Thank you, readers. (What do you want in my new book?)

Dear reader

Thank you for reading, sharing and promoting my pocket guide to Scrum, in its various guises (English, Dutch, paperback, digital).

I created the English version in May 2013. It was published in November 2013. I am grateful that over 10,000 (ten thousand!) copies have been sold so far. Who would have guessed back then? And the story continues. In March 2017 the German translation was published.

I would love to hear what makes my book special for you. What sticks out? What are your favourite parts? Do you have a quote to share? Share it as a comment. Share it on Twitter. Or join the Facebook page for my book.

And… take it a step further. Writing that first book was a pivotal experience. I am working on a new book, more on Scrum and the Agile way of working (what else?). Share any ideas, topics, subjects you feel are valuable for my second book.

Warm regards
Gunther (Ullizee)
Gratified writer, connector, speaker, humaniser
29 March 2017

 

Announcing the “Scrum Taschenbuch”

scrum-taschenbuchAfter attending my PSM class in June 2016, Uwe Schirmer asked me whether he and Peter Götz could translate my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” to German. Having felt the difficulties of producing a proper-quality translation of my book in Dutch (my mother tongue) in early 2016, I warned them. To no avail. Fortunately. I am glad they persisted. In March 2017 the translated work will be released as “Scrum Taschenbuch (Ein Wegweiser für den bewussten Entdecker)” by Van Haren Publishing. Find it at their webshop or at Amazon.de.

Uwe and Peter were so kind to create following introduction, in German and in English:

(Deutsch) Es gibt eine Frage, die wohl jeder Trainer unabhängig vom Thema schon oft in seinen Trainings gehört hat: “Welches Buch kannst Du mir zu dem Thema empfehlen?“ Die Frage ist nicht immer leicht zu beantworten. Für Scrum haben wir gerne Gunthers Buch empfohlen. Mitunter kam dann die Frage „Gibt es das Buch auch auf Deutsch?“ oder „Gibt es ein anderes gutes Buch auf Deutsch?“. Die Antwort auf beide Fragen war jeweils „Leider nein.“

Als Uwe in 2016 bei Gunther in einem Train the Trainer Kurs für den Scrum Master war, musste er ihn deswegen fragen, ob eine Übersetzung in Arbeit oder wenigstens geplant war. Gunther erzählte, dass es bereits Versuche einer Übersetzung gegeben hatte, dass diese aber immer im Sande verlaufen waren. Also fragte er Gunther, ob Peter und er die Übersetzung machen dürften.

Es war eine interessante Erfahrung. Wir haben im Juli 2016 mit der Arbeit begonnen. Natürlich organisiert in Sprints mit einem Taskboard – auch wenn die Sprintlänge nicht ganz der Empfehlung aus dem Guide entsprach. Nach einigen intensiven Iterationen und inhaltlichen Refinements haben wir im Februar 2017 vom Verleger die gesetzte Fassung erhalten. Es waren 8 intensive Monate. Die Arbeit am Buch hat uns großen Spaß gemacht. Wir mussten uns nie zum Weitermachen zwingen – der gesunde Gruppendruck in unserem Mini-Team hat gereicht. Es war im Gegenteil sehr lehrreich, sich einmal auf diesem Level mit dem Thema auseinanderzusetzen und den Inhalt und die Sprache ins Deutsche zu übertragen.

Wir haben eng mit Gunther zusammengearbeitet und einige Passagen und ihre Bedeutung mit ihm diskutiert. Unsere Reviewer Thomas Barber, Jean Pierre Berchez, Dominik Maximini und Anke Scheuber haben großartige Arbeit geleistet und uns sehr wertvolles Feedback gegeben. Auch unsere professionelle Lektorin Monika Dauer konnte die Qualität des Ergebnisses noch wesentlich verbessern. Vielen Dank noch mal für Eure Arbeit und Unterstützung. Ohne Euch hätten wir nicht diese Qualität erreicht.

Wir hoffen, dass wir mit unserer Übersetzung etwas zur weiteren Verbreitung und Festigung von Scrum in Projekten und den Köpfen der Leute beitragen können. In diesem Sinne (schamlos bei Gunther geklaut): (Start or) Keep Scrumming.

(English) There is one question almost every trainer – independent of the topic at hand – will have to answer in his trainings: “What book can you recommend for this topic?” The question is not always easy to answer. For Scrum we liked to recommend Gunther’s book, which sometimes lead to the question “Is there a German version?” or “Is there another good book in German?” The answer always was “Unfortunately not”.

So when Uwe was in one of Gunther’s Scrum Master Train the Trainer courses in 2016 he had to ask him if there was a translation in progress or at least planned. Gunther said that there have been some attempts of translating the book, which had never been finished. So he asked Gunther if we (Uwe and Peter) could translate it.

It was an interesting experience. We have started work in July 2016. Of course we worked in Sprints using a task board – even though the Sprint length did not follow the Scrum Guide recommendation. After a couple of intensive iterations and content-wise refinements we have received the typeset version from our publisher. These have been 8 intensive months. Working on the book was big fun for us. We never had to force ourselves to continue working – the peer pressure in our tiny team was enough. And we also learned a lot and had many insights while working on this topic in such an advanced way, translating content and language into German.

We collaborated tightly with Gunther and discussed passages from the book and their meaning with him. Our reviewers Thomas Barber, Jean Pierre Berchez, Dominik Maximini and Anke Scheuber also did great work and gave us very valuable feedback. So did our professional editor Monika Dauer, who was able to improve the end result’s quality a lot. Thank you very much for your hard work and support. Without you we would not have been able to achieve such quality.

We hope that we can help spread and strengthen Scrum in projects and people’s heads. On that note (stolen from Gunther): (Start or) Keep Scrumming.

Wat, vertelt Primo Levi, is de mens

levi-primo-is-dit-een-mensZeventig jaar nadat Primo Levi de periode die hij doorbracht in het Monowitz vernietigingskamp, onderdeel van Auschwitz, verwerkte in een eerste boek (1947), lees ik eindelijk het (vertaalde) resultaat, „Is dit een mens“.

Tweehonderd pagina’s lang lees ik een ingetogen relaas dat mij de ene na de andere mokerslag bezorgt. De gortdroge stijl geeft de totale ontmenselijking weer die heerste in het kamp, de gevoelloosheid, de ijselijkheid, winter en zomer. Ingetogen en verbaasd neem ik de woorden in me op, de mensen die geschetst worden, de verhalen beschreven. Tot de laatste paragraaf. Dan komen tranen. Ontreddering. En meer tranen.

Het kamp is een onwezenlijk voorportaal van de dood, een wereld waar een broodrantsoen de eenheid is waarin gerekend wordt, egoïsme slecht noch goed is, maar een quasi-evidente expressie van gedachteloosheid, van hoop noch wanhoop. Niemand is er nog mens, maar iedereen een nummer, en de gevangenen een lijntje op een lijst. De tijd verdwijnt er met de richting nul procent reikende overlevingskansen. Alhoewel het kamp een van de vele onderdelen was van de oorlogsindustrie oversteeg het belang van vernietiging er vele malen het belang van productieve opbrengst.

Levi schreef een buitenaards werk, in meerdere opzichten. Het is geen politiek, maar een humanistisch werk, geen simplistische beschuldiging of veroordeling, maar een complex onderzoek naar wat het betekent mens te zijn, mens onder de mensen, mens voor de mensen. Levi stelt de vraag hoe we nog van ‚Voorzienigheid‘ kunnen spreken. Want het ondenkbare gebeurde. Het ondenkbare werd denkbaar.

Maar het ondenkbare is niet waar het begint. Het ondenkbare is het gruwelijke eindpunt van een lange weg. De weg begint daar waar grote groepen mensen, bevolkingsgroepen, op basis van afkomst, etniciteit, huidskleur, religie, geslacht, overtuigingen, mechanistisch worden afgeschilderd als minderwaardig of vijandig. Het begint als wetten blind boven de waardigheid van de mens worden gesteld, als de reële diversiteit en individuele eigenheid binnen een geviseerde groep bewust worden genegeerd ten voordele van veralgemenende, negatieve stereotypes. Demagogen beogen ons geleidelijk, bijna onmerkbaar, steeds verder en verder deze lange weg van suprematie op te drijven door machinaal herhaalde retoriek, systematisch en doelgericht. Op een fundament van collectieve angst zal een demagoog zich uiteindelijk als de nieuwe grote Leider presenteren, de bevrijder. De kracht van de verzuring.

Een maatschappij heeft reflexen of mechanismes nodig om dergelijk sluipend gif een halt toe te roepen; debat, media, onafhankelijke denkers, individuele burgers, representatieve parlementen, democratische partijen. Het gif werkt enkel als het zich ongecontroleerd en ongecontesteerd een weg mag banen naar de massa’s.

De les van Levi. Het ondenkbare werd denkbaar. Het kan opnieuw gebeuren. Elke mens heeft het recht beoordeeld te worden naar wat hij is, meer dan tot welke groep hij -al dan niet toevallig- behoort.

 

A simple framework for complex product delivery (in 100 pages)

From March to June 2013 I created the book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion)” for Van Haren Publishing (Netherlands). Although I had already written much about Scrum, it was really, really hard work. I wanted the book to be about its subject, not its writer. I wanted the book to be concise, yet complete. I wanted the book to reflect the simplicity of Scrum, in its appearance, tone, language, expressions, sentences.

Since its initial publication (November 2013) my pocket guide to Scrum was re-printed 3 times (January 2014, June 2014, November 2015). In April 2016 my Dutch translation was published as “Scrum Wegwijzer (Een kompas voor de bewuste reiziger)”. And two friends of Scrum are currently going through the really, really hard work of creating a German version, which will probably be named “Scrum Taschenbuch” and be available in 2017. And somewhere along the road I experimented with setting up a Facebook page for my book.

This is beyond any expectation I might have had handing in the first manuscript half way through 2013. I am totally humbled, and sometimes overwhelmed, by the continual appreciation of the book’s buyers and readers.

verheyen-gunther-scrum-a-pocket-guide-2016I want to share that a 5th print of the English version is on its way (end November 2016), holding a NEW COVER. The content of the book hasn’t changed. I was fortunate to have described the Scrum Values already in my book. The only change was the update to my personal history, as is also reflected on my website.

Thank you, readers. Thank you, publisher. Thank you, fellow Scrum Caretakers!

To support the update of my book, my publisher asked me to do a 3-minutes introduction to Scrum, a simple framework for complex product delivery. The time constraint helped me to keep it simple, just like Scrum.

2016. More or less.

There is much we can leave behind. There is much we need more of, by needing less. Artefacts in my home office remind me of essential ingredients.

Wisdom. Health (also: sanity). Poetry (broadly: words, music, writings). Love.
And coffee.

IMG_2689

Over time I have come to realise that the main inner purpose driving me is to make a difference. To people (not minding orgs and structures). Aspiring to inspire with integrity and dignity (not minding careers and demigods). Scrum.

It’s been my path so far. The human trail I left behind is my testimony. And Scrum, seriously. The journey into the unknown futures will continually define who I am, some identity. A path to be discovered.

Nothing of this would be possible without my family; without the love of my life (Atelier Ullizee) and our kids.

What is most essential in your life? What is your ‘why’? Remind yourself what is important to you. Live by it. Live toward it.

My Pocket Guide to Scrum

Scrum - A Pocket Guide (front)People learn about Scrum in various ways. Some read books. Some read my book:

Scrum – A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion)

  • Read a PDF excerpt from my book. It holds the foreword by Ken Schwaber, a short note by the early reviewers, the content table and the first chapter (‘To shift or not to shift’). A taste.
  • Get the full version at Amazon, Amazon UK, Van Haren’s webshop (the publisher), Bol.com. Or use good old Google.

My book serves to help the reader make better use of the tool that Scrum is.

My book introduces the rules and roles of Scrum while emphasizing their purpose. People can more effectively employ Scrum from an understanding of the purpose, rather than from mechanically following the ‘process’.

People are more capable of using Scrum to their advantage when understanding that Scrum is a framework laying out the boundaries within which people can deal with complex problems. My book distinguishes the rules of Scrum from tactics to apply the rules. My book has some examples on tactics, and where tactical decisions within the Scrum framework are required.

My book presents no universal truths, gives no universally applicable answers on generic questions, although I get asked such questions over and over again.

How long should Sprint Planning be? And the other meetings? How much time does the Product Owner role take? Is the Scrum Master role a full-time occupation? Should a team be available full-time? How must we organize when the team is distributed? How much time of a Sprint should a team spend on testing? What should be in the definition of Done? How many business analysts are needed in the team? What if… ?

I am extremely wary of being an ‘expert’ providing certainty where there isn’t. My book is a book for people on a journey to discover what Scrum can do for them. Hence its subtitle. My book does not map out your route. Your route is unique and distinct.

My book adds some historical perspective to Scrum, describes the roots of Scrum, how Scrum fits the Agile movement and what some future challenges of Scrum are.

My book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” is not an expert book. It is not a book for experts. It is not a book by an expert. My book is a book by an eternal novice seeking mastery. I hope you like it. I hope it helps you seek mastery too.

Meanwhile I am in the process of creating a follow-up book. I will still not provide false precision. I might tell some stories about what worked for me, given context and time.

Gunther

Sweden 2013 – A Family Holiday

The last couple of years we headed south for our yearly summer holidays, to Croatia, Italy, Spain; looking for the sun and making sure a swimming pool is around. For 2013 we decided to head north, to Sweden.

Before presenting my little summary of every day and a mosaic with one picture a day, let me share some take-aways first that popped up in my head during our 2 weeks in Sweden, Småland:

Nice bread. Big trucks. Quiet Saturdays. Much green. No elks.

Diary

Day 1, Friday August.2: Antwerp-Bremen. A bit stressed (as always at the start). Some hotel swimming and an outside German dinner at Prüser’s Gasthof in Hellwege (near Bremen).
Day 2, Saturday August.3: Bremen-Malmö. Relaxed (totally, finally). Taking the boat from Germany to Denmark (just in time), and crossing the famous bridge from Copenhague to Malmö. What a fine hotel (after turning a couch into a bed for the boys). Enjoying the evening at a square with a lovely fountain and modern eating of famous chefs.
Day 3, Sunday August.4: Malmö-Öreryd. Even more relaxed. Morning market and first vintage purchase in Malmö before headinf further north. Lunch in Halmstad. Arriving following the GPS. Depressed by the house. Found a supermarket though (in Gislaved) and the lake in Öreryd.
Day 4, Monday August.5: Jönköping shopping. Most relaxed (BIG!) lunch ever including caffé frappé; the children lovelier than ever during a relaxed lunch. Noa noa sales shopping for the women!!!
Day 5, Tuesday August.6: Öreryd beach day. Morning reading (see Books chapter below), Gislaved supermarket and… Öreryd beach by the lake. Sun after rain. Hurting my knee in an overcourageous jump into the water an and overheated barbecue in the evening.
Day 6, Wednesday August.7: Country day. Pleasant surprise: quilt shopping in Tyger o Ting, and a vintage lunch in Smålandsstenar and more money well spent.
Day 7, Thursday August.8: Regensprookjesdag (rainy legend day). Going to Ljundby mainly for the ‘Sagomuseet’ (fairytale museum). Finding more country stuff. Passing via mount Isaberg and its handcraft exposition on the way home. Tired. Rain.
Day 8, Friday August.9: Götebörg. A long, terrific day of shopping, eating and relaxing in a neat and soothing city. A tapas ending near the river. Little rabbit’s asleep.
Day 9, Saturday August.10: Lazy day Saturday. Morning reading, supermarket and… Öreryd beach by the lake. Swimming in the rain. Followed by a refreshing evening walk.
Day 10, Sunday August.11: Short day out to Gislaved. Eating in Smålandia, an ancient looking truck restaurant.
Day 11, Monday August.12: Astrid Lindgren day. Early up to be immersed all day, a long day, in the world of Astrid Lindgren. Little houses, big houses, little stories and big stories told, played and depicted. Presents for all! A fantastic highlight.
Day 12, Tuesday August.13: Rain. Escaped to tiny sun beams and a vintage lunch in Gränna, city of candy.
Day 13, Wednesday August.14: Rain. Escape to the swimming pool. Evening dinner in Jönköping.
Day 14, Thursday August.15: Garden day. Visiting the Gunilla gardens in Swedish Småland by Danish artist Tage Andersen. We celebrate mother’s day. The Swedish don’t. And we end with an expected sunny stay at an unexpected beach near lake Vättern Evening dinner at a Jönköping pier.
Day 15, Friday August.16: Lazy day of awakening slowly, starting to clean the house and going for another vintage afternoon lunch in Smålandsstenar, and vintage sales hunting in the connected shop. Nienke entering the Lega värld, with her first Lego Friends set.
Day 16, Saturday August.17: Last day. In search of the second hand super market of Gnosjö. Found. It’s still there. We closed the vacation with a tapas dinner by the water in Jönköping.
Day 17, Sunday August.18: Öreryd-Bremen. Back on the boat. Germany is definitely a terrible driving country. Same hotel, same swimming pool in Hellwege. Relaxed.
Day 18, Monday August.19: Bremen-Ekeren. Home. It’s been F A N T A S T I C. Only disappointment was the house we stayed in. But we explored the region, had great excursion and the kids never before were so at ease with our habit of irregular meal times and unexpected lunches.

Sweden 2013

Books

I have read following books on this holiday: Nightwing 2 (‘New 52’ series by DC Comics), Superman Earth One vol. 2, Quarks, chaos and christianity by John Polkinghorne, Mike Scott – Adventures of a Waterboy, De Maagd Marino by Yves Petry. The Polkinghorne book was meager, but the other ones were great. I particularly enjoyed Mike Scott’s lively tales of his various adventures!

I have an endless stock of books I still have to read (in our private library), but keep a list of specific books I want to read next. For diverse reasons my holiday reading made me overwrite my short term list and replace it with Rimbaud (Illuminations and Une saison en enfer), Nabokov (Lolita), Nietzsche (re-reading some works and consuming new wisdom), Stephen Hawking and Ludwig Wittgenstein.