In this episode, Scrum expert Dan Rawsthorne discusses how Scrum enables Alignment… and it’s not just for software! Scrum can enable rapid learning and improvement in most any organization. Learn how!
Dan Rawsthorne has been doing agile software development since 1983… he was an early adopter of both eXtreme Programming and Scrum… and he did his first major, scaled, agile project in 1998. He’s one of the first Certified Scrum Masters, is Scrum Trainer #8, has written a book on Scrum, and has certified more than 6,000 people in scrum. He currently lives in Seattle, and is the Chief Scientist at 3Back — a training and coaching company.
Key ideas from today’s show:
- Scrum divides development into three areas: Production, Product Ownership, and ScrumMastering
- Product Ownership is about having alignment on what the team is focused on
- Self-organization within Scrum teams, and the Scrum Master, are about keeping the team focused on the product
- Scrum isn’t just about software development… because every organization is developing something. Teams produce deliverable results.
- Solving problems is really about having the right conversations at the right time, and then having the right person make decisions based on those conversations.
- Scrum has lots of conversations built in. Driving more of the right kinds of conversations, with the right people involved, improves your likelihood of having the RIGHT conversation and making higher quality decisions. The daily scrum means that no question will “dwell” for more than a day before being addressed.
- Two key things make Scrum, Scrum:
- The three roles: Production, Product Ownership and Scrum Mastering
- The three Agile feedback loops:
- Daily feedback loop on what we’re working on today, how we improve what we’re doing, and are we heading in the right direction, are we doing the right things?
- Frequent feedback from stakeholders when you have something to show them: do you like what you see? Are we headed in the right direction? What do we do next?
- Feedback on the process: Are we doing it the right way? How do we improve our team?
- Transforming from “waterfall” thinking to “agile” thinking requires us to giving up the fantasy that we can know or predict things that we can’t possibly know yet, and embracing approaches that enable us to learn and adapt more quickly.
- If you fixate on thinking about Scrum as “a process” then there are probably strict process environments where Scrum isn’t compatible. But if you think of Scrum as the three roles and the three feedback loops… that’s probably beneficial just about everywhere.
- Sometimes organizations don’t think they can apply Scrum because they don’t understand their domain well enough to see how to make it fit, or they don’t believe in the underlying need to be agile, to be able to continuously learn and improve. They get attached to the concept of the current “recipe” or the “process” being “correct.”
- When you really understand Scrum, you see it in use everywhere… because it’s how effective teams of humans naturally tend to organize work.
- Primary reasons organizations don’t succeed with Scrum:
- People don’t want to talk together… identifying with the lane they’re in and pride of ownership in what that lane produces trumps success of the team and the quality of the overall result
- Product Owners are overly reactive to stakeholder requests and complaints, vs. thinking proactively about where the product should be headed and how to get optimal leverage… you don’t have thoughtful prioritization and ordering of the work.
- People focus too much on the process, and have a bias that the process must be hard… often so they can blame the process.
- An organization needs alignment on values of accountability and responsibility – from top to bottom – for Scrum to be truly effective.
- Accountability doesn’t mean “I’m going to tell you what to do and then blame you when it doesn’t get done.” It really means “you must be able to explain yourself.” And you have to value the conversation that happens when you realize the explanation makes no sense… because that’s an opportunity for learning and improvement.
- Many organizations undervalue making decisions, and overvalue being “correct”
- In a complex world, you’re likely to be incorrect when you make a decision. But without making a decision, you’re guaranteed to be incorrect.
- An organization needs to value learning as highly as product… because learning is what enables us to get to the right product.
- “Scaling” is really about having more of the right quality of conversations, to enable more, higher quality decisions. It’s not about having a “scaling process” or just sticking with the process. Most organizations aren’t going to want to fundamentally change their structure and processes to conform to some “scaling” model. But any organization can improve how they scale their conversations and decision making.
- Alignment comes down to people agreeing on something… as we can’t agree unless we talk. So talk about SOMETHING!
- An organization’s primary alignment needs to be around the concept that we’re going to keep moving forward!
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