Players and accountabilities in the game of Scrum (an audio excerpt from “Scrum – A Pocket Guide”, 2nd ed)

In 2013 I accidentally created a book, “Scrum – A Pocket Guide”. In 2018 I deliberately evolved your Scrum travel companion into a second edition. The updated edition was published in February 2019.

Players And Accountabilities In The Game Of Scrum” is an audio excerpt from that second, updated edition. The excerpt covers chapter 2.5 (introduction) and chapter 2.5.1 (pages 49-52) and can be listened to at Soundcloud.

A PDF with the excerpt can be downloaded here: Players and accountabilities in the game of Scrum.

The international versions of the Scrum Values now comprise 19 languages

The international descriptions of the Scrum Values have been expanded to 19 languages. The updated versions are available for you as a free download (PDF): The Scrum Values (International versions) -Feb 2019.

This latest version holds following changes:

  • New languages: Greek, Ukrainian.
  • Updated languages: Polish, Portuguese.

I originally described the Scrum Values in English as part of the first edition of my (accidentally created) book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” (2013). I updated the text slightly for the second edition (a deliberate evolution) of my book (2019). The Scrum Values were added to the Scrum Guide in 2016. The English version was translated to the international versions offered in this document for you through several iterations that started early in 2018.

I cannot express my gratitude enough to following people for spending the hard work of making the international versions of the Scrum Values available for you:

  • Arabic: Rasheed Raya
  • Chinese (simp/trad): Lana Sun, Wei Lun Teh, Chee-Hong Hsia
  • Danish: Mikkel Toudal Kristiansen
  • Filipino: Shirley Santiago, Warren Yu
  • French: Fabio Panzavolta, Mohamed Gargouri
  • German: Uwe Schirmer, Peter Götz
  • Greek: Thodoris Bais, Nikolas Friligkos
  • Hindi: Punit Doshi, Hiren Doshi
  • Italian: Michael F. Forni
  • Persian: Mehdi Hoseini
  • Polish: Krystian Kaczor
  • Portuguese: Leonardo Bittencourt
  • Russian: Konstantin Razumovsky
  • Spanish: Pablo Bernardo
  • Turkish: ilkay Polat, Lemi Orhan Ergin
  • Ukrainian: Andrii Glushchenko

A poster of the international versions of the Scrum Values is available as a free download (PNG): The Scrum Values (International Versions poster).

The international Scrum Glossary is now available in 19 languages

The international Scrum Glossary has been expanded to 19 languages. The updated version is available for you as a free download (PDF): Scrum Glossary (International versions) -Feb 2019.

This latest version holds following changes:

  • New languages: Arabic, Greek, Persian, Ukranian.
  • Updated definitions in all languages: “Scrum”, “Sprint Backlog”, “Velocity”.
  • Updated languages: Danish, Filipino/Tagalog.

I originally created the Scrum Glossary in English as part to the first edition of my (accidentally created) book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” (2013). I updated the text slightly for the second edition (a deliberate evolution) of my book (2019). The English version was translated to the international versions offered in this document for you through several iterations that started early in 2018.

I cannot express my gratitude enough to following people for spending the hard work of making the international versions of the Scrum Glossary available for you:

  • Arabic: Rasheed Raya
  • Chinese (simp/trad): Lana Sun, Wei Lun Teh, Chee-Hong Hsia
  • Danish: Rasmus Kaae
  • 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
  • Turkish: ilkay Polat, Lemi Orhan Ergin
  • Ukrainian: Andrii Glushchenko

Inspection without adaptation is pointless in Scrum

People are naturally Agile. Our personal lives require us to demonstrate our ability to adapt more than our professional environments often allow us to do. Scrum, much like life, is all about adaptation. Scrum sets opportunities for professionals to regularly inspect in order to adapt. Inspection without adaptation is pointless. An act of futility.

The simplest word that might adequately define “agile” is “adaptive”. Adaptiveness, the ability to adapt, is more than ever needed in our world of complexity, creativity, fierce competition and unpredictability. Hence, the criticality of agility, not the illusion of agility that many Agile transformations result in. Agility is reflected in an organization’s unique way to respond to change, absorb important disruptions, capitalize on unforeseen opportunities and -ultimately- cause innovative change.

Scrum is all about inspection and adaptation, and therefore a way to become more Agile, to increase the ability to adapt. The framework of Scrum is a foundation upon which to increase the agility that emerges from frequent inspections and adaptations. Scrum sets no more than boundaries to elevate self-organization with frequent reminders for all players involved to adapt upon observations (inspection) of reality, new insights, acquired experience, changing expectations.

Scrum re-inserts some common sense of life back into a professional environment.

The process of inspection and adaptation, and therefore Scrum, thrives on a dualistic relationship with transparency. The process of inspection and adaptation requires as well as creates transparency. Adaptations that are not based on observations of reality, but of some faked reality, make no sense. They even have the danger of worsening a situation, and increase obfuscation rather than enhance transparency. On the other hand, Scrum also makes reality highly visible, at least at each event. This transparency offered by Scrum is easily cheered and embraced when progress and results are as hoped for, but not so much when that is not the case.

Inspection and adaptation are inseparable acts. Adaptation is a conscious decision about the nearby future.

Even the decision to keep a certain way of working in place, actually, is an adaptation, when taken consciously. For a decision of adaptation to be an informed decision it is best based on inspection, i.e. an act of observation and consideration. Adaptation without observation and reflective inspection misses direction. It is likely no more than a shot in the dark, rather than a deliberate evolution. Inspection without adaptation, in our world of complexity, creativity, fierce competition and unpredictability, makes little sense. It makes little sense to gather information about the past without considering how to deal with that information next. In Scrum, inspection without adaptation is a futile act that serves pretend-agility at most.

The artefacts of Scrum are dynamic placeholders holding essential information that serves the process of inspection and adaptation. Every event in Scrum is an opportunity to inspect and adapt upon this evolving information. The purpose, time-boxes and frequency of the events allow people, the inspectors, to balance focus on getting work done and openness for change.

Inspection for the mere sake of inspecting, without the ambition to adapt, is pointless in Scrum. All Scrum events are intended to be forward-looking, as opportunities to shape the future. None of these events were designed for reporting or status purposes. In the world of high dynamism that leads to deploying a work process based on Scrum it would be very strange if teams did not capitalize on new information and insights that improve their work life as soon as possible. Scrum makes sure it happens never later than at the foreseen events. Scrum assures that the art of empiricism is performed no later than at the time of these events.

Within a Sprint, as an overarching event, development standards and practices provide additional feedback loops. Across multiple Sprints, where a Sprint is a completely defined cycle in time, forecasts can be made, and growth tracked, towards goals and ambitions. Scrum helps you inspect and adapt your way to unpredictable destinies.

In complex and changing environments adaptation is key. These are the environments that demand the adoption of a framework like Scrum. Inspection without adaptation is pointless in Scrum. It is an act of futility and pretend-agility.

(Thank you Higher View and Jellylab for the videos and for the graphics)

The illusion of agility (what most Agile transformations end up delivering)

Agility is a unique and continuously evolving state that is typical to a specific organization, given an organization’s people, set-up and history. A traditional (industrial) approach to becoming more Agile commonly creates no more than an illusion of agility.

Agility is a specific state as it reflects the unique lessons and learnings that an organization and its inhabitants went and go through, the way in which specific annoyances and hindrances were and are overcome, the many inspections and adaptations that occur along the journey, the unknown future challenges that will demand distinct responses. Agility is a unique signature with imprints of the people involved and their relationships and interactions, of used and abandoned tools, processes, practices, of constructs within and across the many eco-systems that make out an organization, potentially even stretching across the organization’s boundaries.

No model can predict, anticipate or outline the unique signature that an organization’s state of agility is.

However, many of our organizations have their roots, and their beliefs, in the past industrial age. As they feel the need and the pressure to increase their agility, they naturally revert to familiar, yet old-school, industrial recipes. They undertake cautiously planned attempts to shift to the Agile paradigm (although they need to leap), wrapping them in separate change projects. They look around and imitate what other organizations do. They copy-paste what others, regardless whether they operate in the same economical domain or not, claim brought them success. They enforce processes and practices in a cascaded and mass-production way. They rely on text-book models that prescribe generic pre-empted blueprints organizational structures. The learnings and the hard work needed needed to acquire sustainable agility tuned to the organization’s specific context are conveniently ignored. Ironically, these are the exact approaches that block them in their growth, the ways of working that they need to abandon in order to enter and survive the new worlds, the worlds that require a higher agility.

The mismatch is fundamental. They need and want to hose down their industrial ways, yet re-inforce them. No more than an illusion of agility is created, which is painfully revealed when, often after several years, the deflation by reality hits hard. In the face of the urgency, the increase in agility is negligible. The actual results are disappointing.

What was hoped would be achieved is not achieved. The people creating a company’s products and services are not more engaged or motivated (rather they keep leaving and no new talents can be attracted). The people funding the work are not more pleased (not achieving the gains and returns hoped for). The people buying and consuming the organization’s products and services are not more satisfied (and usage and satisfaction keep declining). Overall, the old predominant disconnectedness is not resolved. The traditional top-down line organization with its typical silo structure and separation of skills and expertise is not replaced with team work, shared purpose and commitment. Blaming keeps taking precedence over collaboractiveness.

Increasing agility is a path. Progressing on that path requires vision, belief, persistence and… hard work. Agility, as a state of high adaptiveness, can only be achieved by regularly… adapting. Adaptations only make sense upon inspections of actual work and observable results. Think feedback loops (all around). The new reality, for which agility is needed, says that what works today might not work tomorrow. What works for one company (a complex system of interconnected people, processes, tools) might not work for another company. What works for one combination of teams, technology and business might not work for another combination.

Signposts that might help you detect whether an illusion of agility is being created:

  • It is not a transformation if it doesn’t change how you work.
  • It is not an Agile transformation if it doesn’t simplify how you work.
  • It is not an adoption of Scrum if it doesn’t engage and energize people (customers, teams, stakeholders).

The new reality tells us to act in the moment more than we ever did before. Embracing uncertainty and unpredictability has a great potential too. Getting the most out of the possible thrives upon acceptance of the unwritten state of the future and what that future might bring. It reminds us that we are not alone in this, that each individual, no matter their function, level, position or silo, can contribute. Living the art of the possible against unpredicted outcomes has the option of engaging people as it shapes their future. Acceleration comes from vision, determination and dedication; from the courage to move away from following a plan or copying a model.

Regardless an organization’s past attempts and choices, reverting to the path of hard work is always a workable way out.

More Agile teams does not make a more Agile organization.

(Thank you, Higher View, for your professional expertise in video creations and Jellylab for the graphics)

Agile (What’s so funny about peace, love and future dreaming?)

The Agile Manifesto, and the movement that stemmed from it, has hugely improved the world. I believe in continuing the Agile dream and create an even better world (rather than focus on the inevitable downsides of the success).

In February 2001, seventeen software development leaders gathered at the Snowbird ski resort in Utah (United States) to discuss their views on software development. Those were times of failing waterfall and heavy-weight RUP projects (‘Rational Unified Process’). These 17 people were following different paths and methods; Scrum, eXtreme Programming, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal, Feature Driven Development, etc.

Much to their own surprise they found an agreement over a set of common principles, beliefs and viewpoints, published as the „Manifesto for Agile Software Development“. The adjective ‘Agile’ became the label to describe the views described in the Manifesto.

Even more to their surprise ‘Agile’ turned into a success, with many people signing the Manifesto and -albeit gradually- Agile taking over the world. A new paradigm was born, in the realm of the software industry. A movement stemmed from it, with Scrum as distinct definition of Agile heading the pack. Over time, Agile seeped into other domains of work and activities, beyond software and product development.

Today, the balance of society incessantly keeps shifting from industrial (often physical) labor to digital (often virtual) work. In many domains of society, the unpredictability of work increases, drastically and continually. The industrial paradigm is rendered useless, definitely. The need for the Agile paradigm is bigger than ever. Scrum is the new reality, now and in the foreseeable future. Actually, Agile and Scrum are inseparable ingredients.

The success of Agile was unplanned, unpredictable, a huge gamechanger and… undesirable (to some).

It deeply saddens me to read, hear and feel the scorning, the resentment, the cynicism. It deeply saddens me that people find little other purpose in life than to make a day job out of negativity, out of pointing at flaws (real or imagined), perceived shortcomings and the incompleteness of Agile. It deeply saddens me to hear people that still are not over the feeling they should have been invited to the Utah event.

Agile as described in the Manifesto, indeed, is imperfect and purposefully leaves room for ambiguities. And, yes, Agile partially turned into a business in itself with forms of bastardization into marketing and moneymaking schemes. And, maybe, there are people and organizations that don’t „get it“ and demonstrate a lack of ‘true’ understanding. That might mean we have not done a good job of helping them discover the value of Agile (in which case a new name will not solve the problem). It might just be in the eye of an ignorant beholder or self-acclaimed experts alike. Who are we to judge?

Regardless, Agile was and is a huge improvement to the world. I am grateful that those 17 people provided us with an amazing foundation upon which to build, discover even better ways to do our work, and keep creating a better world to live and work in.

And, yes, I am wary of the new cult too, the Big gestures and the beatification. I also see the hunts for adoration, name and fame. I observe ideas being stolen, ripped and degraded. All speaking against the Agile and Scrum Values, I know. In avoiding falling into the trap of scorning myself, I have no other choice than to remain with my belief that Agile is not about comic figure-like stereotypes and dress-up routines. Agile is not about massive tap dancing crowds or cheerful ticker tape parades. Agile is not in your title, not in how you look. Beyond being in what you say, Agile is primarily in what you do, how you act.

Still, Agile is a choice, not a must. Nobody needs to join me on my path of continuing the dream. I like to think I am open for any other new, deviant, disruptive idea that introduces more improvements and further humanizes the workplace. In the meantime, I’ll stick to trying whatever I can do to demonstrate the value of Agile, with the Scrum framework as favourite toolbox in my backpack. I can only suggest others to allow their ideas to speak for their positive selves. I am sure blaming Agile (for its broad adoption) is hardly helpful in that regard.

Warm regards
Gunther
your independent Scrum Caretaker

(Thank you, Higher View, for your professional expertise in video creations)

 

Make 2019 amazing

Dear compagnon, reader, follower, liker

As the end of 2018 approaches, I hope that it was as great as mine/ours was. Regardless, work hard to turn 2019 into an amazing year, of insightful experiences, challenging encounters and exciting adventures, both personal and professional.

Look for the value in the Scrum Values, as I shared with the world at the request of my friends of ProAgile in Sweden. May they serve as your compass; guiding you, directing you in your journey of Scrum.

Gunther
Your independent Scrum Caretaker
24 December 2018