Today, Jeff Sutherland presented at Agile/Lean Practitioners meetup at Kaplan. It was a big event with over 100 participants from multiple meetups and a lot of practitioners and agile coaches. The conversation was about benefits of Scrum, and while it addressed a well known topic, it was a great refresher of Scrum non-negotiables and a reminder to the audience, as Jeff described it. The primary focus of the conversation was productivity, both sides of it: what increases productivity and what kills it.
I was not taking any notes but as I was listening to the presentation which included well known facts presented in a metrics-driven way with a good sense of humor, I was thinking through my current and previous experiences and trying to figure out whether we are following those practices or deviating without realizing it. Below are the ones that caught my attention:
1. Multitasking. Everyone knows that multitasking results in loss of productivity. I knew the context switching results in 20% productivity loss. What I did not know was that this metrics is related to context switching between 2 items. Once you get to 5, your productivity loss is 75%. This is a powerful proof of WIP, limiting work in process.
2. Happiness. When Jeff was talking about the concept of company success, he started with employee success, which provides immediately impact on company performance. According to Jeff, there is proven direct correlation. Happy employees - happy company. There is a direct dependency between RoI and level of happiness. His advice is: measure your employee happiness every sprint and pivot if needed.
3. Cross-functional teams. If we want to succeed, we form a cross-functional team. There may be specialists on it, but no one is exclusive and everyone can do job(s) of others. According to Jeff, a lean implementation will not be successful without a cross-functional or cross-trained team.
4. Swarming. Interestingly, the scrum framework has been patented under the word "swarming". Swarming is the heart of Agile. By swarming, Agile teams achieve shared objectives. Jeff sees swarming as the core concept in Scrum.
5. Kill impediments - Jeff's advice is to use "no prisoners" rule and kill impediments as they arise, no matter how complex or easy they are. Impediments should not be ever kept in the backlog for over 24 hours.
6. According to Jeff, all these rules similarly apply to software or non-software teams, this distinction is purely semantical from methodology perspective. Non-software team's agile is as basic and as important as a software team's.
These are the ones that resonated with me. Overall, there was a lot of helpful metrics and insights on productivity increase, lean principles, and kaizen thinking. A helpful concept that came up was the discipline within Scrum. As we know Scrum does not mean ad hoc, it brings transparency and cadence of execution. The example that Jeff provided was a CMMI5 company in Europe which increased productivity 5 times and reduced waste from 64% to 9% by moving to Scrum. Very impressive!
In sum, great points by Jeff. We all know them but frequently overlook, myself included. Let's stick to those because we know they work!
Transformation agent with experience in business transformation including transition to Agile (Scrum, kanban, lean) and building scaled Agile and Lean organizations. Passionate about motivating people and building great teams.