Rachel Folz

People, product, and process pro.

Certified Scrum Product Owner – my real, unpaid review

Going into this year, I was exploring some different classes and certificate options to broaden my knowledge. Since I am an organic product practitioner, I only know what I’ve lived and read. I thought a class would be a fun way to grow. Here’s the thing – I hate recorded classes. There were some very cool, very fancy options out there – Cornell, Georgetown, Kellog, etc., but they didn’t offer live classes. I knew my value would decrease if I didn’t have live interaction. Without real people engaging, I zone out. I like to learn from others.

Weeding through reviews

For months, I poured over reviews anywhere I could find them. The problem is there are so many options out there, and many of the reviews I found were paid. Ew. I asked mentors. I even reached out to people quoted in the testimonials to see if their experience matched what was promised.

I was underwater, in my least favorite state – analysis paralysis. I didn’t want to pick the wrong one. Even though my company offers educational reimbursement, I was wary of programs with high price tags. 

But seriously, which way?

So, in the end, I set my sights on earning my Certified Scrum Product Owner designation from the Scrum Alliance. Scrum Alliance had repeatedly popped up, and because of COVID, many of these live virtual classes were being offered at a steep discount. A trusted name and a COVID-times bargain – I was in. I signed up for a 16-hour weekend class for January 9-10. I mean, what else is there to do?

Expectations vs. Reality

Frankly, I went in with low expectations. I expected a junky class with bad tech and few deliverables. I was very wrong. My class, taught by Eric Tucker from Sustained Agility, was engaging and informative. The whole course was interactive and conducted via a super board on Miro. 

A tiny piece of our class’ giant Miro board.

Within this board, we worked on various elements of a group project that helped us tie back to real-world experiences implementing and living in Scrum. Eric expertly utilized Breakout Rooms to keep us active and connected. It also featured a “Choose Your Own Scrum Adventure Activity” that was crazy close to real life. I learned so much from the other attendees from industries such as healthcare, insurance, manufacturing and financial services. 

Over the course of the two days, I learned more about Scrum than I have for the past three years reading endless Medium articles. Now, we aren’t a Scrum org – that’s okay. There still was a lot of value to be earned here. My biggest takeaways were a few new decision-making frameworks that I immediately put into place at work Monday morning. 

After the class, I felt satisfied that I took a step forward in my journey towards being a more well-rounded product leader. Oh, and I ditched at least 20% of my imposter syndrome. I call that a weekend well spent. 

Certified Scrum Product Owners