Monday, December 31, 2012

Scrum Goes Mainstream in France

As Scrum enters the mainstream, Xebia France has become one of the leading Scrum coaching companies for French developers. What they have noticed is that as Scrum expands, the basic ideas become watered down. For example, their Scrum Master Academy Rule #2, is the the Agile Manifesto is not a developers Bill of Rights.

In fact, the Agile Manifesto is not about the rights of a developer, it is about professionalism. This means (1) increasing your ability to help the team to a higher level of performance, (2) getting bug free software by the end of every sprint, (3) involving the customer, or the Product Owner as the representative of the customer, in all key decisions about development that will affect the end user, and (4) embracing change as fast as the customer can change his or her mind.

The inability of new agile developers to understand the basics has created significant problems. For example, over half of "agile" teams do not have working software at the end of the sprint. Somehow, they are not reading or understanding the Agile Manifesto.

As Mike Cron, All Blacks Scrum coach, says, "In the old days we used to just smash into something, maybe without quite knowing what we were doing. Here we are trying to get good technique and understand everything we are doing." Scrum is just like golf, we have to learn how to swing. And it's not so much about the rules of the game, it is how you play the game.

There are many pitfalls of Scrum to the new developer, and Scrum Master Academy has developed some basic techniques to avoid most of these pitfalls. If you want to be on a winning team in France, take a look at the Scrum Master Academy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Continuous Improvement for a Perfect 10

I remember sitting on the basement steps in the summer of 1976 watching Nadia Comaneci win the worlds first perfect 10 in the history of modern gymnastics.  Her command of the whirling routine on the uneven bars was a marvel.

The announcers told us that she had scored a 10, but the scoreboards read 1.00!  Turns out that Omega, the traditional Olympics scoreboard manufacturer, asked beforehand if the boards for gymnastics would need four digits., they were told that a perfect 10 was impossible.

As I watched that fourteen-year-old girl push the limits of how strong and graceful a human body can be, I thought, “I wonder how many times she has fallen as she tried something new?  And how many times she got back up eager to try again.

gymnasticsThe idea behind continuous improvement is that things aren’t as good as they could be, yet.  Things can always be tweaked.  Any process can be improved, if, one is willing to shine a light on every little thing, the good and the not so great.  Laughter helps too.?  And how many times her coach suggested that she do it just a little bit differently?  And I wonder how they exulted when the new routine finally worked?  They work together so she can win 10s!” 

Take a page from the evolutionary process and make small changes rather than giant leaps.  Evaluate.  Did it move us in the right direction?  What might?  Make another change.  Get feedback from stakeholders and customers.  Inspect.  Adapt.

In Scrum, it’s the Team, the people who are doing the work, who take responsibility for continually improving.  It’s their process and they are the ones who know it best.  What is working really well?  Did that last tweak do the trick?  What could be done better?  And in Scrum, it's the Retrospective that provides the structure for ensuring this conversation takes place.

I suspect that after each 10, Nadia and her coach assessed every move she made, the hand twist that so delighted the crowd, how to stick that landing even more surely by lifting her head.  And then, she did it again.

Want to take your team to the next level?  Check out our new guide, 3 Steps for an Effective Retrospective.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Waterfall to Agile

Ade Shokoya of has written a good book on Waterfall to Agile. The added value starts in the preface:

As you know, the global economy is very volatile at the moment, and things aren't looking like they will get better any time soon. Across Europe and America unemployment is at an all-time high, and the predictions are that more people will lose their jobs over the coming years. However, as more and more organizations transition from Waterfall to Agile, those individuals with the knowledge and experience that will enable organizations to maximize the benefits they get from Agile practices (e.g. reduced development costs, quicker returns on investment, improved quality, and a greater competitive advantage) are the ones who will benefit from greater job security (at a time when people are struggling to hold onlto their jobs), get promoted quicker (at a time when people are being made redundant), and get paid more (at a time when wages are going down and people are struggling financially).

There are 451,176 Scrum job openings in the United States this morning and these new jobs are increasing at a rate of about 10,000 per month. After reading Waterfall to Agile, you might take a look at the Power of Scrum, attend a Certified Scrum Master training, and start interviewing for an agile position. Many people have told me it has changed their lives dramatically for the better.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Update: Excel Spreadsheet for Hyperproductive Scrum Teams

In the years since the first paper on metrics for hyperproductive teams, I have been thinking about new ways to measure high-performing teams.  Tune in to the webinar "Hyperproductive Metrics" for the latest metrics to guide teams on the path to hyperproductivity.


Jeff Sutherland and Scott Downey
Agile 2010 Experience Report

Scrum teams use lightweight metrics like story points, the burndown chart, and team velocity. The inventor of Scrum was a fighter pilot and used the burndown chart to help teams land a sprint properly. Recent work with hyperproductive teams shows they are like modern jet fighters in two ways. They have engines that produce velocity—alignment of the team, and team spirit. And they carefully measures aspects of performance to make slight adjustments in flight. Failing to constantly adjust the flight of the team can result in a hyperproductive crash into waterfall performance.

One hour discussion of a comprehensive, yet minimal set of team metrics used in an environment where hyperproductive teams are the norm, along with an Excel spreadsheet that can be used by any Scrum team to improve performance. Velocity, story completion by priority, work in progress, story acceptance rate by product owner, unplanned work, and trending accuracy of estimates all appear to be essential to determine the altitude, velocity, angle of attack, and attitude of a hyperproductive team. Slight adjustment of these parameters on a daily basis keeps the team on target. Half hour questions and discussion on using the Excel spreadsheet to improve team performance.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Tipping Point: Get Agile or Get Outsourced

In the past six months, Scrum jobs on have increased from 20,000 to 420,000. Despite this tsunami of Scrum job offerings, many of the traditional project leaders and senior IT staff I talk with are still resisting the inevitable and they fail to see the handwriting on the wall.

It is now U.S. law that all DOD contracts are Agile. Maybe you will go to jail in the future for not being agile if you do work for the government.

The Gartner 2012 advisory on application development to all IT senior management is:
    • Business users are losing patience with old-school IT culture. Relationships are tense and resentful. Legacy systems and practices impede agility. Bottom line - GET AGILE
    • Adopt a product perspective.
    • Say goodbye to waterfall.
    • Improve cross-competency collaboration.
    • Launch a deep usability discipline.
    • Start a technical debt management program.
The business user agile revolt is causing traditional IT budgets to be cut by 90% over the next decade as business users take control of the money.

The latest Gartner advisory shows what is likely to happen:

In two years, Gartner Inc. Research Vice President Brian Prentice predicts, the percentage of technology spending by the business -- outside of the control of IT -- will reach 35 percent.

Moreover, by the end of this decade Gartner is predicting businesses will control a whopping 90 percent of technology spend...

Consumerization and Cloud

The shift of technology spending from IT to the business units is driven by a number of factors, but according to Gartner, is mostly driven by:
  • Consumerization – expectations by users and the business for their systems and applications to look and perform like consumer offerings versus the perceived limited solutions being offered by core IT.
  • BYOD - users purchasing their own work tablets, laptops and other devices.
  • Cloud Computing – where the business procure their own infrastructure, platforms and software as a service.
The role of IT is clearly evolving, where for technology system purchases like marketing automation, CRM, HR and even supply chain management, IT departments are brought in to support the integration of these systems into the enterprise systems, but IT is not leading the purchase project.

An indepth analysis of why management needs to move quickly to Agile is available in the new book Ken Schwaber and I have published recently - Software in 30 Days.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Give Thanks for Scrum 2012

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 20: The 4th Annual GIVE THANKS FOR SCRUM Event, Honoring Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber.
Tribal Leaders of Scrum: Jeff and Ken
 (Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, Give Thanks for Scrum event, circa 2009)
It’s that time of year again. Time to honor the tribal elders of Scrum Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber. Join us as we thank Ken and Jeff for formulating Scrum right under our noses here in Boston. No other city in the world can do it.  Boston is the BIRTHPLACE of Scrum.
For Jeff's slide presentation Scrum: The Future of Work