Jeff Sutherland at Dialogues House, Amsterdam

Last week I attended a seminar given by scrum inventor Jeff Sutherland at the Dialogues House in Amsterdam. It was mainly about why large organizations need an agile approach in order to complete complex projects and to stay competitive; he even stated, “Companies not using scrum will go down, you simply cannot keep up with your competition.”

After his seminar the audience had the opportunity to ask  Dr. Sutherland questions. The day after the seminar I stumbled upon this tweet that actually raised the some of the questions the audience had during Dr. Sutherland’s seminar. Let’s break down a few common misconceptions raised via this tweet and the seminar (see image below from tweet)

Twitpic: Why Agile is less effective than waterfall? It’s not according to mr. Sutherland!

  • Q: “Agile has more talking and Meetings”
  • A  Jeff Sutherland: “Ban meetings, the scrum-master’s job is to protect the programmers against meetings, the only meeting relevant is the stand up meeting”.
  • Q: Agile is less efficient when having to transfer project knowledge.
  • A Jeff Sutherland: “That’s the things with a good team, there shouldn’t be one guy who has all the knowledge about one topic. I would fire the guy who has all the knowledge on a specific domain, you just cant have single points of failures.”
  • Q: “In Agile we do not do what we know best”
  • A Jeff Sutherland: “Exactly, because you are in a team, you should have sense of what the others are doing, are capable of, and build trust and insight, this will grow the effectiveness of your team, people are more in touch about what the other one is doing.”
  • Q: “More involvement of biz people’s time”
  • A Jeff Sutherland: “More involvement yes, but it will save time because the business will get back a product that is satisfying faster, the chance to have to start over after a comprehensive period of designing is reduced a lot.”
  • Q: “In waterfall you take time to design, more time”
  • A Jeff Sutherland: “…but there is less time to test, you only know if your design was right after you have tested. More testing results in more accurate products.”
  • Q: “Resources Scheduling is less predictable”
  • A Jeff Sutherland: “Never have the illusion you can accurately tell how much time to spend on something. You know why? Ever filled out a time sheet? I see all these guys in teams on Friday afternoon, scratching their heads how much time they’ve spent on certain tasks and then guessing how much they have put in. It’s inaccurate. So it’s not less predicable, in fact once you have got a good team using Scrum you can measure how many story points a team can process over a period of time, very accurately.”

My two cents: All of these questions are signs of not fully understanding Agility, a lack of Agile experience, or a bad implementation of scrum. Mr. Sutherland boldly states: “Bad scrumming is still more effective than waterfall”.


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