Good Scrum

“Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. Yes is the answer.” What does this have to do with scrum? Go to certified scrum master training with Zuzi Sochova and Danko Kovatch and you may understand. We have utilized a mix of methodologies in GoodData: scrum, kanban, something in between, something definitely agile but without a name… Until it has been decided that we should unify our approach towards development and use scrum. Seven scrum teams have been put together and scrum masters, including me as scrum of scrums master, have been sent to one of the best workshops I have ever visited.

Why scrum?


Why is the most important question in scrum. Before you decide on how or what, you need to know why. We have identified 8 areas that could be improved using scrum: focus, flexibility, transparency, continuous improvement, fast feedback, motivation/spirit, quality, predictability. As an initial exercise, we tried to visualize how our teams rank in these areas and where we would like to see them in 6 months. The results were very similar; we need much more focus and predictability, a little bit of quality would be great, too.

I think we already do scrum.

Thank you for sharing.


Cargo cultism has become a frequent term in agile world. But how do you tell whether you do scrum or not? It is all about mindset. If everyone has the same mindset built around continuous improvement, there is a low chance for cargo cult to appear or survive. The difference may lie in the smallest details. Even in the way you formulate questions on daily stand-up.

  • Q: What did you do yesterday? A: I have started reading a great book.
  • Q: What did you work on yesterday? A: I have been fixing bugs.
  • Q: What did you finish yesterday? A: I have finished fixing the bug in our API.

Am I a good scrum master?

Good for you.

What is the ultimate goal for a scrum master? Do nothing. It may sound courageous but it makes a lot of sense once you realize that perfection is only a direction and admit you never get there. You can portrait the perfect scrum master as a guy sitting in a lotus flower in his zen garden, doing nothing. Quite tempting, isn’t it? What is easy to imagine is not so easy to achieve. Two things stuck in my mind.

First, team maturity. Each team has to go through 4 phases: forming, storming, norming and performing. Help the team to the final phase and you are one leg in the zen garden. Second, observation. You are allowed to facilitate, mentor, couch or remove impediments, but you should spend most of the time observing. When you have a choice between removing an impediment and teaching the team how to remove the impediment, teaching the team is what you should do.


Scrum of animals – from elephant to sheep.

Ship happens!

Scrum is a framework that turns elephants to sheep. How cool! You start with elephant backlog that you cut into smaller and smaller pieces, until you end up with elephant carpaccio. You take some carpaccio (amount that you can process) into a sprint where you work on it. If lucky, you end up with a sheep ship at the end. You share the progress throughout the sprint with the whole team. That is especially important. Someone in the team knows what colour sheep is, someone knows what sound sheep does, someone what size sheep is. Within the team you have a complete knowledge about the sheep and sharing the knowledge prevents you from producing a goat.


Another interesting discussion we had was about velocity. How much work should we plan for a sprint? It is nowadays preferred to estimate in “man days” rather than abstract scale such as Fibonacci or S, M, L, XL. This estimation pays off when planning for a sprint. You count number of your man minus vacation days minus meeting and operations time and you have your velocity. Almost. You also need to make sure that you are moving in the right direction which is mainly the responsibility of product owner.

  • Velocity = speed + direction

You are your greatest enemy!

Sometimes I had a feeling that PO was my biggest enemy. It was surprising to learn that PO is in charge of ROI and vision, but not in charge of being my enemy. Good to know. It is also good to know that women are more likely to become good scrum masters. Unlike men, they can let go of their ego…

May the scrum be with you.

Comments Are Closed