Sunday, August 30, 2009

Full RSS Feed

Some time ago, I changed the RSS feed from full articles to titles only. I was thinking there would be some evidence of who was actually reading my articles in the web stats. In all honesty, I couldn't tell the difference, so, after receiving several requests, I have switched it back to full content.

Happy Reading,


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gimme back my waterfall!

I caught up with a friend, developer and fellow Agile Evangelist over coffee a few days ago. As it happened, he is currently obliged to work on a waterfall project -- working for a service company, you don't always get to choose. So I asked him, what's it like to go back to the waterfall?

His answer: "Right now, I'm having a great time. I don't have to explain myself to my colleagues every day. If want to read a book or blog, or experiment with a couple different approaches to solve a problem, I can! And I don't have to feel guilty at the next Daily Scrum. And if a specification is incomplete or contradictory, all I have to do is tell the Project Leader and I have peace and quiet for a few days while he clears things up with the customer. And of course, if I tell the Project Leader that task X will take 5 days, I have no one bothering me before the time is up. I am much less responsible for the solution. Of course, I do my job conscientiously, but where my responsibility ends, it ends."

"How long till the next release?" I asked. "Oh, about 4 months."

Gee, why doesn't everyone want to move back?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feel free to change Scrum!

One standard bit of advice from Scrum Trainers and Coaches is "Don't change Scrum!" They give this advice because,
  1. There is a natural tendency when adopting something new to want to change it, i.e. to make it "yours."
  2. Scrum is designed to detect problems, including deep seated problems, quickly and mercilessly.
  3. Scrum pushes people and organizations out of their comfort zone. Rather than face the problems, it is often easier to try to change Scrum than to confront the problems Scrum has detected.
Combine these factors, and you can quickly defeat the purpose of Scrum, which is to identify and eliminate impedments to success (in Lean, this is referred to as "Waste") as quickly as possible.

So when Silvan Mühlemann, CTO of, proposed a talk for the Scrum Breakfast "Adapt Scrum to your needs!" I thought "Oh my! can I allow this sacrilege to occur on my watch?" So I got him to put a question mark in the title, closed my eyes, and off we went.

When Silvan got started, he didn't believe that Scrum would work in his company, so he changed it. Pretty dramatically. For instance, time boxes yes, fixed length iterations no. At the beginning of his talk, I wondered if we could even call his process Scrum. He definitely broke a lot of rules of Scrum. But he stayed true to inspect and adapt. That process brought him closer to Scrum by the book (adding retrospectives, daily scrums, ready to try again with fixed length iterations, etc).

The talk was a real eye opener. If your top management gets the principles of Scrum, the practices are less of an issue. Just be true to "inspect and adapt." If they don't, well, it can be tough.

Oh and BTW - every team which does Scrum changes their process. Why? Because they do a retrospective every Sprint to improve that process. And each time, that process should change a little bit. Add up those changes over a year or two, and the differences can be quite substantial (..and probably make your Scrum rather different that what you would find in the book).

Silvan's presentation is (finally) on line: Adapt Scrum To Your Needs, by Silvan Mühlemann (in German).

[Update 30-Aug] Lest their be confusion: As a coach and trainer, I still tell teams not to change Scrum, especially not before they have really understood Scrum. Changing Scrum is usually dysfunctional and usually gets you into trouble. What is the worst ways to change Scrum? Hmm. Combining the role of ScrumMaster and ProductOwner is probably top on my list. You risk getting a demanding customer with no one to protect the team.

Scrum Breakfast in Bern: Introducing Change

Today it was my honor to kick off the Scrum Breakfast in Bern.

A new start seemed like a good moment to talk about how to introduce change into an organization. So I talked about the roles from Crossing the Chasm and the Patterns from Fearless change.

For me, the high point was the feedback from Tudor Girba, who described how he selected the location for and equipped his office during a summer job:
I was given the choice of an isolated, out-of-the-way office or a desk in the entrance foyer. So of course I chose the entrance foyer.

I always kept a big bag of peanuts in the shell and a supply of cold Coca-Cola at hand. People would come by and munch on the peanuts. And of course, it took time to shell them. So while they were shelling, the had to do something, and they talked to me. In two weeks I knew everything about that organisation!
Congratuations to Ralph Jochim and Joscha Jenni for organizing the event. 22 participants from around Bern got together for interesting discussions and networking afterwards. (And yes, big companies and small companies, both as potential users of Scrum and Scrum consultants are getting seriously interested in Scrum and Agile.)

You can find my slides online: Introducing Change (and thanks to Julian Yeandel for his insights into the roles and challenges of middle management).

And if you missed the talk, you can join us on September 16 in Basel.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Scrum Certification Exam required after Oct. 1

I just got this from my CST mentor and co-trainer Andreas Schliep:
Currently, an individual is certified when he or she has attended, participated in, and completed a Certified ScrumMaster course.

Effective 1 October 2009, all CSMs will be required to complete a Certified ScrumMaster course and pass a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) online certification exam [in English, ed.] to maintain certification.  Click here for the Exam Objectives or Click here for the Exam Administration and Retake Policy.
They seem to really mean it this time.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the exam. On the one hand, being required to demonstrate some basic understanding of Scrum before getting the certification seems like a good thing.

One the other hand, the value of the Scrum course lies in its experiential nature. Yes, you learn facts and theory, but you spend a lot of time "in motion": doing games, simulations, exercises, working out problems with your teammates.

I think there is a very great danger that the CSM exam will change the emphasis of the CSM course from experiencing Scrum to preparation for passing the test.

Some people might feel the certification deadline is a reason to take the CSM course in September...


My calendar for courses has wrong dates for the December courses:
  • The CSM for Advanced Users with Andreas is on December 3 & 4, not 2 & 3
  • The Practical Product Owner Course is December 10 & 11, not 9 & 10.
A corrected Scrum course calendar is now online.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Scrum Breakfast in Bern and Basel

Thanks to the effort and motivation of Mark Hediger, Joscha Jenni und Ralph Jocham and the support of their respective companies (Actionize, Mimacom and Zühlke), there are monthly meetups for the Scrum Communities in Bern and Basel. It is my honor to kick off the events with a talk, appropriately about getting started with Scrum.

Change Process: How do I bring Scrum (or any other idea) into my company? By Peter Stevens

As a developer, tester, project manager or manager, you are intrigued by Scrum. But you are having difficulties gaining support for your ideas. You would like to convince your management and colleagues, that you company or department should use Scrum, or at least should give it a try. How can you motivate or even mobilize your colleagues, so that the support your ideas?

Based on experiences in my own projects, we will discuss a number of possible approaches, which are helpful in bringing about change. An Introduction in Change-Processes and how to guide them effectively.

These talks will be given in German!

Wo:Zühlke Engineering AG
Aarbergergasse 29
3011 Bern
Newground AG im Unternehmen Mitte
Gerbergasse 30
4001 Basel
Wann:26. August 200916. September 2009
Info und Anmeldung:per Email an ZühlkeSwissICT
Programm:08.00 bis 08.35 -- Kaffee und Anmeldung
08.35 bis ca. 09.50 -- Vortrag und Diskussion
10.00 bis ca. 11.00 -- Networking und mehr Diskussion
A great Dankeschön an Zühlke und Actionize for sponsoring the Venue, Coffee and Gipfeli! I wish Ralph, Joscha and Mark the best of luck with new Scrum Breakfasts and hope that every Scrumist and Agilist will take the opportunity to meet and share interests with others from the same region at these breakfasts!

Scrum Breakfast in Zürich, 2. Sept 09: Scrum in a Med Tech Environment

Scrum in a Med Tech Environment, by Peter Rey

A common prejudice about agile software development is that agility is incompatible with demanding or highly regulated environments. bbv recently used Scrum to complete a project in which compliance with US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulatory requirements was mandatory. In this talk for project managers, developers, and ScrumMasters, Peter Rey, Lead Software Designer and Scrum Master at bbv will present his experiences from the trenches. What challenges did they face in this strict regulatory environment and how did they solve the problems as a Scrum Team? In particular, he will look at:
  • Prerequisites for the project
  • Mapping Requirements to the Product Backlog
  • Tools
  • Generating Documents for Regulatory Compliance
The talk will be held in English.

Peter Rey started his education with an apprenticeship as a toolmaker, then a degree in mechanical engineering (Dipl. Masch. Ing. HTL), 3 years working experience at a Boeing vendor in the U.S., executive master in business information technology (NDS-WI), software development for turbine blade manufacturing CAD/CAM and responsible for worldwide deployment & training at all Alstom Blade Manufacturing Plants.

Where: namics zurich, Konradstrasse 12, 8005
When: 2.September, 8.00 bis 10.00 bzw 11.00

Doors open: 8.00
Presentation and Discussion 8.35 to about 9.50
Networking und informelle Diskussion bis ca. 11.00

Info and Registration (auch für den Webinar):

Made possible through the generous support of namics (venue and breakfast) and swissITbridge (webinar).