Succeeding with Agile, Brief Overview I

Couple months ago, I was promoted to a ScrumMaster role at DocuSign. In light of it, I decided to brush up on my agile development skills and theory by reading. My choice fell on the highly acclaimed Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum by the guru of Agile Development and Scrum — Mike Cohn.

Succeeding with Agile
Succeeding with Agile

Here is a short overview of the first half of the book, or gist as programmers call it:

  • A ScrumMaster has more responsibility and authority over processes, but a limited authority over people; the role is akin to a fitness trainer (a yoga teacher analogy fits me better): enforcing the agile process.
  • Every sprint team needs to deliver shippable (and tested) code: features, bugs, etc.; if the task is too large — split it.
  • Developers should work with product managers/owners directly on requirements.
  • Different developers should work on all parts of the application / code base.
  • Agile is not for the developers who likes to work in privacy putting their headphone and not talking to people (Bummer). :-)
  • Team functions better with a mix of generalists and specialists; avoid all-specialists teams at all cost.
  • When possible use feature teams rather than component teams.
  • Keep teams small. Four to nine people is an optimal size due to the social loafing (having more people reduces average productivity) — this was one of the reason our DocuSign team was split into three smaller teams!
  • A non-coding architect and project manager are obsolete roles on a Scum team.
  • Don’t let team members multitask. Each additional task reduces productivity; however, after three and more tasks the reduction becomes smaller and smaller. Direct quote: “Individuals assigned to work on multiple projects inevitably get less done

To be continued…

What I really liked about the book so far is that it’s not just boring theory. Each point is supported by data, references to sources and personal three-decade-long (anecdotal) experience of the author (Mike Cohn). If you liked the bullet point above, get Kindle Succeeding with Agile on Amazon.