Scrum, how does it work?

  • 26 September 2016
  • Gerhard Top

Had a great time this Summer surfing in France. Then, while driving home from Bordeaux, while the kids were in back watching a DVD and my wife was beside me, engrossed in a book, I listened intently to an audio management-book about Scrum. It gave me new inspiration, particularly with regard to adding more acceleration to our product development.

Inspired by audio book about Scrum management

Initially, Scrum was used in the IT world mainly as a way of preventing costly IT projects from failing. Put very succinctly, in Scrum, one accepts the fact that people are not good at estimating how much time something will cost. In order nevertheless to get things finished within a concrete period, a short deadline is set within which the team commits to getting something off the ground that works and that satisfies pre-set specifications, with an extremely rough estimate of the time that will be required, based on a Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. The more time it costs, the rougher the estimate.

Reality check

Shortly thereafter, I got to work with the team. This yielded massive quantities of Post-Its on the wall with all of the projects and activities generated. It also functioned as a reality check: perhaps we were attempting to do too much at once. So a selection had to be made, as to what was really important and what we really wanted to be finished by the end of the month.

Then, I started making a short ‘Scrum call’ every morning to the team to hear how things were progressing, and to keep a ‘finger on the pulse’: “What did you do yesterday?”, ”What will you be doing today?” and “What do you need?” This way, one can respond directly to developments. But we still have lots more to learn. Sometimes, unexpectedly, something has to be added or modified, and may even have to be finished within the monthly plan. But that is precisely the challenge: to keep flexibly adjusting to change, whilst nevertheless fulfilling set planning modules to the greatest extent possible – and ensuring something is really finished before going on to the next step.

First delivery

At the moment, there are three important projects: implementing the new prices in our backend, launching our new site in the Netherlands and Germany and the (complete) delivery of two new features.

In a month, we’ll hold a review to see how far we’ve come – what went well and what can go better. And in a few months, I’ll inventory all the experience gained and the lessons learned.

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