Scrum Log Jeff Sutherland

Scrum is an Agile development framework that Jeff Sutherland invented at Easel Corporation in 1993. Jeff worked with Ken Schwaber to formalize Scrum at OOPSLA'95. Together, they extended and enhanced Scrum at many software companies and helped write the Agile Manifesto.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Roots of Scrum: Takeuchi and Self-Organizing Teams


Click on image above for Nonaka and Takeuchi SECI process

The first Scrum team was created directly from a paper which is required reading for any Scrum practitioner. It explains how to set up self-organizing teams and clearly outlines management's role in the process.

Takeuchi and Nonaka. The New New Product Development Game. Harvard Business Review, 1986

A longer paper from a book which is out of print goes into more depth. Some may find this easier reading.

Ken-ichi Imai, Ikujiro Nonaka, and Hirotaka Takeuchi. Managing the New Product Development Process: How Japanese Companies Learn and Unlearn.

It clearly explains the fundamental concepts so often missed by management and teams new to Scrum. The discussion of self-organizing teams is a good example:

A new product development team, consisting of members with diverse backgrounds and temperaments is hand picked by top management and is given a free hand to create something new. Given unconditional backing from the top, the team begins to operate like a corporate entrepreneur and engage in strategic initiatives that go beyond the current corporate domain. Members of this team often risk their reputation and sometimes their career to carry out their role as change agents for the organization at large.

Within the context of evolutionary theory, such a group is said to possess a self-reproductive capability. Several evolutionary theorists use the word "self-organization" to refer to a group capable of creating its own dynamic orderliness. A recent study by Burgelman found that a new venture group within a diversified firm in the United States takes on a self-organizing character. Another study by Nonaka has shown that Japanese companies with a self-organizing characteristic tend to have higher performance records than others.

The creation and, more importantly, the propagation of this kind of self-organizing product development team within Japanese companies represents a rare opportunity for the organization at large to break away from the built-in rigidity and hierarchy of day-to-day operations. It is quite difficult for a highly structured and seniority-based organization to mobilize itself for change, especially under noncrisis conditions. The effort collapses somewhere in the hierarchy. A new product development team is better suited to serve as a mote for corporate change because of its visibility ("we've been hand picked"), its legitimate power ("we have the unconditional support from the top to create something new"), and its sense of mission ("we're working to solve a crisis situtation").

An alternative view of a parallel approach is outlined in:

Chet Richards. Certain to Win. XLibris Corp, 2004.

Richards outlines the strategy of fighter pilot John Boyd. He uses German concepts to illustrate key ideas.

* Enheit -mutual trust, unity, and cohesion
* Fingerspitzengefuhl - intuitive feel, especially for complex and potentially chaotic situations
* Auftragstaktik - mission, generally considered a contract between superior and subordinate
* Schwerpunkt - Any concept that provides focus and direction to the operation

He takes these concepts down to second order interactions. Trust builds by training in the field and by mission driven challenges that a self-organization team accepts or does not accept. It they accept, they can be counted on to do it or die in whatever way they see fit without intervention by the superior. This level of trust depends on the team trusting the rightness of their leader. If superiors do anything to disrupt the team, trust breaks immediately.

With trust based on real unity and cohesion, Boyd's Observe, Orient, Decide, Act feedback loop goes into an implicit state where there is Observe, Orient, and Decisions becomes implicit. The team goes into motion before the leader can give a command. Like in martial arts the Sensei is moving before he even sees the motion of the attacher using a sixtth sense. This is the kind of trust a Dream Team has. You know it when you see it and how come so few software teams have that level of trust?

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

French Scrum User Group Meetup


The new French Scrum User Group now has over 100 members. We will meetup at La Defense in Paris the evening of 19 March. Click here for details.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Scrum in Seattle: Last Week to Sign Up


Civica Office Commons
225 108th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004


Scrum Certification Seattle
12-13 Jan 2009

This course will be led by Jeff Sutherland, Co-Creator of Scrum and Mitch Lacey, former Agile coach at Microsoft. Jeff will discuss his latest papers being submitted to Agile 2009 and papers presented early in January at his Agile track at the Hawaii International Conference on Software Systems. These will provide real world experience on how new ScrumMasters can implement world class teams.

Going from Good to Great: How a CMMI 5 Company Quadruples Productivity with Scrum

Take No Prisoners: How a Venture Capital Group Does Scrum

Distributed Scrum: The Secret Sauce for Hyperproductive Distributed Outsource Teams

Scrum In Church: Saving the World One Team at a Time

Shock Therapy: A Strategy for Consistently Generating Hyperproductive Teams

Jeff Sutherland started the first Scrum at Easel Corporation in 1993. He worked with Ken Schwaber to emerge Scrum as a formal process at OOPSLA 95. Together, they extended and enhanced Scrum at many software companies and IT organizations and helped write the Agile Manifesto.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Scrum Makes You Feel Better


"The types of activities which people all over the world consistently report as most rewarding - that is, which make them feel best - involve a clear objective, a need for concentration so intense that no attention is left over, a lack of interruptions and distractions, clear and immediate feedback on progress toward the objective, and a sense of challenge - the perception that one's skills are adequate, but just adequate, to cope with the task at hand."
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An interesting psychological finding
Posted by: "Nancy Van Schooenderwoert" vanschoo@acm.org nancyvanschooenderwoert
Date: Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:54 pm ((PST))

I was searching in my copy of "Lean Thinking" by Womack and Jones, and noticed this interesting passage in the chapter on 'Flow'. The authors mention a psychological researcher named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. (Someone's got a tougher last name than me!)

Here is the passage I thought might interest you:

"He has spent the last twenty-five years reversing the usual focus of psychology. Instead of asking what makes people feel bad (and how to change it) he has explored what makes people feel good, so that positive attributes of experience can be built into daily life."

"His method has been to attach beepers, which sound at random intervals, to his research subjects. When the beeper sounds the subject is asked to record in a notebook what she or he was doing and how they were feeling. After sifting decades of notebook data from thousands of subjects around the world, he has reached some very simple conclusions."

"The types of activities which people all over the world consistently report as most rewarding - that is, which make them feel best - involve a clear objective, a need for concentration so intense that no attention is left over, a lack of interruptions and distractions, clear and immediate feedback on progress toward the objective, and a sense of challenge - the perception that one's skills are adequate, but just adequate, to cope with the task at hand."

"When people find themselves in these conditions they lose their self-consciousness and sense of time. They report that the task itself becomes the end rather than a means to something more satisfying, like money or prestige. Indeed, and very conveniently for us, Csikszentmihalyi reports that people experiencing these conditions are in a highly satisfying psychological state of flow."

This gives an indication of why test driven development is so compelling for people once they know the basic technique. It also applies to sports and the arts. There the whole point is to do something that's just at the limit of your ability and keep pushing the edge.

It reminds me of a recent interesting post over on Jeff Sutherland's website. It's called "Scrum Makes You Smarter." It reports on a study that suggests voluntary pressure in the form of audacious goals taken on by high performance teams makes them produce more neuron stem cells.
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Nancy Van Schooenderwoert, Lean-Agile Partners Inc.
www.leanagilepartners.com