Lean Agile at the Team

Providing Your Teams The Agile Skills They Need When Starting Scrum, SAFe or Kanban

If you are interested in more effective and less costly team level training (including team coaches) than that provided by SAI, click here.

Most team-level training focuses on the frameworks that people will work within. We have found that focusing on their actual work is not only more useful, but prevents the resistance sometimes seen. Frameworks should be used to guide an organization and provide an agreed upon method of collaboration and focus. But understanding how to the work in an Agile way is still required and actually more important.  How training in a framework to be adopted and the work to be done within it is critical. Learning a framework first typically only leaves time to describe the actual Agile skills they need - but not how to do them. By spending less time on the framework and more on basic Agile skills first enables immediate improvement. It does require, however, an effective way to fill in the rest of the framework. But people will learn this more readily because now they will better understand its purpose.

Undertaking Agile is not merely an adoption of a new framework or process. It requires all roles to be able to fulfill their roles. The best way to do this is to provide an initial combination of training in the core skill areas required followed by on-the-job, online, consultant training to go deeper. This differs marketedly from the standard approach that has the initial training focus be on the Scrum or SAFe framework and then providing embedded coaches to bring the company's Scrum Masters up to speed, while requiring any technical practices and Agile management to be brought in at extra cost. There is only so much that can be absorbed in the initial workshop. Most of the time should be spent actually working on their own work so it is better retained.

For teams adopting Scrum, for both organizations doing or not doing SAFe, the following needs to be learned:

  1. Scrum
  2. Agile requirements and writing stories
  3. Product owner role
  4. Scrum Master Role
  5. Technical Agile (i.e., writing quality code)
  6. Management's role

When a team is being trained it is critical to focus on what they will have the most challenge learning - agile requirements and writing small stories. They mostly just need to be made aware of the other roles. Scrum itself is simple enough to give them just an overview - their Scrum Master should be able to guide them later. A distinction between which concepts/skills are most important and those that can be taught later must be made. Proponents of frameworks, while well-meaning, over-emphasize the importance of their frameworks. Instead, a focus on the more difficult skills to learn that sets up learning the framework is a better method.

Three aspects of the initial adoption of Scrum must be considered:

  1. what do we teach the team
  2. how do we support them after the initial workshop
  3. how do we provide support to the roles they interact with

Net Objectives provides all three of these by:

  1. focusing on Agile skills needed for teams to do their work in the workshop while providing just the core knowledge of the framework
  2. providing a support system for the teams to fill in any questions they will encounter
  3. providing online training for management, product owners and Scrum Masters

By using innovative training and coaching techniques all of the critical skills needed to start adoption of Scrum can be provided at about the same per/person cost. People can only absorb so much up front so most of the workshop is hand-on work which is retained.  

Team level adoptions require six skill areas. The following table compares what is offered in a typical CSM training for a team compared to what we offer. 

Topics Covered Team Training Via CSM Scrum with Agile Requirements
Scrum Framework Initial Training Focuses on this Only essence covered. Scrum Master Coaching Academy included so that Scrum Master can provide rest as needed
Requirements Only canned examples provided Product owner and Dev Teams work on their own stories
Design / Code / Test need to provide later Foundations of Sustainable Design*
Scrum Master been exposed to Scrum Master
role via training but provides
no follow up support 

Scrum Master Coaching Academy Included** 
This includes templates for all Scrum Practices

Product Owner the role is explained but no hands on provided in initial training work with teams on building their actual stories
Management need to provide later FLEX Essentials**

* Provided for all developers

** Provided for selected Scrum Masters and Management

Net Objectives has put together a comprehensive program for Scrum and SAFe teams that directly addresses the major problems we’ve seen that a framework focused training leaves in its wake. Our Scrum With Agile Requirements: Achieving Sustainable Agility includes the core of what is needed for teams. We have a slightly extended version for those organizations doing SAFe. Both provide enough framework but focus on the work of Agile. Innovative methods of training allow for it to be delivered at a significantly lower cost than CSM or SAFe® For Teams Training. This focus on the work and not the framework allows us to cover Acceptance Test-Driven Developmen in initial training. Developers appreciate making their job easier instead of requiring them to follow more ceremonies than they'd like. We’ve found that starting with ATDD immediately solves many of the challenges teams have and eases teams’ adoptions of Agile. These courses do not include ATDD with tools. We cover through Level 3 of ATDD as described in How to Start with ATDD using BDD.

Because we believe that training companies should not require that their clients spend even more on follow up coaching, we include the following consultant supported, self-paced, online courses:

* included at no additional charge.

** two free seats for every 25 people  

Your biggest investment is not just in the dollars you spend on training but on the time your teams learn Agile. By having self-paced training after the initial workshops your teams can improve without the additional expense of hiring outside coaches for each team.

If you have several hundred people to train provide a Train-the-Trainer program and a to lower your overall cost of adoption.

A Breakthrough in Training Methods

We can deliver significantly more for significantly less because we use innovative training techniques which combine large class sizes when that improves the workshop and one-on-one coaching when teaching teams how to do their own work. We also focus on what people really need to learn. A focus on what teams actually do make the workshops more interesting, immediately useful and save time by not covering things that don’t relate to the team.

We take advantage of the larger class sizes so that

  • Product Owners, Scrum Masters and developers work together which facilitates learning
  • Using exercises and games to enable larger class sizes while keeping it interesting
  • Doing one-on-one team coaching to ground the practices in the teams' actual work
  • Using workshop leaders who are are skilled practitioners and consultants with an average of 15+ years in Agile methods

Providing Your Own Support Structure

Team training is just the start. You need a support structure as well. Ideally, that support structure is provided by your own staff. All of our team-level offerings provide templates and checklists for attendees to use after their workshops. These can help support your teams.

We are thought leaders in every team-level framework and method (Scrum, XP, Kanban). We understand that one solution does not fit every situation. Every organization has its own challenges and its own ecosystem. Our approach to training lays the groundwork for successful collaboration among teams. The focus is on realizing Business value across the organization rather than merely on teams completing items of work. And we can deliver short extensions to our training that include how development groups of less than fifty can more effectively work together.

Team Courses We Offer

Our main team courses we offer are all based on Effective Agile Requirements: Acceptance Test-Driven Development with Behavior-Driven Development. Everyone agrees that at some point you’ll need to learn test-first Agile requirements. The reality is you need to learn that upfront. We include that in all of our team courses because we have created a method that enables this training up front while costing less. For those who only want to learn ATDD.

If you need to learn Scrum or SAFe for Teams, we recommend these courses:

Both of these include our online Scrum Master Coaching Academy which trains Scrum Masters in an “on-the-job” manner. 

We don’t normally include prices because we focus on quality. However, we don’t believe people are aware of the high cost certification carries so we’ve included price in the comparison. We could not get confirmation of the price of the CSM classes and are using anecdotal information. Our guess is that it is actually higher than stated.


Comparing our Team Level Courses With ATDD to CSM and SAFe for Team Classes
Topics Covered CSM® SAFe®


Half-day pre-workshop preparation (1) N N Y Y Y
Focuses on the framework being taught Y Y - N N
Focuses on the work teams actually do N N Y Y Y
Core Scrum practices Y Y - Y Y
Scrum Master Role Y N - N N
SAFe at the Team Level N Y - N Y (2)
Learn how to write small stories with ATDD N N Y Y Y
Decompose your own features into small stories (in three days or less) during the course N N Y Y Y
Every team gets a half-day of personal 1-1 coaching in the class/workshop N N Y Y Y
Remote attendees allowed N N Y Y Y
Focused on team (Product Owner, developer team, Scrum Master) N Y Y Y Y
Includes systems-thinking and core Lean principles N partially Y Y Y
Requires Multiple Offerings Y N N N N
All attendees enrolled in online Foundations of Sustainable Design ($295 value each) N N Y Y Y
2 Enrollment in Scrum Master Coaching Academy for every 25 people in workshop ($1195 value) N N Y Y Y
2 enrollments in Lean-Agile at the Mid-Scale: FLEX Essentials for every 25 people in workshop ($295 value each) N N Y Y Y
Access to Scrum support system by all attendees (4) N N Y Y Y
Cost for 25 attendees $15,000 $15,000 $13,500 $18,500 $21,000
Cost for 50 attendees $30,000 $30,000 $20,250 $26,750 $30,000
Cost for 75 attendees $45,000 $45,000 $29,250 $37,250 $41,250
Value of included online, coach supported, training for every 25 people - - $10,175 $10,175 $10,175
  1. Enables course to be tuned to participants
  2. This is slightly abridged SAFe material. We've found some is best delivered just before the teams' first program increment planning event

What We Don't Cover, And Why

All of the above courses offer True North Consortium accreditation but do not offer certification from Scrum Alliance or SAI. We do not cover some details in both Scrum and SAFe for teams that are better covered after starting team level Agile.  

List of Courses

This workshop includes what teams new to Scrum and SAFe need integrated with Acceptance Test-Driven Development.  If you just want Acceptance Test-Driven Development for your SAFe teams, you should take our Effective Agile Requirements: Acceptance Test-Driven Development with Behavior-Driven...
This workshop equips the software triad (customer/Business stakeholder, developer, and tester) turn requirements into software-development specifications. They learn how to use Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD) using Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) to create a non-controversial definition...
Implementing Team Agility provides a solid understanding of the principles, key tenets, and practices for implementing a lean-agile approach. The course is specifically intended for the ‘whole’ team – all skills necessary to define, prioritize, build, and implement increments of business value....
This workshop is essentially the same as Scrum With Agile Requirements: Achieving Sustainable Agility with an additional half day to cover what teams need to know when they are working in an organization that is doing SAFe or something like SAFe. In that half day we provide an overview of what SAFe...
The intention of teams adopting Scrum should be to help them quickly deliver value to customers predictably, sustainably and with high quality. Although Scrum was created for a single team doing development it is rarely used in exactly that context now. It is part of a bigger picture and teams...
Team Agility Coaching Certification by Net Objectives prepares a person to play the role of the Team Agility coach. In today’s world it is critical that one know why Agile works, not just be given a set of practices to coach the team in performing. While Scrum is a popular Agile method today, it is...
This program trains up to four people in being a trainer of Net Objectives' Implementing Team Agility course while training two groups of up to 20 people each. It achieves this by working with potential trainers and having them observe one course and teach another course with Net Objectives...