If it ain’t this, it ain’t Scrum

Jeff Sutherland has an interview on InfoQ where he describes the Nokia Test for evaluating whether a team is practicing Scrum:

Iterative Development
A precursor to Scrum is practicing iterative development of any kind.

  1. Fixed iterations of not longer than six [weeks]1
  2. Working software at the end of each iteration
  3. Start iterations without requiring a “complete” specification
  4. Testing during rather than at the end of iterations

Jeff states, “this rules out about half of (self-identified) Scrum teams.”

Scrum
The minimum to foster self-directed development teams working to clear business priorities using the tracking mechanisms of Scrum.

  1. Got a product owner? A single, empowered person who works directly with the team to determine what to build.
  2. Does the product owner have a product feature backlog? Is that backlog prioritized by business value? Is it estimated by the team?
  3. Track work with a burndown? From that, can you derive a velocity?
  4. Hands off during an iteration? “Nokia has a rule that you can’t have a project manager interfering with the team in the middle of an iteration because that stops the self organization.”

Jeff’s been saying for years that if you don’t have a backlog, you don’t have Scrum.

The first thing we lost in the acquisition process was our product owner. From there the rest deteriorates. Without a strong, empowered product owner the backlog becomes arbitrary and so does planning work against that backlog. See what that does to talented developers used to fueling themselves on intrinsic motivation.

It will be at least as hard to re-build these practices as it was to build them in the first place. The work of the new year and perhaps many years to come…

1 corrected from six months to six weeks.

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About Ken Judy

I am an executive manager, software developer, father and husband trying to do more good than harm. I am an agile practitioner. I say this fully aware I say nothing. Sold as a tool to solve problems, agile is more a set of principles that encourage us to confront problems. Broad adoption of the jargon has not resulted in wide embrace of these principles. I strive to create material and human good by respecting co-workers, telling truth to employers, improving my skills, and caring for the people affected by the software I help build.

2 thoughts on “If it ain’t this, it ain’t Scrum

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