Announcing the book “97 Things every Scrum practitioner should know”

During the fall of 2019, I got totally consumed (and sometimes drained and overwhelmed) by an exciting new Scrum book project. Having finalized the manuscript I finally feel comfortable sharing more information about it.

O’Reilly Media envisioned adding a book about Scrum to their “97 Things” series and got in touch with me (through Dave West of Scrum.org). By the end of August 2019, we decided to get started. I had the honor of curating the initiative. We agreed on calling our new book “97 Things every Scrum practitioner should know.” The goal was to compose a book consisting of 97 essays with diverse angles and perspectives on the Scrum framework from contributors globally.

I had no idea what I was getting into, or how much 97 actually is (a lot, I discovered), or where it would take me. But I liked the challenge. Once into it, I liked it so much that I decided to make it my main focus, holding off most other work request and re-ordering my existing plans. It turned out an exciting and insightful experience. I had the pleasure of collecting, editing and ordering essays about Scrum from seasoned Scrum practitioners across the planet on behalf of the many seeking Scrum practitioners out there.

In a few incremental waves, we ended up inviting 128 people to contribute, not minded by their title, organization or position. We invited potential contributors for their insights, past or on-going, and the potential value of sharing them with fellow practitioners. In the end, 68 authors accepted our invitation and delivered one or more articles (indeed, an average of 1.43 articles per author). I cannot thank them enough for going through the effort of writing down their thoughts, perspectives and experience, and their willingness to make them available for Scrum practitioners worldwide.

Find an overview of them, alphabetically sorted, in the PDF  “97 Things every Scrum practitioner should know (Contributors).” Or try to recognize them on following overview:

In the current version of the manuscript, the 97 essays are grouped and ordered* along following themes:

  • “Start. Adopt. Repeat.” holds 11 essays.
  • “Products deliver value.” holds 11 essays.
  • “Collaboration is key.” holds 10 essays.
  • “Development is multi-faceted work.” holds 12 essays.
  • “Events, not meetings.” holds 10 essays.
  • “Mastery does matter.” holds 12 essays.
  • “People, all too human.” holds 8 essays.
  • “Values drive behavior.” holds 6 essays.
  • “Organizational design.” holds 9 essays.
  • “Scrum off script.” holds 8 essays.

I also owe a huge thank you to O’Reilly Media for the trust and the collaborative partnership, specifically to Chris Guzikowski and Ryan Shaw for initiating this endeavor and to Corbin Collins for sustaining it.

I look forward to keeping you updated on the publication date, which we will derive from our actual progress. It is not expected to be later than July 2020, and will probably be sooner. As we speak, O’Reilly and I are working really hard to turn my manuscript into a book available for you, dear reader.

I believe we will be able to connect the world of seasoned practitioners to the world of seekers through “97 Things every Scrum practitioner should know.”

Warm regards
Gunther Verheyen
independent Scrum Caretaker
December 2019

“Scrum – Una Guida Tascabile” is now widely available

As I was working on the second edition of my pocket guide to Scrum in 2018, Michael F Forni proposed to create an Italian translation of my book. It was the start of a collaborative endeavour, in which he got help from Fabio Panzavolta and Aniello Di Florio, towards self-publishing the translation.

I am humbled and honoured for announcing that the result is now available as Scrum – Una Guida Tascabile (Un compagno di viaggio smart)“, in Kindle and in paperback format via Amazon.

I wish all Italian speaking friends of Scrum much joy reading my translated thoughts, beliefs and considerations of Scrum, that simple framework to address complex challenges. I feel forever indebted to Michael, Fabio and Aniello for making my book available for all Italian readers, and to Barbara Knijff of Jellylab for creating the cover.

Loving regards
Gunther
independent Scrum Caretaker

Here is how Michael, Fabio and Aniello introduced their work in the book:

Nel ringraziare Gunther per questa fantastica opportunità – consapevoli della grande responsabilità che porta il compito di tradurre un così importante testo divulgativo come la sua Guida a Scrum – chiediamo al lettore di essere comprensivo e di focalizzarsi il più possibile sulla sostanza del pensiero dell’autore, piuttosto che sulla forma di volta in volta scelta dal traduttore: il reale valore di manuali come questo non sta infatti nel successo – o meno – di riuscire a cogliere esattamente il senso della singola parola o frase, bensì quello di trasmetterne efficacemente i concetti, gli esempi e le pratiche da applicare al proprio contesto individuale.

Per la traduzione della terminologia Scrum, ferma restando l’assoluta inopportunità, pienamente condivisa con l’autore, di modificare o storpiare i consolidati sostantivi caratterizzanti del framework (oramai divenuti d’uso comune nella Comunità Internazionale degli Agile practitioners) – sono state tenute in debita considerazione: 1) le traduzioni passate ed attuale delle versioni in Italiano de “La Guida a Scrum” 2) il lessico oramai d’uso comune tra i praticanti di Scrum 3) la nostra sensibilità di bilingue, che naturalmente risente delle esperienze personali.

Contiamo che il lettore sia indulgente e non ce ne voglia; qualora rilevasse errori, imprecisioni o volesse dare il proprio contributo migliorativo, saremo felici di essere contattati per apportare ulteriore valore a quest’opera.

Buona lettura!

Michael Fabrizio Forni – Co-traduttore e curatore dell’opera
Fabio Panzavolta – Co-traduttore
Aniello Di Florio – Correttore bozze

 

Can you say ‘yes’? (10 questions about your Scrum)

I call myself a  Scrum Caretaker. I aspire inspiring people using Scrum. I prefer showing that I care by sharing positive experiences and cases that demonstrate how amazing working with Scrum can be, what problems can be tackled and how to, the level of excellence we can build into our products, how Scrum can engage people. Ultimately I hope to help people employ Scrum to re-humanize their workplace.

But then it regularly dawns on us — the many, many misconceptions that exist over Scrum. We feel provoked to try to correct the recurring and worrying interpretations of Scrum that are out there. Sometimes that is fun. Often it is not. It can be energizing. In general it drains us. A few lifetimes can be spent fighting that battle. We limit the energy spent fighting to make room for constructing. 

A good place to start is reminding people of what ought to be in place according to Scrum. It provides clarity over what is mandatory in Scrum (and therefore, what is not).

Unlocking the benefits of Scrum requires however a lot more than just knowing what Scrum consists of. Scrum is the foundation to a complex adaptive system (‘CAS’) producing results that cannot be attributed to its individual components separately. Unlocking the benefits of Scrum depends more on the way the whole of Scrum is being used, through the rules that bind its constituent parts together. Unlocking the benefits of Scrum depends even more on what the people practicing Scrum do, more than what they know or say in the name of theory. It depends on how people interact within the framework, the conversations they have.

Here are 10 questions to help you assess what you do with the 11 elements of Scrum. Can you say ‘yes’?

  1. The accountabilities of Product Owner, Development Team(s) and Scrum Master are identified and enacted?
  2. Work is organized in consecutive Sprints of 4 weeks or less?
  3. There is an ordered Product Backlog?
  4. There is a Sprint Backlog with a visualization of remaining work for the Sprint?
  5. At Sprint Planning a forecast, Sprint Backlog and a Sprint Goal are created?
  6. The result of the Daily Scrum is work being re-planned for the next day?
  7. No later than by the end of the Sprint a Done Increment is created?
  8. Stakeholders offer feedback as a result from inspecting the Increment at the Sprint Review?
  9. Product Backlog is updated as a result of Sprint Review?
  10. Product Owner, Development Team(s) and Scrum Master align on the work process for their next Sprint at the Sprint Retrospective?

Minimally, make sure that you remain aligned (6) and that you regularly check what else might be needed (10). Upon that foundation, grow towards saying ‘yes’ to all questions, meanwhile collaboratively exploring different  If you don’t overthink your way of working along that road of evolution, you might find Scrum to be of a bare essence actually.

Minimally, make sure that you remain aligned (6) and that you regularly check what else might be needed (10). Upon that foundation, grow towards saying ‘yes’ to all questions.

If you don’t overthink your way of working along that road of expansion and evolution, you might find Scrum to be of a bare essence actually. Do know that understanding that Scrum requires 11 elements to be in place is only the beginning. My 10 questions might help you better understand how they relate to each other. Find yourself at the beginning still. Understand how all of them serve empiricism, the act of regular inspection and adaptation, and how inspection without adaptation makes no sense in a world of Scrum. Separate rules from tactics to play the game. Use empiricism also to explore different tactics

My Scrum Gameboard not only represents the 11 mandatory elements, but also 3 principles underlying Scrum. Understand how the Scrum Values drive behavior.

Keep learning.
Keep improving.
Keep… Scrumming.

Warm regards
Gunther
independent Scrum Caretaker

The Scrum Glossary and the Scrum Values are now also available in Tamil

Thanks to the hard work of Mohammad Umar Farooq and Balachandhiran Sankaran, the international versions of the Scrum Glossary and the Scrum Values have been expanded with Tamil.

Download your PDF of the Scrum Glossary, your PDF of the Scrum Values and your poster of the international Scrum Values. Share and use them as you see fit.

The descriptions are now available in more than 20 different languages, thanks to all volunteers that worked hard to create these gifts.

  • Arabic: Rasheed Raya
  • Belarusian: Vasili Shymanski
  • Chinese (simp/trad): Lana Sun, Wei Lun Teh, Chee-Hong Hsia
  • Danish: Rasmus Kaae, Mikkel Toudal Kristiansen
  • Dutch, English: Gunther Verheyen
  • Filipino: Shirley Santiago, Warren Yu
  • French: Fabio Panzavolta, Mohamed Gargouri
  • German: Uwe Schirmer, Peter Götz, Dominik Maximini
  • Greek: Thodoris Bais, Nikolas Friligkos
  • Hindi: Punit Doshi, Hiren Doshi
  • Italian: Michael F. Forni
  • Persian: Mehdi Hoseini
  • Polish: Paweł Feliński, Krystian Kaczor
  • Portuguese: Leonardo Bittencourt
  • Russian: Konstantin Razumovsky
  • Spanish: Alex Ballarin, Pablo Bernardo
  • Tamil: Mohammad Umar Farooq, Balachandhiran Sankaran
  • Turkish: ilkay Polat, Lemi Orhan Ergin
  • Ukrainian: Andrii Glushchenko
  • Vietnamese: Khoa Doan

“Scrum – Um Guia de Bolso” is now widely available

As I was working on the second edition of my pocket guide to Scrum in 2018, Rodrigo Silva Pinto and Leonardo Bittencourt proposed to create a Portuguese translation of my book. It was the start of a collaborative endeavour towards self-publishing the translation.

I am humbled and honoured for announcing that the result is now available as Scrum – Um Guia de Bolso (Um companheiro de viagem inteligente)“, in Kindle and in paperback format via Amazon.

(note: the primary market for the Kindle version is Brazil which allows me to keep the price affordable. The paperback’s primary market could not be set to the same so I had to set that to the US. Both versions however are available through all market places of Amazon.)

I wish all Portuguese speaking friends of Scrum much joy reading my translated thoughts, beliefs and considerations of Scrum, that simple framework to address complex challenges. I feel forever indebted to Rodrigo and Leonardo for making my book available for all Portuguese readers, and to Barbara Knijff of Jellylab for creating the cover.

Loving regards
Gunther
independent Scrum Caretaker

Here is how Rodrigo and Leonardo introduced their work in the book:

Rodrigo Silva Pinto, Agile School, junho 2019

Tenho a oportunidade de formar centenas de pessoas todos os anos em treinamentos de Scrum que vão dos fundamentos a conteúdos mais avançados. Um pedido comum entre os alunos é a indicação de literatura do gênero. Mas a resposta por muito tempo era não satisfatória: “O livro Pocket Guide do Gunther é o melhor, mas só está disponível na língua inglesa”. Havia uma lacuna, faltava uma boa referência literária do Scrum para os falantes de língua portuguesa.

Cansado de esperar, resolvi fazer parte deste projeto, propagando um conteúdo de altíssimo nível e me associando a um dos autores mais influentes do tema, depois dos próprios criadores do framework.

Espero que as horas dispendidas em “Scrum – Um guia de bolso”, possam contribuir com a comunidade Ágil e o mercado brasileiro para juntos construirmos produtos com alto índice de profissionalismo e que gerem impacto necessário para mudar o mundo.

Leonardo Bittencourt, Principal Lean/Agile Consultant, junho 2019

Tive o prazer de conhecer o Gunther pessoalmente durante Agile Tour Vilnius em 2017. Posteriormente colaborei com a tradução de dois de seus trabalhos para Português, o Glossário Scrum e os Valores do Scrum. Indubitavelmente ele faz juz ao que se auto-intitula, Zelador do Scrum (Scrum Caretaker).

Nesta obra, Gunther usa uma linguagem simples que vai direto ao cerne do Scrum, aborda os pontos cruciais e clarifica o framework Scrum de uma forma cirúrgica. Este livro lhe ajudará a evitar armadilhas, equívocos e adoção de um Scrum mecânico. Você compreenderá o propósito do Scrum Framework bem como os porquês de cada elemento que o compõe.

Manter o conteúdo sem distorções e com a mesma clareza, onde as palavras usadas na versão original foram minuciosamente pensadas, trouxe uma boa dose de desafio extra.

Indico este livro para quem está iniciando e para quem já tem experiência com Scrum. Lhe garanto que durante sua leitura – ou releituras como no meu caso – sempre haverão novas descobertas.

Não perca tempo. Boa leitura e Scrum on!

 

Butterfly

I have been employed by different enterprises, large and small. I never had the ambition to be a wild duck 🦆. I typically ended up being seen, treated and described as one anyhow. How strange for someone habitually avoiding rather than looking for conflict. How strange to be the person that the powers that be would love to hate. It is hardly comforting that most people only get to the stage of tolerating me while ignoring me.

You can’t have friends if you have no enemies.

Wild ducks are “bad for business,” say the powers that be, enthusiastically supported by the business suits, the career hunters, the position addicts. Yet, every time I decided to leave an enterprise the drama couldn’t have been bigger. How strange that it was even worse “for business” to leave. Honestly, the expected disasters never actually materialized. No company ever went out of business over this maverick duck flying off.

Although I know a few people that prefer calling me a Scrum panda 🐼, wilfully going independent left me feeling more like a butterfly 🦋 today. Like a butterfly I flap my wings. I observe, I create, I share. Like a butterfly flapping its wings I do it because it is in my nature, not because I envision specific consequences, big or small. Most consequences are inherently unpredictable anyhow.

I am flabbergasted when I see my ideas used and re-used without consultation, citing or other forms of attribution. Likely unintended, but there is a smell of disrespect. Much worse is it when shared ideas are turned simplistic, changed into stereotypes, their sfumato masked and concealed, concepts twisted, cut up, even butchered. That is… theft. No words can describe my emotions over this.

Regardless the lost art of attribution, I keep flapping my wings. Observing, creating and sharing is in my nature. It makes no sense for a butterfly to stop flapping. I’m not sure how that is for a wild duck.

It took time to realize, accept and embrace that most things take time, especially creating who you are. Is the turtle 🐢 in me gradually taking control?

The toughest fight in life in the end is the fight of not having to turn bitter.
(Louis Paul Boon – “My little war,” 1947)

Velocity in Scrum, actually

In complex and uncertain environments, more is unknown than is known. There is much we don’t know. What we know is subject to change. Only what we have achieved is known (unless we prefer to cover up). Progress is in what we have done, more than in what we plan to do. What we plan to do are assumptions that need validation by emerging actions and decisions. We make and incrementally change decisions based on what is known.

In Scrum it is considered a good idea for teams to know about the progress they have been making. It is one parameter (of several) to take into account when considering the inherently uncertain future.

From the Scrum Guide (Sprint Planning):

The input to this meeting is the Product Backlog, the latest product Increment, projected capacity of the Development Team during the Sprint, and past performance of the Development Team.

Teams express this Scrum Guide guidance of ‘past performance’ often as ‘Velocity’. Although not a mandatory concept, it is a good tactic to apply in Scrum and for many teams even useful to increase their proficiency in self-management.

Painful problems arise however if Scrum gets managed through the distorting lens of the old, industrial paradigm. Purpose gets lost and ideas get corrupted. No more than an illusion of agility is created. One such case is when Velocity becomes an indicator of volume (of tasks and features produced) and is measured for external justification (i.e. beyond the team boundaries).

Although Scrum can be employed to address any complex challenge, Scrum is foremost applied as a framework for complex product delivery. For many organizations the availability and usage of their products and services is life-critical. They adopt Scrum because they need to act with more agility against that life-critical purpose. Scrum is designed to deliver agility to these organizations under the form of releasable versions of products, called Increments. The purpose is to enable organizations in having an effective impact on the market place no later than by the end of each Sprint. This is a crucial trait of agility for organizations that are highly product or service-dependent.

Against that purpose it is not helpful to not have a releasable product version by the end of a Sprint. We allow even what we have done to remain full of unknowns. We undermine the only base we have for making decisions. We undermine the solidity of our already fragile decision process even more. In terms of real progress, Velocity is actually… zero.

In the face of the purpose of increased agility through Scrum, it doesn’t add much value to discuss Velocity at Sprint Review when no releasable Increment has been created throughout the Sprint. There are probably more serious problems to address first. There are more important challenges than measuring how many points were burned. Let alone the completely futile attempts to standardize, normalize, industrialize, or equalize Velocity across an organization.

In the absence of teams’ capability to effectively produce releasable Increments, such discussions do no more than distract from the more serious problems. Velocity becomes an obfuscating indicator. The definition of Done provides the real transparency for inspection and adaptation. The definition of Done shows what is lacking to increase product quality up to the point of Increments being releasable. In the face of the urgency of agility, the question of what is defined as Done is much more important than registering the amount of unreleasable work produced.

You can obviously measure the Velocity at which undone work is created, and be more predictable in creating even more undone work. It will not help you make progress towards increased agility and having an impact.

Rather, at the Sprint Review ask yourself “What is our impact on the market? What is our ability to go to market?” It will steer the conversation in very different directions than merely reporting how much tasks were completed. Take the findings to your Sprint Retrospective to figure out what is needed to improve on the possibility to go to market next Sprint. Have the ambition of going through an engaged retrospective, rather than one of unfocused fun. Aspire to start creating valuable Increments with a demonstrable impact, no later than by the end of your next Sprint. Nobody external to the team will care about your Velocity, as an external indicator of progress, anymore.

In the face of the purpose of increased agility through Scrum, Velocity, actually, only makes sense if a measure of a team’s capability to create releasable Increments of product, no later than by the end of a Sprint.