Your browser does not support JavaScript! Change or Be Replaced By Robots and Other Advice from Jeff Sutherland - Scrum Inc.
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"Change or Get Replaced by Robots" and Other Advice from Jeff Sutherland

Below is a partial transcript of the Q & A from the "Scrum at Scale: The Path to Agility" presentation that I delivered to the International Institute for Learning, Inc. The questions and brief answers selected for this post provide answers to common questions about whether or not Scrum can work across various industries and organization types.

What we know is that Scrum is being implemented across all domains. Scrum works wherever Scrum is well practiced and well supported. If you are interested in increasing business value and business agility, decreasing waste and time-to-market, or future-proofing your organization, you should be interested in Scrum.

Visit the Scrum@Scale website to download the official Scrum@Scale Guide.

If you are interested in Scrum and AI, check out Tom Bullock's interview with Joe Justice our VP of Scrum@Hardware and Alex Sutherland our CTO.

Q: Hello. Thank you for the opportunity. I work for the public sector in Cape Verde, a small African country on the west coast. Considering the projects complexity in the public sector, involving many stakeholders, changing scope and short cycles. What would be your thoughts on how agile practices can help improve public sector project management. Thank you.

Jeff: In Kenya, a World Bank funded organization gets three times the work in 1/3 the time with Scrum. As a result, the World Bank increased their budget for this organization from $5M to $15M this year.

Q: Can Scrum work successfully in Construction Management? If so how?

Jeff: Yes, there are a number of examples. A large bridge in the Netherlands was built with Scrum. Tom Auld from the Collaborative Leadership Team uses Scrum to flip houses. You can also Google Scrum in construction for more details and examples.

Q: Jeff's book and his talk has great examples but Scrum seems more appropriate to process organizations with a pile of work to do. Where is the big picture to see how the items in the pile come together to create a large service or object?

Jeff: Systematic, Lockheed, Raytheon and others do massive billion dollar projects for half price with Scrum. You need training, a disciplined product owner team and strong leadership to coordinate and turn a huge vision into actionable backlog items.

Q: Can you use scrum for enhancements or bug fix in IT? When it does not fit producing a product following full SDLC process.

Jeff: Scrum is widely used in support teams, everywhere from call centers to help desks. Google this and get Scrum training.

Q: How do you avoid integration issues when deliverables are coming faster from different teams? Who is responsible for governance and any incompatibility/integration issues between different deliverables that, in some cases, are meant to work in harmony for a bigger objective?

Jeff: Amazon delivers a new feature to production every 10.6 seconds with 1000 Scrum teams. That's why they have all the money. You need to get Scrum training.

Q: I totally agree with your emphasis on Product Development; However, as a product already in production, is waterfall not the better way to go as profits become important. To simplify, change = change in cost.

Jeff: As Systematic has shown at CMMI Level 5, all projects cost half as much with 40% fewer defects plus or minus 3%. If you want less cost use Scrum.

Q: You provided examples how SCRUM helped organization doing repetitive work (e.g. automobile company will keep making cars). How can SCRUM help organizations who have different deliverables (e.g. IT services company that will deliver different requirements to different clients in different domains) and how can you avoid integration issues if you have scrums of scrums in this case?

Jeff: In our Scrum@Scale class we show how to do this. A deliverable is a set of backlog prioritized by the Product Owner. Teams pull that backlog and deliver a fully integrated increment of that backlog every sprint or more often.

Q: With so many teams, how do you manage load balancing between the teams and avoid under-utilization?

Jeff: Load balancing is managed by the teams and is largely automatic in Scrum. That is the power of self-organization. Load balancing is a waterfall problem, not a Scrum problem.

Q: Any key differentiators between SAFe vs SoS?

Jeff: SAFe is an IT framework that is useless in sales, marketing, and other areas. It is heavy weight with a lot of waste and will never get you twice the work in half the time. SAFe also does not address organizational incremental change which is essential for business agility.

Q: Can you apply scrum to hardware as well as software?

Jeff: Most of our clients today are hardware companies so the answer is yes. Check out Scrum Inc. ScrumLab for many online courses on Scrum in Hardware.

Q: Are you aware of scrum being implemented in higher education?

Jeff: Scrum in widely implemented in higher education. You can Google to find examples.

Q: Which kinds of organizations are not suitable for Scrum?

Jeff: Organizations that want to continue to do half the work in twice the time will not be happy with Scrum. In every organization about 30% of the people do not want to change.

Q: Do you believe all projects can be and should be done using Scrum, or are there some that should still follow Waterfall?

Jeff: Any project that you want to deliver twice the work in half the time with higher quality should be Scrum. The leading experts on process control on the planet have pointed out that waterfall is a predictive process control system suitable only for projects with less that 4% requirements change during development. Otherwise the projects blow up and are late.

Q: Do you think SCRUM could ever work in a University environment?

Jeff: Yes, Scrum can work in  a university environment if people are willing to change (and some are not). Google Scrum in Research.

Q:Where do you see (which industries) Waterfall working better than Agile methodology?

Jeff: Software companies will have difficulty surviving without Scrum today. Hardware companies are finding the same thing. Other domains will learn as they get disrupted by newer technologies. If they don't change they will be replaced by robots.

Q: I work at GlobalFoundries as a product development engineer and a team leader. It seems to me as our whole organization is using SCRUM without even realizing it - How would you suggest implementing official SCRUM methods without disrupting our current quasi SCRUM, if you will?

Jeff: Implement Scrum@Scale where you start with a small subset of teams. When they can do twice the work in half the time, roll that model out across the organization.

Q: How to start the implementation of SCRUM in a big and complex oil company with a very rooted culture (tradition). Where and how to start?

Jeff: Scrum@Scale starts with management education and setting up an Executive Action Team which will lead the transformation.

Q: How would you approach fixing the issues with Health Care in the United States using SCRUM methodologies?

Jeff: Healthcare needs total disruption and Scrum is the tool to do it with. I spent 23 years in healthcare implementing Scrum. In fact, I developed Scrum while working on healthcare research projects that were heavily funded by the NCI.

Q: I am very involved as the President of a not for profit home owners association ran by a team of 5 volunteer BODs. Are you aware of any Agile implementations in similar organizations?

Jeff: There is a paper on Scrum in Church which shows how to run a non-profit organization with Scrum. Large banks and our venture capital group implement this model.

Q: Can SCUM be applied to R&D in the Health Care Sector?

Jeff: After spending 11 years in research as a medical school professor and 12 years as CTO of two leading healthcare software companies, I can definitely say yes. Google Scrum in research.