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Mike Beedle on the Early History of Scrum

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.


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