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InfoQ Homepage News InfoQ Interview: Jeff Sutherland on "Who's Doing Scrum"

InfoQ Interview: Jeff Sutherland on "Who's Doing Scrum"

At Qcon London 2007, Dr. Jeff Sutherland spoke with InfoQ about "the Nokia test" - a list developed by one Agile IT organization to evaluate a team's level of Scrum adoption, and about how MIT's AI research contributed to the ideas behind Scrum.

Scrum, XP and other Agile processes ... are built out of a set of interlocking pieces, and one of the things that companies are trying to do is say "well, let's pick this Agile process because it's hard to do the other ones, and we'll get some improvement". But the improvement is often not what they expect.

It's as if you look at object oriented technology and say "well our developers can do everything with objects except they have a tough time with inheritance ... So we are going to do everything but inheritance". Now the product comes out, and it's brittle, it's not adaptable, it's not flexible, all the qualities that you expect to get are missing. And then management says "well, we are doing object oriented development, we invested a lot in this, and we are not getting the benefits".

The "Nokia test" consists of two sets of questions: first: "Are you doing Iterative development?" and if the answer is yes, then "Are you doing Scrum?". They maintain that if a team isn't meeting the basic requirements for iterative development, there's no way they are doing Scrum, or any other Agile methodology.

Sutherland also spoke about how Mark Striebeck gradually grew a full Scrum approach with the Google AdWords team, by adding each practice as the team realized they needed it. Striebeck's account "Shh, We Are Adding a Process..." was presented at Agile2006 and is available in the IEEE library.

Clearly, for Sutherland, it's not all-or-nothing, but more a matter of being aware of the full Scrum pattern language [1], which provides a benchmark for measuring adoption and guiding further improvements at the right time.

Excerpt from SCRUM: An extension pattern language for hyperproductive software development [1]

View the InfoQ exclusive interview: Jeff Sutherland on Scrum and Not-Scrum.

[1] Beedle, Mike; Devos, Martine; Sharon, Yonat; Schwaber, Ken; Sutherland, Jeff. SCRUM: An extension pattern language for hyperproductive software development. In Harrison, Neil; Foote, Brian; Rohnert, Hans (Eds.) Pattern Languages of Program Design 4. Addison-Wesley Software Patterns Series, 1999. (This is the formalization of the SCRUM organizational pattern.) Also available here in pdf.

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