Every person in the world is a Product Owner, even though most don’t realize their product! But let me explain what I mean by this before the Product Owner community hunts me down with torches and pitchforks.

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

I won’t cite any official definition from anywhere but try to explain it by the experience I gained so far.

Most people think of a professional Product Owner as a person who considers the needs of several stakeholders of a (mainly software) product and the Product Owner’s long-term vision.

Using this external and internal input, the Product Owner translates these requirements and visions…

“What books should I read first?” is a question that I get often. Seven out of ten times I get it from (new) Scrum Masters. To help out a little bit, I composed this list of my favorite and most useful books on Scrum Mastery.

Scrum — a Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen

Buy here

Gunther is one of the most likable guys in the whole industry in my experience. I’ve had the honor of having lunch with him and talking to him on several other occasions.

What I enjoy most about this book, is that it provides more body to what the Scrum Guide started. It makes…

Are you in a complex environment?

source unknown

Suppose you want to go on a journey to a remote destination or reach a far-away goal. Is making a detailed plan upfront always the best approach? How would you know? And what other options do we have?

Ask yourself the following questions: How often do you expect to deal with unforeseen changes along the way? How stable, predictable or surprising is your environment? How well informed are you at the start, or how well informed can you possibly be about it all? How long before the assumptions that you hold right now will become stale? …

A nice-to-have feature and 37 hours of downtime

A duck image
A duck image
Photo by Hussain Badshah on Unsplash

Failures used to be my biggest fear. For years, I struggled to deal with them. Since I was a kid, I strived to be the best. During school, I could not accept any score other than the highest. I put a lot of effort into avoiding failure. Yet, I missed the beauty of failing: learning. Later in life, I realized that nothing teaches more than learning from our mistakes.

Failure is never an end state; it’s a step towards success.

How you perceive failures and what you do with them ultimately defines how far you can go in your journey…

The spirit of a high-performing team

Flow is a state of consciousness. Entering the flow-state is not a mechanistic process. It involves being fully immersed and experiencing a feeling of energized focus. It means full involvement and enjoyment in the process of an activity.

Design by Hued & Miro.

A group of individuals can share this state of consciousness. That kind of shared consciousness is the spirit of a high-performing team. It requires individuals to engage in a team experience fully.

I sometimes see Scrum-(flavored)-teams that iteratively produce incremental work and expect that improvement is the result. But I think improvement is not automatically a given from this way of working.

Lots of different circular rubber bands on a bright background thrown on top of each other. Some are twisted, others are nearly round.
Lots of different circular rubber bands on a bright background thrown on top of each other. Some are twisted, others are nearly round.
Photo by Michael Walter on Unsplash (modified by author)

First of all, let’s talk about what I mean when I’m talking about increment, iteration, and improvement. And even more important is how the Scrum guide talks about these terms.

The Increment is in the core of Scrum as one of the Scrum Artifacts. The Scrum guide mentions the increment in several contexts. In short: The increment is the output of the team. But also part of the definition is:

Each Increment is additive to all prior Increments and thoroughly verified, ensuring that all Increments work together.

From what I read there, work has to be connected to previous work…

Your Customer Wants You to Follow a Detailed Plan? Give them this and manage on the outcome!

“This is all nice in theory. And I agree. In complex environments, Scrum is a great approach to deliver value. But with real customers, it is no option.”

I have heard this so many times. I’m getting tired of this broken record — songs project management knows by heart.

The alternative to Scrum — or Agile in general — is the traditional project management approach, one fraught with the illusion of control and wishful thinking.

But should a project manager lie to their most demanding customers by creating long term detailed plans? Are they going to try to stick to…

Four years ago, my wife at the time was pregnant with our twins. We decided that we needed to replace the floor in the new babies’ bedroom. Not in their bedroom alone, but all the adjacent rooms as well.

I like doing these things myself. It’s fun to do and it gives me a bit of a sense of pride seeing the improvement I create myself. I’ve done this before, so I figured this time would be no exception.

You might be wondering why I’m talking about babies and DIY at home? …

Scrum was created during the early ’90s. A few decades have passed since. We’re now at a point where the majority of businesses know what the Scrum framework is and why they could use it.

Awareness of the existence of the framework does not make the entire purpose understood though. For instance, Scrum is not a magical black box that provides all the answers you desire. A silver bullet to all your problems. It’s very much the opposite, to be honest.

Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash

Scrum brings forth your pain points

Scrum uses empirical process control, with three main pillars:

  • transparency
  • inspection
  • adaptation

In this article, Seamus Connolly shows how a developer may have less than 75% time for actual development work. If the Scrum Master can help Scrum Team, why not??

The holy grail of Scrum is to create truly self-organizing teams that embody the five values of Scrum — commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect. In this regard, the Scrum Guide is very clear about the responsibilities of the Scrum Master.

The Scrum Master is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide. Scrum Masters do this by helping everyone understand Scrum theory, practices, rules, and values. — Scrum Guide 2017

The Scrum Master is accountable for the Scrum Team’s effectiveness. They do this by enabling the Scrum Team to improve its practices, within the Scrum…

Serious Scrum

Content by and for Scrum Practitioners.

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