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Showing posts from October, 2011


A month long conflict at the construction site of the Zurich main train station ('HB' or Hauptbahnhof), boiled over this week, as workers tunneling under the station went on strike. Urine and excrement expelled by outhouse-style toilets in older trains continue to drip down on to the workers whenever a train with 'outhouse' toilets parks over the construction site. This issue was raised several months ago, but has now boiled over again.

Overall project leader Roland Kobel, chief of the two billion CHF 'diameter line', complained of "coercion" and hinted at legal action. "Every delay is wasting taxpayers money." The labor union is unimpressed, and is demanding contractual guarantees that the problem will be remedied before returning to work.

While Kobel is surely correct in his assessment, labor conflict could endanger his project, cause delays and raise the costs, he has missed the point of the root cause of the problems. The ongoing '…

Scrum Breakfast Zurich:

Four years ago, I started the Scrum Breakfast in Zurich. As my tenure as moderator of the Scrum draws to a (temporary) close, I thought it would be interesting to have some presentations about the longer term effects of Scrum, so both the November and December Breakfasts will look at this topic in more depth.

Ernst Basler and Partner is known for their work in Infrastructure and Transportation Systems, Energy + Technology, Environment + Water, Resources and Climate Change. The Swiss Federal Office of Roads (ASTRA) contracted with them to develop the MISTRA Base System - a database of virtually all relevant data around roads and road building in Switzerland.

Last Christmas, EBP and the ASTRA decided to use Scrum to organize this project. The project had already been started. The requirements were extensive, complex and in many cases still under discussion, and the time was short. Scrum should help them master this situation.

Today the project has been running under Scrum for about 10 m…

Getting the CEO's attention

At the #sglon London Scrum Gathering Joe Justice and I lead an open space on how to get the CEO's attention. Our goal was to come up with at least three things to try. I could not stay for the afternoon wrap up, so here is a summary of what we discussed:

Ideas for getting top management buy-in (un sorted)
C-Level Training "offsite" (offsite is a management word which is well understood and has positive connotations). The goals is to Take away the fear and Give them tools for the new worldApply the golden circle: From Why? (Business Goals) to How? to What? (See Video from TEDxPugetSound 'The Power of Why")As an external consultant, demand participation from management two levels up.Apply the AIDA process (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) or AIDAA (AIDA followed by Ability). You have to get people willing to listen (Aware) before they will even discuss your issues. TED Videos are good for building Awareness. Give the CEO a book, e.g. Radical Management by Steve…


Shortly after the Lean Agile Scrum Conference, DasScrumTeam announced that I will be leaving the company, effective end of December. Here is an extract of that email (translated):
We, DasScrumTeam AG, established our company in 2009 and started successfully together. Our training and coaching structure meets the needs of our customers and our Certified Scrum Master and Scrum Product Owner training sessions are very popular. With the knowledge that the basic values ​​and practical aspects of Scrum correspond well to the requirements of a modern enterprise, we are very motivated to share our know-how with our customers. We do not forget to also expand our own knowledge.

Peter Stevens is traveling in the near future for several months in the U.S. to be active in the exciting and important areas of Radical Management. So he will leave DasScrumTeam AG at the end of September. Besides his own training and consulting assignments, Peter served as Managing Director and was responsible for mar…

The Car that Scrum Built

You have heard the objections: "Scrum is great for software, but we're doing hardware." Or, "we're doing embedded. Scrum won't work here." Or, "Would you really build a bridge with Scrum?"

Well maybe not a bridge, but how about a car?

Remember the Ansari X PRIZE? The winner N328KF by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen is now the basis for Virgin Galactic's space tourism venture. In 2008, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competition put out a 10 Million Dollar prize for the first/best company to to produce a car that:
you could actually drive on the streetwould achieve the equivalent of 100 mpg (2.35ltr/100km) and 200g/km well to road CO2 emmissionshas a reasonably convincing plan for going into production by 2014. Joe Justice, a soft-spoken Agilist, nerd and black belt kung-fu expert, was intrigued and, somewhat inadvertently, launched a Linux or Wikipedia-like project to create an entry in the class 'mainstream' (i.e. it should …

FAMOZ: Let's treat project failures like airplane crashes

Whenever an airliner crashes, two questions demand answers:
Who is responsible? -- so we can punish them, sue them or put them in jail (or gain advantage for ourselves)How did this happen? -- so we can prevent accidents like this in the future.  Oddly enough, if the investigation seeks to answer the first question, it becomes very difficult to achieve the goal of the second question. If people are afraid of punishment, they are reluctant to provide information which can and will be used against them. The investigation of airline incidents always focus on the second question and aviation has enjoyed an excellent and improving safety record because of it.

The city of Zurich has "pulled the plug" on "ELUSA" (or FAMOZ, as it was originally known). This system to integrate the operations of four departments of the city's social services office was originally budgeted at 11 million CHF, but after several rounds of additional financing was now expected to cost 29 mill…

Remembering Heaven

A Respectful Approach to Introducing Scrum (or some other framework).

At the Lean Agile Scrum Conference in Zurich, David Anderson explained the basic approach of Kanban:
Start with what you do nowAgree to pursue incremental, evolutionary changeInitially, respect current processes, roles, responsibilities & job titles The implication of course is that Scrum is disrespectful because Scrum comes with new roles. His comments were echoed by many participants. Given that Respect is a core value of Scrum, I was surprised at this insinuation. Why do so many people seem to find the Scrum approach disrespectful?

Here is how I prefer to introduce Scrum.

When I first read Ken Schwaber's 'Agile Project Management with Scrum', there was a paragraph which really got my attention: 'Remember your best project? How was it?'

In my case, I was working for the SIG in Neuhausen. Urban Wymann, my customer / project leader was responsible for introducing some 60 Sun Workstations in…