September 9, 2013

5 Basics To Master Scrum

By sebastian.suttner

Scrum Samurai
Agile has been part of our lives for a while now, and most of the time we use it in our own kind of way. Several agile frameworks have been a subject of study by our teams throughout the years and we have learned a great deal from each of them.
As it turns out, in the last couple of months we felt like our agile mixin’ needed some kind of structure in order to really make us grow, so we decided to give Scrum a chance.

But there is one thing about Scrum that didn’t quite make it for us. The software field is full of Scrum Fanatics who are always trying to evangelize you and make you “buy” this framework. The thing is that we normally question everything and like to draw our own conclusions; thus their fanaticism turned out to be kind of counterproductive. Well, some of us signed up for a ScrumMaster Certification to find out for ourselves.

To our surprise, this experience was completely different from what we had expected. We all thought we would be sitting for two days, listening to a guy talk about Scrum and the whole framework (roles, techniques, etc), but the exact opposite happened.
Alan (our trainer) had a much more philosophical way of teaching. He didn’t sell us Scrum; he explained to us how it worked and gave us the tools for us to apply it. He didn’t put thoughts in our heads; he guided us. We didn’t just listen about the framework; we learned about life itself.

I am not just going to talk about Scrum right now, I want to do more than that. Scrum is something you can continue to learn and investigate by yourselves. I want to share with you all the other things that fascinated us, the ones that really got us thinking and realizing, that there is much more to Scrum than just a framework. I will try to be as concrete as possible; it is up to you to make these concepts grow and change your life.

Perspective

First of all, we have to be intellectually humble. And by humility we mean, the ability to evaluate ourselves correctly. It is really important that we are convinced that we don’t know everything, that we are probably wrong as many times as we are right, and that others have as much chances to be right as we do.
It is most important that we learn to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We won’t achieve this until we gain enough humility. Thinking as if we were the team, the client and the product, will lead us to richer and better decisions.

Yes, and…

We could say there are three kinds of people in this world. There is the negative ones; who will always give “No” for an answer, no matter what we say. We need to avoid teaming up with them.
Then there is the frightened ones; they will always find an excuse, a way to avoid challenge, and they are not committed. Their favourite line is “Yes, but…”, and we know they might still be saved if we all try very hard.
Finally there is the positive ones; they not only answer “Yes”, they always manage to answer “Yes, and…”. These ones always look at the bright side of things, find ways to make ideas grow and they are committed 100%. These are the ones we want to have by our side in our teams, in our lives. These are the ones we want to be.

Always Deliver Value

Every customer seeks to get some kind of value in return, and software is not the exception. When someone comes to us asking for a product or service, we not only have to give them what they asked for, we need to make sure it will still be of value to them once we deliver. That is why Scrum tells us to apply the concept of organic growth.
Organic growth defines a process in which we iteratively make our deliverables evolve from the previous one, with one little characteristic; we need to assure that every deliverable is functional and that it adds value to our customer. If it does not, it is no good.
We need to understand that by having functional and frequent deliveries, we gain the ability to detect errors, bugs or enhancements much earlier, making errors cheap.

Continuous Improvement

We won’t grow unless we suffer. The only thing we will achieve by being comfortable is decay. We need to get out of our comfort zone to better ourselves, try to break the status quo.
Alan defined the concept of Pain-Driven Facilitation, in which he stated that the best way to grow is to challenge ourselves with small, tolerable and constant changes. Once they stop being a challenge, we need to introduce new ones, and so on.
There is a Japanese word called “Kaizen” that means “change for the better” which helped us make that concept sunk in.

Perfection

Some people say that perfection does not exist. I say it does. Whether we are able to achieve it or not is another story. People always try to get what they can’t have, and maybe perfection is one of those things.
That is what makes it so unique and desirable. We will always try to get there, because it is hard, because we know we probably won’t. Our ambition is what makes us try harder, learn more and grow to be successful.
Scrum is very similar. We know we won’t be able to make everything work as Scrum expects, but it challenges us to do so, and we like it. We will always be improving ourselves to get there.

 

Keep Thinking

I don’t feel there is much need to write a big conclusion. There is only one thing I would like to ask you: keep thinking about these concepts and sleep on them for a while. Then, if you think it is worth it, try to spread them out as much as possible, as our trainer did with us.
Let’s help people be more humble, have a positive perspective, deliver value, change for the better and be ambitious.
Stay tuned, there is more to come!

Photo credit: graphistolage