Agile cheating stories….see how the founder’s comment about scrum got blocked on amazon

I got this message from Ken Schwaber, one of the founders of scrum, on how the real scrum got abused by extending the sixteen page scrum guide, written by him and Jeff Sutherland to three hundred plus pages, by a group and published on amazon. Shocking, yet interesting case on professional ethics or lack of it.

Here is the message.

A group called ScrumStudy has published a book, Scrum Body of Knowledge, also calling it a Scrum Guide. It is posted on Amazon. When it was first pointed out to me, all of the reviews were five star. I bought a copy to see what was so great. First, it had extended the Scrum Guide where Jeff and I define Scrum from 17 pages to the 340 in the book. Second, it simply threw together every known practice about agile around Scrum and created a methodology which (their words) is appropriate for any project of any size in any industry. Whew. Worse, the book was written by thirty or so people, none of whom are active in the Scrum or agile community.

I went in to look at the reviews, unsure how other people in the Scrum community could view this as useful, particularly with such glowing comments. I found that all of the people were from the same country where ScrumStudy is located (India) and that most had never reviewed anything on Amazon before. Amazon reviews were being gamed.

I emailed some friends and we entered what we thought of the book. The lead author of Scrum BOK, Tridibesh Satpathy did the following:

1. Objected to my review (see below for the review and his objection) and had it removed.

2. Had his friends write more positive reviews.

If anyone here knows amazon and can help, please do so. This is an absolute corruption of Scrum principles and values, and is an abuse of amazon. Also, if you want to flood the book with negative reviews, I won’t object.

Thanks,

Ken

My Review:

Tridibesh Satpathy, whom I have never met or communicated with (nor any of his co-authors or reviewers), removes the heart, soul and values of Scrum with this book. Singlehandedly, he attempts to turn Scrum into a formulaic methodology that can be used without thought or empiricism. The Scrum Guide that defines Scrum (http://bit.ly/1ixDnJK) is 17 pages long. Tridibesh et al have added every known practice, technique, and defined gated process to it to create a 300+ page monument to the failures of predictive methodologies.

You can pick up this book, apply it, take the certifications, and feel comfortable that everything is in place. It isn’t. Tridibesh et al have never seen your organization, your projects, your context, or your goals. How can they possibly believe that they can formulate a solution for you?

I might have once believed that arrogance prompted this effort, particularly since none of the authors or editors are known in the agile community. However, experience has taught me that this is purely driven by a need for money. Studied from all angles, the is a money making scheme that should be avoided by those who understand the basis of agility, empiricism, and lean thinking.

As the first step in lean thinking, to identify and eliminate waste, throw out this book and avoid its authors.

Ken Schwaber
co-developer of Scrum, signatory to the Agile Manifesto, founder of the Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance, and Scrum.org

Scrum on!

How Tridibest got it removed:

Scrumstudy support says:

This review is completely inaccurate and unethical, and should be removed by Amazon for the following reasons: 
1) This review is inappropriate because he works for competition Scrum.org (http://www.linkedin.com/in/jessehouwing). He wants to promote books from people in his organization (i.e. Scrum.org) and to discredit the books written by Scrumstudy. So this should not be allowed by Amazon as per “Promotion of illegal or immoral conduct” – Objectionable Material.
2) He has not read the book (this is not an Amazon Verified Purchase); hence how can he comment that the book is not relevant and call it a `sham’?
3)This person is only interested in selling books from his organization and from authors who work for his organization (and does not provide any specific reason why SBOK is not good except that the book discusses concepts which he is not familiar with). Here this person is a direct competitor with SCRUMstudy and is posting negative reviews about SCRUMstudy for his personal financial benefits. So, it contains inappropriate content. 
4) SCRUMstudy.com is a very reputed organization for teaching Scrum globally. The Scrum Body of Knowledge (SBOK) was written by 18 authors who are expert Scrum Practitioners and is being widely appreciated in the industry. The SBOK was reviewed by 25 experts and draws from the combined knowledge and insight gained from thousands of projects across a variety of organizations and industries. This whole review seems to discredit SCRUMstudy and the Scrum Body of Knowledge (SBOK) for the benefit a competitor (Scrum Alliance) for financial benefits. 
5) We will request interested students to do a free introductory course about Scrum from SCRUMstudy.com (which includes the first chapter of SBOK, instructional videos and a simple real-life Scrum case study) and judge for yourself about the quality of the courses offered by SCRUMstudy (instead of reading through negative reviews from vested interests and competitors). The first chapter of the SBOK is available for you to view in SCRUMstudy.com or in Amazon.

Scrum on!

Agile implementation stories, Effective application of theory U, in agile coaching

Right now I am in the middle of a consulting assignment of transitioning a large team from ‘scrum but’ to right scrum. When I say right scrum, I refer to the scrum guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland which can be downloaded from http://www.scrum.org.

This team from a very large multi national product company came with the baggage of ‘I know scrum, and now you teach me scrum’ scrum attitude, because they have been practising some sort of scrum, which was not new for me, as i have seen the same attitude in several other teams. Since agile is value based, like religions, a loss in faith is very difficult to be restored. No amount of talking would have convinced them. At least that was my judgment,based on my past experiences with teams with some experience in scrum, and I would have carried forward that judgment in the normal course. As a coincidence, this was the time I came across the theory ‘U’ which was advocating the postponement of the three fears of;

Fear of judgment
Fear of cynicism
Fear of change

for effective change management.

I decided to implement the concept of ‘postponement of these fears’ at every stakeholder level, me being the first one. All the coaching sessions started with the request to postpone these fears till the completion of the first sprint, and the results are very positive. After experiencing the right scrum, most of these fears are automatically addressed.

Everybody is good at something, and nobody is good at everything

Recently on Facebook, a friend of mine posted a piece of advise to startup organisations. This gentleman has some experience of founding a company. What is surprising is the number of comments on this post. Most of these comments are from people who never dared to start anything of their own, and still are lavish in providing advise. By providing free advise to others on everything under the sun, do they think that they get superior?. My first impulse was to comment, and then I realised that I do not have the credentials, so I kept quiet. I think, unfulfilled souls always have this tendency to shower advise, especially to the next generation. They assume that, the next generation needs it. If Steve jobs advises me on innovation, I will be delighted and at the same time, if he assumes that as his right to advise me on everything else, he is mistaken. Everybody is good at something, and nobody is good at everything.

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Managerandphotographer – networking

http://managerandphotographer.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/networking/

Agile rumblings

I came across this situation of someone who is invited as a guest for the sprint planning meeting taking an higher interest in the architecture of the product, creating a conflict of interest between the development team and the guest. Yes, someone dominating a meeting due to his expert power can be a violation of scrum. If this is due to the huge technical deficit between him and the rest of the team, then it is good for the product in the longer run. Now, here is the question of process vs product. We are following a certain set of processes to build a great product, and we must be open to all ideas and suggestions, if it is adding value to the product. This situation, if not managed properly can spoil the team morale and the product. Scrum master is trying to sort it out by only talking to the development team by asking them to prevent the expert from dominating. Personally I feel that it would be better, if the scrum master could talk to the expert one to one and sort it out. Leveraging expertise without stifling teaming, innovation and knowledge sharing is a must for better teaming and a great product.