Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How Scrum Was Made: Kenji Hiranabe

Why and how you made Scrum – Interview with Jeff Sutherland by Kenji Hiranabe

Boston where Scrum Inc. based-in
Kenji: I visited scruminc. in Boston last September. Unfortunately, Jeff was out in Zurich at the time, but he arranged time (in his hotel room at midnight) for me via Skype with the help of Laura Althoff at scruminc. I’d like to share the interview here.

Kenji: Thank you very much for meeting me, unfortunately via skype. I missed the meeting arrangement last week and you tried to pick me up at the hotel, sorry I mistook the meeting schedule completely one week off !
Jeff: No problem. You did miss a drive in my Tesla Roadster.
Kenji: Oh, no I missed a big one… OK, let me start with this question. First of all, why did you started scrum ? What was the main motivation that drove you?
Jeff: I was first inspired by what Accion was doing in their banking business. “Accion” is a micro financing bank, like “Grameen” Bank in Bangledesh founded by Professor Muhammad Yunus. They loan a little bit of money to a team of poor individuals running small businesses. The money might be used to buy a fruit cart to sell things in the town square or a sewing machine to develop a clothing business. Initially, buying enough food to eat may be the primary goal of developing a small business. After that, clothes are important to the poor because without clothes, their kids they cannot go to school. The loan of a small amount of money to people helps to bootstrap them out of poverty. Give a team of people a little bit and they can change their life dramatically. As I worked in my spare time on the President’s Council of Accion, I noticed in my day job that software developers had similar problems to poor people in South America. They had enough money but they never had enough software. They were almost always late in delivery and the quality was poor. As a result they were under constant pressure from management and felt like they were second class citizens. This was the first awareness that made me try to make a new way of creating software in a better way.
Kenji is finishing up a book with Ikojiru Nonaka, fondly called the grandfather of Scrum by the Japanese. This interview will be part of his forthcoming book.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scrum Ripples: Bringing Scrum Beyond IT


As the 20th anniversary of Scrum approaches, I’m struck by how the idea has spread. Tens of thousands of people are certified in Scrum. Thousands of companies across the globe use Scrum.  The US Department of Defense has a mandate to be Agile.  Gartner Group says that waterfall is dead.  What’s next?

The future is Scrum outside of IT.  Recently, we’ve mentioned initiatives like eduScrum bringing Scrum to the classroom by motivating students, encouraging self-organization around learning objectives, and teaching them to work as a team.  Scrum is also moving beyond IT in increasing numbers of companies.

Historically, development was always “the problem”: running late, over budget and releasing too many bugs.  Now that development is not always the problem, we see other departments wondering, “Why can’t we use that Scrum thing?”  Recently I saw a great example of this while visiting a client.

In this company as in so many others, software was never on time. Despite many Gantt charts, nobody really knew when the product was going to be done. Top management was not happy. It was painful. Then, two and a half years ago, some of their people in Europe heard about Scrum, and managers across the globe were gathering to figure out how to pilot Scrum.  Slowly and steadily, Scrum teams were formed. Some doubled velocity, but Scrum wasn’t a silver bullet.  The development teams faced impediments around dependencies on non-Scrum departments in the production chain.  Soon the “ripples” of Scrum began to gain momentum.  

The first ripple hit Production, as teams needed new equipment to test the code sooner. Production became involved and shortened their turnaround time on test equipment from 2 months to 2 weeks, and developers could uncover bugs during the Sprint.  Another ripple hit Mechanical Engineering when problems with the equipment quality were found during testing.  Mechanical staff received immediate feedback about problems, and worked with Reliability on a fix.  Hence, the “Technical Scrum of Scrums” was formed to bring all these departments together in a more formalized way.

Today, the Technical Scrum of Scrums meets every day after the development teams’ standup meetings.  Representatives of the teams (pigs) meet with the chickens, managers from Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Quality, and Reliability. Some of these other departments have started incorporating a daily status meeting in front of a Kanban board into their daily cadence.

As Scrum teams succeed in solving difficult IT issues, we see many instances of this kind of inter-department collaboration.  It fosters a sense of common purpose in building a product, creates a more common goal, and breaks down barriers of us versus them.  This is the future of Scrum.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Webinar: Scrum Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow


Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Jeff Sutherland’s invention of Scrum. What does it mean to reach such a landmark?

There is a gulf between those who were there at the beginning and those who have joined the journey more recently. It behooves us all to attempt to cross the gulf. Old-timers need to transmit the heritage; to ensure that those who will carry us into the future have heard the stories, understand our ideals, and have the knowledge they need. The new guard needs to listen, to honor the past, and to know that they are entrusted with making changes. Scum, after all, has “embracing change” encoded in its DNA.

Jeff Sutherland and Scrum Inc. Chief Product Owner Alex Brown will talk about the ideas that sparked the creation of Scrum,  and speak of the fundamental ideals embedded in Scrum. They will also assess the current state of Scrum in the world. We see this coming 20th anniversary year as a game changing moment. And they will look ahead to where Scrum is headed and share some of Jeff's dreams about the future.

Update: this webinar has been postponed until January due to some illnesses in the office.  We apologize for any inconvenience.