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Journey to Mastery

When Michelangelo was asked how he created such beautiful sculptures from raw marble, he responded by saying that he saw the Angel trapped in the marble and then simply carved and carved until he set the Angel free.

It is beautiful. Inspiring even.

Except if you are the person who must create the next angelic sculpture from a raw chunk of marble.

In that case, it does not help you very much at all.

It implies some God-given talent to spot angels trapped in marble. A hidden, elusive ability to ‘see’ things that nobody else can see until the final masterpiece is produced.

Why do I care about this?

Because so often, this is how we learn in the workplace.

According to a recent Forbes article, 45% of managers in the workplace have never received any formal management training. They simply arrived in that position by virtue of mimicking their boss or by being the best at what their job was before being promoted.

In the Agile industry, s with a few years of experience leading a Scrum Team simply add the title ‘’ to their LinkedIn profile and start practising as Agile coaches regardless of whether they possess the necessary skills and core competencies or not.

For many people, there is no structured and organised progression from point A to point Z.


A startling 98% of managers state that they feel they require more training, whilst 87% of middle managers stated that they wished they had received more training when first assuming their management role. (Forbes).

It is often reported that the transition from employee to manager is one of the most stressful transitions in business. That is true for leadership too.

So why don’t we have formal programmes that guide people from apprenticeship through to journeyman, and from journeyman through to Mastery anymore?

It used to work that way.

In the renaissance period, the apprenticeship programmes were essential for progression in the arts and were as valuable to apprentices as they were to the masters themselves.

It afforded apprentices an opportunity to learn and master a craft and it enabled masters such as Michelangelo and Raphael to produce masterpieces at a prolific rate.

A win-win situation for everyone.

It isn’t mastery unless you are propagating apprenticeship.

An apprentice would need to work through an apprenticeship period of between 5 and 7 years before being recognised as competent to begin work as a journeyman.

A journeyman would need to point to a masterpiece as a demonstration of competence and mastery of their craft to set out on their own and work alongside master’s and apprentices on projects around the country.

The entire system optimised for the whole by ensuring that each stage of progression, there was guidance, inspection, and validation.

Zero imposters. Zero imposter syndrome.

Each person working at an optimised level that produced flow and enabled some of the most beautiful work the world has ever seen. From art through to architecture.

Yet in today’s world, people are simply expected to find their feet regardless of how steep the learning curve or how different their new role may be to the one in which they excelled.

Cultivating Agile Capability

Agile Centre is built on the mission of ‘cultivating high-performing, Agile organisations that unleash people’s creativity and passion’.

Whilst Rome was not built in a day, there is absolutely no doubt that they built that magnificent city day by day.

Building Agile capability is the same.

We work day by day to create apprenticeships for new Scrum practitioners and use our ing Academy as well as Agile/Scrum Training courses to help move people through the process of apprenticeship to mastery.

Our primary work as coaches and Agile consultants lies in working closely with teams to help embed the culture and mindset of Business Agility, and work with individuals as they progress from junior practitioners to senior coaches.

It takes time. It takes effort. It takes a great deal of personal interaction with people to help them progress through each evolution of their career development.

The Agile community have taken a lot of fire for not having a regulated body that validates Agile coaches and Agile consultants, yet we are no different to the industries that promote people to new roles without offering them formal training or requiring validation of their core competencies and skills before promoting them.

At Agile Centre, we are working hard to reverse that trend.

Scrum Alliance offer a path to Certified Scrum Professional, Certified Team Coach and Certified Enterprise Coach. IC Agile have their own path to Team and Enterprise level coach. Both organisations offer certification paths that build knowledge and competence whilst validating skills along the way.

It simply is not compulsory for people to embark on this certification journey to practice as journeyman on projects around the UK and Europe. Or around the world for that matter.

I deeply believe that if we work closely with our clients to create the next generation of great scrum masters and scrum product owners, we can cultivate and embed Agile capability throughout each stage of their progression, from apprentices through to journeyman in the form of Agile coaches and Agile Consultants.

Our Academy is an 18-month mentored journey through the progression from through to Certified Agile Team Coach application.

A journey that empowers people to build on each learning objective and acquire the practice they need within working environments to validate their knowledge, skills, and core competencies.

If you are interested in a mentored, structured progression through each stage of your journey, or your company are interested in a formal program that unleashes people’s creativity and talent, touch base with me on LinkedIn.

I would love to chat to you about our passion for progression and the journey to mastery.

author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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