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Global Scrum Gathering - Dublin 2017 - Day 2

Paul Lister

Scrum Master

reports on Day Two of this year's Global Scrum Gathering

1 November 2017

Maps are designed for a singular purpose. Sure, people collect some of the out-of-date ones because they're aesthetically pleasing or just amusing for their inaccuracies, but they were still designed: for a few purposes, but mainly so you could get from one place to another. But a map doesn't tell you how to get to your destination.

Me: Agile. You: Agile. We: Agile ... Aren't We?

Scrum is a map: maybe it's a map of a 'country' called Agile but, all the same, it's a map. But is it out of date? That was the discussion Tom Mellor approached in his keynote speech 'Me: Agile. You: Agile. We: Agile ... Aren't We?'. Scrum is a framework that supports the Agile manifesto and its offshoot, the Twelve Principles.

But it's worth remembering that the ideas of Scrum are more than twenty years old now, and perhaps Scrum should go through its own retrospective, much like its practitioners have to do at every sprint. On the upside, Tom reflected that organisations such as the Scrum Alliance and others are beginning to do just this; indeed, the purpose of gatherings such as this one is to explore these ideas. And everyday Scrum practitioners are hitting and solving - in fact, evolving - the framework on a sprint-by-sprint basis, so the cartographers are still updating that map.

So - if Scrum is our map, then the sprint, the artefacts and its rituals are towns and villages on that map. You know what they are, and the only mode of transport is creating value in between. But how do we do that without ruining our environment with waste?

Harness the Hive! Bottom-Line Impacts of Team Collaboration

In his workshop 'Harness the Hive! Bottom-Line Impacts of Team Collaboration', Bernie Maloney taught us the Power of Thirteen game. This is a simple game where a team of eight, consisting of coders, testers and a servant leader, roll three six-sided dice in order to reach a result of thirteen to 'have finished a unit of work'. (Finished here means that a coder and a tester have rolled thirteen.)

With each sprint we examined the process and then changed to improve our score, have fewer testers and more coders, have 'finished coders' help others by rolling extra dice, mix all the dice together and construct 'thirteens' by extracting combinations and so on.

And the score increased with each sprint. This illustration of why collaboration is important was a useful reminder that, to get where you want to go, you need everyone on board.

Facilitating Creativity for Breakthrough Problem-Solving

But just because you've used your map to work out a route doesn't mean it is the only one. Darian Rashid explored lateral thinking in his talk 'Facilitating Creativity for Breakthrough Problem-Solving'. His method was simple (and borrowed from the venerable Edward de Bono):

  • Take a problem: try to find simple solutions. So far, so normal. Then it gets interesting.
  • Take a random object and write down any attributes or adjectives regarding that object. Re-examine the problem to see if any these ideas trigger new solutions.

Another approach was to list ways to make the original problem worse and see if any facets produced could lead to solutions. Basically, approach the problem from different directions and see if you can get there quicker, or better.

So, a map is useful, but it's a good idea to check it's up to date, because sometimes there's a scenic route that might just be better than that cluttered old motorway.

Paul Lister is a Scrum Master at Aquila Heywood, the largest supplier of life and pensions administration software solutions in the UK.

Further Reading