Skip to main content

Of Light Bulbs and Lasers

"Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare."

— Patrick M. Lencioni in The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
Every time I give a talk, people want to know 'Why do Scrum?' and 'How do I convince my boss?' This example is now a standard part of my Scrum talks (and it's easy to demonstrate):

What is the difference between ordinary light and a laser? A bulb produces white light – light at multiple frequencies going in all directions at once. And there is usually more heat than light. Shine a pen light at the wall during the day, and the effects are invisible if the light is more than a foot or so from the wall.

Laser light is special. The light is all on the same frequency going in the exactly the same direction. A laser pen can illuminate a point across the room by daylight. A laser can read bits on a DVD. A laser can measure the distance to the moon (which is increasing by 38mm/year). The inventors of the laser had no idea of its potential, and 50 years later we are still finding new applications.

A group is a light bulb – bright individuals, but individuals going in different directions. A team is a laser. Focused, synchronized, with incredible potential.

Scrum is tool for turning your groups into teams.

Bonus question: If you had to pick just one group in your company and turn it into an laser-team, which one should it be? My answer: Top Management.


P.S. Thanks to Kevin for pulling the text out of my 'pointed haired boss' presentation. I started using the strategies in Beyond Bullet Points to create my presentations. A side effect is that much of the spoken content is included as text in the pdf file for download. Which means it can be quoted...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

Scaling Scrum: SAFe, DAD, or LeSS?

Participants in last week's Scrum MasterClass wanted to evaluate approaches to scaling Scrum and Agile for their large enterprise. So I set out to review the available frameworks. Which one is best for your situation?

Recently a number of approaches have started gaining attention, including the Scaled Agile Framework ("SAFe") by Dean Leffingwell, Disciplined Agile Development (DAD), by Scott Ambler, and Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde. (Follow the links for white papers or overviews of each approach).

How to compare these approaches? My starting point is Scrum in the team. Scrum has proven very effective at helping teams perform, even though it does not directly address the issues surrounding larger organizations and teams. An approach to scaling Scrum should not be inconsistent with Scrum itself.

Scrum implements a small number of principles and constraints: Inspect and Adapt. An interdisciplinary Team solves the problem. Deliver something of va…

Five Simple Questions To Determine If You Have the Agile Mindset

My company has started a top-down transition to Scrum and Kanban. Will that make us an Agile company? About 2 years ago, I attended a conference hosted by the Swiss Association for Quality on the topic of Agility. As a warm-up exercise, the participants were given the 4 values of the Agile Manifesto, then asked to arrange themselves in space. How Agile is your company? How Agile do you think it should be? Very Agile on left, very traditional on the right. There was a cluster of people standing well to the right of center. “Why are you standing on the right?” It turns out that they were all from the railway. “Our job is to run the trains on time.” They were uncertain whether this agility thing was really aligned with their purpose.
Is Agility limited to software? Steve Denning has collected the evidence and laid out the case that Agile is not limited to software, nor is it merely a process, nor is it something you can do with part of your time, nor is it something you can have your …