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Problems Persist

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  • Ken Schwaber
    I ve been discussing Scrum with a number of Internet startup s and have been surprised. Many of the problems that Scrum solves persist and the word on how
    Message 1 of 3 , May 4, 2000
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      I've been discussing Scrum with a number of Internet startup's and
      have been surprised. Many of the problems that Scrum solves persist
      and the word on how easy it is to solve them using Scrum seems to be
      narrowly distributed.

      In particular, the problem of engineers thinking that product
      management can't make up their mind, and that product management and
      marketing think engineering can't deliver persists, along with the
      floundering that results in no new releases. The other surprise
      (which I guess shouldn't be) is the lack of awareness that
      management's primary goals are to set a vision and to remove
      obstacles.

      Any ideas on how to get these and Scrum's other concepts out more
      clearly?

      Ken Schwaber
    • Marc Perrone
      I think one problem is that many startups in the internet space are founded by charismatic guys who may at one time have been hands on technically. At any
      Message 2 of 3 , May 4, 2000
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        I think one problem is that many startups in the internet space are founded
        by charismatic guys who may at one time have been hands on technically. At
        any rate they tend to have a lot of ego invested in the venture. It's
        difficult for this type of person to let go enough to stop at setting a
        vision and removing obstacles.

        --Marc Perrone

        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Ken Schwaber [mailto:virman@...]
        > Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2000 6:52 AM
        > To: scrumdevelopment@egroups.com
        > Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Problems Persist
        >
        >
        > I've been discussing Scrum with a number of Internet startup's and
        > have been surprised. Many of the problems that Scrum solves persist
        > and the word on how easy it is to solve them using Scrum seems to be
        > narrowly distributed.
        >
        > In particular, the problem of engineers thinking that product
        > management can't make up their mind, and that product management and
        > marketing think engineering can't deliver persists, along with the
        > floundering that results in no new releases. The other surprise
        > (which I guess shouldn't be) is the lack of awareness that
        > management's primary goals are to set a vision and to remove
        > obstacles.
        >
        > Any ideas on how to get these and Scrum's other concepts out more
        > clearly?
        >
        > Ken Schwaber
        >
        >
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      • Greg Tutunjian
        Ken,
        Message 3 of 3 , May 6, 2000
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          Ken,

          <<Ken Wrote: In particular, the problem of engineers thinking that product
          management can't make up their mind, and that product management
          and marketing think engineering can't deliver persists, along with the
          floundering that results in no new releases.>>
          I view these conditions as cultural differences that exist (and persist)
          between individuals and groups, even very small groups, and especially
          in startups. The non-engineers in startups usually come with experience
          in business/management. That's their form of "capital". With that experience
          comes preferences and biases (human nature, not a bad thing) towards methods
          and results that make them comfortable (and made them candidates for the
          startup.) The engineers come from a different place. They "get it done"
          and view
          iteration as a food group. They are usually without significant business
          experience
          (not a bad thing) and almost always have never been exposed to business plans,
          requirements specifications, functional specifications, test plans, release
          plans,
          production support plans, ... that the "experienced" non-engineer has come
          to rely on.
          These (latter) devices are the non-engineers tool kit.

          <<Ken Wrote: The other surprise (which I guess shouldn't be) is the lack of
          awareness
          that management's primary goals are to set a vision and to remove obstacles.>>
          Articulating a vision takes a willingness to fail, and removing obstacles
          isn't necessarily
          glamorous work, either. Neither of these conditions are necessarily
          appealing, if one thinks
          one is a manager without a net. If scrum is not thoroughly adopted and
          practiced
          throughout the organization, the non-compliant individuals and groups will
          stick to their
          non-scrum views and practices. It makes them feel good, and with the
          pressure in
          startups and other fast-paced groups, feeling good is not a bad thing.

          <<Ken Write: Any ideas on how to get these and Scrum's other concepts out
          more clearly?>>
          Yes. Give it away, early and often. Look what it did for Unix.
          Be present at these forums:
          - Career Day at Business Schools. Distribute Scrum material to everyone
          who comes through the doors.
          Company representatives, interviewees, faculty, loaders, etc. Point them
          to the web site (www.controlchaos.com)
          and provide them with 3-5 pages of very tactical information in addition
          to a 1-page strategic assessment
          (of why Scrum is the culture for their company. It's not a methodology
          [IMHO], it's a culture.)

          - Professional Society Software Engineering and Best Practices Conferences
          and Workshops. Many of these are
          held locally (ASQ, PMI, IEEE, ACM, etc.) and many of the managers and
          technology directors who attend are seeking
          streamlined approaches to delivering systems (which translates to keeping
          their jobs.) A new culture comes when groups
          (versus individuals) adopt scrum, so why not "get them" while they are
          traveling in packs!? You can speak at any of the local
          chapter (monthly) meetings of these organizations as well. If people are
          coming to presentations after a day of work, it's for more
          than the food and networking. Same handout (as above.) Do it
          annually. Speak to the success stories.

          - Guest lecturer in Computer Science and Management Programs:
          Undergraduate and Graduate
          Get the word out in the senior years of these programs. These students
          and faculty are looking for "real" experience while still in
          the classroom. Bring material for everyone. Drop extras in the faculty
          office near the mail boxes, next to the coffee machine,
          next to the copier, etc. If you want to get to students, put material in
          the computer labs and next to the fast food machines.

          Look for additional help in doing this from amongst the successful scrum
          adoptees. Ask for a 1-day commitment per year to
          staff these and other efforts to both defer your costs as well as to put
          proven practitioners in front of these audiences.
          (Has an article discussing Scrum appeared in local daily papers' business
          sections? Even an editorial mention, with the URL,
          reaches many of the people you are trying to reach. Get a "success story"
          to call/write the appropriate editor. Consider writing a guest
          editorial for one of the local newspapers as well.)

          Thanks for listening,

          Greg Tutunjian
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