Study Group – How we develop ourselves

While we are currently talking and posting a lot about a potential economic recession, private challenges and difficulties when it comes to corona, it is also possible to find the beauty and kindness that can keep us positive in this pandemic. There are also days when we cannot concentrate on good things — that is quite normal since our everyday life is upside down. Many of us are struggling sometimes. Like Frodo in Tolkien’s novel: he did not want to have the ring at all; getting that unique and demanding thing made him frustrated and angry, and he felt trapped from time to time. “I wish the ring had never come to me, I wish none of this had happened.” But Gandalf said: “So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

We at Cloudflight struggle sometimes, too. Single colleagues might feel more isolated than others; parents have turned into teachers, our homes into offices. But luckily, we have our own special Gandalf in our organization who said at the beginning of the quarantine: “We are quick learners; hence use the time and resources available and keep learning” (Christoph Steindl, Board Member ofCloudflight). Just as we have unique leadership, we also have a special group in our company that has been learning and studying together even before corona, and they did not stop despite social distancing. Without such colleagues, it would not be possible to propel our organization to the next level.

“In the autumn of 2019, we decided that we wanted to take the Professional Agile Leadership exam from scrum.org. We thought that if we’re already doing it, why not invite others as well? The more the merrier” – said Arnold Pichler-Ernst, Quality Engineer and Scrum Master at Cloudflight about kicking off the initiative. “After some of us got successfully certified, we thought ‘hey this went well, how about we repeat this?’”

“I did my first scrum.org certification (Professional Scrum Master I) when I was on parental leave because I wanted to also develop my professional skills during my time at home” – added Ulrike Strommer, Requirements Engineer at Cloudflight. “I was eager to do more, but as a working mum, I was not sure if I could manage. I talked to my colleagues Arnold and Dodo. They wanted to do the ‘Professional Agile Leadership’ exam and we started a study group in September 2019. I was not sure if I would be able to do the exam, but at least I could learn through our exchange within the group. And of course – as this is Cloudflight – the group was and is an open one where we actively invite everybody.”

According to Arnold, when the corona crisis arrived, they were a bit torn on how to proceed.  “I personally thought that a Zoom session might not be interactive enough, but I’m glad that we did it anyway and we will continue with remote as long as necessary.”

Ulrike agreed: “Well, we decided to not cancel our next face-to-face meeting but just do it remotely. Six people joined and we – as always – had very stimulating discussions and gained new and valuable insights.”

The study group at Cloudflight constantly exchanges opinions and discusses topics: the team members motivate each other. There are a couple of colleagues who act as mentors, and they have mentees from inside but also outside the company. Even one of our clients, a Product Owner of the University of Vienna project, has joined the Cloudflight study group recently. At the moment there are 16 people who develop themselves and learn together.

“We read books recommended in the learning paths of scrum.org, exchange a lot about the content, summarize main learnings in Confluence and also add videos and additional material from the authors for other interested colleagues at Cloudflight also outside the learning group.” – explained Ulrike. She is very happy that it is possible: working part-time, spending a lot of time with the family as the mum of a one and a half-year-old, and advancing her career. “I can manage to not only enhance my own knowledge and do certifications but also to mentor and motivate others.”

We did not ask for this special and unexpected situation of the pandemic; it is exhausting, annoying and disappointing sometimes; it is hard to handle just like it is hard for Frodo to carry the ring. We cannot choose whether to have a pandemic but we can decide how we respond.

Cloudflight has an exceptional community: we have decided to keep learning.

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