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Meet Philipp Eisbacher

CSP-SM™ Philipp Eisbacher is a ScrumMaster and Agile Coach at Netconomy GmbH in Graz, Austria.

For you, what is the main difference between where you began as a CSM®, CSPO®, or CSD® and becoming a CSP®?
I started as a CSM after years of traditional project management. I just had a gut feeling that Scrum was better than everything I heard and did before. It sounded really simple, and everything made sense immediately. Now I know that it’s as simple as it sounds, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’ve experienced a lot of challenges, and, as a CSP, I feel prepared to help teams overcome the challenges ahead.

What is your favorite part about becoming a CSP?
I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of great people all over Europe. I started by attending and helping to organize a local user group. After a short time I went to London, Berlin, Hamburg, Brno, and many other places to meet and talk to different people in different companies. This made my view of Scrum and the possibilities much broader but clearer.

Give us an example of how the CSP certification has helped you in your career?
All the experience I gathered during the way to the CSP brought me the courage to make CSM a 100% job, and this was one of my best decisions in my professional life.

How did you first find out about Scrum?
I worked on a “death march,” and one of the project managers came in the office with Mike Cohn’s Succeeding with Agile. He said we should do this. I read the book, went to a class, and that’s how everything started.

What do you find easiest about Scrum?
Reading the Scrum Guide. After this, the tricky part starts. But the Scrum Guide is a very clear and good document for knowing what the boundaries are.

What do you find most difficult about Scrum?
At the moment, misconceptions about Scrum. Now that Scrum is quite mainstream, many people sell the “true way” of being successful with it. It is hard for new Scrum practitioners to distinguish between what is really necessary to succeed with Scrum and what are tools that can help but need to be evaluated and used in the right context.

What’s your best/worst work experience using Scrum?
I once entered a retrospective with a team that had been doing Scrum for a few years, and they immediately sat down and started writing sticky notes. I sat there for two or three minutes, then I asked them what they were doing. “Retrospective,” they said. Then they complained that things always stay the same and finished the meeting by asking someone to document the meeting in the wiki system. It took a few rounds to get them out of this routine and into a mode where the retrospective was a meeting where change got triggered.

How has using Scrum changed you?
At university I studied sociology but always worked as a software developer. After discovering Scrum in 2012, I was able to combine my interests, and this made me more passionate about what I do. It offered me the chance to think about more than processes and technical. I was able to focus more on people and their interactions, and this brought me more fun every day.

If you could add one thing to Scrum, what would it be?
There is only one thing I would add, or at least I would repeat to get it incorporated by every user of Scrum: Scrum is not there to make you succeed immediately. The insights that Scrum provides and the extensive use of all involved brains are the keys to success.

Do you use Scrum in your life outside of work? If yes, how?
I found it on a sign but researched it to find that Benjamin Franklin said it. It is a thing I see often, but it is a good learning point. With short iterations, you can also learn this quite fast.

What advice would you give to someone new to Scrum?
Find people using Scrum. Join a local community about Scrum, Agile, or anything close to it. I gained most of my insights by talking to people in similar situations or people who already overcame obstacles similar to my own.
Also, I would say that if you feel confident in some areas, then try to start helping others as soon as possible, as you learn a lot by teaching and helping.

What is your favorite quote, and why?
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”