alexchiri

5 minute read

Book details

Some thoughts

I enjoyed reading this book, it is quite an easy read, which you wouldn’t expect after you go through the Scrum Guide. It goes through the origins of Scrum and the concepts behind it. It is filled with success stories, projects that were not going that well (now that’s an understatement), like the Sentinel project of the FBI, and how applying Scrum to them improved their outcome.

And this is exactly the reason I gave it 3 stars (which in Goodreads score means “I liked it”) and not 4. One of the most important things that Jeff Sutherlands has to share is his experience across the years of hundreds (or who knows how many?) of Scrum implementations. While he does make recommendations all-over the place, all his examples are nice and dandy, easy-peasy! I would’ve expected him to talk more about the pitfalls and common mistakes teams and companies do when implementing Scrum. This being said, the book is a nice read for a beginner in Scrum, but I don’t find it enough to get started with Scrum. I would suggest pairing it up with Henrik Kniberg’s book, Scrum and XP from the Trenches which is very hands-on and to the point.

Notes

The term [Scrum] comes from the game of rugby and it refers to the way a team works together to move the ball down the field. Careful alignment, unity of purpose, and clarity of goal come together

At its root, Scrum is based on a simple idea: whenever you start a project, why not regularly check in, see if what you’re doing is heading in the right direction, and if it’s actually what people want? And question where there any ways to improve how you’re doing what you’re doing, any ways of doing it better and faster, and what might be keeping you from doing that. => “Inspect and Adapt” cycle.

Production should flow swiftly and calmly throughout the process and one of management’s key tasks is to identify and remove impediments to that flow. Everything that stands in the way is waste.

The effect of eliminating waste is dramatic, but people often don’t do it, because it requires being honest with themselves and with others.

Scrum works by setting sequential goals that must be completed in a fixed length of time.

The Japanese professors Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka compared the teams’ work to that of a rugby team and said the best teams acted as though they were in a scrum: “… the ball gets passed within the team as it moves as a unit up the field.”

The method to take action, and perhaps what Deming is most famous for, is the PDCA cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act).

Hesitation is death. Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Know where you are, assess your options, make a decision, and act!

Professors Takeuchi and Nonaka described the characteristics of the teams they saw at the best companies in the world:

  • Transcendent: They have the sense of purpose beyond the ordinary
  • Autonomous: The teams are self-organizing and self-managing
  • Cross-Functional: The teams have all the skills needed to complete the project

Scrum teams should come out of the daily meeting knowing the most important thing they need to accomplish that day.

Each Sprint is an opportunity to do something totally new; each day, a change to improve.

Time is finite. Treat it that way. Break down your work into what can be accomplished in a regular, set, short period - optimally one to four weeks.

The heart of Scrum is rhythm. Rhythm is deeply important to human beings.

“Waste is a crime against society more than a business loss.” Taiichi Ohno

Ohno talked about three types of waste:

  • Muri: waste through unreasonableness
  • Mura: waste through inconsistency
  • Muda: waste through outcomes

Plan means avoid Muri. Do means avoid Mura. Check means avoid Muda. Act means the will, motivation, and determination to do all that.

“People don’t multitask because they’re good at it. They do it because they are more distracted. They have trouble inhibiting the impulse to do another activity.” David Sanbonmatsu

People are good at relative sizing, comparing one size to another.

When you’re writing your stories you want to make sure that they’re small enough that you can actually estimate them.

People aren’t happy because they’re successful; they’re successful because they’re happy.

It is crucial that people as a team take responsibility for their process and outcomes, and seek solutions as a team. At the same time, people have to have the fortitude to bring up the issues that are really bothering them in a way that is solution oriented rather than accusatory. And the rest of the team has to have the maturity to hear the feedback, take it in, and look for a solution rather than get defensive.

The Happiness Metric: at the end of each Sprint, each person on the team answers just a few questions:

  1. On a scale from 1 to 5, how do you feel about your role in the company?
  2. On the same scale, how do you feel about the company as a whole?
  3. Why do you feel that way?
  4. What one thing would make you happier in the next Sprint?

What are the things that actually make people happy? They’re the same things that make great teams: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

One element of Scrum that’s often a prelude to achieving autonomy, mastery and purpose is transparency.

annualized attrition rate: An annualized attrition rate is the ratio of the total number of employees who exit from an organization due to death, retirements, resignations or any other reasons to the average number of employees who remain on the payroll for the whole year. The Human Resources department typically calculates this rate.

Leadership has nothing to do with authority. Rather, it has to do with - among other things - knowledge and being a servant-leader.

Essential characteristics of a Product Owner:

  1. needs to be knowledgeable about the domain
  2. has to be empowered to make decisions
  3. has to be available to the team
  4. needs to be accountable for value
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