Wednesday, December 31, 2008

That Was the Year That Was

I’ve promisedmyself I would actually take some vacation this week, and fortunatelywith small children in the house, it’s actually possible to doso! So, before the kids wake up, a blitz retrospective: High Points,Low Points and Potential for Improvement in 2009.

High Points

  • Becoming an independent Scrum Trainer and Coach. I really want my customers to say thank you for the work I do for them -- while I am not averse to getting paid, a satisfied customer is what makes it all worthwhile.
  • Scrum Breakfast Community became the Swiss ICT Lean Agile Scrum Group. I figured as a one man show, I could never mount a “real” marketing campaign, so instead, I set out to build a community. This community helps build acceptance for Scrum (and by implication, my services). But a community only functions effectively if it the community belongs to its members. And when it does, it takes on a life of its own!
  • Quick Polls on my blog. I started doing them because they were good for getting attention. I like to think my poll on the Nokia test helped the Scrum Community discover Scrum-Butt and think about its implications.
  • CSM Course with Andreas Schliep. There is a lot of debate about the value of the CSM course and certification. Together with CST Andi, I have now stood on the other side of the podium and for me the value of a good CSM Course to the participant is clear. The students learn from the teachers and from each other in ways that you just can’t get from a book. Offering Scrum training has been a clear win on the “I-define-success-through-customer-satisfaction” scale.
  • Writing for AgileSoftwareDevelopment.com. When I look back at my first article... well... (blush). This has been a tremendous learning opportunity. Thank you Artem for providing this forum and for your editorial encouragement!

Low Points

  • The recession. Personally I think this economic Tsunami is going to resemble the storm Lothar, which knocked down some forests entirely, but left others nearby completely untouched (I am an optimist, and no, I have no idea which areas will emerge unscathed). Fundamentally, companies are successful by producing great products and services. Agile helps companies do that and companies will be under pressure to improve their performance. The time to start a conversation with management about Scrum and Agile has never been better.
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think. Sometimes you advise a customer, but he wants to stick with his old habits. Smile. Accept Fate. Maybe he’ll be back in year to ask for your advice again.
  • You can lead the horse to water and he’ll think what he wants! There are people out there who ask whether ‘Scrum has failed us’ or that Scrum is not enough and look for other solutions. Some people will find their answers in Lean, some in XP, some even in RUP. One of my first coaching customers decided he liked Scrum Ban better and tried to get me interested. I wasn’t having any of it. In retrospect, I wish I had shown more interest -- even though I am still convinced on Scrum !
  • Criticism of Scrum and Agile. There’s been both criticism of Scrum from within the agile community and more general criticism of agile from outside. Agile has become a buzz word which is getting applied way outside its original context. I think this is both healthy and a sign that Management is getting interested in the topic and a much larger segment of the population is being confronted with agile ideas.

Potential for Improvement

  • Community is the key to success, both at a personal level and an ideological level. If you want to do Scrum, Lean or Agile, then build and participate in the Agile community in your area. You help make it politically acceptable to do Agile, you create a support group, and you create a network which will help you find work you like.
  • I would like the Scrum community to better embrace growth and change. There are people out there such as Boris Gloger (with his vision of 3 + 3 Rolls in Scrum) or Alan Shalloway (with his fusion of Lean, Scrum and Emergent Design) who are enhancing Scrum in interesting ways. The beauty of Scrum is its simplicity and universality (hint: try holding a daily scrum with your spouse or using a task board to help your kids get ready for school each day) which mustn’t be compromised. But the simplicity of Scrum means we need other building blocks to achieve the whole project effectively.
  • My first New Year’s resolution is to listen better to all agile philosophies to better advise my customers. There is no monopoly on the truth. Personally, I look first to Scrum and then to Lean for management issues and to XP for engineering issues. But there are new ideas out there and many are worth looking at. And even old ideas have their merits.
  • My second New Year’s resolution is to listen better to my customers (and readers). In that vein, I have published a doodle - what would you like to read about?

A parting wish

Do something! For each individual company, the key to turning the recession around is getting yourcustomers to buy your products and services. So get together withyour best people, give yourselves three months, and create a greatnew product that you can sell in Q2.

At this point, Iwould like to wish everyone a good and productive start in to 2009.May 2009 be happy, healthy and the most innovative year in yourexperience.

Peter Stevens

P.S. I originally published this article on ASD

Monday, December 22, 2008

Quick Poll: Who is doing Scrum in the German speaking region?

I often get asked who is doing Scrum in Switzerland (or Germany or Europe...)I am not aware of a comprehensive list, so please add your company here. If you can't tell, just give us hint where your are.

I'll summarize the resuls after the Christmas break is over...