fast, that is!

How has using Scrum changed you?
Scrum has changed my entire professional career. I left a company I had been with for 15 years because I wanted to experience Scrum in different and exciting companies that were as invested in Scrum as I was.

If you could add one thing to Scrum, what would it be?
Some of the biggest challenges I see on Scrum teams are related to the condition of the backlog. Refinement meetings are considered a best practice; I would make the refinement meeting the fifth official Scrum ceremony.

Do you use Scrum in your life outside of work? If so, how?
I use Scrum to manage my personal tasks at my job as a Scrum consultant, coach, and trainer. I even use it at home for the family chore list! A close friend I trained in Scrum used it to manage his home remodel with his contractors.

What advice would you give to someone new to Scrum?
At its root, Scrum is the scientific process. Experimentation is central to that process. I encourage all new Scrum practitioners to try new things and see how they work out and adjust as necessary, dependent on results. Don't say you can't do something. Just do it, see what happens, and adapt.

What is your favorite quote?
Well, if it's a serious Scrum quote, then it's: "Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it." -- Bruce Lee

If it's a non-serious quote, then it's: "All we are is dust in the wind, dude." -- Ted "Theodore" Logan, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure