Key Information to Understand About Scrum and Agile
Bill Hoberecht -
Introduction to This List and Your Implementation of Scrum
This list of reference materials is intended to help introduce Agile and Scrum to those who are largely unfamiliar with these terms. If you are an expert on Agile or Scrum, perhaps this list can be used to find materials that will help you in talking with Scrum teams and organizations about a journey of implementing, refining and optimizing their operation.
Just a few words of clarification about Agile and Scrum. Agile and Scrum are not identical.
- Agile is an overarching term to describe a family of software and management methods that are aligned with the values and principles of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Agile is not a specific methodology or framework.
- Scrum is a framework - it is not a methodology. The originators of Scrum were quite clever in calling it a framework - which has no universally understood definition. Basically, they wrote down the essentials and left all the rest to be determined by the Scrum team. In some organizations, some of those decisions are made outside of the team as a business decision to have some uniformity among teams.
If you want to say that you've implemented Scrum, then that means your team lives the five Scrum Values and are executing all of the elements (roles, artifacts, events) described in the Scrum Guide. More likely than not, your Scrum team has also determined your own implementation of several other elements that are not specified in the Scrum Guide (e.g., definition of Ready, definition of Done, duration of a Sprint, method of ordering the backlog). Of course, the goal isn't to "implement Scrum," your goal certainly involves delivering value to your customers.
The information you'll find in books and on web sites to help you implement Scrum fall into these categories:
- Descriptions of Scrum. These are basically a rehash of the materials in the Scrum Guide. If in doubt about what Scrum is, the Scrum Guide is the authoritative specification.
- Patterns. Examples of how Scrum elements can be implemented. These sites are beneficial as they expose ideas about possibilities that your Scrum team might consider. Recognize that these are recommendations and are not required implementation details for your team.
- The Scrum Guide. The complete definition of Scrum published by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the originators of Scrum.
- Myth Busting - The 2020 Scrum Guide - 1 hour 12 minute video. Dave West (CEO of Scrum.org) takes us through the revisions in the 2020 Scrum Guide.
- The Manifesto for Agile Software Development. This motivated an entire industry (software development) to consider alternatives to traditional waterfall methodologies.
- Just Getting Started with Scrum? Dr. Jeff Sutherland's introductory materials on Scrum - the 85 minute video on Scrum Fundamentals is a great place to start.
- Scrum Foundations eLearning Series (Video by the Scrum Alliance).
- Learn about Agile. Expert material from Mike Cohn (aka Mountain Goat Software) on Agile and Scrum topics.
- The 2018 Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams. From scrum.org.
- Embracing Agile, from the Harvard Business Review (and a subsequent review in Fortune magazine). This 2016 article is quite significant, as it is an explicit endorsement of agile as a valid management approach - no longer a mere experiment by technologists. (The 2019 McKinsey article on The Five Trademarks of Agile Organizations continues to push Agile into the mainstream).
- Scrum Patterns. Published patterns for an upcoming book "Scrum Patterns: The Spirit of the Game." If you this site seems difficult to follow, consider starting on this page: Core Patterns in Brief.
- It's Not Just Standing Up: Patterns for Daily Standup Meetings. (My own notes on Standup Meetings don't qualify for their own bullet, but still are worthwhile to read)
- Agile Retrospective Resource Wiki. (And here are my notes on Retrospectives).
- Retromat. Ideas on improving the effectiveness of your retrospectives.
- Scrum Reference Card.
- The Eight Stances of a Scrum Master. Good reading for new and seasoned Scrum Masters.
Organizations that Promote Agile
- Scrum.org. Ken Schwaber's site.
- Agile Alliance. (the content library on this site has quite a bit of useful information).
- Scrum Alliance. This site has a rich library of webinars available for immediate replay.
- PMI (and their partner site ProjectManagement.com). Many free webinar replays and articles.
- SAFe - Scaled Agile Framework. (details on the framework are here). Dean Leffingwell's framework for scaling Agile.
- The LeSS Framework (Large-Scale Scrum). And the book: LeSS. From Craig Larman.
- Nexus. From scrum.org.
- The Scrum at Scale Guide. Jeff Sutherland's take on scaling Scrum.
- Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD).
- Scaling Agile @ Spotify. Henrik Kniberg & Anders Ivarsson.
Metrics and KPIs
- Agile Metrics: the Ultimate Guide. Too many metrics for me to count! A great list and description of every possible metrics for Agile.
- The Definitive List of Agile Metrics. A concise list of key metrics.
- Top 10 Tips for Measuring Agile Success. A high quality-list from the Agile Alliance.
- 3 Key Agile-Centric Metrics. Two lists of "if I could only have three metrics, what would they be?"
- KPIs, Velocity, and Other Destructive Metrics. Builds a case that the usual metrics are not helpful. Proposes 13 process related metrics.
- SAFe metrics.
Digging Deeper - Worthwhile Books
- Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. Jeff Sutherland. (and here is his corresponding TEDx talk).
- Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash.
- Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit.
- The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping your Business Win.
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvements. Goldratt's landmark book on the theory of constraints.
- Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great.
Sites Worth Your Time
- Scrum Expert. A boatload of free materials to help with your Scrum implementation.
- Luminaries in this field. Lyssa Adkins, Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Alistar Cockburn, Mike Cohn, Steve Denning, Martin Fowler, Allen Holub, Ron Jeffries, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland.
Closing Thoughts and Next Steps
You'll find many diverse opinions on Agile and how to implement Scrum. My recommendations is this: take the time to learn from the foundational documents and other materials listed above as The Essentials. The other materials here might possibly be of value as you start your implementation journey.
If you come across some particularly valuable information about Agile or Scrum that isn't already represented in this list, please let me know. Thank you!