On the power and deceptiveness of labels

The Scrum Guide 2020 has updates on many fronts. One of them is that as of now Scrum Teams are self-managing. This used to be self-organising. On the surface, this looks like a major change. The radicality of the change is confirmed when you compare the following two lines from the 2017 and 2020 guides:

“Self-organizing teams choose how best to accomplish their work, rather than being directed by others outside the team.” — Scrum Guide 2017


“They [the Scrum Teams] are also self-managing, meaning they internally decide who does what, when, and how.” — Scrum Guide 2020

Reading these, the inevitable conclusion is that Scrum Teams now have more to say about their…

My First impression

The new Scrum Guide is out. I eagerly anticipated it, because it promised to be impactful. Ken Schwaber had stated that the SG would go from 19 to 13 pages. This is mind-blowing. Many already considered the previous Scrum Guide to be very condensed.

I did see some room to cut out the deadwood. For instance, I didn’t see why the Daily Scrum section needed the example of the three questions. I also didn’t see why we needed examples of how a Sprint Planning should be conducted. But 6 pages less is really something.

At the same time, I hoped that the Scrum Guide would add…

The fascinating search to find the answer to “Why Agile”

Why do we work “Agile”? This question may seem obvious, but many don’t know. They choose Agile for all kinds of wrong reasons, as you can see in the graph from The State of Agile 2020:

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Reasons for adopting Agile — 14th Annual State of Agile Report 2020

It’s good to see that many understand Agile helps you manage the changing priorities. Most of the other arguments are great too. But the fact that “Accelerate Software Delivery” and “Increase Productivity” are in the top three is worrying. Although the first is open for multiple interpretations, I immediately think of teams working late to meet artificial deadlines.

It is important to understand why Agile exists. Only then people are in a position to make a conscious choice to adopt an Agile way of delivering their products. It prevents people from choosing it for the wrong reasons and will help us to get rid of the confusion of tongues. …

Information may arrive months later. Don’t let it stop you from bringing it up at the Sprint Review.

I love Sprint Reviews. At this event, empiricism works full throttle. The Scrum Team has added new potential value to the product Increment. Now the team and its stakeholders inspect the Increment and discuss what to do next.

The Sprint Review can be a powerful event to influence the direction of the product. But often Product Owners and their Scrum Teams waste excellent opportunities. They are in a vicious circle and only discuss the latest additions to the products. The stakeholders appear out of courtesy, not to help improve the product. …

There’s so much more to unpack

Scrum is everywhere. Almost everyone in the software development industry who has been working ‘Agile’ has worked with Scrum.

According to the State of Agile 2020, around 95% of the organisations polled practice Agile development methods.

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State of Agile 2020

It doesn’t mean all teams in the organisations work ‘Agile’, but it is widely adopted. From all the teams using ‘Agile’, approximately 75% work with Scrum or a Scrum inspired approach.

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State of Agile 2020

In the Technology Adoption Lifecycle picture below, Scrum is at the end of ‘Late Majority’. Many consider Scrum to be standard practice.

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Craig Chelius on Wikimedia

But what kind of Scrum are the respondents talking about? People use Scrum’s roles and events. They have short Sprints to deliver small pieces of software regularly. …

And what does it mean for the Scrum Team if this is an issue?

The Scrum Guide (2017) is very clear that the Product Owner must optimize the value of work the Development Team does. But what does this mean exactly? Can a Product Owner hold the Development Team accountable for not keeping their promises? Is this part of the responsibility to optimize the value of the work?

When this is a loaded question, it tells something about how the Product Owner cooperates with the rest of the Scrum Team. Let me explain.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Product Owner Role

If you consider all mentions of the Product Owner in the Scrum Guide, you notice a pattern. The Product Owner:

  • needs to ensure the team understands goals, product domain and…

But mediocre SAFe is disastrous

I am a Scrum fanboy. I love empiricism. I can go on and on about how great this simple framework works in complex product environments.


Yes, there’s a big but. Many organisations don’t properly use Scrum.

Imagine you are a Scrum Master or Agile Coach working in a large organisation. Many of the teams can’t or don’t want to embrace vital parts of Scrum. Key stakeholders are beyond the reach of the Scrum Teams. The Sprint Review isn’t the inspect and adapt event you strive for. Together with your colleagues, you have spent the best part of two years to coach the teams and the organisation to adopt Scrum. But the results are negligible. Are you going to hold on to your ideas of a perfect Scrum world? …

And what you can learn from this

Scrum is a disruptive framework. Complex environments need a different approach to build products, taking small steps and inspect and adapt regularly. 34 years after its inception, it still causes confusion and frustration. Many have written books and articles to explain Scrum where they focus on how the framework works, the roles and the Scrum Values.

This information hasn’t convinced all members of Development Teams. Some see Scrum as a burden and “just want to code”. In this article, I am going to show you why they have a point and what you can learn from their issues.

“Just let me code!” — A common response of a developer to the burdens of…

Project Manager Responsibilities and Scrum

You are a Project Manager and you enjoy your role. It comes with a high degree of responsibility, a lot of hard work and it is stressful at times. But the rewards can be awesome. You are the linchpin between your team, stakeholders, clients and management. When you deliver the project, you are the person that gets to be in the centre of the attention. Rightly so, because you went to hell and back to get things to work.

Then the company decides to adopt Scrum. There’s no Project Management role in Scrum. What’s more: the company is going to scrap the Project Manager function. …

The Crucial Difference Between Product Development and Product Delivery

The CEO of Magnacorps is frustrated but inspired. Frustrated by the lack of results from his people and inspired by the book “Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland. The CEO has arranged a call with the Scrum Masters and Product Owners.

“I’m not going to set the bar too high for you. For starters, let’s go with doubling productivity.”

Sarah, one of the most respected Scrum Masters of the company, breaks the awkward silence, “What do you mean Mark? We need a bit more context to understand your point.”

“It’s not so difficult. We have been working with Scrum for a year now. I’m disappointed by the results so far. Productivity has risen by 30% only. Last year you delivered 925 items. This year you are at 980 with two months to go. According to Jeff Sutherland, that’s simply not enough.” …


Willem-Jan Ageling

Interested in ways to work better together. I love the discussion with open-minded people.

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