Feb. 24, 2015

Thoughts On Scrum From A Newbie

Scrum isn't something only rugby players do. I had no idea, for example, that Scrum is the most popular approach to agile software development.

Here’s what I understood before attending CSM (Certified ScrumMaster) training earlier this month (a week after I joined agile42):  Scrum is something boys in short shorts do on the rugby field and women do when they’re fighting over a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s on sale.  I went in, suitably garbed in boots and leggings (just in case I had to break out into a sprint) and was surprised to find techy-types in long pants and shirts.  They seemed to me, woefully unprepared.

Training started with Dave separating the class into groups of people who had ‘lots of experience in Scrum/Agile’, ‘some practical experience of Scrum’, ‘some idea of what Scrum is’ and ‘no idea about Scrum’.  I decided there is safety in numbers and joined the ‘I have some idea of what Scrum is’ group.   I, of course, had no idea. 

I had no idea for example that Scrum is the most popular approach to agile software development.  For the first time ever, I heard about Extreme Programming (XP) and learned about Lean, which happily isn’t a weight-loss product but another approach initially adopted by Toyota in 1950’s Japan.  

I have worked in and with teams before and in various roles including coach and facilitator, and am familiar with Tuckman’s Team Development Model.  Teams according to Tuckman’s model move through stages -forming, norming, storming and performing – and the process can take several weeks.   Yet, I became part of  a highly-collaborative Scrum team within hours because when you’re part of a super cool Scrum team, your skills and experience helps the team deliver user stories (those work items that are on a priority list).   This was made especially evident during the (super fun!) Lego City exercise.

In Scrum, everyone is responsible for delivery; there is no such thing as ‘this is my job and that is your job’.   The focus is on the work itself.  The team also has an agreed-upon definition of ‘done’ and a clear understanding of acceptance criteria (clear unambiguous success criteria).

An important part of Agile delivery is the iteration retrospective meetings.  These meetings help the team make corrections to their processes, which is part of the learning-oriented approach.

Despite being completely ignorant of software development processes I could see how the iterative and incremental system of Agile project delivery can be applied to any business.  

Twitter: @ymcadam

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Yolanda McAdam

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Yolanda McAdam

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