‘Pay it Forward Agile and Scrum Workshops’ – an Interview with Bachan Anand
1. What exactly is ‘Pay-it-forward Agile & Scrum workshop’ ?
‘Paying it forward – Donation only’ workshops are intended to spread awareness on Agile and Scrum, the new and delightful approach to work that encourages transparency, honesty and collaboration in the workplace. The ‘Pay it Forward’ model is our way of giving back to the community.
2. How and where did you get the inspiration for such a training model ?
The idea of conducting a ‘Pay it Forward’ workshop first came in March 2011, when we were looking for different ways to get the word out for our trainings. I was inspired by the ‘Welfare CSM’ classes by Tobias Mayer and other scrum trainers ( Lyssa Adkins , Scott Dunn etc ) . This, along with a discussion with Tobias on a new way of making Scrum workshops accessible to everyone, resulted in the Pay it Forward model.
3. How does the ‘Pay it Forward’ model differ from ‘Welfare CSM’ classes ?
The ‘Welfare CSM’ classes are mainly Certified ScrumMaster classes, whereas the ‘Pay it Forward’ model is ideally intended for any kind of Agile/Scrum trainings. So far this model has been used for 1-day trainings on ‘Scrum – Values, Foundations and Practices’, ‘Product Visioning Workshop’ and ‘Agile Estimation and Planning Workshop’.
As far as I understand, ‘Welfare CSMs’ are intended for those in transition. ‘Pay it Forward’ workshops are accessible to anyone who is interested in attending, irrespective of whether they are employed, unemployed, students, etc.
4. In your perspective, how do ‘Pay it forward model’ & ‘Scrum & Agile’ fit together ?
When we started out with this model a year ago, I did not have a clear picture on how – and if at all! – they would fit together. Today, after having conducted several such classes, and being part of the Conscires team that plans and organizes these workshops, I can safely say that since Scrum calls for a new and different way for working together, we need new and different Business models to support it. Pay it Forward is one such business model.
5. Since you brought up the business model, can you share with us the Business model behind the ‘Pay it Forward’ workshop ?
I will begin with explaining how the Pay it Forward model works:
1. There will be a regular price (and early bird discount) for each training / workshop.
2. Anyone interested in attending the training is welcome to offer any price for the training.
3. There is a suggested minimum donation for each workshop, but one can choose to pay lower than that.
4. No one will be turned away from the training because they paid too low an amount.
5. However, this is not a free workshop, one has to pay at least $1 (or £1 or INR 1)
Coming to the business model, there are three parties involved:
1. Attendee / Consumer.
2. Trainer / Service Provider.
3. Planning and Promoting party.
The idea is, these workshops will be conducted by trainers who are highly motivated to spread this way of working to anyone who is interested in learning it, without letting money be a barrier. For the trainers, this is a great way of spreading knowledge about what they truly care for and reach out to the audience, who may have further use their services. So far, 80% of the trainers who have done Pay it Forward workshops, have received at least one follow-up training or coaching opportunity.
As for the planning and promoting party, it is a great way of promoting their company and, in addition, they get the extra happiness of providing a service to the community . We at Conscires constantly come up against this question: ‘How do we sustain this business model?’ So far, it has been working remarkably well, with follow -up training and coaching opportunities coming our way. We have also received admirable support from folks in the local area to promote the trainings.
6. All that sounds good, but don’t you need money to survive as a trainer or as a company in the world, is this another “New Age thingy” ?
Interesting question! The way I see it, the spirit behind the Pay it Forward model is to move towards the ‘Old Age’ where people used to barter services! We are far from those days, of course, but this is one way of exchanging services.
Pay it Forward is not totally FREE, so there is still money involved. However, it differs from a typical business model in that, it is not all about money, it is more about doing what you care for, respecting others and offering what you can for a service and finally doing an awesome job, so that the relationship continues beyond a workshop.
7. Tell us little bit about your experience as a Pay it Forward trainer ?
Having done these trainings for a year, I want to say one gets addicted to it. It is amazing how humble & happy you feel when you see the gratitude of the attendees for offering a model easily accessible to them, something that may have been impossible otherwise. Similar thoughts have been echoed by the other trainers as well. Some people take a chance and come to these trainings thinking this is part of a marketing scheme, to sell something else, and they are pleasantly surprised that all we talk about is Agile & Scrum!
I have heard and listened to people stressing the “Power of Giving ” and, since I don’t believe in charity, I haven’t frankly done a lot of Giving. The Pay it Forward model helped me experience “Giving is Receiving ” because I didn’t have to consider the other person as weak and that I need to help them. In this scenario we are all playing with the same rules , we give what we can ( knowledge , money etc. ) and we are all open to receiving what comes out and we are ready to be surprised.
I also want to express my gratitude for all the Trainers who are part of the Pay it forward model and my colleagues at Conscires and other organizations who continue to support these trainings.
8. Do you have some training statistics to share with us?
Yes, I do. We have trained over 600 people (in the period from March 2011 to May 2012) in 50 trainings across 19 cities in the US, by 7 trainers!
9. So… what’s next ?
Without looking too far ahead, we’re now focused on making the existing model flourish. A few things we have in mind are:
1. Geting more local support for the trainings so that it becomes an ‘attraction, rather than promotion’.
2. To remove the misconception that Pay it Forward means low quality, we recently raised the regular price of the trainings. We need to observe how this change affects the model.
3. We’re looking out for more trainers who are interested in being a part of this model.
4. Launching this program in India
5. Implement the Pay if Forward model for Coaching and private trainings.