Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scrum is based on complex adaptive systems and emergent behavior

In the early days of Scrum we were steeped in complex adaptive systems theory and autonomous intelligent systems. This area of research is emerging in a new form called Ambient Intelligence (AmI) due to the proliferation of intelligent devices on the internet. This proliferation and the applications we use with them caused Wired Magazine to declare "The Web is dead" in September 2010.

Work in this area can help us understand Scrum better and ensure that basic collaboration mechanisms are in place to make Scrum work. The environment must be set up so that people have an incentive to help one another in order to optimize the whole, rather than optimizing their individual niche at the expense of the larger community. Failure to do this will prevent individuals and companies achieving the full benefits of Scrum.

ACM Transactions on Autonomous Adaptive Systems has many articles worth reading to understand the issues in more depth. In particular, the article below reviews much of the literature upon which Scrum is based and proposes a better approach to achieve cooperation among networked systems.

Cooperation through Self-Similar Social Networks
Cardiff University
DOI = 10.1145/1671948.1671952

We address the problem of cooperation in decentralized systems, specifically looking at interactions between independent pairs of peers where mutual exchange of resources (e.g., updating or sharing content) is required. In the absence of any enforcement mechanism or protocol, there is no incentive for one party to directly reciprocate during a transaction with another. Consequently, for such decentralized systems to function, protocols for self-organization need to explicitly promote cooperation in a manner where adherence to the protocol is incentivized.

In this article we introduce a new generic model to achieve this. The model is based on peers repeatedly interacting to build up and maintain a dynamic social network of others that they can trust based on similarity of cooperation. This mechanism effectively incentivizes unselfish behavior, where peers with higher levels of cooperation gain higher payoff.We examine the model’s behavior and robustness in detail. This includes the effect of peers self-adapting their cooperation level in response to maximizing their payoff, representing a Nash-equilibrium of the system. The study shows that the formation of a social network based on reflexive cooperation levels can be a highly effective and robust incentive mechanism for autonomous decentralized systems.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: I.2.11 [Artificial Intelligence]: Distributed Artificial Intelligence— Multiagent systems; C.2.1 [Computer-Communication Networks]: Network Architecture and Design—Distributed networks

General Terms: Algorithms
Additional Key Words and Phrases: Cooperation, decentralized systems, self-organization
ACM Reference Format: Allen, S. M., Colombo, G., and Whitaker, R. M. 2010. Cooperation through self-similar social networks. ACM Trans. Autonom. Adapt. Syst. 5, 1, Article 4 (February 2010), 29 pages.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Nokia Test: Latest Version

The "Nokia Test" for Scrum teams was developed orginally by Bas Vodde at Nokia Siemens Networks in Finland. It has been updated several times and appears in it latest incarnation in Jeff Sutherland's Scrum Certification classes where he demonstrates that attending the class yields an average return on investment of 1033% for participants.

Links to all previous versions of the Nokia Test, the current scoring of the ScrumButt test, and the 1033% ROI calculations can be found in the attached presentation, "The ScrumButt Test: aka The Nokia Test."

Monday, August 02, 2010

Mike Beedle on the Early History of Scrum

I have been doing Scrum and Org Patterns since the fall of 1995 when I saved a large multi-million dollar project from failure at William Mercer in Deerfield, IL.  Completion of this project not only put the system in production, but avoided the company to pay a multi-million dollar penalty.   Eighty consultants; hundreds of employees; thousands of pages of documentation that included processes, procedures, requirements, design, testing; and hundreds of failed project plans, could not deliver what Scrum and Org Patterns delivered in 4 months with 10 people.  It was amazing.  It was magical.

The ideas of Scrum were first introduced to me by Jeff Sutherland, in his many articles to the OTUG community, and his personal correspondences with me.  His main idea about Scrum was to create a team that would resemble artificial life, a robot, or an adaptive system, that would adapt and learn through “social intelligence”.   I was intrigued because I have a Ph. D. in Physics, and my master’s thesis was about chaotic and non-linear systems.  Our first conversations were about creating a team at the edge of chaos, etc.  A few weeks after that, he introduced me to Ken Schwaber, and Ken pointed to me to his OOPSLA paper on Scrum and to his Scrum pages at his Advanced Development Methods web site.  Around the same time, I became familiar with the ideas of Org Patterns, via the work of Jim Coplien, Neil Harrison, and Brendan Cain:  1) Borland Software Craftsmanship: A New Look at Process, Quality and Productivity, 2) A Generative Development-Process Pattern Language, and the many articles written to the org-patterns and patterns-discussion lists since 1995. 

Both directions pointed to the same end game:  creating a hyper-productive team that worked as an adaptive system at the edge of chaos through patterns.   I was just very lucky to try both simultaneously in an emergency situation.  I was pre-conditioned to accept these ideas, because at the time I was a practitioner of BPR (business process reengineering), the Michael Hammer style, that basically called for that kind of hyper-productive environment, without really telling you how to get there, and by my academic training as mentioned before.

My life has never been the same since that project at Mercer.   Scrum and Org Patterns have truly changed my life for the better.   Since 1996, I have exclusively used Scrum and Org Patterns to deliver software to a vast and diverse range of industries: Financials, Healthcare, Government, Manufacturing, Technology, Services, Transportation, etc.), ranging from single teams, all the way to dozens of inter-dependent teams with a common base architecture.  I have developed software using Scrum and Org Patterns for my companies or for my clients in record speeds, under budget, with record customer satisfaction, and with great pleasure for the developers involved – that’s what our largest client, the US Department of Defense, for example, says about our software.  My companies have introduced Scrum to thousands of people and hundreds of companies, providing products, development, training, consulting, mentoring, and coaching:

From 1996 - 1999, I co-owned Framework Technologies Inc., where we brought the power of Scrum and Design Patterns to our clients:  Nike Securities, Bank of America, Lincoln Reinsurance, Motorola, etc.
From 1999 - 2003, I owned e-Architects Inc., where we bring the power of Scrum, Design Patterns and Architecture principles to our clients:  All-State, Caremark, State of Illinois, Orbit, Northwest Bank, Persistence Software, etc.
From 2000 – today, I co-own New Governance Inc., where we delivered our compliance management software products, to nearly 4000 sites:  Citigroup, The Hartford, CIGNA, DOD, BCBS, etc.
From 2008 – today, I own Quant Traders Inc., where we deliver sophisticated quant trading products and services to our clients.
From 2010 – today, I own Enterprise Scrum Inc. that exclusively teaches, mentors, coaches and implements Scrum in enterprise environments.

I am the co-author of the first Scrum book, Agile Software Development with Scrum, the co-author of the first Scrum paper published in a book, SCRUM: An extension pattern language for hyperproductive software development, a co-author of the Agile Manifesto:, and the co-author of the upcoming Scrum Pattern Language book which will give direction to the future of Scrum...

Michael A. Beedle Ph. D.
Enterprise Scrum Inc.