Unfolding plans 144 – Scrum

Somebody has sent me a copy of ‘Scrum, The art of doing twice the work in half the time’ by Jeff Sutherland.  I don’t know who it was.  I had my suspects but one by one they are being crossed off my list.  It just turned up at work in a manila envelope (C5 in case you ask) with my name and title on it.  There were no other distinguishing marks.  There was no accompanying note. There was nothing other than just a crisp new copy of the book.

It was like a gift from heaven.

I’d heard of Scrum some time ago, from people in the software development world.  I’d go into their offices and see post it notes stuck on walls and windows (other repositionable notes are available).  I’d see people huddled together identifying what had worked, what had not and where to go next.  I’d even heard about it from my own development team.  It was proposed as an alternative to the old waterfall approach to project management, the world filled with over planning and immaculate GANNT charts.  The word agile was used but for one reason or another it never got off the ground.

That’s a shame.

The first time I saw the book though was when I met up with Vinny from Daykin and Storey.  They are well into it as a set of tools and techniques.  You can read their blog here.  I’m being careful with my words as the book makes it clear that it is not a methodology.  It’s a bit similar to the Toyota Production System (TPS).  It is more a way of thinking than a handbook. By the way I had Vinny down as chief suspect but he has now been eliminated from my enquiries.

Anyway, back to the book.  I’m only fifty pages or so in as I write this.  I’ll probably be finished it by the time you read it though and already I’m hooked.  I’m really enjoying the read.  It talks about all of the things that I’ve been thinking about for some time.  It covers a lot of the things that I write about in my blog.  Things such as self-organising and self-managing teams, leadership as a way of setting direction rather than control, letting go by removing bureaucracy and rules, as well as trusting those who can to get on with what they are skilled at doing.

It talks about how planning in detail never works and that we need to approach our work in a different more open and honest way.  Scrum is to projects as the TPS is to production. Teams need to come together to deliver as a unit and not pass work onto other teams.  Whenever there are handoffs between teams there is the opportunity for disaster.  Management needs to set direction and the objectives.  The team members need to work out how they are going to deliver them by themselves.  It’s all a bit grown up.

I can see my team now.  Not another book.  The thing is that I’ve known for some time exactly what I want yet at times I have not been able to articulate it well enough. The book is going to help.  To whoever bought me it, I say thank you.

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