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Looking for A Vision-to-Action Guide to Adopting Scrum? Read This Book!
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.