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InfoQ Homepage Podcasts Dave West on Craftsmanship, the Future of Scrum and Improving the Profession of Software Delivery

Dave West on Craftsmanship, the Future of Scrum and Improving the Profession of Software Delivery


This is the Engineering Culture Podcast, from the people behind and the QCon conferences.

In this podcast, recorded at the Agile New Zealand conference in November 2016, Shane Hastie, InfoQ Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to David West, CEO and Product Owner of, about the history of Scrum, the importance of empiricism and improving the profession of software delivery.

Key Takeaways

  • Between 12 and 15 million people use Scrum on a daily basis
  •’s mission is about improving the profession of software delivery, not having more people use the Scrum framework
  • Empiricism and the scientific method are fundamental to being a professional in an industry
  • The Scrum delivery team needs to include “all the skills you need to deliver working software” into the hands of end users so operations and deployment skills are a crucial part of Scrum
  • To enable teams to be successful, management needs to provide absolute clarity of the objective, move out of the way of the teams and support the ScrumMaster in removing impediments
  • The moral responsibility of software professionals to show integrity in their work

0m:50s - Introductions

1m:45s - Isn’t Scrum “old hat” now? – it’s 21 years old

1m:55s - Where Scrum came from, how it has changed over the years

2m:10s - Between 12 and 15 million people using Scrum

2m:45s -’s mission is about improving the profession of software delivery

3m:05s - Empiricism and the scientific method is fundamental to being a professional in an industry

3m:10s - Building software is about navigating large unknowns and using small experiments is the best way to explore these unknowns through inspecting and adapting and transparency

3m:50s - These ideas are even more relevant today than they were 21 years ago

4m:15s - Organisations want to become more innovative, more effective and leverage the potential of technology to improve their customers’ experiences – this requires empiricism

4m:40s - Empiricism and craftsmanship go hand in hand

5m:20s - In the original book on Scrum the framework was paired with the eXtreme Programming technical practices, which are key to software craftsmanship

5m:35s - This emphasis on technical excellence has been lost over the years

5m:50s - The state of Scrum today

6m:06s - 90% of teams who say they are doing agile are using some form of Scrum framework – 12 to 15 million people

6m:20s - Most organisations are doing “water-scrum-fall”, Scrum at the team level inside waterfall planning and release cycles.

7m:10s - Overcoming the challenges inherent in long planning cycles and slow release cycles takes more than just adopting Scrum at the team level

8m:15s - Scrum and DevOps are complimentary – Scrum has always pushed for DevOps short-cycle delivery

8m:45s - The Scrum delivery team needs to include “all the skills you need to deliver working software” into the hands of end users so operations and deployment skills are a crucial part Scrum

9m:05s - Most organisations have fitted Scrum into their existing constructs, not taken the hard decisions about changing to deliver value constantly

9m:20s - Scrum or another form of Agile delivery is crucial to being able to adopt DevOps

9m:30s - DevOps delivery needs ways to structure work into small batches, techniques to inspect and adapt, clear leadership and deliver software frequently

9m:55s - The Sprint Review is NOT a phase-gate for production deployment.  Scrum expects that production deployment is done as soon as the work is complete, not waiting for the end of the sprint

10m:10s - The best Sprint Reviews are done on production software

10m:40s - Bridging the perceived gaps between Scrum and DevOps is a focus for 2017 for the Scrum community

11m:30s - The Scrum roles and their distinct responsibilities

11m:50s - Somebody who makes the ultimate decisions about value and priority from a business perspective; one person taking the role of Product Owner

12m:10s - Product ownership must be an individual responsibility – a committee does not work

12m:40s - The ScrumMaster role in helping, guiding and protecting the team from unrealistic demands from outside

13m:10s - The Development Team roles need to cover whatever skills are needed to deliver the product the team is working on – what these skills are depends on the product you are building and the context you are working in.  The team needs to have ALL the skills needed to deliver working software constantly

13m:50s - Cross-functional teams are very dynamic

13m:55s - The need for T-Shaped people – good skills in at least one competency and the ability to work in other competency areas to support the team delivering working software to a production ready state

14m:25s - The analogy of a football team who has a single way of playing that was successful one year but is unable to adapt to changing circumstances

15m:20s - For success, you need a team who can be dynamic and have “fat-T” shape

15m:30s - What a ScrumMaster does is hard to describe because it is context-dependant.  The objective is to help the team deliver working software- so whatever the team needs to assist them in doing so through resolving impediments and supporting the team in whatever way will be most effective

16m:15s - A good servant leader knows when it is necessary to take command – some situations need directive leadership

16m:25s - The goal of the ScrumMaster is to make the team successful; they must figure out what is needed and do whatever it takes

16m:55s - The organisational mandate a ScrumMaster needs to enable them to be successful

17m:10s - Everybody should read the New New Product Game article, as it is so fundamental to the ideas behind Scrum and product delivery for creative work

17m:40s - The reason teams were successful in the research was because management provided very clear objectives and then gave the teams autonomy to achieve the goals

18m:00s - To enable teams to be successful, management needs to provide absolute clarity of objective, get out of the way of the teams and support the ScrumMaster in removing impediments

18m:45s - The whole team is responsible for delivery of the product; the Product Owner is accountable for the success of the product

19m:30s - There needs to be clarity and transparency in the decision-making process so everyone understands where the decisions are made

19m:35s - The Product Owner needs to communicate what the value is to the teams with absolute clarity

20m:10s - What’s next for Scrum? 

20m:30s - The need to provide a consistent and clear approach to evidence-based metrics and measurement

21m:00s - Velocity tells how fast you are going; it doesn’t measure value delivered

21m:15s - The metrics that matter are all about business outcomes, not activity within the product development

21m:35s - The need to provide product owners and teams mechanisms to articulate and measure value

22m:10s - Scaling is important, but the scaling mechanisms in place at the moment are concentrating on the wrong things (activities outside of the teams).  What is needed are ways to get multiple teams working together effectively, which is the intent behind Nexus

23m:05s - The Scrum Values are now back in the Scrum Guide

23m:40s - Software professionals don’t have a code of conduct and the values provide a guide for moral behaviour in a profession

24m:30s - The Scrum Values fit with professional codes of conduct from other bodies

24m:45s - Encouraging teams to explore the values and their impact on the team’s behaviours in retrospectives

25m:00s - The moral responsibility of software professionals to show integrity in their work

25m:40s - Scrum is hard to do at scale in traditional organisations.  This is because the focus is on being efficient, minimising risk and increasing shareholder value.  These objectives do not fit with agile and Scrum

26m:15s - The objective of all the agile approaches is to learn fast and maximise the value we deliver

26m:35s - We need to think about what kind of organisations we need to create in order for agile to be successful, rather than trying to fit agile into organisations where the culture and objectives are misaligned

26m:45s - The scaling frameworks are about making agile fit with existing structures; perhaps it is time to explore what new organisation cultures and structures are needed for success in the future

27m:05s - exploring these new ways of designing organisations to align with the values and principles and focus on maximising value

27m:54s - The need for Next Generation product delivery organisations which are agile from the ground up, and the need to provide a framework for those organisations, which Scrum Studio will be

28m:40s - adopting a collaborative course development process, looking to build bridges with other communities

29m:55s - The need for the communities to move away from infighting, work together and collaborate;  “say and, not but” when exploring differences and similarities

30m:25s - Software is the most important commodity of the world today 

30m:50s - To gain the benefits and take advantage of the opportunities inherent in the new world of software based solutions, we need to step away from the 19th and 20th century management practices and organisation design in a very different way

31m:20s - The irony of the way the different communities (Agile, Scrum, DevOps, Lean Startup …) claim to be collaborative, yet act competitively with different events

31m:50s - The Agile Alliance is one organisation trying to break down the barriers and build bridges


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