Scrum and Lean

As a Scrum coach and practitioner, I find that Scrum itself, backed up by my experience, provides most of the guidance that I need to advise clients during agile transitions. However, sometimes it is useful to look at other flavours of agile. Lean Software Development, which shares a common ancestry with Scrum in that they were both inspired by the Toyota Production System and the Toyota Product Development System, provides additional insight that can be used in combination with Scrum.
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Fungible “fungible \FUHN-juh-buhl\, adjective:

1. (Law) Freely exchangeable for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind in the satisfaction of an obligation.

2. Interchangeable.


1. Something that is exchangeable or substitutable. Usually used in the plural.”

Scrum auf Deutsch

We’ve translated Mike Cohn’s re-distributable “Introduction to Scrum” into German. You can get it here. It’s licensed using the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Please let us know if you make improvements.

First Week Round-up

It’s the end of the first week with a new client in Munich. Despite the storm on Thursday (didn’t impact Munich too much apart from the S-Bahn being suspended from 20:00 on Thursday night) we’ve made some great progress.

I’ve tried to do a lot of listening this week and have taken part in several meetings as an observer. Some of the other activities this week have included:

  • Team formation. The pilot project will be reasonably large with in excess of 10 active team members. My recommendation has been to split this team into 2 Scrum teams, each of which sits together and tackles vertical slices of functionality based initially on particular functional areas. This recommendation has been, in principle, taken on board. We’re still sorting out some of the seating arrangements.
  • Training workshops. We’ve identified three days of training to which the team members will be invited. The first of these, focussing on agile values and principles took place on Thursday. Unfortunately, the exercise that I usually like new agile inductees to do on the first day (based on the well-known XP Game), had to be abandoned due to the storm warning. We captured lots of useful insight into some of the key issues that will be encountered as this client tries to introduce agile methods. I’ll be maintaining a log of these issues and tracking how we address them. The next workshop will on Friday next week when we’ll be taking a closer look at Scrum and User Stories and putting the theory into practice with a fun exercise.
  • Product backlog. We’ve started to create the product backlog. Today I facilitated a User Story writing workshop for one of the functional areas. This had real customer involvement and produced some really useful results. It went quite slowly but definitely a good start and subsequent workshops will get faster.

Other Munich observations:

  • I last worked in Munich in 1993. Either it’s changed a lot or I have, or perhaps we both have. It seems much more open and more multi-cultural and a more comfortable place to be. I feel good here.
  • I’ve been staying in the Derag Max Emmanuel Hotel in the Munich area Haidhausen. My room is effectively a small apartment with its own mini-kitchen and even a small terrace. Very good value (80 Euro a night), clean and comfortable – recommended. I found the hotel through All other web sites that I tried when looking for accommodation had very limited availability due to the Bau 2007 trade fair that has been taking place this week. The web site was uncomplicated, they have a fair concellation policy and they had accomodation available when others didn’t – also recommended.

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First Day at New Assignment in Munich

Monday was the first full day with my new customer in Munich. I’m going to be here on and off for the next 5 to 6 months helping a part of a large organisation transition to agile methods. It’s looking really interesting. Although this is going to be a challenging assignment (most agile transitions are!), there seems to be a genuine desire to give things a try. I have the feeling that we (that is the team including myself) are going to be able to make considerable improvements over their current process (by taking baby steps) and have a lot of fun at the same time.

Agile Day in Munich

I’m in Munich again visiting my major new agile enablement client. Today we discussed the most likely candidate for a pilot project, the makeup of the team (4 developers, 1 tester, the customer, the ScrumMaster and myself as coach and mentor) and Sprint 0 activities. These will include training the team, establishing the development and test environment and preparation of the initial product backlog etc.

Over the next few months, we’re going to have to solve some tough issues concerning how to integrate the agile team into the wider organisation. Today showed that key people are really committed to making this a success and I’m very much looking forward to working with this team. Sprint 0 will kick-off in January.

As part of this engagement, I’ll be facilitating a Scrum quick start, something that I’ve facilitated for several teams recently. This combination of customised training and facilitation is a very effective means for helping a Scrum team go from zero to starting their first Sprint, and hence starting to deliver business value, within days. I’m combining the quick start with ongoing coaching and mentoring which means that I’m there to support the team and other stakeholders when needed. I have some capacity free – please contact me if interested.

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New agile projects in the UK and Germany

The demand for agile method consultancy seems to be growing. I’ve secured two new clients during the last two weeks: one in Stevenage, UK and the other one in Munich, Germany.

This week I’m with the UK client, doing a Scrum Quick Start. Last week I introduced agile to some of the key stakeholders. Today, I’ve taught Scrum to the project team (two sessions of about 15 people each, with a mixture of business and developers). Definitely a good bunch of people and I think that they have an excellent chance of making this a success.

Tomorrow, I’ll be facilitating their first Sprint planning meetings and on Wednesday the teams will be starting their first Sprint. A Scrum of Scrums approach will be used to help coordinate the activities of the four Scrum teams. I’ll be supporting the teams with regular visits over the next few weeks. It should be an interesting engagement.

I’m also gearing up for my Munich engagement. Over several months I’ll be helping a household name select a pilot project and then transition to agile (again Scrum based).