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InfoQ Homepage News US Scrum Gathering 2010 Kicks Off With a Day of "Deep Dives"

US Scrum Gathering 2010 Kicks Off With a Day of "Deep Dives"

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The 2010 US Scrum Gathering kicked off Monday in Orlando with a great day of "deep dive" learning, collaboration, and healthy debate.

On the day prior to the official Monday conference commencement, 30 or so Certified Scrum Trainers and Coaches met at the Orlando conference location for a retreat led by Mike Vizdos and Jean Tabaka to develop ideas on how to improve what they do. Conference co-organizer Tobias Mayer posted some of his cursory thoughts on the day on his blog, also where he's recently been talking about the changing nature of the CST program overall.

Monday morning then saw the start of the official 2010 Scrum Gathering, spearheaded by a quick but lively commencement ceremony by the Scrum Alliance's personable new president and chairman Tom Mellor. Following that, Scrum co-founder Jeff Sutherland joined CMMI authority Kent Johnson for a well-received keynote showing how Scrum and CMMI are not necessarily in opposition, highlighting how Systematic successfully adopted Scrum while maintaining CMMI Maturity Level 5.

From there the day moved into it's "deep dive" sessions, an interesting approach for a conference format where each session lasted the entire day (rather than the more typical 60-90 min structure). "Inspecting and Adapting" previous years drove conference organizers to give this a try and day end buzz around the conference showed positive response. More on what went on:

  • "Coaching the Coaches" led by Lyssa Adkins, a well-received dive into some of the skills that distinguish a "coach" from an "expert" or "mentor". Chatter indicated people were finding real inspiration discussing and practicing ideas and tools presented by Lyssa like "journaling your value" and mastering the "coaching conversation", as well as a memorable catalogue of "coaching failure modes" (like "The Hub", "The Butterfly", and "The Nag") and "coaching success modes" (like "The Magician", "The Wise Fool", and "The Creeping Vine").
  • "The Kanban Exploration" led by Karl Scotland, where one definition of a Kanban System was used to trigger discussion around what ways Kanban and Scrum are alike, and what ways they differ. Post session chatter gave interesting insight about how one might say that Scrum and Kanban differ in their detailed methods but not in higher level intent of those methods. Take for example the question of whether Kanban's practice of "Value Stream Mapping" fits with Scrum - people would agree Scrum does not explictly do value-stream mapping, but Scrum does do "retrospective" which ultimately has the same purpose. Similar debate around the big question of whether Scrum is really a "push system", or whether it can be viewed as "pull system" like Kanban. Interesting thoughts by Jurgen Appelo about the session here, and related info here.
  • "Coaching Self-Organized Teams" led by Joseph Pelrine, a thought-provoking and interactive session focused around social complexity science and team dynamics research to get traction on what might really be behind the mysterious "self-organizing team". The repeated "key take-away" buzzing around: "change the environment and the team will change themselves". Also floating around are some interesting (and entertaining) footage of participants operating like bird flocks, and of participants experiencing how simple rules can drastically change behavior.
  • "Software Craftsmanship Workshop" led by Micah Martin, where participants spent the day discovering "code katas" and "randori" as a way to hone their programming skill.
  • "Artful Making Workshop" led by Lee Devin, an interesting exploration into how software teams can take a cue from the things that those in theatre do to effectively run adaptive projects.
  • "Specify Critical Product Quality Requirements" led by Tom Gilb and Kai Gilb, focusing on a toolset for Product Owners to identify "Product Qualities" to effective prioritize.
  • "Improv: The Mechanics of Collaboration" led by Matt Smith, relating the ideas and techniques of "improvisation" to software collaboration in another session related to the, un-official but observed, recurring day theme of "honing and leveraging 'Individuals & Interactions'".
  • "Innovation Games® for Scrum Teams" led by Luke Hohmann, where participants experimented with games like "Product Box", "Speed Boat", "Buy a Feature", "Remember the Future", and "Prune the Product Tree" to learn useful and fun ways of collaborating with functional stakeholders.

Day 2 kicks off with diverse buffet of more traditionally timed sessions across the conference's five themes of "The Edge of Chaos", "Huge Scrum!", "Good Practice","Scrum in Context", and "When worlds collide". For more info, visit the official conference website, or follow along at the live blog and with the twitter hashtag #sgus.

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Community comments

  • Kanban has more of a value stream focus when a new effort is initiated

    by David Bulkin,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.


    Per our discussion over dinner last night, I think you and I ascribe to the philosophy that in the end there are practices that are appropriate given a context, and practices that are not appropriate for a given context. As such, we don’t generally don’t get hung up on Scrum vs. XP vs. kanban etc.

    But, with the being said, I think that a kanban practitioner will likely examine an existing software development process, make it visible on a board, and then start to change it after understanding the value stream and how it fits into the larger organizational context.

    Many Scrum implementations have, on the other hand, been more radical with new roles, new terminology, new process, all at once. This approach presumes a solution without understanding the uniqueness of the situation.

    I do believe that Scrum is a desirable goal for many teams, but I think a Kanban Change Management approach as advocated by David Andersen is a better, for many, than the radical Scrum implementations which have often been attempted.

    So, from the perspective of an initial implementation I do think there is a sharp difference between Scrum and kanban, but I do admit that this distinction is less significant once a project is underway, as, per your point, the Scrum Retrospective is a way to modify the processes of the team on an ongoing basis.

  • Re: Kanban has more of a value stream focus when a new effort is initiated

    by Mike Bria,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.


    Yes, you're right, we do agree that context is everything. It's one of the reasons I'm beginning to favor Kanban, as it bring that fact to the highlight - as a core element of not only its values & principles, but also explicitly in its practices.

    This is a discussion/debate I get into with many who try to claim how PMBOK is at its heart saying many of the same things as "agile", or that Scrum (or XP or Lean or..) does or does not specify this or that - I'm not nearly as concerned with what any of these methodologies do or don't say or say, I care much more about what evidence shows people hear.

    In my book, names go a long long way - how something is packaged is just as important as what it truly contains.

    Anyway, I digress.

    More concretely - yes, in the practices these two schools (Scrum & Kanban) differ. And yes, in principle, the differ far less, and (I'd hope) that in values they barely differ at all.

    To say Kanban is better for the noob, hm, not sure I agree. Again I think, as the consultant would say, "it depends". In many places the management formality and named structure offered more by Scrum is more palatable to the average bear. But as you note, Kanban's elevated attention to "retroflect on what's right for you, iteratively" might also present a greater benefit to the noob.

    Sheesh, such a tangled web. ;-)

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