Daily Scrum Pocketcasts – Episode 4

Ever since the accidental creation of my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” in 2013, and its deliberate evolution in 2019, I’ve been receiving inquiries about an audiobook version. So far, I have not been able to make that happen but the current pandemic storm got me into implementing the audio idea in a different form.

On Friday 27 March 2020 I delivered the fourth “Daily Scrum Pocketcast” in which I have read following chapters from my book:

2.7 The Scrum values

3. TACTICS FOR A PURPOSE

3.1 Visualizing progress
3.2 The Daily Scrum questions
3.3 Product Backlog refinement
3.4 User Stories
3.5 Planning Poker
3.6 Sprint length
3.7 How Scrum scales

Besides the full YouTube version, you can also find the audio version on SoundCloud.

The next daily broadcast will also be the last. If you want to attend, register on Zoom (or copy following link to your browser https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upclduugrT8ruk_h1txTV8KP1_59Dj9sZg).

Warm regards
Gunther
your independent Scrum Caretaker

Daily Scrum Pocketcasts – Episode 3

Ever since the accidental creation of my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” in 2013, and its deliberate evolution in 2019, I’ve been receiving inquiries about an audiobook version. So far, I have not been able to make that happen but the current pandemic storm got me into implementing the audio idea in a different form.

On Thursday 26 March 2020 I delivered the third “Daily Scrum Pocketcast” in which I have read following chapters from my book:

2.5 Playing the game (continued)
2.6 Core principles of Scrum

Besides the full YouTube version, you can also find the audio version on SoundCloud.

In the subsequent daily broadcasts I will read the next chapters from my pocket guide to Scrum. Every reading session happens on working days at 3 pm CET (Central European Time), with each session continuing were the previous session ended. The sessions are open for 100 attendants. Every daily session is time-boxed to a total of 1 hour of me reading.

As we move forward, I plan to collect questions, or viewers can send me questions. Based on the questions received I will figure out how to best respond. That might be through additional Zoom sessions, or a document that I will share for free with everyone.

If you want to attend, register on Zoom (or copy following link to your browser https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upclduugrT8ruk_h1txTV8KP1_59Dj9sZg). Note that each session requires separate registration.

Warm regards
Gunther
your independent Scrum Caretaker

Daily Scrum Pocketcasts – Episode 2

Ever since the accidental creation of my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” in 2013, and its deliberate evolution in 2019, I’ve been receiving inquiries about an audiobook version. So far, I have not been able to make that happen but the current pandemic storm got me into implementing the audio idea in a different form.

On Wednesday 25 March 2020 I delivered the second “Daily Scrum Pocketcast” in which I have read following chapters from my book:

1.6 Combining Agile and Lean

2. SCRUM

2.1 The house of Scrum
2.2 Scrum, what’s in a name?
2.3 Is that a gorilla I see over there?
2.4 Framework, not methodology
2.5 Playing the game (intro)

Besides the full YouTube version, you can also find the audio version on SoundCloud.

In the subsequent daily broadcasts I will read the next chapters from my pocket guide to Scrum. Every reading session happens on working days at 3 pm CET (Central European Time), with each session continuing were the previous session ended. The sessions are open for 100 attendants. Every daily session is time-boxed to a total of 1 hour of me reading.

As we move forward, I plan to collect questions, or viewers can send me questions. Based on the questions received I will figure out how to best respond. That might be through additional Zoom sessions, or a document that I will share for free with everyone.

If you want to attend, register on Zoom (or copy following link to your browser https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upclduugrT8ruk_h1txTV8KP1_59Dj9sZg). Note that each session requires separate registration.

Warm regards
Gunther
your independent Scrum Caretaker

Daily Scrum Pocketcasts – Episode 1

Ever since the accidental creation of my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” in 2013, and its deliberate evolution in 2019, I’ve been receiving inquiries about an audiobook version. So far, I have not been able to make that happen but the current pandemic storm got me into implementing the audio idea in a different form.

On Tuesday 24 March 2020 I delivered the first “Daily Scrum Pocketcast” in which I have read following chapters from my book:

Foreword by Ken Schwaber
Preface
1. THE AGILE PARADIGM

1.1 To shift or not to shift
1.2 The origins of Agile
1.3 Definition of Agile
1.4 The iterative-incremental continuum
1.5 Agility can’t be planned

Besides the full YouTube version, you can also find the audio version on SoundCloud.

In the subsequent daily broadcasts I will read the next chapters from my pocket guide to Scrum. Every reading session happens on working days at 3 pm CET (Central European Time), with each session continuing were the previous session ended. The sessions are open for 100 attendants. Every daily session is time-boxed to a total of 1 hour of me reading.

As we move forward, I plan to collect questions, or viewers can send me questions. Based on the questions received I will figure out how to best respond. That might be through additional Zoom sessions, or a document that I will share for free with everyone.

If you want to attend, register on Zoom (or copy following link to your browser https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upclduugrT8ruk_h1txTV8KP1_59Dj9sZg). Note that each session requires separate registration.

Warm regards
Gunther
your independent Scrum Caretaker

Daily Scrum Pocketcasts

Ever since the accidental creation of my book Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion) in 2013, and its deliberate evolution in 2019, I frequently receive inquiries about the availability of an audiobook version.

Although I see value in the idea, I have not been able to make it happen so far.

Given the current pandemic storm, forcing many friends of Scrum to remain at home, I decided to implement upon the audio idea in a slightly adjusted form.

Starting Tuesday 24 March 2020, I have planned a first series of five “Daily Scrum Pocketcasts.” In subsequent daily broadcasts I will read my Scrum Pocket Guide front to back. I will do a reading session on working days at 3 pm CET (Central European Time), with each session continuing were the previous session ended. The sessions are open for 100 attendants. Registered attendants can send me questions about the book, or parts of it. I plan to read for 30-45 minutes every day after which I hope I can address questions related to the chapter(s) of the day. Every daily session will be time-boxed to a total of 1 hour.

I plan to also record the sessions and make them available via my YouTube channel. I hope to collect the questions and my (written) answers in a document that, if all works out, I will share for free with everyone.

I have no idea where this will take us, how long it will last, or how the idea and its emerging implementation will unfold. Of one thing I am sure, it won’t all be smooth. Come find out with me, and register on Zoom (or copy following link to your browser https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upclduugrT8ruk_h1txTV8KP1_59Dj9sZg). Note that each session requires separate registration.

Warm regards
Gunther
your independent Scrum Caretaker

Minimal measures for minimal stability in a complex world (that will help you optimize your Scrum)

Scrum, in its more general definition, is a simple framework to help us address complex challenges. Product development is the subset of complex problem domains where Scrum took root first; by explicitly acknowledging software and new product development to be complex work, serving to deliver complex products in complex circumstances.

Scrum is increasingly being discovered as a simple framework to address complex problems and situations other than software and product development. More and different people, teams and organizations ask for guidance and support on their journey of Scrum, no matter the nature of their problem. Organizations discover that fighting complexity with complexity is not helping. Too much waste, organizational redundancy and fundamental impediments remain unaddressed by the overly complex approaches that organizations use. No sustainable agility is achieved. Organizations discover that they have been seeking for (or were pointed to) universal truths where there are none.

Complex work, of which software and product development are good examples, does not have the high degree of predictability to apply the old approaches that build on linearity, causality and predictive management.

One aspect of ‘complexity’ are the parameters, variables and events that influence an activity and its course. Think of your work, make a list. Consider how predictable the listed variables are, how much control you actually have over them and how sure you are that you listed all of them. However, it is not only the number of known parameters that is important, but also the available as well as the required knowledge over these parameters. What is the level of detail required to comprehend a variable as well as the future behavior of that variable? How long does it take to gather that information? How stable is that information, once collected? Even if a parameter is known, the level of detail may be too deep to be able to manage and control it. And then, of course, the behavior of the parameter is still not necessarily predictable. A known variable may still behave completely different compared to what was planned or expected to happen. And, do not forget that all variables, known and unknown, are related and impact each other, typically in non-linear ways.

‘Complexity’ is also dependent on the nature of the work itself. The combined steps, tasks and activities that make out complex work are not predictable with any degree of high precision. They have not been performed before, or not in the same way or context. They are not repeatable. New insights, techniques and approaches emerge, even while the work is already taking place. Also, the exact and detailed outcomes of complex work are hard to describe and predict before or even at the beginning of the actual work. Expectations change. Markets evolve. Competitors surprise you. And, complex work typically requires the cognitive and creative capabilities of people performing the work. The engagement and involvement of people is dependent on more circumstances than we comprehend, let alone can control.

Complex work is actually more unpredictable than it is predictable. Complex problems are dynamic, not static. The degree of dynamism of a problem or activity requires the right forms of process and stability to be in place in order to have some form of control. Stability in complex work performed in a complex world comes not from fixing requirements, outputs, timelines or plans. These are destined to be unstable and will change. Stability is not about certainty or predictability. Stability is about an environment and boundaries within which to explore and experiment, within which to continually diverge and converge towards incremental solutions answering your complex needs.

Too many organizations end up in total chaos when they experience how the old elements of stability no longer work, but fail to replace them with the minimal measures that would help them optimize their Scrum to better address their complexity:

Start with identifying your problem (product).

In a typical Scrum setting, the problem is developing complex solutions, often a product or a service.

Define and identify your product first. Then organize your Scrum, or re-imagine your Scrum, to optimally tackle your problem or serve your product.

I have observed too many many organizations form Scrum Teams within existing specialist silos and departments, doing little more than renaming existing titles and functions to Scrum terms,
certainly not minding the scope of their Scrum, let alone capitalizing on synergies that exist across those individual Scrum Teams, like the fact that they actually all work on the same product. Disconnectedness is not resolved. The complex problem is not adequately tackled. Parts or components of product are being built, rather than integrated, cohesive product versions that provide end-to-end value.

Have dedicated teams working in dedicated team spaces.

Complex problem-solving requires focus, interaction, communication, collaboration, cross-fertilization and collective intelligence. It requires dedication.

Teams should not be all over the place in terms of getting dragged to external meetings regularly or having to work in multiple teams or on multiple projects. Your teams should be able to primarily dedicate their time maximally on the problem/product at hand, self-manage their work in Sprints and even figure out and establish their own team size and team composition. I have observed too many teams that were really jelling and achieving a highly collaborative state, until being pulled apart by people external to the team; resource managers, departments heads, project management offices. Each one of those teams ultimately plummeted, demotivated.

Teams definitely need a dedicated team space to get the most out of their collaboration, conversations and interactions. Open offices kill innovation and creativity, even more when combined with clean wall policies. People dare not speak up or need to move to separate meeting rooms to do so. Open offices are good for… office work, not for intense and collective problem-solving.

Benefit from the consistency that the Scrum events provide without industrializing your Scrum to death.

Scrum by default offers stability and consistency by suggesting to keep Sprint length stable over a substantial period. It allows people to, often unconsciously, grow an intuition of what is (not) possible, which is extremely helpful in forecasting Sprint and Product Backlog work. It offers minimal stability. It is why Sprints, as container events, have a fixed time-box. Sprints don’t end sooner or later than the set time-box, while the other events can end sooner. Sprint is a stable container event that provides overall rhythm and cadence to the opportunities for inspections and adaptations foreseen within a Sprint; Sprint Review, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.

I am astonished however how organizations dictate a fixed Sprint length to all teams across the organization, regardless of their problem, technology, business domain, product. Organizations tend to industrialize their Scrum, rather than standardize on Scrum. Scrum can be introduced and adopted, allowing all within an organization to speak the same language, without eliminating the option of tuning your Scrum to a specific context.

Scrum only defines that Sprints should be no longer than 4 weeks. Within that range every complex product development endeavor can decide over its own right-size Sprint length. This right-size stability factor is not necessarily the same for all products. This brings us back to the necessity of identifying your product or service first, and then organizing your Scrum to optimally serve your product (including considering the Sprint cadence for all teams serving the product).

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 129 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, 69 authors accepted our invitation and delivered one or more articles (indeed, an average of 1.406 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 Things.
  • “Products Deliver Value.” holds 11 Things.
  • “Collaboration Is Key.” holds 10 Things.
  • “Development Is Multi-faceted Work.” holds 12 Things.
  • “Events, Not Meetings.” holds 10 Things.
  • “Mastery Does Matter.” holds 12 Things.
  • “People, All Too Human.” holds 8 Things.
  • “Values Drive Behavior.” holds 6 Things.
  • “Organizational Design.” holds 9 Things.
  • “Scrum Off Script.” holds 8 Things.

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. More than being a king of punctuation, Corbin has impressively improved the language and clarity of quite some, if not all, of the 97 Things.

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
(updated February 2020)