Friday, 7 November 2008

Scrum –dominant in the Agile Community

(Day 1 of Scrum Gathering Autumn 2008)

Jeff Sutherland started the day with a resourceful session about the long way Scrum has gone to become the dominant agile approach. Following are my notes so most of the information comes directly from Jeff except where notes weren’t enough I tried filling in the gaps. If you find some of this confusing it is because of me ;)

Interesting facts in the presentation included results of a research showing that 49% of Agile implementations are Scrum based and another 22% are Scrum/XP. Jeff also touched on productivity improvement levels and how Scrum adoption can affect them. For example an excellent Scrum implementation should result in 400% revenue increase; Good Scrum would give about 300%; Pretty good about 150-200% and something he called ScrumButt just mere 0-35%. Just for clarification ScrumButt also referred to by other authors as MURSC, ScrummerFall, and others is an implementation that doesn’t fully follow the rules of the framework and as result this affects the level of productivity and profitability increase.

I liked the suggestion about what kind of goals work better. I am sure many company directors or owners will say their goal is to meet revenue targets. In fact goals that are likely to work better should focus on customer satisfaction and employee happiness like for example “customers to be ecstatic” or “make life of employees better”.

One of the biggest problems during adoption phase is the fact that traditional managers and often the whole institution have problem with self-organizing teams. They’ll try to do control planning which kills self organization. They find it difficult to abandon command and control which is likely to crush the team. They carry on doing isolated activities and promote lack of transparency which undermines self organization. They object impediments removal which delays progress. So no wonder why 70% of change initiatives fail! This highlights a bigger issue – lack of sense of urgency among leadership.

Jeff suggested using the enhanced Nokia test for finding out if a team is doing Scrum or not. There has been a vast discussion on scrumdevelopment about how and if such tests are useful and while generally I do not like the idea of measuring using the enhanced test for initial assessment seems a really good approach.

A look into the most productive ever projects (where productivity was documented) shows that the most productive one – Borland Quattro failed. As for the second most productive - a project at Motorolla, the team “died” after the company went for a 3rd party product. This comes to show that productivity itself does not guarantee success.

Key factor to success is actually failure. Fast and furious failure plus good retrospectives drives the super performance. Einstein says that one who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

At the end of the presentation Jeff talked about well run teams. According to him having a well maintained product backlog, minimized work in progress and the ability to stop when something is wrong are the top factors leading to good Scrum.

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