The Scrum approach to agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. Scrum and other agile methods were inspired by its shortcomings. Scrum emphasizes collaboration, functioning software, team self management, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities.


Do People Matter?

Posted by ewok_bbq under Agile and Scrum, Agile Manifesto, Agile Principles

301770_555175034510479_1019421605_nHopefully the title of this blog post got your attention.  Culture seems to be at the core of what is important these days.  Many authors like Dan Pink, Steve Denning and Jurgen Appelo are making strong cases for the import of recruiting and retention programs as a means of building ground-up innovative companies.  Many of the arguments from these thought leaders have been built on shoulders of the top management thinkers of yesteryear.  Folks like Tom DeMarco who claimed that workers were different than say machines because of humans’ non-fungible characteristics.  If you haven’t read Slack yet, please do go out and buy it.  It’s well worth the money and time and would make a perfect stocking stuffer.

When you do recruiting for your team, what are the criteria’s you choose your candidates by? How highly ranked is culture versus say competence? See what Brad Feld of WSJ has to say here.  Do you agree?

While I was the President and Co-Founder of Danube, I did a lot of the recruiting.  But, really, I only looked at three things.  Here they are in order of priority:

  • Culture Fit.  Our office in Portland was tough.  There were a lot of very strong women working in a collaborative sales environment.  This was very intimidating to many of the salesmen I interviewed who were used to individual quotas and goals [incentive structures are a topic for another blog post I am sure].
  • Type-A personality or a Willingness to make decisions.  Was the person a slacker or a go getter? Really – I have nothing against slackers but I can’t work with them in the business world.  I am simply not interested.   Moreover, I hate it when employees don’t feel empowered to make decisions – big or small.  As I always told employees, I may be temporarily angry with you for a decision you’ve made that I didn’t agree with, but I’ll terminate your employment contract for not making a decision when a decision was called for. I can’t be everywhere always – so the groups I manage need to think for themselves given the nature of the information in front of them and act.
  • Intellectually curious.     I want people who have a thirst and desire to learn new things every moment of every day.  If you’re not having rigorous debates and learning through exploration –you wouldn’t have been a fit at Danube.

You will see that I simply didn’t evaluate based on keyword experiences.  Sure – it matters, but ultimately you can learn just about anything (Salesforce, QuickBooks, Ruby, Scrum, etc).  So – to me, culture is way more important than competence.  Do you agree or do you think that culture isn’t material when building a business? I would love to hear from the readership in the comments section below.




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Estimating Earned Business Value on Agile Projects

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Agile Manifesto, Agile Principles, Scrum Basics, Scrum Discussion, Scrum Transitions

A pattern I’ve noticed is that Scrum projects are typically managed informally, with the only measures used being various velocity metrics and burndown charts. This may be an issue. Many project managers and executives resist scrum because these only measure the speed of delivery, not the project’s cost or the business value it generates. One of the major differences between traditional and agile projects is that traditional projects focus on delivering software that satisfies requirements, while agile projects focus on maximizing ROI through continuous feedback and re-planning.

This is where Earned Business Value calculations come in. It fits well with Agile projects, since the focus of agile projects is on business value rather than conformance to requirements (outcomes over outputs). In many cases, EVM metrics are easier to calculate and understand in agile environments than in traditional ones. There are three key management measures – Cost Performance Index (CPI), Schedule Performance Index (SPI), and Earned Business Value (EBV) – that provide information to help manage an agile project from and ROI perspective.

There is a solid white paper on this topic at .

I’d also be very interested in your comments to this post.

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What is Scrum?

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Scrum Basics



Chances are you’re reading this blog because you use Scrum or agile. But some of you may be here because you want to learn more about Scrum and agile—it’s something you’ve just heard about and now you need to find out what it’s all about. If that’s the case, Joshua Brown’s recent article on the basics of Scrum is a great place to start. It addresses the framework’s basic structure, roles, and rationale for departing from traditional management. It’s short, but it starts at ground zero and builds from there.

If you’re looking for additional materials to help you wrap your head around the basics of Scrum, I’d recommend taking a look at “What Is Scrum? The Five-minute Explanation for Folks Not Yet Practicing It” and “Scrum Mechanics: An Introduction to the Basic Scrum Engine” by Danube’s Katie Playfair. Last year, CST Michael James authored a Scrum Refcard for DZone, which is another great crash course for Scrum newbies. Download it here:

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Danube’s New Scrum Video Blogs

Posted by admin under Agile and Scrum, Scrum Basics

I’ve mentioned here before that my team uses Danube Technologies’ ScrumWorks Pro to manage development efforts. Since Danube is a Scrum company, I check their site frequently for new content written by its team of Certified Scrum Trainers, which includes blogs, white papers, and more. When I visited the site yesterday, I was happy to discover that the company has launched a new video blog series, which gives folks a chance to watch a short clip of a CST discussing an issue related to Scrum. The first installment features Jimi Fosdick, who starts the conversation by asking, “What Is Scrum?” So far, the company has only posted one video, but I’m excited to see where this goes. It already looks like a great resource for Scrum users learning the ropes. Check it out here.

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