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The latest edition of “Scrum- A Pocket Guide” is now available in French as “Scrum – Un Guide de Poche”.

At some point (I forgot when it was exactly), Léo Davesne approached me with the suggestion to create a French translation of my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide”. After the publication of the updated, 3rd edition of my book in English in early 2021, Léo started the actual translation of my words with the help of François Brunea. My publisher, Van Haren Publishing, saw value in serving the French speaking Scrum communities and agreed to take care of the publication.

I am as grateful to Léo and François as I am proud to say the result is now available as “Scrum – Un Guide de Poche (Un compagnon de voyage intelligent)”.

Following are some of the more popular channels to acquire the French translation of “Scrum – A Pocket Guide”:

Following is the preface by Léo and François (in French obviously):

Nous remercions chaleureusement Gunther Verheyen pour sa confiance et son soutien dans la recherche de qualité qui nous a guidés tout au long de la traduction.
En tant que traducteurs, notre intention première a été de rendre ce livre accessible à toutes et tous. Nous avons pris le parti de varier les genres et les termes pour rendre le texte le plus inclusif et lisible possible.
Les termes anglophones du Guide Scrum ont été conservés à la demande de l’auteur. Parce que l’Agilité est l’état dans lequel on se trouve lorsqu’on est Agile, « Agile » et « Agilité » ont été utilisés comme synonymes.
Nous sommes conscients de la responsabilité que représente la traduction d’une telle œuvre. Nous nous sommes efforcés de traduire le texte dans le meilleur français possible tout en conservant le style percutant de Gunther.
Nous adressons de sincères remerciements aux relectrices et relecteurs qui ont, de par leurs retours, contribué à améliorer le texte. Merci à Christophe Gesché, Nedjma Saidani, Farouk Choulak, Sedera Randria, Guillaume Leone et Guillaume Deleplace.
Étant dans une démarche d’amélioration continue, nous sommes curieux de lire vos retours. N’hésitez pas à nous contacter pour toute remarque, suggestion ou observation.
Bonne lecture !

Léo Davesne et François Bruneau
Janvier 2022

I thank everyone who was involved in creating, reviewing or contributing in whatever way to all versions and translations of my book. When creating the first version in the spring of 2013, I could never have imagined that it would become such a long-standing work that is still judged by tons of readers as relevant so many years later. I thank especially Ivo van Haren for the opportunities he keeps giving me to express my views on Scrum.

Enjoy reading!

Gunther
independent Scrum Caretaker

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The latest edition of “Scrum- A Pocket Guide” is now available in Portuguese as “Scrum – Um Guia de Bolso” (segunda edição).

By the beginning of 2021, the 3rd, updated edition of my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” was published.

About a year later, Renato Barbieri approached me with the suggestion to update the Portuguese translation of the previous, 2nd edition of my book. That translation was created by Rodrigo Silva Pinto and Leonardo K. Bittencourt as “Scrum – Um Guia de Bolso“. I self-published it in 2019.

Given the amount of work that I put into that self-publishing process (yes, excellence comes at a cost), compared to the low sales figures, I wasn’t too keen on it. Yet, I said “Yes”. I believed Renato who claimed there was plenty of value in offering my updated words to Portuguese speaking friends of Scrum. So, Renato did it, with Rodrigo reviewing his updated translation.

I am as grateful to them as I am proud to say the result is now available as “Scrum – Um Guia de Bolso (Um companheiro de viagem inteligente), Segunda edição” via Amazon in a paperback and as a Kindle version.

Following is the preface by Renato (in Portuguese obviously):

“Meu primeiro contato com o mundo Ágil foi em 2002, quando trabalhava como desenvolvedor de software em uma pequena empresa em Ascot, na Inglaterra. Fazia parte de um pequeno time de desenvolvedores (a empresa inteira tinha 9 pessoas!) e todo mundo fazia um pouco de tudo. Acho que éramos multidisciplinares e auto-organizados e nem sabíamos disso! Um dos meus colegas mencionou um tal de ‘eXtreme Programming (XP)’, fiquei curioso e logo comprei um livro para aprender mais. Foi um choque. Nem vislumbrava a profundidade e o impacto que aquilo teria na indústria de software, e muito menos poderia imaginar que 20 anos depois estaria vivendo em um mundo onde a palavra ‘Ágil’ ganhou um papel tão abrangente.
Quando comecei a me aprofundar em Agilidade, inevitavelmente mergulhei nos meus estudos do Scrum, e logo me deparei com o trabalho do Gunther. Por coincidência, ele também começou a trilhar os caminhos da Agilidade através do XP, na mesma época que eu, e quem diria, estava apenas a algumas centenas de milhas de distância de mim, logo ali, atravessando o Canal da Mancha, na bela Bélgica! Uma pena que não tivemos a oportunidade de nos encontrarmos então.
“O que mais me atraiu no trabalho do Gunther foi não apenas sua análise cirúrgica, precisa do Scrum, muito além do Guia do Scrum, mas sua preocupação em mostrar que este framework, através de seus valores e pilares, endereça algo muito mais nobre e duradouro: a humanização do ambiente de trabalho. Foi então que comecei a seguir o Gunther e logo iniciamos uma colaboração que me trouxe até aqui, em ter a honra e o privilégio de traduzir essa obra tão importante — não é à toa que figura entre os poucos livros sugeridos pelo Scrum.org para aqueles que procuram uma certificação no framework Scrum.
Não deixe o número de páginas lhe enganar: Gunther explora com profundidade, e de maneira clara, tópicos importantíssimos para todos que tenham o interesse de ir além das poucas regras, artefatos, eventos e responsabilidades descritos no Guia do Scrum. Leia, releia, reflita e faça tudo de novo. Aprendizado é sempre melhor quando utilizamos uma abordagem iterativa e incremental.

Renato Barbieri, Fevereiro 2022

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De 2e druk van mijn boek “Scrum Wegwijzer” is beschikbaar

Mijn boek Scrum Wegwijzer (Een kompas voor de bewuste reiziger) is de Nederlandse vertaling van mijn Engelstalige “smart travel companion” getiteld Scrum – A Pocket Guide. De tweede druk van Scrum Wegwijzer is de langverwachte update die zorgt dat de meest recente, derde uitgave van het Engelstalige origineel nu eindelijk ook voor mijn Nederlandstalige vrienden van Scrum beschikbaar is.

Scrum Wegwijzer 2e druk nu beschikbaar! Dit is de bijgewerkte vertaling van de meest actuele versie van onze Engelse “Scrum – A Pocket Guide”, waarvan al meer dan 30.000 exemplaren werden verkocht!

Van Haren Publishing

In 2013 kreeg ik, eigenlijk bij toeval, van de Nederlandse uitgever Van Haren Publishing de kans aangeboden om een boek over Scrum te schrijven. Dat werd het Engelstalige Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion). De eerste versie kwam op de markt in november 2013. In die eerste versie deelde ik toen al mijn visie op enkele aspecten van Scrum die later ook aan de officiële Scrum Guide werden toegevoegd. Ik denk hierbij aan mijn beschrijving van de kernwaarden van Scrum en het optioneel zijn van de drie typische vragen van de Daily Scrum.

Maar de publicatie van die eerste, Engelstalige versie betekende duidelijk niet dat ook de laatste etappe was bereikt voor mijn boek.

Enkele vertalingen volgden, waaronder de eerste Nederlandse vertaling die we de titel Scrum Wegwijzer (Een kompas voor de bewuste reiziger) gaven (2016). Maar er volgden ook enkele updates van de originele, Engelstalige uitgave: een tweede editie in 2019 en een derde in 2021. Omdat ook Scrum de laatste etappe van zijn bestaan nog verre van bereikt heeft. Omdat de wereld niet stilstaat. Omdat de behoefte aan een framework als Scrum groter is dan ooit tevoren. Omdat er aan uitdagingen geen gebrek is, ook niet voor ervaren beoefenaars van Scrum. Omdat het nu niet het moment is om te lang stil te staan bij de verwezenlijkingen van het verleden. Geen eindhalte is in zicht voor de mondiale vrienden van Scrum. Gelukkig maar.

De ontdekkingsreis van en met Scrum start noodzakelijkerwijs met kennis en inzicht in de regels van het spel genaamd “Scrum” om er vervolgens mee aan de slag te gaan. Met mijn boek wilde ik een reisgids schrijven voor degenen die nog moeten beginnen aan hun fascinerende ontdekkingsreis, maar ook voor iedereen die Scrum al toepast. Voor de eerste categorie reizigers is het een gids die ze mee aan boord nemen. Voor de laatste categorie reizigers is het een reisgids voor onderweg. Mijn boek beschrijft hoe Scrum concrete invulling geeft aan de Agile mindset (Hfdstk 1. Het Agile paradigma), wat de fundamentele spelregels van Scrum zijn (Hfdstk 2. Scrum) en hoe die regels ruimte laten voor een uitgebreid scala aan tactieken om het spel te spelen en zo invulling te geven aan de regels (Hfdstk 3. Doelgerichte tactieken). Het boek sluit af met enkele overpeinzingen betreffende de toekomst van Scrum (Hfdstk 4. De toekomst van Scrum).

Ik ben er van overtuigd dat de derde Engelstalige druk meer dan ooit de fundamentele inzichten in Scrum bevat die mensen, teams en leidinggevenden nodig hebben om hun Scrum vorm te geven en op basis daarvan hun organisaties te hervormen, los van hun specifieke domein of economische activiteit.

Vraag me niet waarom het dan toch nog zo lang geduurd heeft om mijn boek in het Nederlands, uiteindelijk nog steeds mijn moedertaal, bij te werken. Ik moet je het antwoord schuldig blijven. Ik heb van de gelegenheid wel gebruik gemaakt om de voorheen onvertaald gebleven paragraaf Combining Agile and Lean nu wel mee op te nemen als De combinatie van Agile en Lean (paragraaf 1.6).

Ik hoop dat je toch mijn vreugde deelt dat het resultaat er eindelijk is en verkrijgbaar is via de nodige reguliere kanalen:

Ik hoop dat deze tweede druk je helpt om Scrum te herontdekken of nog beter te begrijpen en onder de knie te krijgen. Moge het je helpen om betere producten te ontwikkelen, om met meer energie en werkplezier je dagelijkse uitdagingen aan te gaan en om naar een menselijkere werkplek toe te werken.

Mijn eigen reis nam een aanvang in 2003 met de ontdekking en eerste toepassing van eXtreme Programming in combinatie met Scrum. Het was het begin van een pad met de nodige hindernissen. Op mijn weg, die trouwens nog verre van ten einde is, heb ik met vele teams mogen werken aan diverse projecten in diverse domeinen voor sterk uiteenlopende klanten en gebruikers. Ik heb met kleine en grote organisaties mogen samen-werken en ik heb mensen in verschillende rollen in diverse onderdelen en lagen van organisaties mogen coachen.

Ik ben dankbaar dat ik de keuze kon maken om mijn ontdekkingsreis verder te zetten als onafhankelijk Scrum Caretaker, als iemand die behalve om Scrum ook om de mensen geeft die betrokken zijn bij de invoering en toepassing van Scrum. Ik zie Scrum niet enkel als een aanpak om betere producten en services te creëren, en dus waarde te creëren voor de consumenten en de aanbiedende organisatie. Scrum is voor mij ook een middel om de werkplek te vermenselijken, en in die zin dus waarde te creëren voor de mensen die de producten effectief bouwen. Die aspecten zijn trouwens niet alleen sterk met elkaar verbonden, maar versterken elkaar.

Het leven is in het beste geval een prachtige opeenvolging van gelukkige toevalligheden. Ik heb het voorrecht genoten om sinds 2010 in belangrijke mate in Nederland kennis en inzicht in het Scrum-proces te mogen verspreiden. En zo bevond ik me in 2011 en 2012 in het oog van een Scrum-orkaan die stormenderhand Nederland veroverde. Vanuit mijn werk daarna bij Scrum.org (2013-2016) kreeg ik een goed beeld van de mondiale verspreiding van Scrum. Het doet me plezier vast te stellen dat Nederland wereldwijd (!) koploper was, en vandaag nog steeds is, wat betreft de invoering van Scrum. Dankzij de vele mensen, teams en organisaties waarmee ik sinds 2010 mocht werken, is Nederland wat Scrum betreft zowat mijn professioneel thuisland geworden. En zo voelt het nog steeds. Opnieuw, vraag me niet waarom het dan toch nog zo lang geduurd heeft om mijn boek in het Nederlands bij te werken…

Ik dank het team van Van Haren Publishing, en in het bijzonder Ivo van Haren, voor het vertrouwen dat ze me schonken om dit boek te creëren en het vervolgens bij te werken. Bart Verbrugge verdient een bijzonder woord van dank voor zijn redactiewerk.

Ik kan ze verzekeren dat dat nieuwe boek over Scrum er ook nog wel een keertje komt. Een titel heb ik al…

Blijf leren,
Blijf verbeteren,
Blijf…Scrummen.

Gunther
onafhankelijk Scrum Caretaker

ps. Ben je, net als ik, af en toe een beetje het noorden kwijt qua edities? Op mijn website vind je een overzicht onder de sectie Library > Books.

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The new Scrum Pocket Class “Scrum in the Large” is now available [SPC-XL1]

In 2021 I developed and launched an online workshop to interactively explore with the people participating The Value in the Scrum Values. Soon I found out that I had more in store than I could interact over with attendants in the half day that I had foreseen. So I limited the material to a first module and cover in it how “Values drive behavior”. The second module “Behavior reflects values” remains to be launched and will obviously build on module 1.

While looking back at my rocks moved in 2021 I was thinking about more ways to engage, collaborate and interact with friends of Scrum across the planet in 2022. I decided to create more half-day online workshops and call the series Scrum Pocket Classes (“SPC”). The idea is to create more modular learning opportunities. The series will be based on and is therefore named after my book Scrum – A Pocket Guide, of which the third edition was released in early 2021.

After updating the Dutch translation of my pocket guide for the second edition of “Scrum Wegwijzer”, I have now developed module 1 of a new SPC called Scrum in the Large. I have planned and opened up registrations for the first sessions for this module 1, called “The rules don’t change”, at a reduced price. Book your seat now »


WHY did I create this new Scrum Pocket Class called “Scrum in the Large”?

This new Scrum Pocket Class is the next step in my ambition and endless journey to help people and organizations re-think their structures around Scrum (and not the other way around). That is how to move Scrum forward: to help people, teams and leadership look beyond the rules by acting upon them and upgrading their organization accordingly. Because “Scrum is only used effectively if organizations re-think the structures around it”.

We need to move Scrum forward because we are running around in circles. And a sense of progress is missing. We are re-inventing the wheel. Over and over again. On the one hand, some keep repeating the same old dysfunctions. Others present their revelations about (aspects of) Scrum as if they are true pioneers. The underlying motivation is pretty similar. Clickbait. On the one hand, some glorify certifications as if it’s the only thing that counts. Others curse even the mere existence of certifications. The underlying motivation is pretty similar. Clickbait. On the one hand, some keep debating the nuts and bolts of the official definition of Scrum as a way to pretend they are the only ones who truly understand. Others seem to have no other purpose than to bash Scrum. The underlying motivation is pretty similar. Clickbait.

Clickbait, indeed. Because, what is the way forward that they are offering? Where are the constructive ideas and suggestions beyond the personal branding? Where is the action upon the observation, the adaptation after the inspection?

On the whole, we keep running around in circles. Back to square one (if ever we left it in the first place). What is needed is the courage to transcend our personal desire for our 15 seconds of online fame, our forming of camps and…start moving (your) Scrum downfield. If helping people and organizations is the purpose…

Moving (your) Scrum downfield starts, but doesn’t end with understanding the essentials of Scrum and get them to work (for you). In early 2020 I described the six essential traits of Scrum in v1 of my paper “Moving Your Scrum Downfield”. Download it for free. However, as said, it doesn’t stop there. Over the past years I have been introducing what else is needed to move (your) Scrum downfield: “Engagement is the key”, “Humanizing the workplace”, “Managing for value”, “Organizing for value”. Find all recordings of my talks about them on my YouTube channel.

At the heart of my views is the gradual transformation of an organization towards a networked structure of what I call Product Hubs. A Product Hub is a mini-organization acting as a start-up within the organization. It is optimally organized for a product (not for functional specializations), as ‘product’ is the vehicle to deliver value. Because such a product (or service) is managed with Scrum, in this first module of the new SPC Scrum in the Large the focus will be on “Multi-team Scrum”, and what is needed to get there. Without any additional scaling frameworks. Just…Scrum.

I do believe it is essential to cover that first before building up to (1) the inclusion of ‘other’ skills in a Product Hub and (2) the level of what I call “Multi-product Scrum”. Those are the topics I hope to be covering in the future module 2. I profoundly believe it is important to avoid the mistake of many “Lean” transformations. I described that mistake in my book as introducing management and organisational constructs and practices from what we call “Lean” without the beating heart (“Scrum”) being present in the system. In the case of “Lean”, that was actually the introduction of management practices of TPS (the Toyota Product System) through the lens of Western managers. Obviously, the future module 2 will build on this module 1.


Do you want to attend module 1 of my new Scrum Pocket Class “Scrum in the Large”?

  • Given the considerable interest in the pilot session for module 1 of the new Scrum Pocket Class “Scrum in the Large” on Thursday 17 March (1.30-5 pm CET) I added some extra seats. This session is offered at the reduced price of 200 € (the future standard price will be 300 €). Book your seat now »
  • The next session will take place on Friday 22 April (1.30-5 pm CET). After offering subscribers to my (irregular) news updates a head start, the session is now also publicly available at the reduced price of 250 € (the future standard price will be 300 €). Book your seat now »
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Rocks moved (small or big) in 2021 (besides other accomplishments)

Life isn’t about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.

What have I been up to in 2021?

Next to spending time on running my one-person company Ullizee-Inc (always more time than expected and hoped for), I feel gratified for having facilitated the learning process of 300+ people in various courses and workshops. In 25+ speaking engagements I have tried to share ideas and observations regarding different aspects of Scrum (check out my YouTube channel for recorded sessions).

Besides those ‘regular’ activities at least a few rocks got moved (small or big):

  • Creating a dedicated website for my Scrum Glossary (with translations in 25 languages);
  • Creating a dedicated website for the Scrum Values (with translations in 25 languages);
  • Publication of the 3rd edition of my bookScrum – A Pocket Guide“;
  • Creating and facilitating various sessions of my new workshop “The value in the Scrum Values”;
  • Creating and distributing a “Certificate of Gratitude” to all people having attended my courses or workshops in 2021.

Overall and despite these accomplishments, it’s been a more than challenging year as an independent Scrum Caretaker. Yet, I look forward to 2022 and uncovering more and more diverse ways to humanize the workplace with Scrum. It is my North Star, my infinite game. What is yours?

With love
Gunther

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Product Owner. Not the Agile name for project manager, requirements engineer or other outdated functions.

The Product Owner in Scrum is accountable for the value delivered. Besides the fact that value is a very different driver than volume is (think outcome versus output), that accountability can hardly be demonstrated without a clearly identified ‘product’. Product is the vehicle to deliver value. Neither can a Product Owner be accountable and effective without a mandate to make decisions. Product Owner accountability cannot be mapped on existing roles or functions, nor can it be effectively enacted through deliverables and meetings dating from the industrial paradigm.

Although ‘product’ determines the scope, span and depth of Scrum, it is one of the most ignored considerations when Scrum is introduced. Organizations often introduce Scrum by constructing teams within existing departments and silo structures. The ‘Product Backlogs’ that they work off may be fascinating collections of work, but they are rarely for a…product. But how can you then know what the Product Owner actually owns? What purpose serves Product Backlog if not the single source of work to optimize for the value that a product delivers? What is it that releasable Increments are being created of when not of a well-defined product?

Without a clearly identified ‘product’ optimizing for value is hardly possible and Scrum is hardly used effectively.

When teams work within the confines of a traditional line organization, the highest achievable definition of product is often a part of a system, a component, a module or ‘something’ to be shipped tosomeone’. Teams deliver work to other teams that in turn combine it with their work or the parts of the system, components or modules they produce. And other teams again depend on the work to be received from them. As the different teams often operate under different line management, it ends up with nobody minding the synergies across them, with nobody minding the actual product and the value delivered to end-users, with nobody minding how poorly Scrum is organized and employed. One might wonder where the courageous Scrum Masters have gone but in the end the effective use of Scrum is impeded by mapping it to the old delivery structures to keep producing the same parts and modules for the same sub-products in a series of open-loop systems rather than thriving on closed-loop feedback control.

The challenge is to know your product or service so you can start organizing your Scrum to best serve the people consuming it and the organization funding its development, while increasing the sense of accomplishment for the people performing the work!

After knowing the product, the mandate and autonomy of the Product Owner is the next tactical challenge to tackle. Is your Product Owner the best placed person to make business decisions or is your Product Owner a proxy, a distant representative, a temp like a project manager or some other intermediary? Are the decisions by your Product Owner fully supported or does your Product Owner have to check in with managers, directors or the steering committee before making a decision? Any decision?

Regardless, the minimal purpose of the Product Owner role in the Scrum framework is to inject and uphold the business perspective in the product development work. The Product Owner connects the worlds of (1) product management and the business side of the organization (think market research, sales, finance, legal, marketing), (2) the user and consumer base and (3) the delivery or development parts of the organization.

Connecting those worlds includes engaging with them to assure that all product management aspects and the wider business perspective are integrated into the actual development. In the other direction it allows the Product Owner to keep stakeholders and product management people up to date on the actual progress, so they can organize or re-organize their work accordingly. Being a connector is not the same as being a bottleneck. Product Owner, not information barrier.

Regardless, the Product Owner is the one person making the final call on the order of the work in the Product Backlog. Product Backlog shows all the work currently envisioned for the product, all work that potentially increases the value that the product delivers. Smart Product Owners show openness for great ideas whatever their source or origin and they gracefully employ skills of development people to convert product ideas and business solutions into requirements. Product Owner, not product dictator.

The Product Owner manages Product Backlog based on the product vision as a longer-term view of the road ahead. A product vision captures why the product is being built and why the product is worthwhile investing in. A product vision helps the Product Owner set or reset specific goals, hopes and dreams, express the expectations and ideas captured in the Product Backlog better and better order the items in the Product Backlog for value.

If anybody wants to know what work is identified and planned for the product, it suffices to look at the Product Backlog, at one artifact only. To understand what is planned for or what is in the product, and why, it suffices to ask the Product Owner, one person only.

Sprint Review is a great opportunity for a Product Owner to learn about the assumed or actual value that the product delivers. At the Sprint Review, (key) stakeholders, the team and (potentially) consumers or (key) users collaborate over what got done and what didn’t get done, what influenced the work and what was the purpose of that work. But value as the overall purpose is a very different driver than volume is. The purpose of Sprint Review is not reporting or justification of the amount of tasks executed and features implemented but sharing relevant information on usage and impact, competition and market trends; feedback that will help optimizing for value in the next Sprint(s). The goal is to collaboratively identify what is the most valuable work to do next for the product. This is evidently captured in the living artifact that Product Backlog is.

There cannot be any doubt that being a Product Owner implies expectations, skills and traits that go beyond those of a traditional requirements engineer, a requirements provider throwing work over the wall to developers or a similar proxy. Product Owner, actually, owns the product and is the owner of the product. Such ownership of a product implies strong organizational adoption of the role. It allows a Product Owner to act like a product-CEO (again, not a product dictator). That accountability cannot be mapped on existing roles or functions, deliverables and meetings. The role simply did not exist in the industrial paradigm.


Note. This article is based on texts that are taken from my current book-in-progress “The House of Scrum” (to be released in 2021).

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My life of Scrum (did not start with Scrum)

October 1995. After a few years of searching and experimenting, “Scrum” was documented and presented to the general public.

October 2020. Scrum turns 25. Hip hip hooray! I record a few highlights of “My life of Scrum”, a few aspects from the past 17 years of the life of an independent Scrum Caretaker.

September 2003. The founding managers of the company that employs me, ask me to have a look at the challenge of delivering the core server platform for a digital television implementation (one of the first in Europe at a bigger scale). Due to delayed negotiations, the project is already late and the real work hasn’t even started. Two software architects give me a 15-minutes introduction of eXtreme Programming. I fall for it. Completely. The urgency and feeling of crisis is also such that we are allowed to start applying it. We throw away all existing plans, create an ordered pile of User Stories, get together a great gang of developers, and go to work in iterations of 3 weeks. Later, we add Scrum to our approach. Scrum cannot be applied effectively without clear and agreed development practices and standards in place.

May 2004. I attend a CSM class (“Certified ScrumMaster”) by Ken Schwaber. It turns out the first CSM class in the region (Belgium, Netherlands). We join with 5 people from our organization. There are 25 people in total. We need to pay in cash. In my memory it was a 3-days class. Although that is said to be impossible, in my memory it still is. I am not to be trusted in such things. I don’t care about titles, positions, certifications, career. I don’t keep up with all the certifications being created, but just practice Scrum with different teams, in different domains, for the next 7 years.

December 2010. I attend a PSM class (“Professional Scrum Master”) by Ken Schwaber as part of my journey towards obtaining a license as a Professional Scrum Trainer. I also start working full-time in the Netherlands: helping, assisting, coaching, guiding, and advising large organizations on their journey of adopting Scrum. I could not have done so without the 7 years of practice that preceded this phase of my professional life. I would have not had the firm foundation to stand my ground. Some things take time. More dots get connected as I engage in a partnership with Ken and Scrum.org from 2013-2016, and as I continue my journey afterwards as an independent Scrum Caretaker.

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Surprise. I am no wizard. Agile nor Scrum.

I regularly get inquiries from people reaching out for instructions, assistance, or other forms of guidance to learn about Scrum, pass exams, become a trainer, or advance their career towards “Agile coach”.
Surprise. I am no wizard. I do not have the magical powers that would be required.

I really don’t want to go into people’s motivation to approach me with those desires (‘free’ seems to be a recurring theme), but I can share my personal and professional stance and considerations.

(1) Honestly, I don’t know what an “Agile Coach” is or does. Not even attending a “Coaching Stance” class by the Agile Coaching Institute in 2012 has helped me in that regard. The same goes for having worked with many people holding the title. I have never called myself that and I have never used the label in my profile, CV, or service offerings, let alone that I would have the powers to turn somebody into it.

Looking back on the 16+ years that have passed since I started applying the powerful combination of Scrum and eXtreme Programming in 2003, I realize I only ‘had’ to start thinking about and explaining what ‘Agile’ might mean, or what an “Agile Coach” is, since 2010-2011 (7 years later). I don’t think it is a coincidence that this is when I started engaging with large companies and the wave of ‘scale’ sweeping my world, the time when ‘Agile’ became a corporate thing. I still can’t clearly explain what an “Agile Coach” is or does.

(2) I have always been and am still all about Scrum. It makes transparent what I stand for, it makes tangible and actionable the services I offer and bring, and it includes plenty of room and openness for contextual customizations. As Scrum is an open framework, an organization can standardize on Scrum and substantially increase their agility without industrializing their Scrum to death.

The continuous balancing act of a Scrum Master, including the coaching aspect

(3) I don’t create them for that reason, but I am humbled when people say my writings (books, articles, papers) or my classes were useful in achieving a certification, in becoming a trainer, or in passing some other milestone. I am comforted knowing that those individuals did the actual work. They might have gotten some insights and language from me, but that’s about it. I did not hold their pen or control their brain. It is likely that they struggled, fell, got back up, failed, tried again. Maybe along the road they took a break, read more, gained more experience with Scrum, and demonstrated other forms of patience, persistence, and belief.

The many requests from people that seem to believe that I can ‘make’ them a trainer or ‘make’ them achieve a certification leave me flabbergasted. Surprise. I CANNOT. And even if I could, I wouldn’t. It would not be helpful for the requestor’s autonomy and development.
I don’t know whether it has anything to do with the current covid-crisis sweeping the planet, but I worry seriously how this seems an obsession for quite some people.

On a personal note, I want to share that my journey of Scrum started in 2003. And I spent 7 years (seven!) of just applying Scrum, and enjoying how it helped deliver great results, make users and consumers happy, and observe highly engaged teams enjoying their work. During that time, I had no idea about certifications, grades, or career moves, and I can honestly say that I couldn’t care less. It was only by accident in 2010-2011 that I became what I didn’t know I wanted to be. Looking back it still feels odd. Although it may look as if there was a plan, there wasn’t.

Even after more than 16 years of this stuff, I am no expert. Nor am I tired of Scrum. Not even close. I am an eternal novice. There is so much to learn. There are so many ways to consider and explain Scrum, even having published two books and considering two more books as we speak.

I welcome everybody to join my classes or workshops to find out how I express Scrum, or attend the many events and webinars I participate in, check out my YouTube channel, hire me for some consulting and coaching. I will do my best to help you understand Scrum, its purpose and design, how to get the most out of it, and learn to think for yourself in terms of Scrum. Regardless of how much I care however, I cannot ‘make’ anyone a trainer, a Scrum Master, Product Owner, or “Agile Coach”. I cannot ‘make’ anyone pass some certification assessment or exam. That is not in my powers (if even that would be helpful). I am no wizard. I have no magic, some empathy at most.

And, like it or not, the primary source of learning about Scrum is from practice, from doing Scrum. It is the way to learn Scrum, beyond learning about Scrum. There is a huge difference.

Yours truly
Gunther
independent Scrum Caretaker

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“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