The many applications of Scrum...

I've been reading this as sort an informal book club with some people at work. While I'd read other Scrum-related books in the past, I'd never actually gotten around to this particular title and I am glad I finally did.

4/5 Although SCRUM does an amazing job of demonstrating all the different ways in which Scrum can help teams and organizations across multiple industries, but indulges a bit too much in the "sales pitch" and some may find it lacking in terms of providing advice on how to avoid some of the pitfalls and challenges that some companies might encounter when using (or more accurately, misusing) this framework. 

For the uninitiated, Scrum is a framework (a structure for doing things) used by many Agile software development teams. In this book, Sutherland explains that there are a number of uses for Scrum outside of the software industry. It was also interesting to learn that Scrum has its roots in military operations. I found myself pleasantly surprised by how narrative this book was. Rather than explain all the key components of Scrum in a dry, manual style of writing, Sutherland instead shows off the various benefits and components of the framework through case studies that range from the FBI's information sharing woes, to more typical software solution, managing wedding plans, and even running classrooms that are actually effective for all types of students. I appreciated this approach as it made for a much smoother reading experience, but what I think most will likely feel missing is any kind of account of an organization or a team struggling to implement Scrum correctly. While I am personally bought into the power that Scrum delivers to teams who use it, I have also seen it executed incorrectly and then heard complaints from those doing it poorly that it doesn't work. Because the book doesn't address any of the potential challenges or pitfalls, the whole thing can feel like an extended sales pitch or at least a very idealized view of what doing Scrum is like. It makes sense that when Sutherland was brought in to implement scrum, that he'd have full buy-in from the top levels of the organizations that hired him, but there are plenty of companies who want to have their teams do scrum, yet also perform waterfall-like activities such as creating Gant-style roadmaps and I think it would have been good to explicitly call these pitfalls out even though they are in contradiction to what Scrum calls for. 

I found the paperback to be a worthwhile purchase, mostly because the Kindle edition was even more expensive which didn't make much sense to me. The paperback is nicely sized, but the interior margins are inexplicably tiny which forced me to really pull it apart. Without this odd choice, the fonts and formatting are otherwise well done and easy to read. One other petty complaint I have is that there are a bunch of blank pages after the Notes (citation) section and that felt a little odd even though I know they were probably just there to help round the page count up to a print template, but it just looked sloppy and they could have at least lined it or something to create a faux notation area for readers who might want to jot down their thoughts about it.

Even though I have been part of Scrum teams for years now, I still found this to be a good refresher on Scrum's key concepts and a good reminder as to why we do or don't do certain things. For this reason, it should be a worthwhile read for both people who are seasoned Scrum veterans as well as those who are learning about it for the first time. It's an easy enough read that I enjoyed more than some other Scrum themed books I've read in the past. I'd definitely check this one out even if you only have a passing interest in the subject matter (you don't have to have any prior experience or knowledge in Scrum and can definitely use this book as a starting point). 


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