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  • Tom Milne - Guest Post

Scrum Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Scrum for Executives

As a week old employee of a brand new company, my CTO at the time came in and started writing on my whiteboard in big letters the word SCRUM. I remember him hitting the word SCRUM over and over with his finger like we were going through some process ritual that I should already understand to work there. He continued on, madly scribbling and talking about the items written in the left and right columns with his voice getting louder and louder. He filled the entire 10x12 board in about 15-minutes. When he finished I stood there thinking who is the chicken or pig in his diagram. As I continued to stare at the whiteboard for a while, nodding my head as he continued, hoping he would think I was following along, my brain was fixated on what this all had to do with bacon and eggs and my new sales division? Then, as quickly as he walked in, he was gone, leaving me staring at my whiteboard, although I could still hear him mumbling walking down the hall back in his office. I had years of operational and sales experience and I understood what he was trying to technically solve but I actually had solved the issue in my mind earlier with the scripting revisions I was doing before he came in. But that SCRUM word stuck in my brain. With no understanding of the process and a quick 15-minute crazed introduction, the experience left my brain stuck on the chicken, the pig, and a rugby formation. Not on what he had accomplished. So, I quietly erased my board and continued with the sales scripting I was doing beforehand.

That same CTO is a wonderful Friend to this day and someone who I affectionately call the most beautiful bat-shit-crazy human I know. He is an intellectual savant with restless brain syndrome and didn’t sleep for days at a time. These passionate whiteboard meetings became the norm of day-to-day business at our new company between him and me, but we never talked about SCRUM again.

Why did I paint this One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest picture for you? Well, when this wonderful man left our business a year later, I took over the Client Project Management and Integrations of that awesome sales scripting software system he had built. I was still doing my duties of all our Client Management as well. Looking back, I really wished that silly word had crossed my desk again and I had dug in a bit more and became committed to understanding the agile process in the software he created and I will tell you why in a minute.

My CTO Friend left the company awhile later and me having a next up mentality, I was pushed myself into some of his duties, which turned into something awesome. I was already great at client facing sales and understood sales techniques well but what I really found is, I had more of a love for my client's businesses. A great desire emerged in me to ensure my client's success within the company. I blame it on being an Aries and being extremely loyal and aggressively protective. I went to great lengths to understand each of my client’s businesses, products, marketing, and operations inside and out. This included becoming an expert on all of their vendors too. In doing this, it allowed me to effectively train and mentor hundreds of our sales Agents both virtually and in person to become the best Direct Response sales team in the nation. Like I said, I also had taken on some of his responsibility and built out the Client Integrations Project Management software and had trained most of the new staff as we grew. So my relationships and understanding were rock solid with the Operations Team. I then used my sales skills and operational knowledge to massively build out the company’s footprint in the industry. What I didn’t know at the time was I was reinventing myself into the most requested Client Account and Performance Director in the Direct Response industry. I also had not idea that all my unique experiences had become a text book job description for a new job title called Client Success Management.

Remember when I said I would tell you why I wished I had learned more about Agile Management? Well, the time has come for me to look for my next company to bring my talents to and I live here in the newly dubbed Silicon Slopes. So naturally what kinds of interviews do you think I am getting? Yup, lots of technology companies. Although I am interviewing for Client Success Executive positions, I still wished I had become a SCRUM Master on a few more technology projects to add to my professional experiences.

Tom Milne

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