On Saturday, October 2, 2004, at 12:09:22 AM, Mike Cohn wrote:
> I don't find this speech inconsistent. One of the differences I find between
> Scrum and XP is how change is handled. XP allows the customer/product owner
> to swap in a new story in the middle of an iteration. Scrum (with its longer
> sprints) says no change is allowed. Two commitments are made in response to
> this: The team commits to finishing whatever they pull into the sprint and
> the business commits to not changing priorities. Both commitments need to be
> made for Scrum to work.
It's the part about "late nights" and signing up for the "backlog items"
that seem to me to be inconsistent with what Scrum is. Let me go back to
Pete's posting and riff on it. Then I'm going to go back to one of Marc's
as well. At least that's the plan right now.
> The speech I give these days is "If you as a team sign up to these
> backlog items, it means that come hell or high water, you have to
> deliver them by the end of the sprint. So if there is anything
> stopping you from doing that, you have to let people know sooner
> rather than later, otherwise there are going to be some very late
> nights four weeks from now."
I'm trying to be mindful of the original topic, which was people not
speaking up about impediments.
First, "hell or high water".
I would think that "hell" and "high water" would count as legitimate
impediments, for sure, and that people do need to be told about it. If the
Scrum Master can't deal with them, though, I believe that the team do not in
fact have to deliver. But the phrasing suggests that the team have to deal,
not the Scrum Master.
Row, you lousy wretches. Come hell or high water, you have to get us
there on time.
I was thinking something like "Come hell or high water, my job is to enable
you to get things done. I have to know what's in the way to do that."
And I was thinking that if people are being spoken to that way, and don't
speak up, it's probably intimidation in action, whether it's intended or
not. I've often been guilty of that myself.
Second, "backlog items".
The commitment of the Sprint, as I understand it, is not to the items but
to the goal. The phrasing is insisting on the items. As such, it is
displaying rigidity, not flexibility and creativity, not "responding to
change". I can't know what Pete meant or what he feels. What I heard in
what he said doesn't seem Agile to me.
Third, "otherwise there are going to be some very late nights".
We all work some overtime once in a while, I guess. But "very late nights"
isn't likely to produce much unless taken in small doses.
More important, it's not a team-oriented phrase. It's command-oriented: I'm
telling you that if you don't do what you want, I will make you work
overtime. Agile? In the spirit of Scrum? Not the way I understand it.
Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle.
-- Bruce Lee