Posted on 2 Comments

Introducing the Scrum Caretakers initiative

Discovering what drives me is a never-ending journey (1). Starting with eXtreme Programming and Scrum in 2003 was a life changing experience.

My work for different consulting companies (2001-2012) was spent on Scrum. I authored a pocket guide to Scrum in 2013. I went to work with the Scrum.org team and Ken Schwaber in 2013. In 2016 I decided to further my journey of Scrum on an independent basis.

Discovering what drives me is a never-ending journey (2). The stable essence is that:

I care about people. I care about Scrum. I care about helping people create better products and a more humane workplace through Scrum. I care about helping people re-imagine their organisations.

I detached myself from any fixed organisational structure. Of the tangible goals I had in mind, one was to start a community initiative for Scrum across Belgium and the Netherlands, the Scrum Caretakers.

Belgium is where some of my core insights in Scrum were created (2003-2010). Since 2010 however I have worked primarily in the Netherlands. Scrum is completely under-used in Belgium. Scrum is huge in the Netherlands, and splintered. I initiated the Scrum Caretakers community, currently already materialised as a meet-up group.

Anyone can join, from any place in the world, and have access to whatever it is we create. Actual get-togethers are organised alternately in Belgium and the Netherlands for the time being.

Posted on Leave a comment

Re.vers.ify (essential introduction)

By the end of 2016, Co-learning organised a webinar about “Re-thinking the organisation”. I feel humbled for sharing my views next to those of the other presenters James Priest (Sociocracy 3.0) and Jürgen De Smet (founder of Co-learning and collaboration architect).

I introduced “re.vers.ify“, the consolidation of over a decade of experience, ideas, beliefs and observations of Scrum. In the recording of my part you will find a fair, 15-minutes summary of my essential and current thoughts and drivers:

Re.vers.ify is an act, an act of simplicity, rhythm and focus. Re.vers.ify is a way for people to re.imagine their Scrum, intentionally emerge a Scrum Studio and -ultimately- re.imagine their organisation.

Posted on 1 Comment

A simple framework for complex product delivery (in 3 minutes)

verheyen-gunther-scrum-a-pocket-guide-2016By the end of November 2016 the 5th re-print of my book “Scrum – A Pocket Guide” will be available, with a re-designed cover.

I wanted my book to reflect the simplicity of Scrum, a simple framework for complex product delivery.

As part of this re-print my publisher Van Haren Publishing kindly asked me to create a short video introduction to Scrum, of preferably no more than 3 minutes. The time constraint helped me focus. It helped me keeping it simple, just like Scrum.

What I say in the video was based upon following prepared text:

Scrum is a simple framework for complex product delivery.

1/ Scrum has been around for a while. It was officially introduced to the general public in 1995. Since then, as more and more people, teams and organizations started using Scrum, Scrum became the most adopted method for agile product delivery. At the same time, Scrum grew lighter and lighter, thereby, in a way becoming less and less complete and ‘perfect’. Prescribed practices and techniques were gradually removed from the official definition of Scrum, The Scrum Guide. Scrum turned into the framework it was always designed to be, a framework upon which people devise their own solutions, create their own working process. A Product Owner brings product ideas to a Development Team. No later than by the end of a Sprint the team turns these ideas into releasable versions of product. Sprints take no more than 4 weeks, and are often shorter. The Scrum Master creates and fosters an environment for such self-organised and creative collaboration to happen.

Scrum is a simple framework for complex product delivery.

2/ Scrum not only restores simplicity, Scrum brings empirical process control. All elements of Scrum support the process of regular inspection and adaptation. Empiricism is the way for people, teams and organisations to deal with the complexity, uncertainty and unpredictability typical to product development. The Scrum events set the frequency of the inspection and adaptation process. The artefacts provide transparency to all information required. As all waste has already been removed from Scrum, the framework is highly cohesive. Every element has a clear ‘why’, a clear purpose. Omitting any core elements breaks the cohesion, and is likely to cover up existing problems and impede the transparency required to continuously adapt, to be agile.

3/ Scrum, when employed well, allows a continual discovery of what is possible, what is not, of what works, what doesn’t work. Throughout this journey of discovery, the value of the work done is incrementally optimised. Product is regularly delivered to the market. It is extremely helpful to have a simple, yet proficient, tool like Scrum in highly unstable circumstances.

4/ Employing Scrum is a journey in itself. Mastering Scrum takes practice and time.

Posted on 7 Comments

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.

Posted on 1 Comment

Thoughts on procurement, buyers and alike

I have spent most of the 24-years of my professional life in IT, consulting and software development. Maybe that is long enough to have and share my stance on procurement, buyers and alike practices.

Every organisation has the right to not work with me.

Every organisation has the right to deem the value potentially realised through our collaboration as insufficient.

Every organisation should absolutely consider the return expected on spending money on my expertise, skills and effort. Even if the consequence is to not work with me.

My observations indicate that the commonly applied strategies by procurement, buyers and alike are different. Common practice is to belittle my expertise, change the estimates on the work needed and blindly cut my proposed day rate.

I have no sales machine to counter such strategies. Fortunately, as that would just maintain the ridicule. I do preserve the right to push back, regardless the impact on any chances to collaborate. I preserve the right to not being treated like a discountable commodity. We probably have very different definitions in mind when this is labeled as “not professional”.

Personally, I would rather starve (so to speak) than give in to the humiliating and belittling line of approach commonly seen in sales and buying procedures.

Warm regards
Gunther

ps. Thank you for caring, but that ‘starving’ part was intended figuratively. There are plenty of good folks out there that, somewhat surprisingly maybe, do want to properly partner with me.

Posted on Leave a comment

Scrum Day Europe 2016

Scrum Day Europe 2016In March 2012, Ken Schwaber and I agreed to organize a new Scrum event in the Netherlands. We wanted it to be a platform for the attendants, not for the speakers, for the organizers, or for sponsors. We wanted to crave space for people to talk, connect, share ideas, experiences and challenges on Scrum.

On 11 July 2012 the first Scrum Day Europe event happened. 130 People, one day, no booths, no sponsors, no vendors, a few keynotes and lots of small high-energy, collaborative sessions. An event, not a conference. Impact, not volume.

Imagine, on 7 July 2016 the 5th edition of the Scrum Day Europe event takes place. The location is the same: the fantastic Pakhuis De Zwijger in Amsterdam. The ambition and core concept are the same: interactivity, people, Scrum. I am sure that some day we will even stop projecting the names of us, the organizing parties, Prowareness and Scrum.org.

The theme of this 2016 edition is “The next iteration“. We will not only celebrate the 5th anniversary of the event, but we want to use the occasion to be grateful that Scrum has reached the age of 20. We want to celebrate by thinking about the future of Scrum. My opening keynote, “The future present of Scrum”, will introduce some thoughts. But, much more important, during the open sessions and interactive workshops, attendees have plenty of time to interact with each other and the presenters. Therefore we need the input from Scrum practitioners that want to share viewpoints and considerations.

If YOU have ideas to share on the future of Scrum, the future that lies beyond those teenage years, please send in a proposal for the call for papers via the website. What challenges do we face with Scrum? What do you consider crucial looking forward? How can people, teams, and organizations employ Scrum for software development more and better?

Propose a session. Or get your ticket to join us on this fabulous day for high-energy interactions on Scrum. Be quick. Registration is limited!

Thanks for your participation. Thanks for Scrum.
Gunther.
 
Find us also on LinkedIn and on Facebook.
Posted on 1 Comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

Unwritten futures will unfold (adventures in Scrum)

At some occasions we stop to look back. It happens rather irregularly in my life, although regularly in Scrum. We see the trail we left behind. We notice landmarks, missed chances, forgotten events, achievements. Small or big. We cherish that we cannot undo it. And we look ahead of us, and think of the paths we might create moving forward understanding that our current actions continually determine our future.

Looking back, two fairly recent, symmetric landmarks stand out on my trail of Scrum created since 2003:

Looking back, I am humbled by the opportunities to travel, to speak, to think, to write, to publish a book, to collaborate with people across the globe. I thank anyone who crossed my path, regardless how they chose to interfere with me.

Just for a split second, I pride myself for having gone my ways, having made my choices. In that split second I see some impact on people, on individuals.

Looking forward, I shiver and doubt takes over again. I embrace the solitude that is often my companion and look forward to the future that, to date, is unwritten. There are many unknown futures that can unfold. In a short flash I realize that there are probably much more options than I know of. There are more paths than I can possibly identify.

Although the future will be nothing like the past, it’s fair to assume that my journey ahead will keep including Scrum. The exact directions however…

We can become what we don’t know we want to be.

Posted on Leave a comment

Traces of Scrum (Scrum Days Poland)

On May 28 and 29 the first Scrum Days Poland were organized. A great team made it happen, gently directed by two friends of the Scrum.org trainer community, Kate Terlecka and Tomek Wlodarek. Kate and Tomek were so kind to invite me for two sessions at the event:

  • In the executive track I spoke about ‘Empirical Management’. Find the slide deck at SlideShare.
  • For the main event I was asked to do the closing keynote, which was about ‘Scaled Professional Scrum’. Find the slide deck at SlideShare.

Apart from these sessions, I was asked for some thoughts on Scrum by different people:

1/ On behalf of the organization, Paweł Feliński checked in with me on some topics with regards to Scrum, and the adoption of Scrum:

2/ Leszek Pietrzkiewicz went around asking some people, including myself, to ‘describe’ Scrum in one word:

3/ Leszek Pietrzkiewicz asked me ‘Why do Scrum?’

4/ Andy Brandt, another Polish Professional Scrum Trainer, asked me some questions about Product Ownership, questions he typically gets from the attendants of his PSPO classes:

I applaud the local organizers for setting up such a great conference. I am grateful for being at the conference, meeting people and expressing the above thoughts. Traces of Scrum.