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Showing 1-10 of 143 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 218 reviews
on December 17, 2013
Scrum presents a vision of iterative, team-based product development that accelerates delivery of high-value products or services designed to attract and delight customers. Essential Scrum offers reliable guidance to those who want to put this vision to work at their company or team.

Three features contribute to my appreciation and use of this guide:

1. The structure of the book

Four sections include a) an exploration of core Scrum concepts; b) a description of the roles people play in the Scrum framework; c) Scrum planning principles and the various planning events that scaffold the work of product development; and d) a description of key events and activities that occur during a Sprint. This structure makes it easy to find information on the various components of Scrum, and clearly shows how they integrate as a whole.

2. Graphic layout and visual language

Throughout the book, Rubin uses graphs and pictograms to explain and reinforce his text. 204 figures illustrate key concepts and demonstrate how parts relate to a larger whole. See for example figure 2.3, which charts the overall Scrum framework, or Figure 15.7 which diagrams the hierarchy and relationship of Scrum planning events. The book uses visual language to communicate a systems view of Scrum. Chart and diagrams constantly remind us to relate each specific Scrum process or role to its supporting framework, or the underlying principles that give it power. This format communicates the systemic nature of Agile methods, where simple rules are used to navigate a complex and rapidly changing environment.

3. Exploration of Organizational Strategies that Support Agile Adoption

As Scrum teams mature, their success may be helped or hindered by a range of processes beyond their direct control. For example, portfolio and product planning has a major impact on the work of the Scrum Team, yet may not involve direct input from team members. Rubin presents eleven strategies for effective portfolio planning “in a manner that is well aligned with core Agile principles.” These strategies include establishing Work In Progress (WIP) limits, estimating the cost of delay for features to be ranked, and adopting smaller and more frequent releases, Strategies such as these, he suggests, provide an organizational framework that enables a fast, flexible flow of work for on-the-ground Scrum teams. In the long run, alignment of processes top-to-bottom increases the agility and performance of the entire organization.

I turned to Essential Scrum to assist my understanding of how facilitators can support the work of Agile teams. Rubin’s explanation of Scrum matches my own experience of facilitation: effective processes are grounded in simple and reliable “rules" of human communication and teamwork that enable effective action in unpredictable and complex settings.

Whether you have specific questions about Scrum ceremonies, or are interested in how to scale Agile methods up and throughout your organization, this book can become a trusted advisor on your journey, guiding you to action that will encourage learning and fuel success.
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on April 19, 2013
I have highly enjoyed reading Essential Scrum. As an IT Manager that is several years into an Agile transformation, I expected to get a small amount of value out of reading this book. However, I was surprised by the depth of information and analysis around each topic. For example, the compare and contrasts between traditional Waterfall development, Scrum, and Kanban was very interesting. I have used some of the tables from chapter 1 to help my non-Agile-initiated colleagues gain some appreciation for why incrementalism, continuous delivery, etc. are often better than traditional PM and development approaches.

Some other examples:
Being less familiar with Lean and Kanban, I also benefited greatly from the information about Work in Process (WIP)/small batch sizes, and this translated into re-inspecting my organization's support & maintenance workflow for improvements.
I also got a lot out of the chapters on User Stories and Product Backlogs: handling non-functional requirements, ideas for improving our story writing workshops, story mapping, managing multiple backlogs, and managing multiple products.
I also really appreciated the section on Making Technical Debt Visible, and the economic approach toward the problem.
The chapters on the Roles of Scrum were also quite interesting, even though a bit of review for me and my team. Product Owner is one of the roles that we struggle with, and it was nice to see such a thorough exploration of that role and its characteristics, responsibilities, etc. This has helped me in engaging stakeholders and turning them into Product Owners for our projects. It also validated some of feelings we've had about the tradeoffs inherent in using Product Owner Proxies. The ScrumMaster chapter was also very valuable in helping me coach my ScrumMasters and increase our depth in that capacity.
As an IT-Manager (now Director), I got the most value out of the chapter on Managers. I found the chart on Functional Manager Responsibilities to be a very fine illustration of the activities that Agile Managers should focus on. The phrase "managing the value-creation flow" really stuck with me. The was also a wealth of knowledge about defining boundaries (critical in maintaining self-organizing teams), forming teams, energizing people, and more.

No matter what your level of experience, entry point, role, or perspective on Scrum is, I highly recommend this book to you. You will learn something useful from every chapter.
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on November 14, 2015
This book is a go-to for reference material for scrum teams. Every scrum team should have a copy for reference and reminders to various situations that come up during the life of their scrum team. The book is easy to understand and true to the process. I recommend this book as reference material since the book has life beyond the initial read.
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on July 29, 2013
Scrum is simple. Scrum adoption is not. This is especially and painfully true in the large enterprise. We've had Kenny Rubin advise us on a number of occasions at challenging moments. His experience, wisdom, and knack for cutting through the fog and saying the right thing at the right time made the difference for us.

This experience is reflected and recorded in this book, including answers to questions like, "How does a functional manager's role change?" "A project manager?"

There is a thorough treatment of portfolio management, with specific, measurable ways to make effective trade-off decisions. "In agile portfolio management, the unit of capacity is the team, not the individual," he writes, and then goes on to explain why. That section alone is worth the price of the book.

For anyone who is in the throws of agile adoption in a company of any size, this book is a must have. It is a handy reference. It is the missing manual.

- Michael Wollin, Agile Coach, CNN/Turner Broadcasting
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on December 12, 2016
The book is both a very good introduction and a reference to Scrum. It is plenty of examples coming from the experience of the author as a Scrum consultant. Sometimes, I found the book to be very repetitive. On one hand, reading the same thing on and on improves the chance of absorving the key concepts of the subject. But, on the other hand, it makes reading the book much more difficult. However, it is a good book and I strongly recommend it to anyone starting in Scrum and the agile world.
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on February 5, 2014
This book covers all of the main concepts of scrum. Throughout the book, the author shares with us real world examples and provides clear explanations. His writing style is pretty straight forward and he is able to share his opinions without being overly preachy. The book contains many diagrams and graphic representations of concepts which are also very helpful. I enjoyed the book and by the time I reached the end, feel that I learned a lot. 5/5
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on October 31, 2012
It was a pleasant reading experience.

The best thing about the book is the visual icon notation that the author created and kept on representing in every chapter at every point possible. This helped in putting the whole discussion in context and helped in visualizing the content/idea very nicely. I found the coverage of scrum to be comprehensive. The fluent writing style added further to credibility of the book. The chapter on 'technical debt' was a priceless addition and in itself warranted praise.

The only thing that (IMHO) fell short of 'super-excellent' is the coverage of 'portfolio planning' and 'product planning'. These topics required a book of their own and compressing them in two chapters made it appear a little out of fluency. I would have liked a section (along side 'multilevel planning' and 'release planning') covering portfolio/product planning instead.

Nevertheless, the book was an excellent source of information on scrum and a pleasure to read.
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on September 5, 2014
This is a very complete book, bringing value to both experienced and novices in Scrum. For experienced developers and project managers, the book offers a complete list of features and recommendations about which particular tools to use in different phases of a Scrum initiative. That list works as a repository of best practices that experienced personnel can aggregate into their projects. For novice developers, the book takes the time to explain exactly how Scrum works and why things are done in a certain way in Scrum projects, although still making it clear that each Scrum team will probably deviate a little of the practices listed in the book because of their specific context. Overall, a very good resource to have as part of a portfolio of Agile tools.
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on September 7, 2016
This is one of the best books I've read on scrum, and the images, such as process flows, are some of the best I've seen. I require all my new ScrumMasters to at least read the most critical chapters and the glossary, and keep as a reference. The kindle edition is great because there are hyperlinks on terminology that allow you to jump easily back and forth between the chapters and glossary / appendix.
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on July 17, 2016
If you know nothing about Scrum and want to sound like an expert, this is the book to get. I'm a graduate student writing my thesis on software development and this has been an invaluable resource. I usually keep it on my desk and I've used it as a reference for giving impromptu seminars at work. Also, I sent Kenneth a message on LinkedIn and he was nice enough to respond, which kind of surprised me.
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