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Is All This Success Actually Failure?

Hot Needle of Inquiry - Ron Jeffries - Fri, 05/22/2009 - 13:13

There’s a bit of a tempest going around …

In an interview, Ken Schwaber said I estimate that 75% of those organizations using Scrum will not succeed in getting the benefits that they hope for from it.”

I think that’s true.

On his site, Alan Shalloway converted that quote to “The Scrum community acknowledges that only 25% of teams adopting Scrum will get the value they hope to get from it.”

I think that’s exaggeration. 

Alan titled his article “Challenging Why (not if) Scrum Fails,” and refers  to “the high failure rate.”

I think that’s distortion.

My work, primarily, is helping Scrum teams get higher on the benefit scale. Every single Scrum installation I’ve visited has been pleased with progress, and wanted more.  

I think that’s important.

Alan’s point …

… and he nearly has one, is that Scrum (itself) does not change (itself). He asserts that Scrum should change, and that he knows how it should change. He thinks that Lean and Kanban and a few other things perhaps should be added to Scrum, and that somehow it would evolve.

Sorry, but that’s not the Scrum model.

 Scrum is about “Inspect and Adapt”. Scrum installations change. They are mandated to change, required to change. They are required to use every resource of their minds to see obstacles and impediments, and remove them or get around them. That’s the essence of what Scrum is.

Scrum is not a process based on a mass of  rules, principles, laws, and practices. It has a few roles, a few meetings, a few rituals. These frame a team’s work in a way that lets obstacles become visible. Scrum challenges the team to figure out what to do.

And that’s the end of Scrum’s job … and the beginning of the rest of your professional learning.

Teams using Scrum need to learn whatever will help them perform as well as they want to. Is Lean valuable? Certainly: many Scrum teams are applying Lean. Is Kanban valuable? Absolutely: there are probably more Scrum teams using Kanban boards than there are Kanban software teams in total. 

There’s a huge amount of material one needs to learn to be really good at anything, including software development.  There are many theories and principles that will help. The entire Agile / Lean / Scrum / XP / Kanban / Whatever community is engaged in finding better ways to be good at what we do.

It seems to be part of man’s history for a couple of people to get a hold of part of the same idea, then try to tear each other down for being wrong. I’d like the world better if it worked some other way, and mostly that’s what I try to do.

Would you like some help improving what you’re doing? I can help, and I can recommend others who’ll also help. 

Now then. I’m going out in the sunshine. Have a great day!


 Montego Blue 335i Convertible

Sunshine car: Montego Blue 335i Convertible

Categories: Blogs

Story Cost Does Matter

Hot Needle of Inquiry - Ron Jeffries - Wed, 05/20/2009 - 05:54

Somewhere, somewhen, Arlo Belshee suggested not paying attention to story cost, only to value. Since story value probably varies from some large negative number to some large positive number, value is certainly very important.

However, cost matters also. Suppose without loss of generality that your highest value stories have value 100.  Suppose that stories vary in cost between 1 and 3. And uppose we have time to do 30 points of work.

We can do 10 3-point stories and get value 1000. Or we can do 30 1-point stories and get value 3000.  

3000 would be more. Story cost does matter. 

Left to the reader …

Suppose that, like most organizations, you don’t really know much about the value of your stories. Should you do high-cost ones, low-cost ones, or what?

Categories: Blogs

The Danger of Bees

Hot Needle of Inquiry - Ron Jeffries - Tue, 05/19/2009 - 21:47

I know you’re all very busy right now fighting terrorism, but I thought you should know about some threats that are more serious. 

Look down this page about half way for the important info …

Categories: Blogs

CSM Plus, Grand Rapids, June 2-4

Hot Needle of Inquiry - Ron Jeffries - Fri, 05/15/2009 - 21:15

Get ready for another amazing CSM Plus course June 2-4 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Sign up here.

This is not your standard eyes-front course at all. From the very beginning, participants learn Scrum by doing Scrum. At the end of this class, you’ll know how to do Scrum effectively, and you’ll know that you know. 

Here’s a bit more info.

Categories: Blogs

Looking for WordPress Assistance

Hot Needle of Inquiry - Ron Jeffries - Tue, 05/12/2009 - 23:31

I’m in the market for some assistance with the nuts and bolts for the site. I’d like to sole-source if possible. Issues and priorities include:

  1. Prompt support via email and such. Not everything I need is remotely urgent, but I value rapid communication response and clear indications of what will be done when. If I don’t hear what’s up frequently, I am not happy.
  2. I need dynamic indexes built for the Kate index and the other specialized indexes. That fell through the cracks in the conversion and needs doing.
  3. I need someone to tell me what I need but don’t know about, and probably do do some of the necessaries such as backups.
  4. I’d like a simple redesign on the Hot Needle section. Edgier, not fancy. Could pick up the card theme or not.
  5. I want to understand everything that is done.
  6. I have lots of little questions and need lots of little answers.

I’m not afraid to spend money in return for good service. My definition of “good” includes frequent communication and transparency of what is going on.

The opportunity is immediate and is open to anyone and everyone who can do the above things, whether or not they have already pissed me off. (Or I, them.)

Categories: Blogs

Risk is the Water in Which the Agile Fish Swims

Hot Needle of Inquiry - Ron Jeffries - Thu, 05/07/2009 - 17:08


Cat looking into fish bowl. Fish says "HALP".

At our CSM Plus class last week, someone asked how Scrum projects manage risk. We answered with some examples and some would-be pithy wisdom.

Then I heard myself say “Risk is the water in which the Scrum fish swims.” Anything that hokey must be preserved, and here it is. Still, the phrase does capture an essential point, which is that most everything about an Agile process like Scrum deals automatically with risk.

We bring all the necessary contributors to the project together: stakeholders, testers, developers. Everyone.

We build real software in short iterations, based on the product owner’s current understanding of what’s important. We treat the resulting software not as a final answer, but as the next step in discovering and deciding what the software should be.

We see what works, and what doesn’t work. If something seems scary, we work on it, learning whether it is scary and what to do about it.

Swim, little fishies, swim.

Categories: Blogs

WordPress Bug Blitz Update

Hot Needle of Inquiry - Ron Jeffries - Sat, 04/25/2009 - 14:02

Keep those cards and letters coming in. Here’s what we know so far. I’ll update this page as new issues arise and new winners are discovered.

Issues So Far

Search does not work, but does on the test site. Lisa’s on it.

All pages from my old blog are presently lost. A few links exist to those. They’ll say something like Page.asxp?display=something. One on the software page has been found. If you see others, feel free to file. I’m not sure yet if I can get those pages back.

Email link on front page goes nowhere, sometimes. 

Some of the links on the left side are acting oddly.

Winners So Far

Karl Pauls, Jaap Beestra, Dan Kaplan


The offer to spend a day with any winner who can get to Brighton still stands. Some winners do not see the value in this compared to the cost of travel (imagine!) and have suggested other prizes, such as Knuth’s famous check for $2.56 (a hexadecimal dollar) for errors in his book.

I will either do that–so far looks like I could afford it–or, more likely, provide a similar award of little or no value, which will be sent to winners.

Categories: Blogs

Whole Site Now on WordPress

Hot Needle of Inquiry - Ron Jeffries - Sat, 04/25/2009 - 00:53

Brief report on the WordPress upgrade. Look for issues, win prize.

Silence the last couple of months has been due to an upgrade of the entire XProgramming site to WordPress. The work was done by E.Webscapes Design, owned by Lisa Sabin-Wilson, author of WordPress for Dummies. It looks to have been a success, though of course this is just the first few hours.

I asked to have this done because I noticed that even for serious articles, I was tending to use these blog pages rather than the XProgramming core pages, because it is easier to enter articles in WP than in my home-grown XML toolset. The plan was to do a bulk conversion of the whole site, preserving all the look and feel, and then address look and feel later. What I wanted–and what I got–was for Lisa to just make it all happen, with as little involvement as I could possibly have. And she has done that. Essentially I outsourced this project.

The project has not been without pain, which I’ll write about later on. And now, I think we see how it might have been done more incrementally, which might well have resulted in lower cost, faster delivery, and more time to make things actually better. I’ll write about that as well.

What is interesting is that essentially all the issues I have are with the customer, me, not with Lisa or her E.Webscapes staff. I’m happy with the results now, but there were times along the way when I was not happy, primarily because I didn’t know what was going on. If I had run this project like we teach people to run projects, I know I’d have been happier, and I believe I’d have gotten an even better result.

I’ll write about that later. 

Now the prize. The first individual to report any significant problem with the conversion will win a free day with me and Chet, in Brighton Michigan, travel to be paid by the winner.  (Out of town winners may optionally wait until we are in your town, at your own risk. I’m not as young as I once was.)

Send issues discovered to ronjeffries at acm dot org, and put [ron] in as part of the subject of your email.


Categories: Blogs

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