Your browser does not support JavaScript! Agile Manifesto 2021 - Remembering Mike Beedle on the Early History of Scrum - Scrum Inc
  • Google
  • RSS

Agile Manifesto 2021 - Remembering Mike Beedle

I have been doing Scrum and Org Patterns since the fall of 1995 when I saved a large multi-million dollar project from failure at William Mercer in Deerfield, IL.

Completion of this project not only put the system in production, but avoided the company to pay a multi-million dollar penalty.   Eighty consultants; hundreds of employees; thousands of pages of documentation that included processes, procedures, requirements, design, testing; and hundreds of failed project plans, could not deliver what Scrum and Org Patterns delivered in 4 months with 10 people.  It was amazing. It was magical.

The ideas of Scrum were first introduced to me by Jeff Sutherland, in his many articles to the OTUG community, and his personal correspondences with me.

His main idea about Scrum was to create a team that would resemble artificial life, a robot, or an adaptive system, that would adapt and learn through “social intelligence”. I was intrigued because I have a Ph. D. in Physics, and my master’s thesis was about chaotic and non-linear systems.  Our first conversations were about creating a team at the edge of chaos, etc.  A few weeks after that, he introduced me to Ken Schwaber, and Ken pointed to me to his OOPSLA paper on Scrum and to his Scrum pages at his Advanced Development Methods web site.  Around the same time, I became familiar with the ideas of Org Patterns, via the work of Jim Coplien, Neil Harrison, and Brendan Cain:  1) Borland Software Craftsmanship: A New Look at Process, Quality and Productivity, 2) A Generative Development-Process Pattern Language, and the many articles written to the org-patterns and patterns-discussion lists since 1995. 

Both directions pointed to the same end game:  creating a hyper-productive team that worked as an adaptive system at the edge of chaos through patterns.

I was just very lucky to try both simultaneously in an emergency situation.  I was pre-conditioned to accept these ideas, because at the time I was a practitioner of BPR (business process reengineering), the Michael Hammer style, that basically called for that kind of hyper-productive environment, without really telling you how to get there, and by my academic training as mentioned before.

My life has never been the same since that project at Mercer.   Scrum and Org Patterns have truly changed my life for the better.

Since 1996, I have exclusively used Scrum and Org Patterns to deliver software to a vast and diverse range of industries: Financials, Healthcare, Government, Manufacturing, Technology, Services, Transportation, etc.), ranging from single teams, all the way to dozens of inter-dependent teams with a common base architecture.  I have developed software using Scrum and Org Patterns for my companies or for my clients in record speeds, under budget, with record customer satisfaction, and with great pleasure for the developers involved – that’s what our largest client, the US Department of Defense, for example, says about our software.

My companies have introduced Scrum to thousands of people and hundreds of companies, providing products, development, training, consulting, mentoring, and coaching:

From 1996 - 1999, I co-owned Framework Technologies Inc., where we brought the power of Scrum and Design Patterns to our clients:  Nike Securities, Bank of America, Lincoln Reinsurance, Motorola, etc.

From 1999 - 2003, I owned e-Architects Inc., where we bring the power of Scrum, Design Patterns and Architecture principles to our clients:  All-State, Caremark, State of Illinois, Orbit, Northwest Bank, Persistence Software, etc.

From 2000 – today, I co-own New Governance Inc., where we delivered our compliance management software products, to nearly 4000 sites:  Citigroup, The Hartford, CIGNA, DOD, BCBS, etc.

From 2008 – today, I own Quant Traders Inc., where we deliver sophisticated quant trading products and services to our clients.

From 2010 – today, I own Enterprise Scrum Inc. that exclusively teaches, mentors, coaches and implements Scrum in enterprise environments.


I am the co-author of the first Scrum book, Agile Software Development with Scrum, the co-author of the first Scrum paper published in a book, SCRUM: An extension pattern language for hyperproductive software development, a co-author of the Agile Manifesto:, and the co-author of the upcoming Scrum Pattern Language book which will give direction to the future of Scrum...

Michael A. Beedle Ph. D.
Enterprise Scrum Inc.


"Mike Beedle" <> Apr 11 10:10AM -0500


Tell him that there is a worldwide Agile Management revolution under way
and that Scrum is the best way we know how to do that.

If that’s not enough, tell him that only the Agile companies will
survive, and that only people that can do their work in an Agile way
will have jobs soon.

Tell him that modern Scrum as invented by Jeff Sutherland and Lean
(development), Agile (company and development) and Nonaka and Takeuchi
Scrum come from the same roots: TWI, Toyota, TPDS, other companies doing
Agile development, etc. Scrum and Agile are about managing fast change
and innovation – regardless of the domain being used.

Tell him that the only statement we would change in the manifesto is
about “working software” – instead we prefer “delivering business value
over working on waste”. That’s what I tell everyone in my classes.

At the Agile Manifesto meeting we were writing a manifesto for software
development (Bob Martin’s idea), but 3 of us (Jeff, Ken and I), had
already used Scrum for agile management of non-software things for
years. In fact, these almost identical principles had already been used
and named Agile anyhow by Steve Goldman and Roger Nagel in their book:

[AgileCompetitors] Steven L. Goldman; Roger N. Nagel; Kenneth Preiss.
Agile Competitors and Virtual Organizations: Strategies for Enriching
the Customer (Kindle Locations 205-206). Kindle Edition.

They write as the Agile principles in 1995:

•Valuing human knowledge and skills
•Delivering value to the customer
•Forming virtual partnerships
•Being ready for change

I had actually a few articles on how to agilize companies since 1997 –
both of these papers mention the Scrum patterns as a way to agilize

[Beedle2-cOOherentBPR] cOOherentBPR: A pattern language to build Agile
organizations, Michael A. Beedle, PLoP '97 Proceedings, Tech. Report
#wucs-97-34, Washington University (1997).

[Beedle3-EnterpriseArchitecturePatterns] Enterprise Architecture
Patterns: Building Blocks of the Agile Company, Michael A. Beedle, SIGS,
New York, (1998).

And that’s why I proposed the word Agile to be used at the Agile
Manifesto meeting: because it seemed to me there were a lot of parallels
with Agile in business :) Martin Fowler immediately grinned and said:
there is a problem if we use Agile we will be successful. And here we
are today :)

The greatest thing that happened to Scrum and Agile is that it got big
because of its application to software development; but it is also its
worst curse: because it is now seen as a “software thing” not as general
agile management.

When Ken and I wrote “Agile Software Development with Scrum”, I had a
few chapters on engineering practices, but Ken told me along the way:
no, Mike, if we publish this as “engineering practices”, people will
never understand Scrum is NOT about software, so we dropped them out. I
gripped back at Ken: but Ken, if they don’t understand the engineering
practices are *required* to be successful, there will be a lot of
problems. And so we started the Scrum and XP discussions: we had solid
engineering practices in Scrum before XP, but none of us had a name for
them. It was passed along as oral tradition: at least daily integration,
regression testing, stuff needs to be work at the end of the Sprints, at
the end of the day (at least), etc.

For this reason, I started something called XBreed in 2000 merging XP
and Scrum practices, but in fact Kent Beck had already started this
trend since the Planning Game is Scrum (without any Scrum references :).
At some point Ken and I discussed the title to be “Agile Management with
Scrum”, but because all of our stories were mainly about software, and
because we thought that most of our readers (customers) would come from
software development, we left the title as “Agile Software Development
with Scrum”. Jeff, Ken and I were always adamant that Scrum could be
used for much more.

In 2001, I started managing New Governance Inc., the company that I
co-founded and still co-own with Scrum: we are today the largest privacy
management company worldwide; all of our products were development with
Scrum, and all of our 3000+ installations have been done through Scrum
since then. Jeff also got PatientKeeper to be managed by Scrum since
around that time and today Scrum Inc. is managed with Scrum. VMARK had a
senior management Scrum since 1995. The Scrum Alliance is now being
managed through Scrum. Two of my clients, which I have helped for years: and are now also managed through Scrum. I don’t
have an exact number or reference to every non-software Scrum
implementation but my list is several hundred instances already.

It’s an Agile Management revolution: the companies and individuals that
don’t get it will be obliterated by their competitors.

- Mike

Enterprise Scrum Inc.



Stay Connected

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive the latest Scrum news, special offers, and our monthly newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!