Skip to main content

Beyond Scrum? Radical Management

Six years ago (wow!) while browsing a bookstore in Seattle, I picked up a book called 'Agile Project Management with Scrum' by Ken Schwaber. For me, this book was a revelation! Finally an approach to project management which made sense! It focused on people, communication, and producing (quality) results. I was immediately convinced by the approach and, well the rest is history. Today, Scrum is the center of my professional life.

I frequently teach my Scrum Team Jumpstart to companies wanting to free themselves from the chains of their own organization. What feedback do I get after such courses? Here are the top three comments:
  1. Our management should take this course!
  2. Don't just talk about software development.
  3. What comes after Scrum?
Last spring, I had the privilege of reviewing a draft of The Leader's Guide to Radical Management, by Stephen Denning. My reaction was the same as the to Ken Schwaber's book: Wow! Simple principles and practices for leading modern companies. I immediately incorporated key lessons from his book into my teaching (which I think is major contributor to feedback item #1). His book is out now, and I highly recommend it.

Denning observes that management has been unable to respond to the changed conditions of the 21st century economy. For example, since 1985, large, established companies have produced virtually no new jobs in the USA -- compared to start-ups who have produced 40 million new jobs in the same period. 75% of workers world wide are not fully engaged in their jobs. And Dilbert haunts the hallways of major companies around the world.

In the course of his research, Denning looked for companies and individuals who were especially engaged and productive. He was surprised to discover two areas that were over-represented among the engaged and effective: Software Development and Manufacturing! Software development meant companies doing Agile and Scrum and manufacturing meant mostly Toyota and Honda, i.e. the role models of Lean. He also found people in many other branches applying the same principles and achieving similar results.

Seven principles of Radical Management

Denning avoids using Scrum and Lean terminology to better transport the principles out of their original context. He identifies 7 principles (and some 70 practices) of these enabling environments:
  1. Delighting Clients
  2. Self-Organizing Teams
  3. Client-Driven Iterations
  4. Delivering Value to Clients in Each Iteration
  5. Radical Transparency
  6. Continuous Self-Improvement
  7. Interactive Communication
Practitioners of Scrum, Lean and Agile will of course recognize the principles and practices as their own.

So where do I think Scrum is going? I think Scrum is expanding beyond software development into more general management. Why do I think this is case? Besides my own empirical experience, Steve's book provides many answers.

As Scrum expands into into general management, Scrum may or may not keep its name and strict practices. It might morph into something closely related but divorced from its software roots. In any case, I recommend Steve's book highly!


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…

What is the role of a Business Analyst in Scrum?

When I teach a CSM class, my goal is that my participants go home delighted (and of course that they learn about Scrum, that they are motivated to do Scrum, and can pass the online CSM exam). So after every class, I ask for feedback, in particular what could I do to get a better score. And for the next class, I strive to implement or address two or three of the points raised by my participants.

One issue that was raised was unanswered questions. It is annoying to ask questions and not get answers! Time is limited, so it is not always possible to answer all questions, so I thought, why not answer them on my blog? So here goes, first question:
What is the role of a Business Analyst in Scrum? This question is a challenge because Scrum doesn't answer this question! Scrum is a simple, team-based framework for solving complex problems. The roles and ceremonies in Scrum are designed to ensure that inspect and adapt can occur regularly with complete and correct information. Scrum does not…