Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

By: Rob Cooney

There are many different books that focus on improving productivity.  As a person with too much to do and too little time to do it, I have read many of these.  Recently, I picked up Scrum to see what new pearls I could glean from what I thought was a “software development” technique.

While Scrum was conceived and developed as a tool to more effectively create software, the techniques can be applied to any endeavor.
Scrum can trace its’ origin to other well known systems.  The Toyota Production System, Demings’ PDCA cycles, fighter pilot OODA loops, and more were influential in the creation of Scrum.

Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of the Scrum process, takes the reader though the problems with complex work, the history of Scrum, and the science of how individuals and teams work. Scrum is a reference to how a rugby “team works together to move the ball down the field”.

After reading through the majority of the book, I thought I had pulled out some tools and tips that I could use when wearing my “quality improvement” hat.  That was, until, I read the closing chapter: Change the World.  In this chapter, Dr. Sutherland takes the reader through some case examples of using Scrum outside of the usual “product development” area.  His first example? Education!  As it turns out, in the Netherlands, Willy Wijnands has taken Scrum and adapted it to education, creating Eduscrum.  The example is a lesson in the art of the adjacent possible.

Scrum proved to be a surprising read.  The lessons for improving team effectiveness are many.   I finished the book with a lot of “what if” questions running through my mind.