Tarin Gamberini

A software engineer and a passionate java programmer

“Agile Project Management” Course Organized by Technology Transfer

I just got back from the two-day Agile Project Management course organized by Technology Transfer and taught by Arie van Bennekum, one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto.

Here you are some of my impressions about this fantastic experience.

Table of Contents


The most valuable part of the courses organized by Technology Transfer is the opportunity to hear teachers and speakers who are experts in their area and whose contributions has been widely acknowledged at the international level.

The organization of this course was excellent:

  • The course was in English, and also available in Italian thanks to two highly competent simultaneous interpreters.
  • The lunch was in the same beautiful location as the course, in the center of Rome.
  • There were two coffee breaks: one at mid-morning and the other at mid-afternoon.
  • All the staff were very kind and quickly dealt with inconveniences to ensure that the course flowed smoothly.


This course was one of the best I’ve ever attended. I really appreciated the opportunity to get a certification.

Arie taught with an energetic and interactive style. He set a rhythm that kept our attention alive by alternating talks and exercise sessions.

During the talks, Arie explained various concepts, accompanying the most relevant ones with an example from his work experience.

The exercises were in groups of: two to four people each, depending on the exercise. Sometimes, before an exercise started, he asked people to mix among the groups.

A spaghetti-marshmallow tower

Arie introduced our first exercise by showing us the fun and interesting spaghetti-marshmallow tower video by Tom Wujec. In the exercise, we had to build a tower using only: dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow.

In this exercise, we started discussing some building strategies. From my engineering studies, I knew that the triangle is the most stable structure, so I proposed my idea. My teammates agreed with me about the triangle but remained perplexed about my idea.

They instead had already built a structure which let the tower gain height. I recognized the value of such solution, so I helped them. A bit later we were having some stability problems when I got an intuition, like a bolt from the blue! I realized how to adapt my original idea to our tower under construction: not vertical triangles, but horizontal triangles, larger at the base, smaller proceeding towards the top.

The best reward was looking at our unexpected solution standing tall and (quite) stable. (Thanks to Benedetta Capasso for the spaghetti-marshmallow photo).

Role Game “Build a Playground”

During the afternoon of the second day, we were split in two teams and each team played a role game that aimed to put into practice everything we had covered in the course.

The SMART objective of the game was building a playground in five sprints, which last fifteen minutes each, with five minutes for the retrospective at the end of each sprint.

We were provided with all the material necessary to play: the playground base, straws, post-its, scissors, a Kanban board, Planning Poker cards, already written cards about epics, user stories, tasks and acceptance requirements.

We began identifying the Business Foundations, Solution Foundations and Management Foundations by sticking each card on the appropriate section of the Kanban board. Then we had a planning poker session during which we estimated each user story.

At that point, we started the first sprint. We did “pair building” (equivalent to pair programming) to avoid information silos. Just before the end of the sprint, we asked to our Business Ambassador (similar to the Scrum’s Product Owner) to verify if tasks met all their acceptance requirements, so that they could have been declared Done. During the sprint, we were transparent about our progress by appropriately moving the various tasks on the Kanban board.

We had the greatest Business Ambassadors available on the market :-) because Arie and Vesselina Andreeva played the game in such role, coaching us during the sprints. (Thanks to Arie and Vesselina for the course photos).

We skipped the Demonstration and Refinement, both to save time and because the role game was intentionally a simplification, but we were still able to be transparent about the project’s progress by drawing a Burndown Chart and keeping it up to date throughout the various sprints.

What I Learned

I came into the “Agile Project Management” course with some expectations, mainly due to my previous ScrumMaster® certification, but I soon realized that those expectations were wrong.

Because Scrum focuses on one team only, I was a little afraid, since I knew that to scale up we would need another framework, like LeSS or Nexus. Instead, Arie made me reflect on how to scale up by including Business roles in the team at project level too, as described in the DSDM team role and responsibility model, also known as “the snowman”.

I discovered the Integrated Agile Transformation Model, the Arie’s plan that make effective the paradigm shift to Agile for organizations.

I gained a deeper comprehension about the importance of the discipline (rituals, Definition of Done and WIP limits) and how discipline helps achieve high quality.

On the whole I reached a new point of view about Agile practices adoption and I gained a more mature knowledge of Agile in general.

Next Learning Steps

I’ve already read “User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development” by Mike Cohn and now I want to read about the seven product dimensions to slice user story.

I also want to read something about group development, starting from the forming–storming–norming–performing model.

That’s all. Thanks for reading. I hope you liked this post :)

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