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Scrum is an agile framework (not a methodology) that represents a move away from command-and-control toward trust and self-organisation. It is an output from knowledge management, complex adaptive systems theory and empirical process control theory. It is an alternative way of working that respects people and can also lower risk and cost in projects, in particular where there is uncertainty or complexity. It is simple. It uses an iterative process, keeping an even rhythm of plan, execute, reflect. The Scrum framework consists of a Scrum Team and their associated roles, plus Time-Boxes, Artefacts and Rules. It is the most popular Agile method and is frequently used in conjunction with other methods.

Caution: Scrum is a framework for surfacing organisational dysfunction. Although Scrum itself is simple, if there are problems implementing Scrum, they will be caused by organisational issues that will be painful to resolve. "Scrum is simple. Doing Scrum is hard."

Essential Reading

As at 12th February 2010, Tobias Mayer recommended the following articles for attendees on his course.

The first three articles are all overviews of Scrum from non-technical perspectives, written between 2006 and 2008:
1. __Scrum: A New Way of Thinking --
2. __The Essence of Scrum --
3. __Scrum: Its place in the world --
And these four more recent articles from my blog, were written since I started running the CSM courses. In the first three I attempt to "abstract" Scrum away from software altogether, and the fourth one offers a way of looking at Scrum without resorting to old mappings.
4. __Simple Scrum --
5. __Scrum Roles: an abstraction --
6. __Scrum doesn’t do anything --
7. __The People's Scrum --
Suggested Reading -- these don't have to be read before the course, but it may help to do so (especially 8). 9, 10 and 11 are equally useful as follow-up reading.
8. __This is Not Like That
If you have a PMI background, or have been unduly influenced by defined (i.e. waterfall) processes in your career you may find this article by Lyssa Adkins to be valuable. This article is also of general interest.
9. __The Scrum Guide (PDF)
Ken Schwaber's introduction to the Scrum Framework for Software Development. Very succinct, and useful preparatory reading if you plan to take the CSM test (still optional at the moment).
10. __Do Better Scrum (PDF)
Peter Hundermark's concise introduction to implementing Scrum. Highly recommended.
11. __Scrum and XP from the Trenches
This short book is also available as a free PDF download from this link. It is essentially a case study of how one company implemented Scrum. It is very pertinent to software developers, although the parts about charts and graphs may also be be of more general interest. I recommend reading this one after the training, to get an understanding of how Scrum may work in practice.

Further Reading

As at 19th February 2010, Tobias Mayer recommended the following web sites, videos and books to those who has attended his course.

Here are a few links, books and websites that I recommend for advancing your understanding of Scrum and the greater paradigm shift in business of which it is a part. It is a long list, but take a little time to read. If you are not sure where to start, try the items marked with an asterisk *.
Highly Recommended Books
Artful Making*: by Lee Devin & Rob Austin
This is an excellent book that explores how methods used in creative fields such as theatre can be applied to managing knowledge-based projects. One of my favorite books.
Slack*: by Tom DeMarco
Sub-titled "Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency" this book is inspiring and surprising; it is like a whack to the side of the head. It is an especially good book to offer to middle management during a Scrum transition. It offers a different focus for people at that level, and can help assuage the fears that many of them have about redundancy.
Surfing the Edge of Chaos: by Richard Pascale, et al
I recommend this book to upper managers and change agents. The authors offer advice to business leaders of how to turn their companies into “agile and adaptable ‘living systems’ that achieve long-term vitality and sustainability in a swiftly evolving environment”.
The Road from Project Manager to Agile Coach: by Lyssa Adkins
Excellent YouTube video, in two parts. These videos are ten minutes long each, and highly recommended.
The Surprising Science of Motivation*: by Dan Pink
Ted talk describing the way in which motivation and the nature of business is changing in the knowledge age.
A ScrumMaster's Checklist*: by Michael James
An eye-opener for anyone who thinks a ScrumMaster has little to do. Very useful reading.
Want Better Software? Just Ask: by Mike Cohn
Also take a look at Mike's other available papers. Mike Cohn has a very pragmatic approach to Scrum and writes in a very clear and succinct way.
The Heart of Scrum*: by Tobias Mayer
Why the taskboard is so important.
Estimation: Time or Size? : by Tobias Mayer
The value of relative estimation and story points
Introductory Books
Agile & Iterative Development: by Craig Larman
The beginners guide to Agile: good overviews of the whole paradigm, and summaries of the different approaches. Especially aimed at managers.
Scrum and XP From the Trenches*: by Henrik Kniberg
Also available as a downloadable PDF. If you are only going to read one Scrum book, then make it this one.
User Stories Applied: by Mike Cohn
This clear and simple book covers the aspects of writing, estimating, prioritizing and committing to product requirements. Essential reading for Product Owners.
Scrum Alliance:
Join this group. This is the place to ask questions and hear from others who have run into the same kind of problems.
Extreme Programming:
Discussion on Extreme Programming, Agile Methods, software development practices, and related topics. Not just for XP practitioners.
Agile Usability:
This group is aimed at writers, designers, interaction analysts, etc.
Agile Testing:
For testers, and anyone interested in testing -- which should be everyone.

5 6 8 Scrum Values

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is fear. Fear and surprise.
  • Openness
  • Courage
  • Respect
  • Focus
  • Commitment
Our two, two main weapons are fear, surprise, and a ruthless efficiency.
  • Integrity
Our three, three main weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.
  • Trust
  • Congruency
Ah. Amongst our weapons are fear, surprise... Amongst our weaponry are... Ah. I'll come in again.

3 Scrum Artifacts

  1. Product Backlog - prioritised list of user stories
  2. Sprint Backlog
  3. Sprint Burndown Chart

A great description of the task board.

3 Roles

  • Product Owner - the voice of the customer; provides the prioritisation. Manages the product.
  • Scrum Master - the 'servant leader' of the team. Manages the process.
  • Team - the self-organised, cross-functional, empowered group who do the work. Manages itself.

3 Ceremonies

  • Planning the sprint
  • Part 1 - requirements workshop
  • Part 2 - design workshop
  • Daily scrum
  • Sprint Review meeting


  • Sprint retrospective

2 Mechanisms

  • Prioritisation
  • Timeboxing. Time-boxed activities are:
the Sprint Planning Meeting (about 2 hours per week of Sprint);
the Sprint (of 1 to 4 weeks duration and 3 weeks is popular in software development);
the Daily Scrum (10 to 15 minutes, depending on team size);
the Sprint Review (about 1 hour per week of Sprint);
the Sprint Retrospective (about 3 hours).

Scrum information

Scrum Glossary

ScrumBut is Scrum's equivalent to PRINCE2's PINO: Prince In Name Only. As in "We do Scrum, but ..."

User stories are solutioneering and not the best way to produce the product backlog.

Bad Smells - the jargon for anti-patterns: hints that something is not being done right.

Scrum Training